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Scouting Report: Houston Dynamo

How do the Loons match up with their next foe? Here’s how.

Tim McLaughlin

Tomorrow night Minnesota United will take to the pitch for the first time since the Loons October 6th draw with Nashville SC. MNUFC of course did have two scheduled matches with FC Dallas and Chicago Fire but both matches were postponed due to COVID-19. So we have a scouting report on the Loons next opponent, Houston Dynamo.

Houston Dynamo Attack

You’re going to recognize the most prolific scorer on Houston’s attack: Darwin Quintero. Quintero is the overall tenth-ranked scorer in MLS and the team’s talisman.

At 5’ 5”, Quintero uses footwork and creativity to score. At MNUFC, he played as a central attacking midfielder and, with Houston, the left wing. He is a goalkeeper’s nightmare because he has a bag of tricks when isolated one on one. Look for lofted balls, double fakes and creative passing. His seven goals so far this season mean he’s on pace to beat his ten goal total with MNUFC in 2019. Despite being 33 years old, he is still getting results.

The Dynamo lost forward Alberth Elis last month through a transfer to Europe. Elis’ scoring vacancy has been filled by Memo Rodriquez, a homegrown player who plays in a similar style as Quintero and enjoys quality link-up play for goals.

At this point in the season, Houston’s attack has quality but has declined since Elis’ departure. With the exception of the Texas Derby on October 8th, the team has consistently played from behind. This has put unfair pressure on the offense and they have come through with late scores giving their teams a chance for results. The last game against the Minnesota United, on September 20th, the Dynamo played out of a two goal hole to score two in the second half for a draw.

Home or away, the Dynamo offense is consistent. They average 1.5 goals per game at home vs. 1.3 per game away.

Head to Head - Minnesota United Advantage

Houston’s offense is good, but Minnesota United is better. Averaging 2.0 goals per game at home, a shootout favors the Loons.

Houston Dynamo Defense

The story of Houston’s defense is to concede goals early. On Thursday, Houston conceded three goals in a span of eight minutes and were down 0-3 by the 23rd minute. They played down two goals against Sporting KC the week prior. The Chicago Fire was up 3-0 by the half on September 23rd. This defense is doing nothing to give their offense a chance to win games and I struggle to identify who to feature.

That being said, their derby win against FC Dallas featured a 4-4-1 formation that really pushed their opponent uncomfortably to the wings. (Yes, I can count. Houston was down a man against FC Dallas and still won.) I’m sure head coach Tab Ramos learned a few things from that game that will carry over to Allianz Field. Houston prefers to own possession and press, but something has to change.

Houston’s defense concedes 1.67 goals per match overall. When playing away they get worse by posting a 2.10 average of goals conceded per match. Minnesota United’s offense has got to be feeling confident coming into this game.

Head to Head - Minnesota United Advantage

The Loons concede a stingy 0.80 goals average per game at home.

Overall

The Loons’ draw at Houston earlier this season can be chalked up to Quintero’s desire to poke his former coach in the eye while the Loons squad was drifting amidst a four game slump. It is unlikely the Loons will concede a two goal lead again, particularly at home.

Houston has posted only one win in the last nine games and they show no signs of breaking through their own downturn unless they change tactics.

MNUFC has cancelled their last two matches due to COVID-19 testing results and it’s hard to predict the team’s mentality for Sunday’s match. However, a week break in this compact MLS schedule certainly gives rest to weary bones. Houston played Thursday and have to travel to Allianz.

Head to Head - Minnesota United Advantage

It’s hard to see how Houston can walk away with a win when matching MNUFC’s attack against a struggling, and likely tired, defense.