The Preview: HDFC vs Minnesota
Houston travels to face Minnesota United on Wednesday, May 17th. Minnesota has the slight edge when comparing the all time record. With 18 total matches played: 7 Minnesota wins, 5 Houston wins, and 6 draws. Minnesota of recent times have proven to be a formidable foe. The Loons are generally well structured under Adrian Heath. This will be a big test for this Houston side, who will want to bounce back after a frustrating loss at home versus Seattle.
Here is how I predict La Naranja to lineup:
With Bassi and Herrera out, I think this is the most conventional time to implement the back 5 that Olsen has been experimenting with.
Gasper will make his first regular season start.
Smith will make his first regular season start.
Caicedo in the lineup to replace the suspended Herrera after his second yellow vs Seattle.
Ibrahim Aliyu, Houston's latest U22 signing, will make his first start for Houston. He will be replacing Bassi in the lineup, who earned a straight red from a sloppy challenge on Seattle.
The best way for Olsen to approach this game is to go all out defensive. The gaffer will be without two of his best players in enemy territory. Hit Minnesota on the counter and play safe football. To learn a bit more about Minnesota and what's going on over there, I was able to ask specific questions to Maddy, the Minnesota correspondent from MLS Now. If interested you can follow her @maddyykrauss on Twitter.
Q: The biggest talking point with Minnesota is Reynoso. What’s your overall opinion about the entire situation? A: My opinion on reynoso is still a bit shaky. I loved him as a player before all of this drama happened, but I also always sensed that he was problematic off the field and that it may affect teammate relationships and his play. That has pretty much been confirmed. I don't really see a way to forgive him not showing up for 4 months and not really telling even his own teammates why, but I do hope that he is going to better himself from here onward. It sounds like he has made good progress with apologizing to teammates and he will be addressing the media soon, so I hope he does a good job with that. In terms of getting him back on the field, that should not happen right away, so I agree with Heath on that My input: I heard that the team has sort of turned their backs on Reynoso after his stunt. Personally, had a player done that on the Dynamo I would not accept them back into the family. From a Houston perspective, it is a good thing he is not playing as that is one less dangerous player to worry about.
Q: Adrian Heath has done a lot of good for y’all, but recently he’s been having a bad wrap from the fans. Are you Heath in or Heath out, and why? A: I am all the way Heath out. I have been Heath out for years and while I may have gained some respect, I have lost all of that. If we do not win tonight, we are winless in 7 and have NO home wins in the 2023 season. This combined with our poor playoff performance last year and our poor record right now mean Heath needs to go. My input: I was completely unaware of just how bad this season has gone for Minnesota. Just looking at the standings Minnesota is in 9th so from an outside perspective that doesn't seem terrible. No home wins is atrocious however. Maybe Houston can take advantage of the poor home record.
Q: Former Minnesota’s draft pick Chase Gasper is now with Houston after we picked up his waiver from LA. What do Minnesota fans think of him and what can Dynamo fans expect from him?
A: MN Fans LOVE Gasper!! He was a fan favorite in MN, a great guy, and a hard worker. If given consistent minutes and support from the Houston staff, fans can expect a solid 1 on 1 defender who is not afraid to be aggressive and can hold down his side of the field well. My input: Chase hasn't started off too hot in Houston. His first start came against SKC in the USOC where he earned an early red card from an obstruction of an obvious goal scoring opportunity. Fans are low on Chase as of right now. However, there is a reason LA payed upwards to around $500k GAM on him.
Q: On the flip side, former Dynamo fullback Zarek Valentin was picked up from Minnesota in the off-season. With 6 apps and 1 assist, how would you say he’s done so far? A: Personally, I think Zarek has been great! I would prefer him to start over DJ Taylor. Zarek just knows what he's doing. Just watching him you can tell he's been doing this for awhile. He's great at communication, always finds himself in the right spot on the field, and is great at getting into the attack as often as possible. Would love to see him play more. My input: Zarek is a great veteran and a wonderful leader on the field. His appearance in the MLS Cup final with Portalnd has etched him into a pretty solid defender. While he never offered much going forward down here in the H, Zarek is a fan favorite! Long time listeners of the podcast may remember when we interviewed Valentin. very good player and even better human.
Q: With Bassi and Hector out today vs Minnesota, which player on this Houston side worries you the most? A: Biggest scare on Houston for me is probably Corey Baird. Anybody who can score is a scare because we like to let goals in on stupid mistakes and turnovers! My input: Turnovers are one thing Houston can force, but they are not so good at turning into goals. So we will see!
Q: What will Houston need to do to grab a result away to Minnesota? A: For Houston to win, they will need to find a way to be creative in the attack and press often. Despite many silly mistakes on the backline, the backline can play really well as a team and be hard to bypass. Houston will have to be creative and shoot well to get around that and Dayne. My input: Creativity is something we won't see from this Houston side. The best chance of success is to force mistakes.
Q: Lineup prediction? A: Dayne, back to our 4 back of DJ, Kemar, Tapias, and Boxall. Mids- Dotson, Arriaga, Lod, Forwards- Bongi, Mender, Sang Bin My input: That seems like a slowish (???) backline. Other than that a very solid lineup.
Q: Score prediciton? A: MN 2 - 0 Houston My input: MN 1 - 0 Houston. Just don't see Houston pulling out a result in the absence of our two best players.
As always, this has been Colin with Keeping Tabs, making sure that you keep YOUR tabs. #HoldItDown. Thank you!