Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A View From the Other Side: RSL vs Houston

Real Salt Lake -vs- Houston Dynamo
Courtesy of Big Soccer poster brahmafutbol

Still waiting for our winning streak........

In their two and a half year history in Houston, the Dynamo have had a tendency to start slow and build to a big finish just in time for the playoffs. Well, most of us are thinking it's time for our slow start to be turning into a hot streak. However, for every big win, like our recent 3-1 thrashing of Toronto, we suffer a frustrating defeat, like the loss to NE four days later. And throw in a league-leading 7 ties, including all 3 matches against arch-rival FCDallas, and you can see where our frustration is coming from.

One problem everyone mentions is a lack of a striker, someone to take some of the pressure of Ching. We've definitely had trouble scoring goals this year. Losing Ngwenya and Jacqua during the winter hurt us, and we haven't found anyone to take their place. We signed 21 year old Franco Caraccio from Argentina, and while he looks promising he hasn't yet clicked with Ching and hasn't had many minutes lately. The most successful game we had DeRo moved from center to play forward with Ching, and with his creativity and speed he was able to keep the defense guessing, and freed up Ching so he could finally look like the Ching we remember from last year.

International call-ups have hurt us, and not just US players. Onstad and DeRo have missed games while playing for Canada. When Onstad has been away, we've had to rely on our new back-up keeper Tony Caig, who replaced Zach Wells. Wells was traded to DC for Bobby Boswell. Bobby started off slow for us but has really come on strong defensively. The same can't be said for Caig, who has had several questionable games that have made some Dynamo fans cringe, he's been blamed for losing a couple of games, in particular the CCC loss in Costa Rica to Saprissa and the last NE game.

As for the game Thursday, the Dynamo haven't had much success in the past in Salt Lake, even when RSL was in last place. We never play well on turf, and there's something about the combination of turf and altitude in SL that makes it really hard for us. Generally, Dom keeps Ching out for games on hard surfaces like at Rice-Eccles to protect his knees, but since he didn't play in the US Open Cup game in Charleston Tuesday, some think he might be playing in Salt Lake. We'll see. Eddie Robinson is out and we could really use his defense. Mulrooney has been very steady at midfield, but his knee has been swollen and missed the last game against Dallas; hopefully he'll be back tomorrow; he's listed as probable. Ricardo Clark continues to hold down the center and is a steadying influence on the team. Caraccio, though not exactly setting the league on fire, is popular and most of us would like to see him get more playing time, but since he played the full 90 plus 30 in Charleston, he's probably doubtful for this game. The lineup could look something like this:
Waibel, Boswell, Ianni, Barrett
----Davis, Holden, Cameron-----
--------Ching, DeRo--------
but there are lots of ways this could go. Ashe could play for Cameron, Mullan could take Ching's place, Mulrooney could be in mid with Clark... every game Dom has been forced to start a different lineup, so really who knows?

Pretty much every game we've played, except for the opener against NE, we've controlled most of the action, but missed scoring chances. Then at some point in the game we seem to make one mistake which costs us a goal. In past years, scoring one goal was usually enough to win the game; this year, it's been enough to tie. But that's ok; this is the game when we finally begin our winning streak. Or, soon, anyway.