The Houston Dynamo and the New England Revolution square off at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday night in a 7:30p.m. CT clash to open the 2014 MLS season. The match features perennial power Houston against the up and coming Revs. Here are some notes to give you some insight into these Eastern Conference foes.
New England Revolution
Head coach; Jay Heaps (3rd season)
Overall Record 23-28-17
2013 Record 14-11-9 (3rd place Eastern Conference)
Free flowing attacking style offense utilizing five midfielders
Departures; Juan Agudelo, Matt Reis
Key Additions; Jossimer Sanchez (D), Brad Knighton (K), Daigo Kobayashi (M), Teal BunBury (M)
The Revs are a young squad (average age 24) featuring one of the most prolific young scorers in Diego Fagundez. The 19 year old netted 13 goals and 7 assists last season placing him in the top in MLS play. Now add in Teal Bunbury, Patrick Mullins (11th pick 2014 MLS Superdraft) to go allong with Dimitry Imbongo and Kelyn Rowe and its no wonder that this team is considered one the most dangerous coming into 2014.
Last season the Revolution played similar styles whether at home or away making them one of the best road teams in Major League Soccer. The Revs 6-6-5 away record was second best only to Sporting KC's 8-5-4. The team was also second best defensively surrendering just 22 away goals.
Question to answer; Can Teal Bunbury effectively replace Juan Agudelo ?
Head coach Dominic Kinnear (8th season)
Overall record 99-96-73 (Houston only)
2013 Record 14-11-9 (4th place Eastern Conference)
Departures Bobby Boswell, Brian Ching, Cam Weaver, Calen Carr
Key Additions; Tony Cascio (M), David Horst (D), Mark SHerrod (F) AJ Cochran (D) , Michael Lisch (K)
The Houston Dynamo have tradition of finding ways to get it done when it comes to making a deep postseason run. The Dynamo have missed the playoffs just once in eight seasons while winning to MLS Cup title in four tries. This season the Dynamo expect to be more explosive then last season. Returning a plethora of players, the Dynamo are a strong mix of young players and seasoned veterans led by team captain and 13 year pro Brad Davis. Davis is considered to have possibly the most lethal left foot in the game particularly off of set pieces.
Flexibilty continues to be a trademark of the Dynamo. Up front, Giles Barnes a midfielder by trade led Houston with 9 goals last season is teamed with third year pro Will Bruin who expects himself to be a catalyst for the team's offense this season. Bruin hit the back of the net eight times last season and recorded a career high seven assists. Throw in a healthy Omar Cummings and the offense could be quite prolific. Paired with Cummings could be rookie forward Mark Sherrod who is dangerous in the air inside the box.
The Dynamo are especially strong when it comes to midfield play. Besides mainstays Brad Davis, Boniek-Garcia, and Ricardo Clark (can also play centerback), head coach Dominic Kinnear will have incredible flexibility for dynamic combinations. His choices include midfielder Tony Cascio (MLS' first intra loan player) looks poised to return to his form of two seasons ago with Colorado, Andrew Driver, Servando Carrasco, Alex Lopez and Warren Creavalle.
Defensively, the Dynamo will miss Bobby Boswell at centerback but veteran David Horst returning from an injury that cost him much of the 2013 season looks to be the frontrunner to pair with Jermaine Taylor, Kofi Sarkodie and Corey Ashe on the backline.
Keeper Tally Hall returns for another season in the nets. Hall has started 101 of 102 games since taking over in the nets in 2011. He holds the team record for career shutouts in a season with 12.
Overall Houston is nearly unbeatable at home setting the MLS record last season for the longest home unbeaten streak. In 2013, the team was 9-4-4 at home surrendering just 17 goals to the opposition and recording 24 of their own.
Question to be answered; Will the backline gel quickly enough to keep New England from pulling the upset?