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Chicago Fire vs. Houston Dynamo - MLS #26 - Fireside Chat with the Dynamo

Two familiar foes do battle again Sunday with a huge 3 points on the line.  Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE
Two familiar foes do battle again Sunday with a huge 3 points on the line. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

Ok, ok. It may be a bad pun but it makes more sense than the "3 Questions" moniker. Why, you may Ask? Well, most exchanges are more than 3 questions, and some are one sided only (like today's). To me, it made more sense to re-name question exchanges rather than using an incorrect title. So, from now on, my questions exchanges will now be Fireside Chats. That is, of course, up to change if someone comes up with a really awesome idea for question exchanges that sounds even better.

Rambling aside, I chatted with Zach Woosley again over at Dynamo Theory ahead of Sunday's huge Eastern conference tilt. He was not able to get questions for me to answer by the time of publish.

New name, same routine. First question is below, the rest is after the break. Keep an eye out for a training report from our very own Ruben Tisch, as well as a match preview tomorrow by Nick Fedora. This of course will all be topped off by our gamethread for the game Sunday. Enjoy...

Hot Time In Old Town Asks Dynamo Theory

1. What Starting XI do you expect to see for Houston's CCL match on Thursday? How do you think this will affect Houston Sunday vs. the Fire? (via Rudy Gomez)

The Dynamo will probably use a secondary lineup again against Olimpia. The 4-4-2 was successful against FAS, so it wouldn't shock me to see Kandji. Carr and Bruin out, with Ching and Weaver up front. Expect to see a fairly normal 4-3-3 lineup against the Fire.

2. What importance does the team and front office place on CCL play? What about the fans? (via Ryan Sealock)

The Dynamo are serious about being successful in the CCL. The hardest thing facing Kinnear concerning this tournament is the compacted scheduled combined with MLS matches. The depth is being severely tested at the moment and balancing lineups is making things tricky. That said, they are playing to win and advance. The fans want to win every single match and every single tournament so it's important. There's a level of realistic exceptions of course, but at least getting to the knockout round is something the fans demand.

3. How do you think Dom Kinnear is doing in terms of his rotation for CCL and MLS play? Do you think this will affect Houston's playoff push at all? (via James Coston)

He's doing well so far, it's difficult and about to get even harder when we're missing four starters later next week because of international duty. MLS's abject refusal to outright respect the international calender is frustrating, but part of life. Kinnear is doing the best he can, with the roster limitations set in place by financial restraints. That said, with two straight disappointing draws, there's a creeping doubt in everyone's mind that the playoffs could slip away if the Dynamo don't start getting full points. If they can survive the next week and half or so, they should be fine since things will calm down schedule wise.

4. If you had to pick 2 players that have stood out for the Dynamo in terms of second half performance, who would they be?

Boniek Garcia and Jermaine Taylor. Garcia has been outstanding since joining the Dynamo a couple months ago. Kinnear changed the team's formation to fit him and he's rewarded that confidence by being a dynamic and creative player that has made the team better. Not to mention it's allowed Mac Kandji and Calen Carr to thrive playing roles more suited to their skillsets. He's also made Brad Davis better by not allowing defenses to focus on him. Taylor has been great from the start of the season but now that he's taken over in central defense for Geoff Cameron full time, he's quickly become the anchor of the back line with Bobby Boswell. He's smart, he's quick and he rarely gets beaten. Not much more you can ask for from a defender.

5. The Fire are extremely tough to beat at home, especially by teams in the East. Do you think Dom will change up his tactics and/or formation since the last time these two teams met? If you, what do you foresee him doing? (via Ryan Sealock)

You'll see the same formation from the last time the teams met in early July, but that was in the early stages of the transition. The Dynamo are far more comfortable playing the 4-3-3 at this point and the results have proven that out. The Dynamo were also exhausted after a tough stretch of games, and even though things have been busy lately, it shouldn't be quite as bad this time. Houston will try to play their game as much as possible, but I fully expect them to try to at least get out of Chicago with a draw. Considering how good the Fire have been at home, that would be a win. So no major tactics or formation changes, just a team that will probably be play defensively and look to steal some points.

6. MLS teams are used to facing the Fire with Logan Pause in the lineup. With the Fire missing this defensive midfield stalwart for the next couple of weeks, do you think Houston's gameplan will change at all? (via Ben Burton)

It could, just depends on how much Kinnear sees Pause's absence being an advantage his team is capable of exploiting. If he sees it as something worth attacking, you can bet Boniek and Davis will try to exploit it. If not, they'll go about their business as usual. Given the fact this is a big game and these are two solid teams, it could make a big difference if the Dynamo are able to take advantage of whomever takes Pause's place. I can guarantee that the coaching staff is aware of it and will be looking at how they can use this to their advantage.