Sporting KC has played fairly well the last couple matches, but is still winless in the last five. They head to Houston to face the last place Dynamo on Saturday, but rivalry games are always a toss up. I got with Derek Stowers over at Dynamo Theory to talk about Houston's struggles, the rivalry, and of course Brad Davis.
We ask them...
1) It is the return of Brad Davis! What was the reaction from fans not only when Davis left the Dynamo after all those years…but when he left for a rival in Sporting KC. Do you miss him? Brad can expect a warm welcome this weekend, right?
Derek Stowers: The reaction from fans was definitely mixed. It was incredibly difficult seeing him go and even more difficult seeing him go to a rival. However, the general sentiment was the Dynamo needed some reshaping and that didn’t involve plans for an older player with an expensive contract. His legendary left foot, attitude and work ethic, and overall character will definitely be missed and he can expect a very warm welcome from fans upon his return. He’s on a pillar at BBVA Compass Stadium for a reason after all.
2 - These two teams have come to know each other very well. Who is new to the Dynamo this year? Are there any new faces that Sporting KC fans should be keeping an eye on?
DS: The Dynamo made a lot of changes this offseason which included seeing Davis change his colors from Orange to Blue (though as we say he is Forever Orange). There were plenty of other changes the Dynamo did make though including trading for playmaker Cristian Maidana and versatile forward/winger Andrew Wenger from the Philadelphia Union. Wenger has become a mainstay at the right wing position and Maidana has come in and out of the starting XI mostly due to defensive concerns. Maidana was specifically brought in to provide chances for an offensive minded lineup and to replace the service that Brad Davis has supplied throughout the years.
Another player likely to feature in this match is Spanish defender Agus who has usurped David Horst from central defense so that he may partner next to his countryman Raul Rodriguez. The two have paired well in their time together and compliment players ahead of them, but silly turnovers and decision making in front of goal has given the appearance of an unkempt back four despite many of the mistakes coming from midfielders rather than defenders. Expect Agus to provide physicality and a no-nonsense personality, as Horst has provided in the past, but with intelligence regarding service and his position on the field.
3 - The Houston Dynamo are dead last in MLS right now. They are at five points with only one win on the season. There is a recent article published on your blog entitled, "The Houston Dynamo are in serious trouble right now". What is the problem in your eyes? Is it fixable? Can they turn it around and perhaps get into the playoffs?
DS: I believe that being in last place in the league definitely means we’re in serious trouble. How serious and is it fixable are very different questions. The real problem, and something the article does address centrally, is that there are consistency concerns within our group. To me, this is a much more talented and deeper squad than last year’s and we didn’t miss the final playoff spot by much in 2015. Therefore, I do believe the Dynamo can right the ship and find a way into a playoff position – especially considering how much of the season is left. However, Owen Coyle has tinkered and tinkered to find a quality starting XI and he has been unable to find a winning (literally) combination for one reason or another. Sometimes it is poor mistakes, sometimes poor officiating, but when these problems are happening week in and week out it’s more than just poor luck. The team has the quality; it just needs the proper direction. That may mean players learning defensive assignments appropriately, finding better chemistry with the players, or even adjusting tactics to small or large degrees. It may include even finding a new coach because Dynamo fans likely won’t stand for missing out of the playoffs for a third straight year. The team has played extremely well for games, but it has also exhibited plenty of poor decisions which has cost them LOTS of points. How the team remedies that is hard to tell, but it needs to start getting fixed sooner than later before last place gets too comfortable.
Dynamo Theory Predictions
4-2-3-1; Tyler Deric; DaMarcus Beasley, Agus, Raul Rodriguez, Sheanon Williams; Alex Lima, Ricardo Clark; Giles Barnes, Cristian Maidana, Andrew Wenger; Will Bruin
4-4 draw with at least 2 red cards because this is what happens when SKC and Houston meet.
They ask us...
1) This is the 2nd year in a row that Sporting Kansas City have fallen out of the MLS Cup Playoffs in the Knock Out Stage following their 2013 MLS Cup victory. What would be considered a successful year and what would be a down year?
Cody Bradley: It's interesting you ask that because this was a bit of a discussion in the off season. Most people would call last year a success because Sporting KC won the US Open Cup again. On the other hand, most people would call last year a down year. They were a Supporter's Shield favorite fairly late in the season but tumbled to the final wildcard spot, falling to Portland.
To answer your question I think you can use both of those as benchmarks. The goal of this team is to win trophies. So if they do that, no matter the trophy, you have to call that a success. But if they go another season without bringing a playoff game to Children's Mercy Park, it will definitely be a down year.
2) One of the big MLS offseason moves this year was seeing Brad Davis traded to SKC. Davis has been a huge part of the Dynamo organization since he first arrived here, but his salary and increasing limitations due to age made him a cap-casualty. How has he fit in with SKC?
CB: Brad has fit in VERY nicely. He began the season recovering from an injury and slowly worked his way into Vermes' squad as a winger. He's got 2 goals so far and that left foot is as dangerous as ever. The goals have directly led to 4 points for KC and they were both curling golazos into the side netting. He has brought another veteran presence to the locker room and immediately became a leader.
To be specific, Davis is a good match for Graham Zusi. Neither wants to be restricted to one side and they switch fields pretty frequently which can throw a defense a curve ball multiple times a game. Moreover, Davis and Dwyer seem to have developed a bit of a rapport which should be good for a multiple goals this season.
The guy know what it takes to win in this league and he's proven he's got plenty of tricks left. The real question is if he will celebrate with the Roadron after he scores this weekend... ;)
3) Last year’s Dynamo vs. Sporting KC games were incredibly emotional and physical games for both sides which included the Roger Espinoza/Brad Davis incident, a few red cards, and plenty of other memorable moments. What is it about this rivalry that creates these sparks on the field?
CB: I think it is a bit of a perfect storm with these guys. The inherent regional rivalry laid a solid base, of course. But then the three year streak from 11'-13' when they played each other in the playoffs with everything on the line is what really got the flames going. After the first two years of being eliminated by Houston, 2013 was when it really became as heated as ever. Sporting KC was angry and just simply proved that nobody, including the Dynamo, was going to stop them on the way to that MLS Cup. But beyond all of that, both squads are filled with big personalities. That alone is a bad combination. They are just simply destined to clash, I tell you.
I really do love this rivalry even though the games are often so ugly. I think the Brad Davis factor is going to add some gas to things this year as well!
The Blue Testament Predictions:
Vermes has been tinkering so much it is hard to say, but I'll go with last week's XI:
Tim Melia, Matt Besler, Ike Opara, Nuno Coelho, Seth Sinovic, Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber, Jimmy Medranda, Brad Davis, Dom Dwyer
Sporting Kansas City 3 - 2 Houston Dynamo