The Houston Dynamo defeated the Dynamo Academy U-18 team on a chilly afternoon at Houston Amateur Sports Park by a score of 4-0. This was the first pre-season match for the Dynamo and the early season rust showed.
The Dynamo squandered a number of early opportunities, including Will Bruin sending a shot into orbit with the goal at his mercy. Bruin made up for his miss in the 29th minute after newly acquired Tony Cascio played a perfect ball through to him, enabling Bruin to slot one past the keeper. The Dynamo would have to be content with a 1-0 lead at halftime as the Academy team put up a strong fight.
Wholesale changes were made by the Dynamo at halftime with a brand new XI on the pitch to start the 2nd half. 2nd round draft pick Mark Sherrod, who showed good hold up play and aerial capabilities throughout the half, blasted one home in the 63rd minute off a quality cross from Brian Ownby. Trialist Site Seoane quickly followed up with a third goal for the Dynamo in the 67th minute off a lovely free kick from just outside the box. Jason Johnson completed the scoring in the 73rd minute by cutting in from the right side, dancing past a couple of defenders and putting a low shot into the far corner.
Not much can really be taken from an early season scrimmage against an Academy team. A few notable points and performances, however:
New Formation: The Dynamo lined up in a 3-5-2 in both halves, taking advantage of the midfield depth they have and the fact that they had little to fear defensively from the Academy team. In the 1st half, Tyler Deric lined up in goal, David Horst in the center of defense with Mike Chabala to his left and Anthony Arena to his right. Servando Carrasco played as a holding midfielder with Giles Barnes and Boniek Garcia playing in front of him as center attacking midfielders. Cascio lined up on the right of the midfield with the newly returned Andrew Driver on the left. Bruin and Omar Cummings were paired together up top.
In the 2nd half it was 3rd round pick Michael Lisch in goal, Eric Brunner anchoring the defense with 1st round pick AJ Cochran on this right and Euan Holden (Stuart Holden’s brother, in camp as a guest) on the left side. Ricardo Clark played at holding midfielder with Alex Lopez and Sito in front of him, Bryan Salazar on the left wing and Brian Ownby on the right. Sherrod and Johnson played at forward.
This formation was likely a one-time thing; at a minimum we would expect to see two holding midfielders if the Dynamo lined up this way against MLS opposition. Nevertheless, it may indicative that Head Coach Dom Kinnear is thinking of how to play to the clear strength of this roster; the midfield. I would certainly like to see formations based around five midfielders again during the pre-season.
David Horst: Acquired form Portland in the off-season ostensibly to replace Bobby Boswell, Horst impressed in his first outing. He was the general of the back line, vocally directing traffic and cleaning up any mistakes made in front of him. The leadership he demonstrated along the back line was something clearly missing last season.
Omar Cummings: Dynamo fans will be hoping that Cummings is fully recovered from injury and can remain healthy this season. The early signs are positive; Cummings looked quick, lively and was an active part of the attack.
Sito Seaone: Sito is, at this stage, the only player in camp on a trial. If he continues to perform the way he did today, he stands a good chance of sticking around. Most of the Dynamo attacking moves in the first 15 minutes of the 2nd half came through Sito. He looked clever on the ball, was difficult for the defense to stop and demonstrated his set piece skills with a goal. He had a couple of wayward passes, but given his other contributions that could be forgiven.
Mark Sherrod: The rookie looked physically imposing on the pitch, held up the ball well and looked strong in the air. He converted his best chance of the game and linked well with teammates. He also demonstrated the ability to drift out wide and put a decent ball into the box.
Jason Johnson: Way too early to draw conclusions, but Dynamo fans should be cautiously excited on the basis of today’s performance. Johnson ran rings around Academy defenders, created a number of opportunities and converted his best scoring chance. He looked far more comfortable at the forward position than in any of his performances out on the wings last season.
Next up for the Dynamo is a more meaningful game this Sunday against Colorado Rapids at Houston Amateur Sports Park.