The 2012 MLS Playoffs have arrived. Although Fire fans are disappointed that we now have a play-in game, the silver lining is that we are back in the playoffs after a 2 year absence. And, the game is also at Toyota Park, so things could definitely be worse
The game is going to be a tough one on both sides. I expect a physical matchup, but I also expect to see a game that ends with the Fire prevailing narrowly. Despite our recent skid, it is due time for the Men in Red to bounce back and get back on the winning track. Despite the Fire struggling in midweek matches at times, this Halloween clash will be something different entirely. A good, loud crowd should be on hand to get behind the Men in Red. And hopefully we can finish the chances that we left wanting in the DC game to boot.
I visited with Stephen Eastepp over at Dynamo Theory to get the lowdown ahead of tomorrow night's clash. Stephen did not have time to get questions to me for answers, but he did take some time to answer our queries. Enjoy the chat, and make sure you are back here tomorrow for the gamethread.
Hot Time In Old Town Asks Dynamo Theory
1. How does having this one-off game being played at Toyota Park as opposed to BBVA Compass Stadium affect your confidence in the team's chances to advance? (via James Coston)
Well, it obviously makes it tough on Houston. We haven't been the biggest threat on the road (3-9-5), so mentally the boys will have to fight though that. Chicago on the other hand, has had tremendous success at home, so I think they'll come out confident. The most recent matchup between to the two clubs was the 3-1 loss in Chicago, but I think we're a different club right now. When you look at the other two matchups this season, they both ended in draws - including the storm shortened game at Toyota Park. Looking past the loss, the big picture says these two teams are pretty even, so I think both clubs would have a good shot at winning in Chicago or Houston.
2. Playoff games can typically come down to a single player in a single moment. Who do you think will have that opportunity for Houston to be the game-changer? (via James Coston)
Honestly, Houston has a few players that could break out- but I think one is a must. Will Bruin. Bruin is only in his second year, but he is a natural goal scorer. Many of the Dynamo struggles throughout the year evolve around scoring, and this is our biggest weapon. Brad Davis and Boniek Garcia make the midfield run, but it means nothing if we can't find the back of the net. Bruin may be a young star in the making, but what better than a single game playoff elimination to begin to make his mark in postseason play?
3. Already knowing your playoff fate, how did that affect the club in their 2-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night? Were certain players rested? (via James Coston)
Obviously, we would have preferred to move up to either the third sport or the fourth so we'd host the game, but I think it worked in our favor in terms of being the last Saturday game. The Colorado result I think was more of a reflection of players who aren't comfortable playing with each other on a regular basis. Dominic Kinnear chose to pretty much rest every starter. Macoumba Kandji started up front with Cam Weaver - he's been an on and off again as a starter this year for the Dynamo. With such a short turnaround to the Wednesday match, Kinnear will have a well-rested starting 11.
4. What sort of game plan or tactics will the Dynamo try to use against the Fire Wednesday Night? (via Ryan Sealock)
I think Houston lines up in the 4-4-2, with Bruin and Carr up front. A nice offensive mix of the power and hold up play of Bruin, combined with the quickness of Carr should be a nice combination. I think they'll rely on the midfield creatively of Brad Davis and Boniek Garcia, while trusting Adam Moffat and Ricardo Clark to shut down Chicago's passing game and keep the midfield in our control. The backline has been relatively solid all year, and I'd expect to see the defense and Tally Hall in top form. Off the bench, I'd expect to see Brian Ching provide another spark and he could possibly have a big impact on the match.
5. Give me a predicted Houston lineup and score prediction
Dynamo starting 11: Hall; Sarkodie, Taylor, Boswell, Ashe; Davis, R. Clark, Moffat, Garcia; Bruin, Carr
This is going to be a tough match for both clubs. I think they'll fight to the finish, with the winning goal coming after the 75', but I'm picking Houston with a 2-1 win.