Friday, November 16, 2007

Q&A With A Pair Of Dynamo Diehards

I frequent a Celtics blog/message board/megasite called, imaginatively enough, CelticsBlog. One of the very cool features they have is before most games, they exchange a quick five questions with an opposing team's independent blog. I'm seriously contemplating doing that next season. I thought I would try it out for the MLS Cup. So, I separately asked two Dynamo fans, CeltTexan and Martek, to answer some questions about the upcoming contest. What I got back far exceed my expectations:

Jimmy Chowda: Much has been made about Brian Ching's injury. Some say Nate Jaqua is almost interchangeable with Ching. Is there anything Ching has done over the past few seasons that Jaqua is unlikely to provide?

CeltTexan: Yes of course, I have yet to see Jaqua sprint his ass off for 47 yards to get cranium to cross right after the opposing team has scored. Ching does this type of thing.

Martek: The main thing that Chingy brings to the game that Jaqua does not is
winning big game experience. It helps that Jaqua has played in a Cup final. However, Ching was the man last year. You Revs guys do not need me to recite the particulars of the Flyin' Hawaiian's performance in the '06 final. But suffice to say that Chingy, especially with the way he was playing recently, was on track to repeat that very performance. At the very least, he is an attacker that brings instant respect. Now, that being said, Dynamo has played with so many different lineups this season through national team call-ups, SuperLiga (Hopefully, you guys will be a part of that next year as well. THAT was fun.) etc. that losing a player of Ching's caliber may not be as devastating as it might otherwise be. I've said it before, Dynamo losing Ching is not as devastating to Dynamo as the Revs losing Twellman would be. The team's depth is incredible and has carried Dynamo for long stretches this season. Dynamo has played many, many games this year and met with a great deal of success without Ching, and they are very confident they can do so again. And confidence is so frequently the key in as a free-flowing a game as soccer is. Jaqua and Ngwenya played extremely well as a tandem many times this season (Find the goal they combined to score against Kansas City in early September at Robertson. A thing of beauty.) I have no doubt they'll do so again if Ching can't go.

Jimmy Chowda: Because I watch most Houston games on the low res MLS internet service, I often confuse Mullen, Waibel, Mulrooney, Cochrane, and Davis while on the field. To me, they are a well-oiled, yet visually homogenized unit. Are there any glaring differences in their play that a Revs fan can look for to distinguish between those players on Sunday?

Martek: There is plenty. Let's look at this one by one.

Brian Mullen and Craig Waibel. Quite simply, Dynamo's attack relies on excellent center service from the wings. You will see Mully pairing with his road roommate Waibel along the right and Wade Barrett mixing with Brad Davis on the left. Mullan and Waibel work exceedingly well together, much better than any other paring Houston has tried on that side. They just flow up and down the field. Mully, though, you'll notice because of his work rate and speed. Other midfielders may match him in speed up the flank from time to time, but as idiot Wynalda even noticed at one point this season, the thing about Mullen is that in any collision, he's the first one back to his feet and at full speed. As for Waibel, you will rarely see a more canny defensive performer. His positioning is always right on, which is necessary as they make defenders faster.

Barrett/Davis. Not for nothing is Barrett the captain of this team. He has the whole defense playing with a high work rate, with excellent and canny positioning and play. Barrett is a shorter guy, a little like Celtic's former captain Neil Lennon. You'll go the whole game without realizing he's there except for the fact that you've noticed that the other team never came at the goal from that side. As for Davis, another tireless worker and easily the best at centers and free kicks. Deadly with the left foot.

Brian Mulrooney. For more on Mulrooney, check out an excellent piece on the Houston Chronicle today at I couldn't put it better myself except to say that we've hardly missed Ricardo Clark. Rico is faster than Brian, but other than that, both are among the best.

Let, see, who am I missing? Ryan Cochrane. Cochrane and Eddie Robinson in the center are mostly interchangeable. Robinson is a better player than Cochrane, though I have several friends who swear by Ryan, I do not. His positioning is not as dead on as center mate ER, but he has excellent physical skills and smarts.

