The Portland Timbers head back out on the road today, flying to the Lone Star State to take on the recently repatriated to the Western Conference side the Houston Dynamo. In order to get the low down on the Dynamo, we reached out to our SB Nation sister site, Dynamo Theory, and they filled us in.
Like the Timbers, the Dynamo have gotten off to a slow start this season; should Dynamo fans be worried or is last week's win against Toronto FC a turning point for the team?
I'd advise all Dynamo fans to not focus too much on the results this early in the year with a new coach and rather gauge team and player performances. For most of the games this season, the Dynamo have shown plenty of life and toughness despite not always getting the win which is reason to have faith in the team. The win against TFC shows that they can put in a balanced effort on both offense and defense and get the 3 points against quality competition in a difficult environment. It was a good effort that they definitely need to build on if they want to make a case for the playoffs.
Giles Barnes is the team's leading scorer so far this season with Will Bruin getting off to a slow start; is Barnes the main man for the Timbers to look out for or do the Dynamo have some other offensive threats to test the Timbers' solid backline?
Owen Coyle has experimented a lot with his lineups early into his first season as coach and that includes starting Will Bruin 5 out of 11 games this season. Giles Barnes has started every game except one which was while he was away with international duty. Barnes's effectiveness often depends on how he and the team behind him lineup. If he's thrown into a center forward role with a largely defensive midfield, he will struggle because he doesn't possess a strong hold up game. What makes Barnes dangerous is when he has space to work with, which is what we saw against TFC thanks to Will Bruin's ability to draw defenders. Giles Barnes is our top offensive threat, but if I were a Timbers fan I'm watching Ricardo Clark crashing the box and Boniek Garcia's footwork to create chances.
The Dynamo are 3-1-1 against teams from the Eastern Conference and 0-3-3 against teams from the Western Conference; their current point total would put the Dynamo in 5th place in the East; how bad do you miss being in the Eastern Conference?
I think bringing in a new coach may have put the letter telling the Front Office that we're moving to the West at the bottom of a pile somewhere because those results are pretty telling about which Conference we want to belong in. As I said above, some of our games - draws and losses included have seen mostly strong efforts notably our road draw against the LA Galaxy and even our 1-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders. Regardless of where the wins are coming from, at least we've picked up a few, even if we would've liked a few more against this conference's opponents.