When everything seemed to be going wrong for Atlanta United, a hard earned point at Portland last week sparked a new hope in the hearts of the United faithful. This week, the Five Stripes are heading back home with their sights set on picking up their first win since a 3-1 victory at Real Salt Lake on April 22nd. The squad that stands between them is Erick Torres and the Houston Dynamo.
Atlanta’s new expansion side is capturing the attention of many MLS fans so far this season, but Houston is also turning heads. After finishing 19th on the table last year, the Dynamo have made a complete 180, sitting at second in the West with 19 points and a 6-1-4 record. There is a major problem with this team though, a problem that swings the odds largely in favor of the Five Stripes. They are virtually unbeatable at home, posting a 6-1-0 record at BBVA Compass Stadium. However, they seem to be a completely different team on the road. Houston has yet to find a win as the away team, going 0-4 and scoring only two goals while doing so.
With that being said, here is what you need to know about the Houston Dynamo:
- The Leading Scorer
Erick Torres or “Cubo” has had quite the start to his season, netting 8 goals in 10 games. His eight goals puts him at second in the race for the golden boot, two goals behind Nemanja Nikolic of the Chicago Fire. Torres holds the MLS record for most goals scored by a Mexican-born player. Seven of his eight goals have been scored on his home turf, so while Cubo is still a threat, his form seems to struggle on the road as well.
How does this compare to Atlanta United?
I’m sure y’all are starting to catch on to this. Josef Martinez still leads the Five Stripes in scoring with five goals in only three matches.
- The goalkeeper
After missing the first three matches of the season with a right knee injury, Joe Willis has been the man saving the shots for Houston. Willis has been in the MLS since 2011, racking up lots of experience and even earning the Houston Dynamo Defensive Player of the Year award after a record setting year in 2016. Since his return this season, Joe Willis has played in six games, saving 14/21 shots and recording two clean sheets for the Toros.
How does this compare to Atlanta United?’
Alec Kann has saved 37/54 shots and has posted two shutouts in 10 matches for the Five Stripes.
- The Venue
While it’s known for being the home of the Yellow Jackets, Bobby Dodd Stadium is serving as the temporary home for Atlanta United until Mercedes Benz is finished. Located on the east side of Georgia Tech’s campus in midtown Atlanta, the stadium is incredibly unique. With a picturesque view of the Atlanta Skyline looming overhead, the stadium offers a scenery like no other.
- The Fans
The Atlanta United fans help Bobby Dodd provide a soccer atmosphere that is arguably the best in the MLS. After crushing the previous record for highest attendance in the first three matches, the fans have sold out the stadium for a FOURTH straight match.
Atlanta definitely has the advantage in terms of rest, assuming the Dynamo players are gassed after a match in Philadelphia just three days ago. Houston is one of only a few teams that lead the Five Stripes in scoring goals, but their road struggles lead me to believe that Atlanta will be able to get their first 3 point weekend in almost a month.