The Houston Dynamo returned to Houston Sports Park today for their first practice of 2023 and the first under new head coach Ben Olsen.
The players mostly went through the paces early on, doing a lot of stretching and jogging. The team ran numerous laps around the practice field and Olsen and head of performance coach Paul Caffrey were very vocal and asking for players to give it their all like they were in the 90th minute of match, to show how bad they wanted. Players like Griffin Dorsey and Corey Baird were being told to give it their all and ended up passing a number of players on their final lap.
A number of Dynamo 2 players were training as well and their head coach, Kenny Bundy, was putting the players through some passing drills with Olsen. The players later broke into groups when the goalkeepers rejoined the big group and played some small sided games with a lot of passing and two small goals on each end. The team of Steve Clark, Griffin Dorsey, Daniel Steres, Corey Baird, Coco Carrasquilla, Sebas Ferreira, and Ivan Franco looked to be a very early glimpse into what could be the team’s starters.
As for Franco, he looked very good in his first practice with the team. He showed pace on the ball with the ability to get himself space to make passes and you could tell he and Ferreira have a chemistry. It’s obviously extremely early on but at first glance, Franco looks not only like he belongs but that he has some real talent.
After practice ended the media got to meet with a number of players and staff, starting with head coach Ben Olsen. Olsen talked about the first practice and how it is good to get back on the field. He said his family is enjoying Houston, even though he has really only had a chance to explore the southern part of the city since that is where the team’s training facility is. When asked about further additions to the roster, Olsen told the media he is expecting one to two more significant signings before the Dynamo open the season against FC Cincinnati.
Goalkeeper Steve Clark and midfielder Hector Herrera also spoke to the media and the veterans are looking forward to the new season. Clark said the goal for this season is to make the playoffs.
Steve Clark on his expectations for 2023. pic.twitter.com/Hz3dokLmPI— Dynamo Theory (@dynamotheory) January 8, 2023
Hector Herrera speaking after the first day of practice pic.twitter.com/CREcoHfpKR— Dynamo Theory (@dynamotheory) January 8, 2023
General manager Pat Onstad was the last to speak to the media and he spoke about what the club is looking to do with the roster. A number of players left this offseason and Onstad and his team have begun rebuilding the team. The Dynamo GM said they are not done yet and in addition to Franco Escobar’s rumored signing, Onstad is looking to add another center midfielder and an attacking piece. Onstad confirmed that Teenage Hadebe, not Carrasquilla, would be the team’s third Designated Player this season, so they have the ability to open more space for Under-22 signings this summer. Onstad said the team, and himself, have scouted Ivan Franco for some time, admitting that the Columbus Crew had a deal to bring Franco to MLS when he was 18 before it fell through. Onstad also commented on the team’s international spots, confirming that some of the new players have green cards and even mentioned that the team is in talks with Major League Soccer to try and get back the international spot they permanently traded away years ago.