Venegas battling

Houston Dynamo vs. Minnesota United FC | 2017 MLS Match Preview

HOUSTON DYNAMO vs. MINNESOTA UNITED FC
BBVA Compass Stadium | Houston, Texas
04.15.17 | MLS Week #7 | MLS Game #7
7:30 p.m. CT (My29, MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN)

2017 Records:
MIN: 1-4-1; 0-3-1 on the road
HOU: 3-2-0; 3-0-0 at home

After a rugged match in Dallas that found MNUFC defending better and attacking well but stymied by an outstanding performance in goal by Jesse Gonzalez, the Loons return to the Lone Star State to face the Houston Dynamo this week. It will be another test for the team’s burgeoning chemistry against a Dynamo side that remains perfect at home. It all goes down on Saturday, April 15 and you can catch pre-match coverage on My29 and MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN beginning at 7:00 p.m. CT. The match follows with kickoff at 7:30 pm and post-match coverage afterwards.

On and off the pitch, the Loons are settling into their roles a month and a half into the season, with recent additions Marc Burch and Sam Cronin doing their best to get acclimated quickly and thoroughly. While the 2-0 loss last weekend was not the result they’d hoped for, Head Coach Adrian Heath found enough signs of progress against one of if not the best teams in MLS to be sanguine at practice.

“I think the one thing that we can take out of the weekend,” said Heath, “is the fact that we played, probably, the best team in the league from last year and everybody expects them to be at the top of the league and at no stage were we second best in the game. In fact, for large periods of the game, we were the team in control of the game. I thought Burch and Cronin did excellent for the first game when they only had four or five days with the group. They're two guys who have played over 400 league games in MLS. They get the game, they get the level, they're experienced pros. They'll be really good additions for us this year.”

“It's been good,” said Burch, who came over from Colorado with Cronin last week, about the adjustment so far. “It's a learning process about the way you do things the week building up to the game and then things on the day of the game. Set pieces, things like that, are things I'm still learning. Knowing everybody's name in the first week is tough to do. The second week is building real relationships on the field and off the field so you can understand what you're doing.”

Tactically, the addition of Cronin has given the club some much needed depth in the defensive and central midfield. The team now has Cronin, Collen Warner, Rasmus Schuller and Ibson to fill the holding midfielder roles in Heath’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, allowing the team to shift personnel depending on what they want out of the position in a given matchup. Against Houston, they’ll have to cope with a counterattack that’s scored the second most goals (11) in the Western Conference behind Portland’s 16.

“They've changed their team around quite a little bit,” said Heath. “They're very offensive now, they've got three really quick strikers. They've got a couple of Hondurans who are really quick and Cubo Torres looks like he's got himself going again. Everybody knew he had ability, but obviously working for a coach who he's worked with before has certainly put a spring in his step. It's going to be another difficult game for us, but I want us to build on last week's performance because there was a lot of encouraging signs.”

The 10 goals scored by MNUFC so far slots them right behind Houston in the Western Conference, an indication that although the team has struggled on defense in the early going, they’ve been consistently strong offensively. But the defense has shown improvement and this week looks to be the first time they’ll start the same backline two weeks in a row this season.

“Everybody's feeling more and more comfortable,” said Heath. “As I said at the beginning of the season, having been through this, this takes a few months before everybody feels completely settled. But I just get the feeling that the group's gelling a little bit better, on and off the field. I don't think it's a coincidence that our results have been better as well and our performances have been better. Onwards and upwards from here.”

After this week, MNUFC returns to Minnesota for a three-match homestand that kicks off against the Colorado Rapids on Sunday, April 23. The match is presented by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and will be broadcast on My29 and MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN with pre-match coverage beginning at 4:30 p.m.

INJURY REPORT

Minnesota United
OUT: M - Bernardo Anor (left lower leg injury)
OUT: M - Thomas de Villardi (left Achilles)

Houston Dynamo
OUT: D - George Malki (torn ACL 3/15, out for season)
OUT: D - Agus (left hamstring)
OUT: D - Leonardo (right hamstring injury)
DOUBTFUL: F - Romell Quioto (dislocated shoulder 3/24, out 2-4 weeks)
QUESTIONABLE: M - Juan David Cabezas (concussion)

DISCIPLINE REPORT

Minnesota United
-none-

Houston Dynamo
-none-

FIRST TOUCHES

  • Collen Warner played for the Dynamo in 2016 before being selected by the Loons in the 2016 Expansion Draft.
  • Tyler Deric played under Adrian Heath with the Austin Aztex in 2009.
  • Eric Alexander and Johan Venegas played the 2015 and 2016 seasons together on the Montreal Impact roster.
  • Houston is one of two clubs the Loons play three times in 2017, the other being Sporting Kansas City.
  • The Dynamo were very disciplined in 2016, only getting caught offside 39 times over the course of the season.
  • Minnesota has scored the 4th most goals in MLS this season.
  • The Loons are tied with the Portland Timbers for the most shots on goal in 2017.
  • Collen Warner’s consecutive minutes streak came to an end at 505 as he was subbed out of last week’s match in the 55th minute. He, Christian Ramirez and Bashkim Kadrii have played in every Minnesota match.
  • The last time Houston and Minnesota met in professional soccer was during the 1980 NASL season. The Minnesota Kicks defeated the Houston Hurricanes 1-0 in front of 27,167 fans at Metropolitan Stadium.
  • Both clubs were defeated 2-0 on the road in Week 6. Houston was bested by New England and Minnesota fell to Dallas. It was the first time either club had been shutout in 2017.