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Know Thy Enemy: Revolution at Houston Playoff Threat Level Orange Edition

The Revs playoff hopes are reaching dire levels, and an old playoff foe could spoil any chance of a late push towards the postseason.

MLS: New England Revolution at New York Red Bulls Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Revolution travel to face the Houston Dynamo for the first time in several years which is a weird thing to say about old MLS Cup rivals.

Apparently these two teams haven’t played since 2019 which makes sense cause there was a pandemic and all and cross country travel was a bad idea. The Revs have won the last three matchups including an early season road match in 2018 which featured a vastly different Revs team.

The Brad Friedel era began on a high note, including that win against Houston, and, well we know how that ended but this is a team that Revs have done well against recently. But this was still only a few years ago and it feels like a lifetime:

Anyway, the Revs playoff hopes are reaching a critical level. They only have four games left in the season while several teams around and, in particular above them, have five games left to play. New England’s remaining schedule after Houston is Montreal and Atlanta at home before ending the season in Chicago. Matt Doyle things the Revs need at least 10 points from their last four games and while that number might need to be all 12, I think it’s reasonable goal.

But for the Revs to reach that goal, they need all hands on deck and getting strikers Gustavo Bou and Giacomo Vrioni, who are off the injury list this week, back healthy is a big deal. Carles Gil is also with the team after missing the RBNY match due to the birth of his child over the weekend. There’s already almost next to zero margin for the Revs the rest of the way in their playoff chase unless they get a lot of help. It’s not critical red levels of mathematical situations for the Revs with a loss tonight, they won’t be eliminated, but they are running out of time and need to keep as much pressure on the teams fighting for the playoffs.

As always we chat with our good friends over at Dynamo Theory for all the major happenings in Houston, and boy has Dustyn Richardson and company been busy. The Dynamo sacked head coach Paulo Nagamura this month amidst a not great season ending the beginnings of a seemingly long, ongoing rebuild. If the Revs are going to climb their way above the playoff line, three points against Houston is a good place to start.

As always, head on over to their site for my answers to Dustyn’s questions.

TBM: How surprising was the sacking of Paulo Nagamura not even a full season into his coaching tenure? Was there a particular game or moment this year that stood out that he wasn’t the coach to lead the Dynamo?

DR: There was a lot of #NagaOut talk on social media but I think most people were surprised Nagamura got sacked less than a year in. There were reports that he would come back next year, regardless of results, and then weeks later he’s out of a job. I don’t think there were any moments where he looked truly overwhelmed in the job or not fit out for it. There were questionable lineups and substitutions, but that comes with most coaches, especially ones in their first year as a head coach in MLS. If Pat Onstad and the Dynamo front office are going to swing for the fences on a big name coach, then Nagamura and the drama of this season will be easily forgotten. If not, we’re doing this same song and dance again soon.

TBM: Houston is already eliminated from the playoffs, besides head coach what does this team need to do to compete for MLS Cup next year or in the near future?

DR: That is another thing that was puzzling about firing Nagamura. The Dynamo roster is simply not good. Hector Herrera came in this season in July and striker Sebas Ferreira joined as a DP in the offseason. Other than those two guys, anyone else on this roster is probably expendable. There are some exciting young players, and Dynamo 2 has had a very good season, so there seems to be a pipeline being created. But for this team to get back to competing for MLS Cups, it’s going to take some time to clean up the mess that the previous regime left behind.

TBM: Surely there has to be something positive to take from the Dynamo’s 2022 season, is there a player or highlight that this team can build on going forward?

DR: Like I mentioned before, there are some solid young players coming up through the system. Ferreira is beginning to find himself in MLS and has shown some moments this season. Ethan Bartlow, a top 5 draft pick, is quietly taking over a starting job at center back and showing a lot of growth. 17-year-old Brooklyn Raines has played very well in MLS NEXT Pro this season and made his debut with the first team in Seattle in Nagamura’s last match. With the team officially eliminated and former Dynamo 2 coach Kenny Bundy now leading the Dynamo, it will be interesting to see how many young guys are given a chance in these last 4 matches for Houston.

Lineup/Injuries/Predictions/Etc.

Predicted lineup: Clark; Dorsey, Hadebe, Bartlow, Lundkvist; Ceren, Carrasquilla, Quintero; Picault, Ferreira, Quinones

Hector Herrera is still questionable on the injury report, along with Memo Rodriguez and Bartlow. Matias Vera is suspended after a red card Saturday against Sporting KC.

I think the Dynamo are going to battle but will ultimately fall short to the talent the Revs have in a 2-1 loss.