“What is history but a fable agreed upon?”
Napolean Bonaparte’s famous words might as well be the Houston Dynamo’s adopted motto as they look to ignore a dreadful past in the Emerald City on Saturday. With a first Texas Derby triumph since 2016 in the rear view, the Houston Dynamo are now hoping to banish their Pacific Northwest ghosts by producing their first ever win in Seattle, where they have lost seven of nine.
At 19 points each, only goal differential currently separates the two sides, but Major League Soccer’s rather bizarre schedule has led to the Dynamo playing two fewer games than the Sounders and three fewer than league leaders LAFC. The Sounders haven’t lost at home in 2019 and a win would see them leapfrog the visitors into third in the Western Conference.
Houston’s pace up top hasn’t gone anywhere this year with Alberth Elis and Mauro Manotas leading the front line. Manolas has five goals and four assists to his name, while Elis boasts five assists and four goals. Homegrown Memo Rodriguez is enjoying a breakout season with four goals of his own, but it’s been his work off the ball that has really helped ignite the attack and free up space for his compatriots.
Known as one of the best counter-attacking teams over the last few seasons, it’s been their ability to slow things down at times and control games with more possession this year that has helped secure a 6-1-1 start. Seattle midfielder Cristian Roldan is aware the tweak that will make facing the men in orange that much more daunting.
“I think Houston has changed their game a little bit,” Roldan told media during the week. “They used to be a strictly counter-attacking team, they do a good job of keeping possession. I think that was something that they struggled with last year and they’ve been finding the right balance with finding ways to score goals but also defending against counter-attacking teams.”
The Sounders have been brought down to earth a bit in recent weeks with three draws and a loss following their hot start to 2019. They have dealt with a host of injuries, but the offensive unit was given a boost with Will Bruin — bad news for his former employer — and Raul Ruidiaz returning to action in their last outing against Minnesota. Jordan Morris leads the attack while finding the back of the net on four occasions thus far, and it’s been Nicolas Lodeiro who has primarily pulled the strings with six assists (tied for tops in the league).
Seattle midfielder Gustav Svensson is yet to return from a strained hamstring, and veteran defender Chad Marshall is listed as questionable with inflammation in his right knee. On the Houston front, the seemingly ageless DeMarcus Beasley remains sidelined after undergoing a knee procedure in March, while midfielders Marlos Hairston (hip) and Eric Bird (ankle) are also working on their comebacks.
Seattle bolstered their roster with two of the better last-minute signings of the transfer window in Ecuadorian center back Xavier Arreage and Trinidadian left back/mid Joevin Jones. Meanwhile, the Dynamo remained content with their winter signings — Maynor Figueroa and Aljaz Struna at the back and midfielders Tommy McNamara and Hairston.
Kickoff is set for 9 PM CT at CenturyLink Field.