The New England Revolution are set to take on the Houston Dynamo for the second and final time this season (weird, right? Thought it was supposed to be three games) on Saturday night, making their first-ever trip to BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. The Revs snatched a draw from the Red Bulls at home last weekend, while the Dynamo suffered a painful 3-1 defeat to Philadelphia on Sunday.
TBM: There was a period of time where it looked as though the Houston Dynamo were a shoe-in for the playoffs, but now they're locked in a dogfight for the fourth and fight spots with D.C. ahead of them, and Columbus and Montreal behind. What was behind the midsummer surge the team experienced, and what is behind the Dynamo's more lackluster 2-2-3 record since the start of August?
ZW: I don't want to blame the CCL for all of the problems, but the Dynamo's August schedule was extremely crowded, with a lot of travel and I think they just got tired. Then again, they were consistently getting strong results in the CCL and slumping in MLS. There's no clear reason but there's my theory that this team has developed a bad habit this season of playing to the level of their opponent. The better the team they are facing, the better they play and vice versa. This team just hasn't been playing well of late and if they don't turn it around quick, it's curtains for the season.
TBM: Will Bruin started off the season like a man on fire, but he's really fallen off in the second half, scoring just two goals in fourteen games. He's had three assists in that span as well, but you pay your main striker to score, and it looks like he's having trouble with that. Can you talk a little bit about what problems he might be dealing with in front of the net, and what the Dynamo can do to get him firing again?
ZW: The formation switch to a 4-3-3 has really affected Bruin. Simple as that. He's a forward that works better in the more traditional 4-4-2 and despite moments where he seemed to be making progress, it's just be a constant struggle for him. The formation switch was made to better accommodate Boniek Garcia and to better utilize Kandji and Carr on the wings, but if that effectely neutralizes your best forward, how good a move is it? There's been rumblings among fans to see a move back to a 4-4-2, but we'll have to see. It is interesting though that the best two results since August started were in games the Dynamo played in a 4-4-2.
TBM: Lots of buzz going on around the prospect of a new ownership group for the Dynamo. I know you guys have been struggling to get out from under AEG for some time now, and it looked like it was happening when Houston Rockets owner Les Alexander stepped up to the plate, but it appears that deal has fallen through. What do you know about the particulars there, and are there any other players in the game who could swoop in?
ZW: We basically know nothing. It's assumed that AEG going up for sale helped torpedo the Les Alexander deal. He seemed like the right fit as a Houston resident with a large chunk of change, but alas, his offer didn't appease our Galaxy loving overlords. At this point, we're just hoping that the AEG sale goes through and whomever buys will either sell the Dynamo off quickly or not mess with things too much. It's just a bit a cloud hanging over things at the moment, because while the team has been really successful with minimum resources, at some point, it would be nice to have an owner focused on the team and committed to maintaining and building more success.
TBM: Can you talk a little bit about Oscar Boniek Garcia and what he brings to the table? Do you think his familiarity with Jerry Bengtson from the Honduras national team will be an advantage in this match?
ZW: Boniek Garcia is a great player, a real playmaker that has been worth the money. He's settled in quickly and doesn't seem too bothered by the physicality in MLS. He's scored a couple goals, setup more and been a solid player for the team that has made others around him better, which is the point of a DP. More importantly, he's allowed Brad Davis more room to operate because opponents can't single out Davis anymore as the Dynamo's lone attacking threat from the midfield. As for a familiarly with Bengston, it can't hurt in providing some tips but in the end, it's up to our defenders to deal with him.
TBM: Give us an under-the-radar player Revs fans should watch out for in this match.
ZW: Giles Barnes. He joined to the team of a free transfer last month and has played well in the minutes he's gotten so far. He's still regaining fitness and getting comfortable with the league, but he's the best CAM option we've had since Stuart Holden left. Not sure if he'll start this weekend, but he's a great option off the bench if the Dynamo need an attacking boost in the second half.
TBM: Squeezing in an extra question here since we didn't get to do this for the last match - let's have your projected starting XI and a scoreline prediction.
ZW: Hall; Sarkodie, Boswell, Hainault, Taylor; Camargo, Moffat, Davis; Boniek, Bruin, Kandji - Dynamo are going to be fired up for this one and I think they'll win 3-1. That said, if they didn't get a wake-up call from the Union match last weekend, who knows what the hell will happen.