I miss AJ. You miss AJ. We all miss AJ.
So we talked with Dynamo Theory about AJ (and Saturday’s matchup).
LAG Confidential: Right now Houston is sitting pretty in the standings, 3rd in the Western Conference ahead of FC Dallas on goal differential. Are the Dynamo a playoff team this year?
Dynamo Theory: Short answer: Yes. Long answer: I hope so; the Dynamo have been amazing at home, playing the brand of soccer that the coach wants which is all out offense despite the propensity to be scored on simply because the personnel can score more goals in this system. The problem is their road performances. They don’t play that brand on the road and are typically more conservative which leaves gaps in the defense and allows teams to extend possession within the Dynamo’s half of the field. When they play their style, it’s an uncontrolled offensive wonder because they can take a defensive clearance and turn it into a goal scoring opportunity. On the road, they’re far more patient, conservative, and not willing to take the chances they do at home. In MLS, a team doesn’t have to be good on the road to be a playoff team; they just need to be good at home. As it stands, the Dynamo are among the best at home so I think that’s what makes them a playoff team. They must be better away from home to turn a good team into a great team and compete for the MLS Cup.
LAG Confidential: I'm conflicted about Houston. I love watching them play, but I despise the organization for stealing AJ DeLaGarza away from us. (Wait, that's not even a question)
How has AJ worked out for the Dynamo? We miss him in LA dearly.
He has fit in amazing. For a team with only 1 starter from last year’s defense (DaMarcus Beasley), the defense has come together faster than I thought it would. Another piece, Leonardo, another former LA Galaxy member, has helped cement the chemistry along the back. While the defense hasn’t been close to perfect, they have shown up in big moments. AJ in particular is adept at knowing when to push up the field which is what our style of play demands, and he can make crucial defensive stands on the other end. He’s also really taken to the culture in Houston and has shown a disdain for Dallas which has helped his arrival to be very well received by Houston fans.
LAG Confidential: No team has more goals this year than the Dynamo. What's the secret to Houston's deadly attack?
Dynamo Theory: Tough answer to give because I’d love to know why they can’t score on the road. At home this team scores goals because of the system set by Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera. That is a system where 3 forwards in a 4-3-3 formation seldom retreat to play defense and are ready to spring a counter attack. Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto, and Erick “Cubo” Torres are ready to pounce on any opportunity given. This is a quick group of forwards that aren’t afraid to take defenders on, they can pass well, and they are proven goal scorers. Any extra attention given to any one of them gives the other freedom. The combination of speed and vision towards goal provides them with plenty of chances to score within this system – when they play the way they do at home. I think it’s fair to say that the offense is the heart of this team and they live and die by this group. When they aren’t given service as they do at home, they suffer, but when they do…watch out, they’ll score plenty.