FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – For nine years, Dominic Kinnear and the Houston Dynamo went hand in hand. But on Saturday night, for the first time ever, Houston will square off against the New England Revolution under new leadership.
Owen Coyle became the second head coach in Dynamo history last December when he took over for the departed Kinnear – now in charge of the San Jose Earthquakes – and while the roster still has the longtime coach’s fingerprints, Houston pose a distinctly new challenge under the direction of Coyle.
“In watching the film, they’ll range between formations a little bit more than Dominic did,” said Jay Heaps. “In terms of the personnel, it still feels like a lot of the same guys that Dominic put in place. So it has the same feel, but definitely you’re presented with different challenges going into the match.”
Many of the names on Houston’s roster will look mighty familiar; Will Bruin (nine goals), Giles Barnes (six goals), Ricardo Clark (five goals), Brad Davis (six assists) and Boniek Garcia (four assists) lead the charge, just as they have in recent years.
But Coyle has also put his own stamp on the side, bringing in former Chivas USA forward and Mexico international Erick “El Cubo” Torres just weeks after taking the job. Torres, just 22 years old, scored 22 goals in 44 appearances with Chivas USA in 2013 and 2014.
After spending the first half of this season on loan at Chivas de Guadalajara, Torres just recently joined up with the Dynamo, appearing off the bench in their last three matches.
“He’s a goal-scoring threat, always,” Heaps said of Torres. “Whether he starts or comes off the bench, you’ve got to be aware of where he is and what he’s going to do because he’s a classic goal scorer. He may not touch the ball for 30 minutes, then score two goals with the next two touches.”
Torres is just one of many threats the Revs will need to keep in check on Saturday night if they hope to continue their recent uptick in form (2-0-1 in their last three games), which has included just one goal against in their past two games at Gillette Stadium.
“Someone I key on is Giles Barnes,” said center back Andrew Farrell. “He’s been great for Jamaica and has been one of their main contributors all year.
“They’re a good team. Every time we play them it’s always a battle and always a good game. We’ll have to see what kind of lineup they throw at us. It’ll be interesting to see.”