When Crew SC takes the field at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday night, it won't find the same Dynamo side it faced three times in 2014. For the first time in club history, Houston has a new boss at the helm as Dominic Kinnear departed for the San Jose Earthquakes in the offseason after nine seasons and two MLS Cups with the Dynamo.
In December, Scotsman Owen Coyle took over as the club's Head Coach, bringing Premier League experience and a different approach to the Lone Star State. Though Coyle will be aiming to put his stamp on the team this season, Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter feels he has a good gauge on the Dynamo as most of the player personnel remains unchanged.
"That’s the interesting thing, I think they’re going to have about eight or nine of the same starters they had last year," Berhalter said to reporters Wednesday. "I think there is familiarity with this group, but the coach certainly has his own way to play. I’ve noticed they’re pressing very good when they lose the ball. They’re getting their fullbacks into the attack. It’s a good group. I think it’s a solid team."
He continued: "I think you can look at individual performances and you can get individual tendencies from last year, considering that there’s a lot of the same guys around. They’re going to have a different attitude, different mentality with the new coach, for sure."
Crew SC's players can relate to the Dynamo's situation. Just last year, the Black & Gold started the 2014 season 3-0-0 under Berhalter's guidance during hsi first season in Columbus.
Goalkeeper Steve Clark expects the same drive from the Dynamo.
"It was motivating for us last year, so I’m sure they want to prove to their coach that they’re worthy to play," he said. "Regardless of who their coach is, I’m sure they’re going to be ready for the game."
No matter how the Dynamo takes the field on Saturday, Crew SC's focus remains internal -- just as it always has under Berhalter's leadership.
"I think the Dynamo will be similar to last year in terms of the style of play," midfielder Wil Trapp said. "They still have a lot of the same guys as well, some dangerous players.
"We will just play our style, focus more on ourselves and we should be fine."