Welcome in, welcome back for another exciting edition of Dynamo 2sday, where we talk all things Dynamo 2. There was plenty of excitement and fireworks to cover from that monumental 2nd installment of this glorious MLS NEXT Pro Texas Derby. We appreciate you following along, and we strive to bring you the best news and updates around. Sit back and relax, we’ve got you covered.
Houston Dynamo 2 were on the road as they faced off against North Texas SC on Friday night in the 2nd Texas Derby. The match had everything you could ask for, and then just a little bit more for good measure, keeping fans on both sides on the edge of their seats hoping their side could pull out ahead. Dynamo 2 would take the vital two points in a match that went all the way down to penalty kicks. The goal from head coach Kenny Bundy, who has repeated this all season, is to score and apply pressure within the first 20 minutes of the match, so they can apply their strengths and play to their strong suits.
In the 5th minute we’d see this ring true once more with Isaiah LeFlore bagging the first of his two goals in another promising 64-minute shift. Jathan Juarez, ever mindful of his surroundings with great footwork and a nose to get forward, was credited with the assist. A ball in by Mujeeb Murana from midfield had NTSC goalkeeper Antonio Carrera off his line to clear, but Juarez was coming forward to apply pressure and won possession in midfield. Juarez blew past a few defenders before placing a perfectly weighted ball to LeFlore and his low driven shot with his left foot gave Dynamo 2 the sought-after early lead.
19 minutes later Dynamo 2 would strike again. The ever-dangerous Jacob Evans found Marcelo Palomino at the top of the box with a pass back and Palomino hesitated before cutting back inside with an excellent move. He anticipated the defense and was able to draw a penalty with a smart run into a dangerous area. It left the official no choice but to point to the spot and Palomino would step up and take responsibility for the PK. Antonio Carrera guessed the right direction, but Palomino would stutter-step and send a no doubter into the left side of the goal.
Dynamo 2 would concede a goal before the break to North Texas forward Jose Mulato, the first of his two goals on the night. Mulato was able to get into a good position for a booming header. At that distance and with all the traffic inside the box, it did not leave Dynamo 2 goalkeeper Xavier Valdez much of a chance at keeping the shot out.
The gameplan would not change and the 2nd half saw Dynamo 2 start right where they left off, protecting the box well, winning possession in the midfield, and getting forward quickly in transition to create as many opportunities as possible. In the 47th minute, Kyle Edwards made an excellent move and sent in a quality cross into a dangerous area into the box. The moment Edwards made his move, LeFlore began his run toward the back post. When the ball was crossed, LeFlore saw that it was not going to get all the way there and he cut inside, beating the defender to the ball. He was able to get just enough on it to get it past keeper Antonio Carrera. LeFlore was far outside when the ball was crossed and his ability to recognize the situation and then execute to get into position is something you cannot coach, and it was a move that showed a remarkable IQ for the game.
North Texas would tie it up late in the 84th minute with the second of Jose Mulato’s goals, and regulation would end locked up at 3-3, sending this exciting Texas Derby into penalty kicks. Both teams would have an identical showing through five rounds, making four and missing one. You could see the back-and-forth gum-bumping between the players and the goalkeeper trying to get into each other’s heads. With the first shot of the sixth round of PKs, Paul Amedume stepped up for North Texas SC to try and give them the advantage. Amedume stepped up with nothing fancy and no hesitation, just a slow trot and a shot toward the lower left corner of the goal. Xavier Valdez came out of his shoes and anticipated the shot correctly. Valdez made a phenomenal diving save to his right to block the low driven shot and gave Dynamo 2 the pivotal advantage.
Stepping in sixth for Dynamo 2 was none other than team captain and team leader, Talen Maples. You really could not write it any better than this, having your captain taking the shot to win it. A penalty kick for all the marbles, Maples buried his shot into the upper left corner of the net leaving the keeper no chance to even get a glove on it. Emotions poured out, with Dynamo 2 the winners of this insane Texas Derby.
Kyle Edwards is getting better every time out, and it showed in this match with his impressive move to create space and get the cross in for the assist. Edwards put in an excellent 90-minute shift, with the assist, completing over 76.9% of his passes, and winning 10 duels (62.5%). Isaiah LeFlore has been a breath of fresh air since his arrival and he is batting 1000 right now, having 3 shots on target and 3 goals in his first 109 minutes with Dynamo 2. It’s a promising start for LeFlore, and coach Bundy said that he has been pleased and impressed with the level of professionalism that he has shown and how he approaches the game. Marcelo Palomino played 76 minutes and had another quality outing, drawing and scoring the penalty early in the match, and completing 87.5 % of his passes and winning 10 duels (55.6%) on the match.
Jacob Evans put in 90 minutes and completed 77.1% of his passes, adding 7 duels won (50%). Paulo Lima stepped up in the midfield in a big way for his 86-minute shift, completing 64.5% of his passes and winning 11 duels (60%). Jathan Juarez played all 90 minutes with his assist, he also completed 78.1% of his passes, 3 tackles and a team high 14 duels won (57.1%). The back line all played 90 minutes. Talen Maples completed 71.4% of his passes and helped orchestrate the game plan. Murana had a solid 82.6% pass completion and 7 duels won (50%). Micael completed 64% of his passes, with 6 duels won at 33%, and provided a key pass.
The substitutes came on and provided some quality for Dynamo 2 as well. Diego Gonzales played the final 26 minutes of the match, completing 73% of his passes, winning 6 duels (50%), and making a penalty kick in the shootout. Diego Rosas also put in a quality 26-minute shift, completing 71.4% of his passes. D’Alessandro Herrera came on for the final 14 minutes of the match and completed 50% of his passes, but unfortunately was unable to score his penalty kick in the shootout.
Last but most certainly not least, Xavier Valdez. The Dynamo 2 goalkeeper put in a good performance; all things considered. He did allow 3 goals, but really could have received more help from the defense on a few of those plays, as the 3 goals only registered 1.29 expected goals. Valdez made 2 saves that were excellent, had 21 successful passes at 70%, 4 throws, 20 long balls, 8 launches and 9 goal kicks. It was a tough night between the sticks for the 18-year-old Valdez, but he did well when he was needed most and came up massive in the shootout. He dove, needing every bit of that 6-foot 6-inch frame, to make the pivotal stop and give Dynamo 2 the advantage they needed to take home the two points.
The match had it all and the huge two points for Dynamo 2 moved them in to 3rd place in the Western Conference standings with 32 points, overtaking North Texas SC. Dynamo 2 are now just points back of first place Tacoma Defiance, who have 34 points. Coach Bundy has said the way the team has performed, with the key additions, and combined with the solid bench and rotational players already in place, we’d be seeing the team start to string together some quality performances. Friday’s match wasn’t perfect, and there were some mistakes made on the defensive side of the ball, but it was encouraging to see how Dynamo 2 responded after making errors. You didn’t see heads down or moping around, you saw high energy and willingness to continue to give all until the final whistle. They never gave up and they were rewarded for their efforts this week in this thrilling Texas Derby.
Houston Dynamo 2 will be back in action at home on July 24th against Minnesota United FC 2 at 7 PM, at AVEVA Stadium. Until next time, Houston. Stay cool, stay dry and as always... stay Forever Orange.