CeltTexan: Mully is everything a U.S. Coach dreams up when teaching young players how to be an effective, textbook right mid. He will never stop running and always tracks back to cover his right back.

Davis on the other wing is a pure lefty with a little more craftiness on the ball. He does not cover the distance Mullan does but is with DeRo when dead balls are taken. Tremendous Free Kick taker.

Waibel looks, when head is shaved and yet with scruff, like one of the founders of the AB (Aryan Brotherhood if not known) and he plays like a hard man who keeps it simple in the tackle and pass. He is the most distinguished of 'em all from the stands.

Mulrooney is Mr. Utility and will cause confusion for other teams as he can play anywhere across the mid or outside backs.

Cochrane, well he is paired with Robinson at the center backs and he is an odd player in that he gets so much trust placed on him by Coach Dom and does earn his paycheck at defense. The one glaring problem for him is that he get's caught ball watching a lot and out of the well oiled unit you speak of he would be the one cylinder not firing with the others every now and then.

Jimmy Chowda: Khano Smith is frustrating for us to watch, but has scored some spectacular goals in the past. Normally, that's the type of opposing player who would scare me. What will your emotions be when you see a crossing pass to Smith in space on Sunday?

Martek: Scared as usual, and then hoping that Eddie Robinson or Captain Wademerica will swoop in to save me as they have all year!

CeltTexan: Smith is the one X factor man that you guys have now that Dempsey has gone to Fulham. Ralston is a meat and potato middie and Joseph plays a deep lying midfield role, both bring their A game each week but scouting them is easier, we know how they will approach their role. From our point of view, Smith is the one that has to be forced to run 18 to 18 over the 90 minutes. He must be forced to defend more than given the option to attack. It was his run and then very clever cutting ball to Twellman that got y'all on the board in last year's Cup Final. I've watched him all year and he has the goods to be a tremendous presence in our league. When talking of him it is where a Houston die hard like me knows we really could use Ricardo Clark to keep pace with Smith and give him no looks.

Jimmy Chowda: Barring injuries, do you expect any substitutions to make an impact for the Dynamo?

CeltTexan: Stuie Holden has been tremendous off the bench. He is a local Houston product that has great technical ability and a riflemen's mentality outta midfield. Patrick Ianni could also be used to clog the middle in the center late on if we are looking to protect a lead. He is a second year defender that has very good technical ability and can actually play a Stopper position right in front of the back 4.

Martek: Stuart Holden, Stuart Holden and Stuart Holden. He started the center part of the year when Brad Davis was hurt. He is a great worker, possesses a deadly right foot and is sneaky quick. If you guys see Holden getting into the game, you should be concerned.

Jimmy Chowda: If you could take one Revolution player and slip him into Houston's best XI, who would it be and how would you play that unit tactically?

Martek: Well, other than Taylor Twellman, who is the obvious answer because of his knack for producing clutch goals, I would choose Shalrie Joseph. His skills at shutting down an opposing attack and delivering deadly passes the other way make me as a Dynamo supporter more than a little concerned. As much as I like Richard Mulrooney and as much total faith as I have in Ricardo Clark (who is not available of course for doing the right/wrong thing to Carlos Ruiz), Shalrie is a weapon who would blend seamlessly into the Dynamo midfield. He would spring De Rosario and, joined by Robinson/Cochrane behind him, would completely close down the central part of the field. This is my early thinking for next year's fantasy team!

CeltTexan: Easy, Parkhurst. Defender of the Year. Pair him with the man who should have at the least shared the honor in Eddie Robinson and I would go to war with that centerback paring any day of the week.

I would like to thank both CeltTexan and Martek for their time. Martek attached these kind words to his answers:

"And Jimmy Chowda, thanks for the chance to post these thoughts on your very fine blog. I think Dynamo and Rev supporters go into Sunday with total respect and on Monday we both will go into the offseason looking forward to another great year in 2008."

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post! I'd tune in regularly if you did this next season.