The New England Revolution have their rematch against the Houston Dynamo at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night. Since their last meeting, a 2-0 victory for the Revs on May 18th, New England has gone 3-1-2 and forced themselves into the Eastern Conference playoff picture, while Houston has posted a 1-2-3 record with just three goals scored.
Houston currently occupies the playoff spot ahead of the Revolution - fifth place in the East. However, they're just two points ahead of the Revs, and New England has a game in hand. A victory here would be crucial in the playoff race, putting New England on 27 points to the Dynamo's 26, and maintaining the extra game's gap between the teams.
Today's Q&A is with Richard Willis of Dynamo Theory, SB Nation's Houston Dynamo blog.
TBM: So last time these two teams met, a lot went down. Specifically, there was the Boswell-Imbongo incident where both players were sent off for violent conduct. That had been brewing since the first minute, and given the way Imbongo plays, it'll probably start brewing again if he starts or makes any appearance at all. What was the Dynamo fans' reaction to that incident, their measured reaction later, and do you foresee issues between Dynamo defenders and Revolution attackers again in this match?
RW: We could probably do a series of posts on this topic, actually. I'll go with my own reactions, since I noticed many different reactions in the days after the match.
First off, we all saw it coming from the start. Imbongo and Boswell sniped at each other a few times before the incident, and you just had the feeling that one or both of them was going to see red at some point in time. I think that both players seeing red was the correct call, and I think that Boswell getting another red was spot on. I think Imbongo should have gotten another game as well, though, as he was pulling and dragging Boswell around and down both before and after the headbutt. No excuses for either player, though.
I can certainly see issues again - though whether or not they come up is a different story. I don't know about Imbongo's part, but Boswell was just pushed too far and he completely lost his temper, which is not something you want to see happen. Maybe they've both gotten over it, I don't know - but maybe it would just be better if we kept those two apart for now.
TBM: Houston has a reputation as being a physical team, one that was earned seasons ago but may no longer be applicable. Do you think it's a deserved label, and if not, do you feel the team is doing enough to shake it off?
RW: In previous years, sure, it was a very correct label. I don't see as much physical play this year as I have in previous years, but I can understand why the label is slow to disappear. And in all honesty, I'm not sure that there's anything the players can do to shake it off. People will believe what they want to believe, and beliefs change very slowly.
TBM: If I'm reading this correctly, the goal that won the Dynamo the match against Philly was the first goal the Orange have scored in a month. Moreover, they've been in a funk since the home unbeaten streak was broken, and their last multi-goal match was on May 8th. What has happened to the Dynamo attack, and will they cope without Will Bruin, Corey Ashe, and possibly Boniek Garcia?
RW: Slumps happen - I think any team's fans can agree on this. The problem the Dynamo had was many-headed: injuries, international callups, and suspensions, all on top of a slump from Will Bruin and Giles Barnes. As such, it's not exactly something that can be changed easily, though with Cummings back to almost full health and most other players (with the possible exception of Brad Davis, who may or may not be playing), it's hoped that the Dynamo can get themselves out of the slump. They're generally good about doing that.
As for Ashe and Bruin's absences...yeah, I think they'll cope. Unlike last year, we have a lot of players scoring. All it takes is for one of them to get hot - Barnes, Andrew Driver, Boniek, any of them.
TBM: Give us an under-the-radar player Revolution fans should watch out for against Houston.
RW: Warren Creavalle, if he plays. He's not on the pitch for every minute of every match, but when he has been, good things have happened. He's a young player that's definitely started to come into his own.
TBM: Finally, let's have your projected starting XI and a scoreline prediction.
RW: Tally Hall; Kofi Sarkodie, Bobby Boswell, Eric Brunner, Mike Chabala; Boniek Garcia, Adam Moffat, Ricardo Clark, Andrew Driver; Giles Barnes, Omar Cummings.
I can see this having a lot of goals, but I can also see this having no goals. Given these teams... I'll go with 0-0.