FC Cincinnati will finish its road trip in Texas with a visit to Houston Dynamo FC. The Orange and Blue come into the July 4 weekend with momentum and a two game win streak. The Dynamo, meanwhile, look to end a three draw skid at home.
Houston Dynamo FC has seen mixed results so far this season. After 11 matches, the Dynamo are 3-5-3 and currently hold sixth place in the Western Conference. But the race for playoff spots out West is tight. Tab Ramos and his team will need to be more convincing if they want to stay in contention.
FC Cincinnati is beginning to see progress after a slow start to the season. Jaap Stam has led the team to three wins out of the last five. FCC is 11th in the East now, with a 3-1-5 record. Surprisingly, all three wins were away from home.
FC Cincinnati Is Streaking
Just a week and a half ago, FCC was still bottom of the table. Now the team has momentum and a fair share of belief. Since opening TQL Stadium, the Orange and Blue have been more impressive away from home. Traveling to Houston won’t scare them, but there will be some key absences that need to be addressed.
Allan Cruz and Rónald Matarrita, both consistent starters for FCC, have left the Queen City to join the Costa Rica national team ahead of the Gold Cup. While Jürgen Locadia, often the first sub off the bench, returned to Brighton and Hove Albion with the expiration of his loan deal on Wednesday. Stam will need other players to step up in their absence.
Caleb Stanko is one of his coach’s most trusted players off the bench and will be favored to start alongside Yuya Kubo. His strength and hustle should make a good pairing with the Japanese designated player. Franko Kovaćevič just had his loan extended by FCC. Stam frequently rotates his wing players mid-game so the Croatian forward should be given the opportunity to feature more regularly. But don’t count out homegrown midfielder Ben Mines, who could make the bench for the first time this season.
Quick to Draw for Houston Dynamo
Last season – the team’s first under new coach Tab Ramos – Houston was Cincinnati’s twin at the bottom of the Western Conference standings. The Dynamo have done well to bounce back through the first third of the 2021 season, already competing for a playoff spot. Houston is coming off three consecutive ties but has yet to lose a match at home.
The key to Houston’s resurgence has been their offense. MLS veteran goalscorer, Maximiliano Urruti, has been influential for the team. He’s provided six goals and an assist already this season. Longtime FCC fans will be familiar with former Indy Eleven forward Tyler Pasher, who also came to Houston last winter and quickly impressed with two goals and two assists. For as good as the offense has been, the Dynamo defense has been just as poor. Despite acquiring defensive reinforcements in Tim Parker and rookie Ethan Bartlow, Houston has only conceded one fewer goal than FCC.
How They Match Up
While Houston Dynamo FC has scored in every match this season, the team struggles to maintain possession and create chances. FCC will get to hold onto the ball and build up possession but need to be wary of the counter attack. Forwards Urruti, Pasher, and Fafà Picault are the Dynamo’s first defenders and they will look to pressure Cincinnati’s defenders into turnovers in dangerous positions.
If FC Cincinnati can break through the Dynamo press and get up the field, Luciano Acosta and Álvaro Barreal will have to create chances. Houston is also vulnerable on set pieces, which could play into Cincinnati’s hands. A big question for Stam is whether the Orange and Blue will continue utilizing the counter press. It proved successful against Toronto FC but will FCC change tactics and/or formation without Cruz and Matarrita?
Houston Dynamo FC hasn’t lost at home and FC Cincinnati hasn’t lost on the road since May 1. That doesn’t feel like changing this weekend. Expect a 1-1 draw.
How to Watch
8:30 p.m. Saturday, BBVA Stadium, Houston, Texas
Local TV – WSTR Star 64
In region video stream – fccincinnati.com/stream
Out of region video stream – ESPN+
Local Radio – ESPN 1530
Audio Stream – iHeartRadio App