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Houston Dynamo 2 close a two-game homestand this weekend when they take on Earthquakes II on Sunday, April 3 at 8 p.m. CT at Aveva Stadium. This game, the second of the season for both teams, comes a week after the inaugural Dynamo 2 match in which Houston defeated Whitecaps FC 2 by a score of 1-0. The lone goal in this match came off of a free kick wonder strike from midfielder Marcelo Palomino. The goal, which came in the 20th minute, was named the MLS NEXT Pro Goal of the Week.

Earthquakes II enter the game on short rest, following a midweek opening game in which the Bay Area club defeated Timbers 2 by a final score of 2-0 at Hillsboro Stadium in Oregon. After the opening game, the two teams are tied in the Western Conference standings on points, with Earthquakes II holding the tiebreaker on goal differential.

Outside of Palomino’s terrific individual performance, the Dynamo 2 backline proved stout in the team’s opening match against WFC2. Houston finished with nearly three times the expected goals (xG) as their opponents, earning 1.81 xG and allowing 0.66 expected goals against (xGA). All four members of the backline went the full 90 minutes against WFC2, and allowed little danger. As a result, goalkeeper Xavier Valdez was not forced into too much action, but made a save on the visiting team’s lone shot on goal.

Meanwhile, the Dynamo attack was able to generate a considerable number of chances in the season opener. The team finished with 21 shots, including six on target, as opposed to WFC2, which finished with eight shots and just one on goal. Forward Papa N’Doye generated as many shots as the entire WFC2 team, finishing with eight total shots himself.

After this game, Dynamo 2 will travel for the team’s first road game when they go to Kansas to take on Sporting KC II at 6:00 p.m. CT on Sunday, April 10

Dynamo Dos host Timbers 2 on April 16 as part of a doubleheader with the Dynamo. For tickets and additional information, visit HoustonDynamoFC.com/Dynamo2.  

Here are three key points ahead of Sunday’s match:

  1. STRONG DEFENSIVE SHOWING: As spectacular as Marcelo Palomino’s goal in last week’s match was, it was the team’s defensive performance that head coach Kenny Bundy was most impressed with after the match. The team allowed only one shot on target, and was led by the center back duo of Talen Maples, who wore the captain’s armband, and Ethan Bartlow, the 6th overall pick in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft.
  2. GOALKEEPING ALWAYS AN EMPHASIS: Goalkeeper Xavier Valdez was not tested very much in Houston’s opening game, in part due to the performance of the backline. He stepped up when he needed to, as he saved the only shot on target that Whitecaps FC 2 got off in the match. However, fans should be prepared for Valdez to show out at some point this season. The club clearly has a lot of faith in the abilities of the 6’-6” 18-year-old, as the club traded $100,000 in General Allocation Money in order to sign him to a homegrown contract this offseason. If an MLS NEXT Pro game is tied at the end of the full 90 minutes, the game will go directly into a penalty shootout, with the winning team being awarded two points in the season standings. If this match does come down to a shootout, look out for Valdez to use his frame and agility to make some key saves.
  3. BATTLE IN THE AIR: One of the most promising statistics for Dynamo 2 coming out of the opening game was their success on aerial duels. Against WFC2, Houston won 54 percent of the total aerial duels, a total of 61 to WFC2’s 53 duels won. Earthquakes II also finished with the advantage in duels in their first game, winning a total of 45 out of 85 for a total of 53 percent against Timbers 2. With both teams proving successful in this area of the game in their first matches, whichever team wins the aerial battle in this game may have a major impact on the final result.