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Houston Dynamo vs Montreal Impact Game Preview: 3 questions with DynamoTheory

Coming off a more than disappointing loss in Columbus last weekend, the Montreal Impact are ‘HOME SWEET HOME’ this Wednesday evening as they host the Houston Dynamo.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Marco's men still hold the top spot in the East by one point (and 3 games in hand) over the New York Red Bulls but they will have to make sure to never repeat that awful performance again.

Suspended for the game against Columbus, Marco Schallibaum will return to the sidelines and will have some major decisions to make. With Nesta's return from suspension, who goes to the bench?

Will Collen Warner get another chance after 2 subpar performances recently? Will Felipe be moved back into a central midfield role, perhaps allowing Blake Smith to get his first start? Does Andrea Pisanu get reinserted to the lineup? Daniele Paponi or Andrew Wenger?

At the end of the day, Schallibaum has a great problem on his hands and the pressure is on him to make the right choices. The Impact are one of the MLS' best but they need to play well every single game and gain as many points as possible or there may be trouble in the long run.

To help you get ready for the Dynamo game, Mount Royal Soccer has invited Stephen of Dynamo Theory', the SBNation Houston Dynamo website, to give you the inside edge on Wednesday's enemy!

Houston are tied for the 3rd best defence in the MLS with only 14 goals allowed in 14 games. What are the reasons for such great success so far?

The Houston defense is always something that seems to be reliable. I think the secret to the success year after year is what Dominic Kinnear expects of his players. It doesn't matter who you are or what position you play, Kinnear expects you to shut down opponents. If a player is not willing to play this type of game, he won't last long in Kinnear's system.

It should be noted though that both Corey Ashe and Kofi Sarkodie have been excellent on the left and the right, respectively. Their ability to play their defensive positions so well and be quick enough to help provide an offensive spark from the back has been especially a bright spot for the Dynamo this season.

Does Houston have what it takes to be a true contender for the MLS Cup? What upgrades should the front office be trying to make?

Based on where Houston is right now, I'd definitely say they would be an MLS Cup contender if the playoffs started today. This is a team that is built with big games in mind and team that has proven they can be a contender no matter what place in the standings they enter the playoffs in.

As you mentioned, Houston's defense has been solid and I would expect that to continue on through the year. Additionally, the Dynamo offense could even get a spark with Omar Cummings coming back from injury and a possible late season return from Calen Carr. Many people have forgotten about Cummings, but this could turn out to be the X-factor in 2013 if he lives up to the expectations that Kinnear has for him.

Who is your most MVP so far this season? Most underrated player? Why?

For me, the Dynamo MVP is Giles Barnes. I think when Kinnear brought in Omar Cummings, he had a plan of a Bruin/Cummings tandem but that hasn't worked out just yet. Take Calen Carr out of the equation and suddenly as the season approached the Dynamo were in a bit of a predicament in terms of offensive production. Cam Weaver and Brian Ching would have been capable starters, but definitely wouldn't have provided the spark Houston would need to compete.

Enter Barnes, who has suddenly revived his career, which is exactly what he came to MLS and Houston to do. He's slotted into the forward role, but has been given the freedom to roam around which is something he feeds off of.

If Cummings returns to form and breaks into the starting lineup (which I expect he'll do eventually), I think Barnes will move into a attacking midfield role which could be even more of an impact on Houston's offensive production.

BONUS QUESTION: One year after the whole Montreal Impact - Brian Ching - Retirement - Houston Dynamo saga... How has Ching's season been so far? Will it be his last?

In all honesty, Ching's season has been good. He's doing exactly what he's been expected to do as he's transitioned into the late sub role. He's no longer able to start every match and play 90 minutes, but he's out there making a substantial impact when he's on the field.

Additionally, he's also officially been given a player/assistant coach title and has been a huge influence to the younger guys on the team. I'm sure the title has more to do about allocation of his salary in terms of the salary cap, but it's also a sign that a full transition is near. I do believe 2013 will be Ching's last on the field, but he'll be orange forever. Fans are eager to see how he'll transition into a front office role next year.

Potential formation and starting XI:

4-4-3 formation with Tally Hall; Kofi Sarkodie, Jermaine Taylor, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe; Warren Creavalle, Ricardo Clark, Andrew Driver; Giles Barnes, Will Bruin, Jason Johnson

Prediction on final score:

I think the Dynamo, who are unbeaten in four road matches, walk away with a 2-1 win on Wednesday. Just for fun, I think Ching gets the winner.