Come one, come all. Welcome back to another magnificent edition of your very own, Dynamo 2sday, a special place where we talk all things Dynamo 2. So, sit back and relax, we’ve got you covered.
Houston Dynamo 2 locked horns with Sporting Kansas City 2 in a melt-fest on Saturday afternoon. The sweltering 100-degree Texas heatwave, mixed with the poor circulation within PNC stadium, equaled a match that saw numerous hydration breaks as players on both sides took advantage to cool off and keep the heat exhaustion symptoms at bay. They powered through it all the same and Dynamo 2 would lose their first game at home this season 1-0. Talen Maples was unfortunate, as he was called for a foul inside the box on Rauf Salifu. Without the benefit of VAR to back up his claim, Maples was left pleading his case with the AR to inform the referee of the harshness of the call, but was left disappointed when the ref pointed to the spot and wasn’t interested in discussing the matter any further. Salifu would take responsibility for the penalty and sent keeper Michael Nelson the wrong direction, before burying it into the right side of the net in the 13th minute.
We saw a very promising game from Dynamo 2, despite the result. They were extremely unlucky in this match and could have scored 3 or 4 times, to be completely honest, and they are aware of that fact as well. A mixture of bad luck, lack of finishing, and untimely loss of possession all played in to the result. The team will take this as a learning experience, with players on international duty, and players like Jesus Orejuela making his team debut on the afternoon, with a very promising first appearance.
Head coach Kenny Bundy was quick to say that there are no excuses in his post-match press conference. “But with this project, I think it’s really important to focus on, it’s a game where Jesus comes in, he’s never consistently been with us in training, but he was this week,” Bundy said. “He got an opportunity to play. It’s the second game for Reese Miller. Sterling’s back in the lineup. We’ve got two guys in with the first team today for their friendly. We’ve still got guys coming back from national team duty. And I say this all the time, there’s never an excuse. I will never make excuses. But I think I try and spin some of these things on the positive where these are learning moments, especially this point in the season. And it’s tough. It’s tough for the guys. It’s a tough thing to go 5-0 and everybody thinks that you figured it out. And for them to maybe feel a little bit like, ‘okay, we understand this league,’ and then a lot of changes are made. And for guys to have to step up for the first time in their career. So, the credit goes to the players that they’re not satisfied. We’re not satisfied as a staff. But again, I think disappointment is felt throughout the staff and the players right now.”
If you look at the statistics from the match, Dynamo 2 were the better team on the field but lacked the finishing touch. Players are being asked to step up with others on international duty, it truly is the “next man up” mentality. Coach Bundy also spoke at the press conference about the team’s performance overall. “It’s the second week in a row where I thought our performance didn’t necessarily match the result,” he said. “Speaking to the guys afterwards, I think it’s really important that they understand that the game comes down to plays and execution. And I think that when we look at the film afterwards, we’re going to be disappointed a little bit in our execution, but not necessarily in the way that we played. The statistics are what they are. But in the second half, with some of the adjustments we made at halftime, I thought they really created the opportunities that we needed to get the result.”
Dynamo 2 out shot SKC 2 14-5 overall and did a great job of taking the half-time adjustments and implementing the staff’s plans onto the field. The combination play between the team and newcomer Kyle Edwards, was really promising to watch. Edwards is lightning quick on the ball and has a similar skill set to fellow striker Papa N’Doye. That’s bad news for opposing teams going forward as the two complement each other in a dangerous way. This is in addition to Reese Miller, D’Alessandro Herrera, Jacob Evans and Jathan Jaurez making overlapping runs and providing dangerous balls into the box. Then there’s captain, Talen Maples helping direct traffic while completing an impressive 89.3% of his passes out of the back. Maples got on the end of an N’Doye free kick in the 50th minute of this match and his headed attempt just grazed the crossbar and denied him (for the 2nd game in a row) the equalizing goal.
The goal of the team and staff has been to come out swinging and really push early to try and take the lead in the first 20 minutes. Adjustments can then be made to apply pressure in specific situations and make life difficult for opposing teams, instead of having to chase from a deficit. Coach Bundy had this to say about the importance of scoring early. “Yeah, it’s about creating the chances to score those goals, right? And I think if you look back at that game, and I need to watch the film, again, because obviously, I’m in the game for the first 15 minutes. I think that changes the game, especially when you’re at home at 4:30 in the stadium. So obviously, that momentum, it’s the best thing that you can do. And it’s a big focus of ours to score in the first 20 minutes. It’s a goal that the players have put in place from the very beginning of the season to score in the first 20 minutes. But I think if you look back where we were drawing some games, you know right after that 5-0 start, I don’t think we were creating the chances that we needed to score that goal in the first 20 minutes. What we’ve done over the last few games is I think we have created a couple opportunities early to get ourselves on the board, and then because those haven’t come off, conceded, then the pressure is back us to get the game back to level.”
Dynamo 2 couldn’t get one across the line, but the positives were many. Young players stepped up, like Diego Rosas, who broke his ankle in one of the preseason games. He came on in this match and put in an impressive 31-minute shift, completing 83% of his passes and winning 75 % of his duels. He really provided a spark and coach Bundy was happy with the play of players like Rosas. “I’m really happy with the guys, the leadership of the group, the young players that have stepped in. Diego Rosas again, he doesn’t get enough credit. He got injured in preseason, in one of our preseason games and broke his ankle. That kid, nothing phases him. You know, he comes off the bench, and he’s a spark. And the boys love him for that. His effort, his honesty, that translates to the culture that the boys have created. So, I’m very happy with where we are. Never going to be satisfied. It doesn’t matter what the result is. We are striving to push these guys to get to the level that they want to get to.”
Like I mentioned before, the addition of Kyle Edwards is big news for the organization. He’s had hurdles in his career along the way but that’s led him to this moment. Coach Bundy was excited to welcome him to the team and spoke highly of Edwards and his debut at the post-match conference. “Calling Kyle yesterday, telling him he is cleared to play is the reason why I coach. Seeing what he’s suffered through. Not being able to play and just train and without any possibility of stepping on the field on the weekend, I was really proud of him. I was really proud of him. I think people are going to be very impressed when they see an in-form Kyle Edwards. I had the opportunity to do that 2018-2019 with the USL2 team. And there’s a reason why we brought him. He’s an unbelievable player, especially a leader to the young guys. I’m so excited that he got to play. Obviously for him I would have loved for him to score a goal, but I think the club, I think the fans are going to be very excited to see what he can do over the next 12 games.”
Dynamo 2 will be back in action on Sunday, June 19th for an away match against Portland Timbers 2 at 6 PM, streaming on MLSNEXTPro.com. As always, you can catch all your Dynamo, Dash, and Dynamo 2 news and updates with us here at Dynamo Theory. Team work makes the dream work, and we wouldn’t be one of the leaders in providing coverage of the organization without you, the reader. For that, we appreciate you and look forward to having you join us next week for another edition of Dynamo 2sday. Until next time, Houston.