The Houston Dynamo have scored goals in bunches this season. The team has recorded 11 tallies in four matches to open its campaign, riding a red-hot start from Erick “Cubo” Torres, who scored a hat trick against the New York Red Bulls one week ago.
The Revolution attack, on the other hand, has yet to find a rhythm in 2017. Opening the season on a road trip hasn't helped matters, though the Revs boast enough attacking talent to score multiple goals in any MLS venue.
On Saturday, the club will have a chance to get on track in front it's own crowd.
Here are four storylines to follow when the Revs meet the Dynamo:
1. Who will start at center back beside Antonio Delamea?
A week removed Josh Smith's MLS debut, Jay Heaps has a decision to make: does he hand the reins back to Benjamin Angoua, or turn to Smith for the second consecutive week?
Conventional wisdom says Angoua—who benefits from experience in the French first division—would continue to earn the majority of starts beside Delamea. But there was nothing conventional about Heaps starting Smith, a fourth-round SuperDraft pick, against a dangerous Timbers attack last weekend.
Either way, the Revolution back line will have its hands full against a Dynamo squad that has scored 2.75 goals per match this season.
2. Can the Revs keep the rivalry with Houston (mostly) one-sided?
During an eventful history between the Revs and Dynamo, the men in orange own the most notable victories: a win in penalty kicks during the 2006 MLS Cup final and a 2-1 win in the 2007 MLS Cup final. But that hasn't stopped the Revolution from controlling the all-time series.
Jay Heaps' side has performed particularly well at home against the Dynamo, losing just twice in 11 matches all-time (4-2-5 record). The Revs have also earned a result in five of the past six meetings between the two teams.
This year, the Dynamo will bring a re-tooled lineup—which includes former LA Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza and Honduran forward Alberth Ellis—to Gillette Stadium. This lineup has found almost instant success in 2017, winning three of four matches to open the season. Can a new-look Dynamo roster change the course of the rivalry?
3. Will a Revs forward step up and command the attack?
During last week’s match against the Portland Timbers, Taylor Twellman clamored for a Revolution forward to assert himself as the “alpha dog.” That role most naturally falls to Kei Kamara, who had no problem establishing himself as a leader in Columbus.
Yet up to this point, neither Kamara nor Juan Agudelo nor any other member of the Revolution attack has emerged as the authoritative goalscorer the Revs desperately need. Does the team boast too many natural scorers? Or has a leader simply failed to make himself known?
To match Houston’s offensive output, someone needs to step up along the Revolution front line.
4. Can anyone stop Cubo Torres and Alex?
After opening the season with six goals in four matches, Torres represents a way-too-early frontrunner for MLS MVP. The Mexican forward failed to score a goal for the Dynamo in 2015 and 2016, yet seems incapable of not scoring a goal when on the field in 2017. His hat trick against the Red Bulls earned him MLS Player of the Week honors for week five.
Alex has featured behind Torres in the Dynamo midfield this season and, though he’s earned fewer headlines, has gotten off to an equally-impressive start. The Brazilian midfielder has assisted a league-high four goals for the Dynamo thus far, quarterbacking an offense that boasts several goal-scoring options.
Can the Revs slow down Torres and Alex, something no team has accomplished this season?