New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: Revolution at Dynamo

Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen, seen here taking on Dynamo forward Calen Carr last season, will need to find early success in Houston on Saturday. (Photo: Kari Heistad/

Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen, seen here taking on Dynamo forward Calen Carr last season, will need point the attack in the right direction in Houston on Saturday. (Photo: Kari Heistad/

It’s often said that in life, timing is everything.

A guy catches the elevator just before it closes, meets his future wife on the way up to the fifth floor. A band plays at bar where a talent agent is killing the hours before his flight, and the conversation that will make everyone millionaires is sparked. A hockey team known for its third period meltdowns finds itself on the verge of elimination, then scores two goals in the last 90 seconds before netting the clincher in overtime.

You get the idea. Whether it’s pure luck, or the intersection of preparation and opportunity, it’s funny how simply being at the right place at the right time can make all the difference.

In the days leading up to Saturday’s game, Revolution head coach was quick to downplay the significance of Houston’s recent loss to Sporting K.C., a.k.a. the loss that snapped the Dynamo’s historic 36-game home unbeaten streak. He was quick to say that last week’s game has no bearing on this week’s, that Houston has always been a strong team, and a few other points that you’d expect a coach to make going into the next game.

But the fact is that the Dynamo loss couldn’t have come at a better time for the Revolution. Regardless of how well a group of players compartmentalize a win, loss or draw, you can’t help but think that last week’s loss will loom over the BBVA Compass Stadium grounds. The fans will be thinking about it. The players and coaches say that they won’t, but they will, whether it’s for a split second or the entire 90. Athletes are human.

On paper, the Dynamo are the superior team. They’re five spots above the Revolution on the table, and have been scoring a lot more goals, too. The Revolution haven’t scored a goal in Houston since 2011, and haven’t won there since 2010. Everything seems to point to an easy win for Dominic Kinnear’s club.

Except, of course, for the fact that they were just bested on their home turf for the first time in nearly two years.

Call it luck, or call it a wide open opportunity. If there’s ever been a favorable time to play a game in Houston, this weekend’s about as good as it gets for a plucky opponent like the Revolution.

It’s also a good time to move on to our usual set of pre-game questions, which were last seen prior to the Revolution’s most recent victory (2-0 vs. Philadelphia).

1. When will we see Juan Agudelo? It looks like all systems are go for the talented 20-year-old to make his Revolution debut on Saturday. And not a moment too soon. With the attack slowly coming out of its coma, the Revolution could sure use what Agudelo brings to the table (e.g. vision, creativity and fearlessness). However, there’s good reason to be cautious when it comes to using Agudelo. Sure, the devil on one shoulder may say that Agudelo’s ready to start. He may also say that Chad Barrett’s on the verge of a breakout game, and that filling the Gatorade coolers with beer is a good idea (in theory, maybe). But Jay Heaps would be wise to listen to the angel on the opposite shoulder, and bring in the U.S. International around the hour mark, and be sensible about what goes into the Gatorade coolers.

2. Is it time to pencil in Jerry Bengtson back onto the starting XI? Probably not, and here’s why: a striker’s most dangerous weapon isn’t his preferred foot, his forehead or any appendage or body part that routinely puts the ball in the back of the net. It’s not speed, savvy or a sixth sense that puts him in the right place at the right time inside the 18. No, a striker’s potency hinges heavily upon his confidence, and right now, Bengston’s is a smoldering pile of ashes at the moment. Of course, the only way he can reclaim the belief in himself to score is by playing. But against Houston – a team that’s given up less than a goal per game this season – the better option right now is Dimitry Imbongo, who’s coming off the kind of performance that may warrant an Old Spice commercial in the near future.

3. Can Diego Fagundez continue his torrid form? Saturday’s game is kind in which we may get a better understanding of whether the 18-year-old’s recent run of performances is sustainable over the season. So far, he’s torched the likes the Union and Red Bulls, proving that he’s most effective out on the wing rather than as a withdrawn forward. Now that we know this, and that the earth isn’t flat, it’s time to find out what the 18-year-old can do against a strong side like the Dynamo, a team that Fagundez hasn’t found much playing time (24 total minutes) – or success (0 shots) – against during his three year career. This could very well be the kind of game in which Fagundez defines himself as a pro.

4. Will the Revolution adopt a game plan similar to the one Sporting K.C. successfully employed against Houston last week? During the preseason, Heaps made it point to tell anyone within earshot that his team was going to dish out some long overdue punishment this season after getting manhandled much too often last summer. This weekend, it’s time to find out whether that mentality is still on the agenda. One of the most effective weapons that Sporting K.C. used to snap Houston’s historic unbeaten home streak was brute force. Instead of allowing Houston to dictate the tempo, K.C. disrupted it constantly, picking 25 fouls along the way. As a result, the Dynamo were forced to slam the breaks constantly. Granted, K.C. has the kind of defense that can neutralize Brad Davis’ strong set piece service. But if the Revolution can be smart about where and how they foul the Dynamo, it may just yield a much needed result in H-town.

5. Which teams needs to win this game more: the Revolution or the Dynamo? If you listen to, read about or watch what many are saying about this game, it would seem that the Dynamo absolutely need to prove that last week’s loss was nothing more than a temporary blip on the radar. That a win this week against the Revolution would put them back on course, and return a sense of normalcy in the neighborhood around BBVA Compass Stadium. To use a favorite oxymoronic phrase: yeah, no. Houston would be just fine if they were forced to settle for a draw. They would. The Revolution? Not exactly. A third of the season will be in the rearview when referee Edvin Jurisevic blows his whistle thrice. Going into Saturday’s match, the Revolution have fewer points and half the wins through their first 10 games than they did last season – a season in which they still fell something like 10,000 leagues below the final playoff spot in the east. Too many points have already been shed this season for the Revolution feel good about anything less than a win on Saturday.

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