We’ve finally arrived at the 10th match of the season. For the pundit class, 10 matches is the mark where judgements about manager Jaap Stam are fair game. And tonight, Stam enters the match with the most good-will he’s had all season outside of the season opener. 

The the back of two wins in a row, The FC are well on their way to looking like a decent team. They proved they’re at least the best of the worst. Now is the time to measure them against mediocre competition. Houston presents about as average an MLS team as you can ask for. This is also the only Western Conference away match The Garys will have all season. 

A win tonight would get the masses hyped for Hell is Real next Friday. A win would also open the floodgates to hopes about playoffs. A loss and this team’s position as a below average team will be solidified, and it will be up to you to decide you’re ok with FC Cincinnati being a below average team. 

So here are the three questions I’ll be looking to have answered in tonight’s match. 

What is the plan with the departures? 

Since the beginning of the season, Locadia, Cruz, and Matarita’s summer exits were expected. Castillo as the backup left back has been well established, but what about Cruz and Locadia? Atanga and Barreal have been great on the wings so far, but now there’s not super-sub coming to the rescue in the form of Locadia. And for Cruz? Oh boy. Do we see Mokotjo come back into the midfield? Does Kubo move back to the wings? Maybe Stanko is the Cruz backup. Does Stam underestimate Haris Medunjanin? Hopefully we get some answers tonight. 

Can the defense hold strong? 

Ever since Geoff Cameron and Gustavo Vallaceia arrived, The FC’s defense has been solid. And against Chicago and Toronto they held strong with clean sheets. Houston is much better than Chicago and Toronto, so the defense will get a great test. Colorado had their way with the defense before subbing out their best attackers. Can Vermeer keep getting away with it!? You know exactly what I’m talking about. 

Will Brenner score a goal?

It’s far too early to be judging Brenner, I’m fully aware of that. In fact given the history of big money signings, in particular at striker, it takes a year for a player to get comfortable and start bagging in goals. That’s not always the case, I know you just thought of a few players who were brilliant right off the bat, but taking some time isn’t unusual. 

That said, it would be really really nice to see Brenner on the scoresheet. Hopefully the trio of Barreal, Acosta, and Atanga stay the same around him so they can continue to build chemistry. That would be a great step towards getting Brenner to be more effective. If the attacking personnel do change, let’s hope it unlocks the Brazilian’s potential.