Dynamo /Santos preview

Tuesday night at 7pm the Dynamo will continue their quest for Concacaf Champions League glory against Santos of Mexico in the first leg of their quarterfinal match-up.
Santos was runner-up in the Concacaf Champions League last year and will threaten the Dynamo home unbeaten streak tonight in official matches.

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The Dynamo will need to get a positive result heading to Torreon and the hope is that they can rely on a strong home performance to be positioned to advance in the second leg. Make no mistake this will be difficult opposition, one that is deeper into their season and coming off a 3-1 win against one of the weaker teams in Liga MX Jaguares.

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The game also marks a real opportunity for the Dynamo to continue to reach beyond the base of their current fans and try to attract new ones. This match puts the Dynamo into the global context of the game and a result will resonate through Mexico if positive.
The rare nature of an international match like this brings the possibility of gaining continued credibility and respect as the MLS and Liga MX seem to get closer and closer in quality despite differing financial commitments to player budgets.

Here are some thoughts on the match:

SANTOS:
Managed by Portugal’s 42 year old Pedro Caixhina they are 4 wins, 3 draws and 2 losses in 6th place with a goal differential of 5 and 6 pts behind leaders Tigres.
Caixhina comes from Nacional in Portugal and the 42 year old has only been a head man for 3 three years.
The club has looked to find it’s way under a new manager according to striker Herculez Gomez who told me this during SOCCER MATTERS on Espn 97-5 and one thing is for sure.
Under the new manager they have defended well and now are looking to implement a more dedicated attack led by a trio of internationals including play-maker Darwin Quintero (Colombia), Gomez (United States) and Oribe Peralta (Mexico).
They are four times winners in Mexico and have Oswaldo Sanchez in goal plus Panamanian international defender Felipe Baloy whom the Dynamo are familiar with.
Baloy played with Pachuca in those epic matches against the Dynamo earlier in Dynamo history.

PRESSURE ON THE BALL:
Like against most Mexican teams the Dynamo will have to get good pressure on the ball so as to break the rhythm of a good passing and possession oriented Mexican club.
Look for extended periods where the Dynamo are going to have to defend patiently which will show us a much different game then we saw against deep defending DC.
Equally Santos gets pressure on the ball quickly and have worked at this element of their game. The Dynamo will have to break early pressure with a good early pass or risk Santos finding their attackers quickly in dangerous areas and defend for extended periods of time tonight.

TAKE THE EDGE OF QUINTERO
He generally sits in behind Gomez and Peralta and seems to be more of a provider at 5″5, still he will adopt wide positions throughout the game as well.
With his vision and passing ability he can not be afforded time to get his head up or large space.
Problem here is he is pretty mobile so it must be a collective effort to defend him. Adam Moffat and Ricardo Clark if they get the start in the middle will need to have conscientious and very aware games against the Colombian international.
Quintero has even been more important to Santos due to Argentine Daniel Luduena moving on who was once a target of the Dynamo.
Marc Crosas and Juan Carlos Rodriguez do the balancing work in midfield to enable others to attack.

MOBILE DANGEROUS STRIKERS
Herculez Gomez and Oribe Peralta are strikers coming off goal scoring games against Jaguares. Gomez is persistent while Peralta is currently a starting striker for Mexico and may be as important as Javier Chicharito Hernandez .
He led Mexico to the Gold Medal in the olympics.
The Dynamo central pairing of Bobby Boswell and Jermaine Taylor will match up with these two.

DYNAMO STRIKERS V. FELIPE BALOY
Could Cam Weaver get a start along with Will Bruin to match the physical strength of Baloy who has been known to lose his composure.
Does Dom Kinnear go with the movement and explosiveness of Giles Barnes who was effective and persistent against DC United and gathered man of the match honors with Ricardo Clark.

CALCULATED, EMOTIONAL CONTROL AND CONTROLLED AGRESSION
Passion will fly in this one as it is essentially the U.S. against Mexico to a degree which makes this a night you will be able to feel the edge in the crowd with 400 Santos fans expected to attend.
Emotional control is a must and the Dynamo will have to find times in this game to take it to Santos coupled with stretches of composed , organized and collective defending.

OSWALDO SANCHEZ
The former Mexican national team goalkeeper looked poor on the goal conceded against Jaguares on Friday so set pieces and tempting crosses might be the perfect recipe to force this goalkeeper into making decisions. Experienced yet beatable and these days prone to the odd mistake.

BONIEK GARCIA AND BRAD DAVIS
One might say it was not the most impressionable performances for these two against DC United but they must play as the leaders they are against Santos. Boniek Garcia and Davis could find some width to the Dynamo game with Garcia the likely one penetrate out wide off the dribble or the give n go.
Davis will likely pose challenges to Santos drifting into the middle to create a numerical advantage and test the likes of Nestor Calderon, Marc Crosas and Rodriguez depending how they play.

TACTICS
Dominic Kinnear could alter his formation to a 4-5-1 that would morph into a 4-3-3 for periods on attack. This set up could make it thick and heavy in midfield and try to force Santos out of their comfort zone of establishing possession and a fluid passing game.
SET PIECES could prove highly important in this match but the Dynamo ratio of chances to finishing has to be on tonight. They must take chances they create.

This one is not to be missed and will be one of the highlight games of the year at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Tickets still available at HoustonDynamo.com

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It is MLS v. Liga MX when the Dynamo take on Santos Laguna!!

I make it no secret, I love when MLS teams play teams from the Liga Mx.
The edge in the air is different and it essentially is the United States against Mexico or Major League Soccer against the Mexican League.
It also becomes more intriguing when the match comes in the form of meaningful international competition such as the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals.

Santos will come in to BBVA Compass Stadium with designs on branding themselves internationally and getting to the World Club Championships where they feel it is their only opportunity to play against a European Champions like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United or Bayern Munich.

“It is something we have focused on a-lot in recent years,” says striker Herculez Gomez.
“We want to become an international club and an international brand. The only way to do that is compete against the world’s best and the only way to get there is winning this tournment.”

Up to this point the Dynamo navigated the Champions League wonderfully but will face an opponent of a totally different caliber than teams from Honduras and El Salvador.
Santos features international players like Gomez (US), playmaking wizard Darwin Quintero (Colombia), Oribe Peralta (Mexico) a gold medal winning striker and full Mexican international and Felipe Baloy (Panama) who is a physical presence at center back.

The Dynamo will need to perform at their best and provide themselves a cushion going back to Torreon one would think of two goals.
Clearly the Dynamo will be playing a team that is better in possession and holding the ball than many MLS teams and will have to defend for extended periods of time but will have to have periods of good pressure of their own and force goalkeeper and former Mexican international Oswaldo Sanchez to make plays.

It will be a rare night tomorrow when the Dynamo take on Santos and some will say it is MLS against Liga Mx.
I still find it surprising that some have not jumped on the excitement of teams from different countries competing against each other and re-kindling the U.S./Mexico rivalry and edge.

And no one will ever tell me that these games are not important from the perspective of winning over new and diverse fans to the Dynamo. One way to convince the Mexican soccer league fan is to just win. Opportunity comes tomorrow night.

What do you say and are you in tomorrow night at BBVA Compass Stadium!

Tomorrow I will break this game down and give you insight on Santos and how the Dynamo may approach this game. Plus some of the real challenges and match-ups to look for in this game.

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