Derek Stowers, who is the co-editor over at Dynamo Theory, was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about what to expect from the Houston Dynamo prior to Saturday’s game. He even touched on places to see in Houston as well as some of the town’s best food and bars for traveling Loons fans to check out.
After a season that saw Houston finish at the bottom of the table in the Western Conference in 2016, how has the team turned it around so quickly this year? What are some of the lessons that Minnesota United could learn from the Dynamo's early season emergence this year?
After not qualifying for the playoffs for three years in a row, the Dynamo decided (again) to reboot themselves by changing many of the players and, most importantly, going in a new direction with coaching. The Dynamo front office opted to go with Wilmer Cabrera, who was the Head Coach of their USL affiliate Rio Grande Valley FC Toros. Cabrera was a good fit, as his counter-attacking style fit the new personnel who were all brought in. His previous experience with Erick “Cubo” Torres also proved valuable in getting the team’s offense (which stunk last year) going.
As far as lessons go, one stands out above all others. Minnesota will need to get results at home. There aren’t a lot of teams that consistently secure three points on the road —so turning a result that would otherwise be a draw into a win— or one that would otherwise be a loss into a draw can make all the difference by the end of the season. Welcome to the
Thunderdome Western Conference.
Who's the one player that will likely be the difference maker for Houston on Saturday?
Cubo Torres is the easiest answer to give, but I’ll talk about another who may feature as well. Cubo is scoring goals from the penalty spot, from free kicks, and from distance —which goes against the narrative that he’s simply a poacher type of forward. He’s showing strength on the ball, vision with the ball at his feet, and he’s forcing bad passes out of the back while pressing defenders.
The other player to keep an eye out for —who Cabrera said would be available after missing two games— is Romell Quioto. Prior to his injury that he suffered when he was with the Honduran National Team, Quioto had matched Cubo’s goal total as they had each tallied three goals in three games. What makes Quioto dangerous is his speed, strength on the ball, ability to take on multiple defenders on the dribble, his scoring from range, and perhaps most worrying for opponents is his talent for showing up in the right place at the right time to fire off a shot on goal.
Can you give us your best guess at how the team will potentially line up against the Loons?
Any prediction on the final score?
3-1 Houston. We’re very good at home this year and I think we’ll score a lot of goals. However, Minnesota will get chances as we’ll sit back from time to time and make some mistakes which could keep the game close for awhile.
Bonus round... this one has nothing to do with soccer. Are there any must-see places or restaurants/bars that traveling Minnesota fans should make a point to go to?
Killen’s in Pearland (BBQ)
Tacos Tierra Caliente (some of the best tacos you’ll ever have located outside the West Alabama Ice House)
Moon Tower Inn (dive bar with exotic meat hotdogs)
Saint Arnold Brewing Company (first craft brewery in Texas)
8th Wonder Brewery (brewery just a few blocks from BBVA Compass Stadium)
Richmond Arms Pub (English style pub which many expats frequent. Great place for beer & soccer)
Himalaya (Indian & Pakistani food)
There’s also plenty more to check out in terms of museums and other attractions – Houston Museum of Natural Science, Children’s Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Houston among other sites like the Galleria (shopping), Beer Can House (funky house made out of beer cans), and Johnson Space Center (we have mission control).
Alright, there you have it, folks! I’d like to thank Derek again for taking the time to answer our questions. If you’re a Loons fan making the trip down to Houston be sure to check out some of the local spots he unearthed for us!