All three Houston teams are in action this evening and Houston Dynamo 2 get the action going at 5 PM central. Dos are on the road up north to take on Minnesota United 2 at Allianz Field. HD2 are coming off a 2-0 win last weekend over Colorado Rapids 2 at AVEVA Stadium.
Defense wins championships
Goalkeeper Xavier Valdez picked up his league-leading fourth shutout in last week’s win over Colorado. Houston’s defense has helped them put up the best goal difference in MLS NEXT Pro at 8. Captain Talen Maples scored his second goal last week, and alongside Sterling Penniston-John and newcomer Micael, has anchored the middle of the back line. Last week’s game saw the team put up season highs in tackles, with 25, and and percentage of duels won, at 56.8 percent.
Don’t overlook the Loons
While Minnesota may not look like world beaters based on their place in the table, the young Loons are second in MLS NEXT Pro in both expected goals for (13.13) and expected goals against (4.68) in six games played (per American Soccer Analysis). Head coach Kenny Bundy is definitely not overlooking this Minnesota side and he knows the challenge they will pose. “This will be a fun game. This will be a game that I’m really excited to watch, to coach, to be a part of, because they match up very well against us,” Bundy told the media in his weekly press conference. “I think we have a lot of people helping us with different things throughout the league, throughout the country. We were talking to one of the analysts and they are slightly ahead of us in vertical passes. Right. I think, you guys have seen throughout the season we want to get in behind, we want to push teams back, we want to high press. They play even more vertical than we do. They press just as high as we do. System-wise, it’s a bit different but this is a team that again – there’s a lot of teams in this league, that I think you can’t look at their results right now. Because certain things happen throughout the season. But this group will be very good.”
Ready at all times
Wednesday’s Lamar Hunt US Open Cup saw another chance for some Dynamo 2 players to get some time with the first team. Midfielder Brooklyn Raines started and attackers Marcelo Palomino and Beto Avila came off the bench in the 1-0 win. Coach Bundy spoke about how important this relationship is with the senior team and having these players able to play and contribute. “You look at it, and you think that’s a lot of trust that the first team has in these guys to step in and really contribute to the preparation for the rest of the first team,” Bundy said. “So those are the things that we kind of hang our hat on. I had a great conversation with a first team player today about the mentality of the players that come down, or sorry, go up. You know, I think we had a conversation yesterday about how the players coming from the first team into the second team. How have they been? How’s their mentality been? You know, they really like what they’re seeing but have they been good additions to the second team. There’s nothing but positive things coming from that but that’s the culture that we’re trying to build between the two groups. And there’s a lot to be said about this team led culture in Dynamo 2 that every day is a chance and an opportunity to prepare yourself for when you get your chance with the first team.”