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Behind Enemy Lines: Three Questions with Dynamo Theory

We talked to Derek Stower of Dynamo Theory to get some insight ahead of Sporting KC's match with Houston.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Testament asks Dynamo Theory...

1 - How have the Dynamo been adjusting to Owen Coyle's system and style of coaching after such a long time with Dominic Kinnear?

Going into this season the Dynamo had two problems: getting scored on, and not scoring enough. Coyle's "system" seems to be very reflective of players' effort in practices and games but he does have an eye on the competition and will make tactical changes accordingly. The Dynamo have largely utilized a 4-5-1 formation with 3 holding midfielders in the lineup which has helped make our defense one of the most difficult to score on early into the season. Finding ways for the offense to score is another question altogether. Early in this formation experiment, goals were hard to come by, but I think the team has begun to embrace the quick counter attacking style, primarily run through Ricardo Clark which has seen the team scoring more. Overall, it's still a work in progress and will likely continue to be a work in progress even after Cubo Torres arrives, but if the team can make incremental offensive gains while maintaining their defensive level, the team should be in good shape.

2 - What are the expectations for the Dynamo this season with a new coach and a new conference after missing the playoffs last year?

The Dynamo franchise is one that isn't used to sitting out of the playoffs and last year's lack of success saw big changes, though it wasn't a fire sale - the team recognized that injuries were a big part of last season's woes. Still, most fans expect to compete for a spot in the playoffs even in the tough Western Conference. Compete being the key word there. Nothing is guaranteed and we know it. We can hope and it certainly would be great to make it, but if we don't we can always fall back on "new coach, new conference, yada, yada, yada".

3 - The Dynamo traded Jason Johnson to Chicago in exchange for Alex. Where do you see Alex fitting in to the team and does this deal make the team better, worse or will the difference be negligible?

It's hard to say how Alex will fit in. Dynamo GM Matt Jordan said that it was a depth move in preparation for summer international call-ups. What they liked about him is his versatility; he can play essentially anywhere in the midfield which provides a lot of lineup flexibility if there are injuries or call-ups. Jason Johnson wasn't seeing playing time in this lineup (even Will Bruin has been benched) so the move won't be negligible, but only marginally beneficial.

Dynamo Theory asks The Blue Testament...

1 - Dynamo GM Matt Jordan recently said of the Dynamo's play that the results have been encouraging, but not satisfying. As SKC boasts the same 2-2-3 record as Houston, what are some of your thoughts on their start to the season?

There's been times where Sporting Kansas City have been decent and times where they've been uninspired. The biggest thing that I've seen this season is that Dom Dwyer has been isolated up top and that the wings have not been able to send in service well, as well as the midfield not being able to create much through the middle. In previous years, the defense has been the saving grace but now, with a hurt Ike Opara and inconsistent play on the wings, the back line hasn't been the best and hasn't been able to completely shut down opponents like it had in the past.

Overall this team isn't bad, I'd say they're about average. After a few seasons of being above average it's an adjustment (we've been very spoiled since the rebrand) and average play is what I've seen so far this season.

2 - SKC is a very skilled team that Houston may have a hard time matching up with. How can Houston try to break down SKC's defense and score some goals and how badly is SKC missing Ike Opara?

Ike Opara has been Sporting Kansas City's best player in 2015 and losing him is a huge loss. Not only does Sporting KC lose a solid defender in the middle, they've lost their biggest aerial threat on set pieces. This team has already had trouble scoring so losing him is going to be big.

The best way to attack Sporting KC's defense is going to be on the wings. Jalil Anibaba is likely going to be the starting right back, who has been very inconsequential this season. Serviceable, yes, but also able to be taken advantage of down the flank. Left back is either going to be a hobbled Marcel de Jong or an even more hobbled Seth Sinovic. Those two positions are the biggest defensive weakness so if Houston can take advantage of that there will be many chances for them.

3 - We can all agree that moving the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City to the Western Conference was someone's idea of a joke in order to make the West all the more packed with quality clubs. Since the league went along with it anyways and that joke is now a reality, what are the expectations around the SKC camp about how far this team can go in the crowded West?

Especially this year, the expectation is to seemingly test our feet in the water with a brand new conference and a very new team. It's been hard to say what Sporting KC needs to do this season but the expectation always has been to make the playoffs. With six out of ten teams making the playoffs, this should be no problem but with the West as crowded as it is, Sporting may end up on the way out.

In my opinion, Sporting needs to stay consistent throughout the season, get into the playoffs and we'll see where we go from there. The playoffs should be an expectation, a top-three or better finish in the West would be the dream.

Check out the other side of the conversation at Dynamo Theory.