What New York v. Houston Says About Houston v. Portland

ImageNow, one could call this a late post, seeing as it looks back at the Wednesday night game between the Houston Dynamo and Red Bull New York. But one could also call it early, because much of the focus goes to what the Portland Timbers can expect in an early (goddammit!) Sunday afternoon match against Houston.

Typically, there will be a frame for this kind of post – i.e. what I’ll do when I talk about matches: One Big Idea, plus as many little ones that seem worth mentioning (e.g. while I didn’t think much of Eddie Robinson as a player, I think he’s pretty good in the booth). Originally, this week’s Big Ideas was going to be a contrast between Houston’s Will Bruin and New York’s Bradley Wright-Phillips (hereafter “BWP”). In the end, though, I decided that adding to many words about New York/BWP (e.g. that he played a pure poacher’s role) would take too much time away from things Houston (e.g. how much deeper Bruin plays/played, how much more work he put into the build-up).

So, that’s that. Now, what the hell happened to Houston Wednesday night? (4-0, that’s what.) Continue reading

Houston Dynamo 2014 Season Preview: Wow…Haters Really DO Gotta Hate

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“One more time…a straight beats what now?”

How’d 2013 Treat ‘Em: 14-11-9 (W-L-T), 41 gf, 41 ga; 4th in the East
When I think of the Dynamo, the first image that comes to mind is Will Bruin clutching his head in disappointment after shanking yet another shot on goal. (Also, I just accidentally typed “Bill Bruin” and think that’s better; go with Bill, Will. It might help.) Sure, the Dynamo made the playoffs, that’s just what they do, but there was something just…off about their 2013 that young Mr. Bruin so neatly embodied. “Moments” came – a couple off Giles Barnes’ boot, Tally Hall had another great year, etc. etc. – but as often as in the salad days. Houston enjoyed their brightest moments in the post-season because, again, that’s just what they do; oh, the stories/bitter remembrances the current Supporters’ Shield holders must have. It’s hard to call one game away from MLS Cup a disappointing season – I’d be inclined, in fact, to suggest that Houston punched a little above their weight last season – but something about Houston in 2013 smelled of sputtering fumes. But, again, they made the damn playoffs…I can’t claim to get it…

Exciting Additions! – I guess, uh…David Horst and Tony Cascio, MLS’s first-ever loaned player

Tricky Departures… – Bobby Boswell

Quality Parts: Corey Ashe, Giles Barnes, Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis, Boniek Garcia, Tally Hall, Kofi Sarkodie, Jermaine Taylor

It Gets Better If They Come Good: Bill Bruin, Eric Brunner and/or David Horst, Tony Cascio, Omar Cummings, Andrew Driver,

What I’d Expect Based on the Above:
A couple teams stood more or less pat after the 2013 season, but only a couple topped the Dynamo at cool-headed complacency – and that gets back to the theme above. Bear with me through a strained analogy, but something about Houston puts me in the mind of someone donating blood. Or maybe a kidney. Fatigue, hollowness, enervation…hold on, logging onto the thesaurus…no, never mind. Here’s the thing: Houston enjoyed something like a crazy-good run since, oh, 2006. That’s eight respectable-to-good-to-great years – though it’s bears nothing that the great years came early. Still, they were one game away from a third consecutive MLS Cup last year…and that somehow feels like a last hurrah. Confronted with a choice between trying to get better and riding (roughly) the same players for another year, Houston opted to keep flogging that same horse. I think this was a mistake. They’ll be difficult this year, maybe even competitive, courtesy of a good coach running a good system and muscle memory, but I can’t help but think that bringing in a couple actual starters would have had them operating among a better class of teams.

2014 Season Opener: v. New England Revolution, March 8