Opponent Insight | Houston Dynamo

Supporters in the Wonderwall celebrate after Minnesota United defeated the Philadelphia Union in the US Open Cup Round of 32 match at Allianz Field in Saint Paul, Minn.,on Tuesday, May 9, 2023. (Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

Minnesota United FC has entered a congested stage of the season with five games scheduled between May 17 and May 31. Since two of those matches will be played against Houston Dynamo (MLS Matchday 13 tonight and the USOC Round of 16 match next Wednesday), Northland Soccer Journal caught up with someone familiar with the opponent. Dustyn Richardson, managing editor of Bayou City Soccer (formerly Dynamo Theory) answered some burning questions.

  • Northland Soccer Journal: Houston comes into this match with two consecutive red card performances, a USOC win and an MLS loss. How do you expect those results to impact Dynamo tactics on Wednesday and continuing into USOC play?
    • Bayou City Soccer: Going down to 9 men wasn’t ideal ahead of a midweek game but here they are. I think, regardless who plays, you’re going to see a very defensive game plan from the Dynamo. Ben Olsen’s team likes to defend and try and spring counters or play for set pieces. With a rivalry match against Dallas on Saturday, sandwiched between the two games against  Minnesota, it will be interesting to see how they play things. If I had to guess, tomorrow will be close to a first choice lineup and next Tuesday in the USOC will be a rotated squad of backups.
  • NSJ: With Bassi out due to his red card last week (and in a goal drought) who do you expect to step up to impact play on the road Wednesday?
    • BCS: That seems to be the big question about the Dynamo, where will the goals come from? DP striker Sebas Ferreira has been relegated to a bench role and second-year forward Thor Ulfarsson has one goal this season, in last week’s Open Cup win. Ferreira could be called on to start against Minnesota with Bassi suspended. Olsen could slot the Paraguayan into the number 9 role and move Corey Baird to the wing with Ivan Franco.
  • NSJ: Zarek Valentin was a big piece of Houston Dynamo, on and off the pitch. Who has filled that role? How do fans feel about facing him for the first [and second] time as an opponent?
    • BCS: Valentin is one of those guys that you just can’t help but like and respect. He was on some very bad Dynamo teams here in Houston but he never shied away from speaking to the media or being transparent. Franco Escobar was originally signed this offseason to play right back but he has been playing left back because of so many injuries. Daniel Steres, a natural center back, has been playing right back. Valentin wasn’t the huge fan favorite here like he was in Portland, but I think fans will enjoy seeing him play again.
  • NSJ: Chase Gasper was a popular MN rookie. How is he fitting in with the squad?
    • BCS: Gasper came in to help with the rash of injuries at left back and so far he hasn’t won over many fans. He got a straight red early in the USOC win against SKC and this past weekend played for Dynamo 2 in their MLS NEXT Pro game. There should be a role for him on this Dynamo team as they experiment with a back 5, but things aren’t off to the best of starts for Gasper.
  • NSJ: Houston is facing a similarly congested schedule: Who do you expect to start this week? And how different do you expect the lineup to be at home next week?
    • If I had to guess a lineup for tomorrow, with Bassi and Herrera both suspended, I would probably say Clark; Smith; Micael, Bartlow, Escobar; Artur, Caicedo, Carrasquilla; Franco, Ferreira, Baird. I would imagine it is a completely different lineup next week for the Open Cup game, especially because of the Dallas game Saturday. The Dynamo will want to do everything they can to beat their rivals to the north, which means Olsen probably sends the “B team” out against the Loons on Tuesday.