Tag Archives: Darbi Lockridge

“Having a Professional Soccer Team is a Privilege Not a Right.”

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

Well, friends, it’s been a whole MONTH since I’ve been able to sit down and put any words on a screen for MLSFemale, and I apologize for my absence. Between the start of the school year and youth soccer season, and some waves in the unscripted reality show of real life, I simply haven’t had the headspace to devote to covering the Houston Dynamo’s functional slip from playoff contention over their last four matches.

With the same count left in the season, one match of which will play out before this article goes online, the Dynamo have only their pride and the city to play for, the latter having become an increasingly tough crowd to stand for. The players will have to dig deep – both in the depths of their own hearts and through mountains of negative social media posts – to find the inspiration to compete.

I’ve mentioned repeatedly since signing on to cover the team that I am Forever Orange – a fan through wins, losses, trades, and turnover. I love the sport of soccer, and nothing is more of a privilege to me than to have a home team within driving distance to support. As my friend Sean Ringrose has often said, having a professional soccer team is a privilege and not a right. I make it a habit not to take the organization for granted and to express heartfelt gratitude to all of the staff that keep the wheels greased and turning every chance that I get. 

Despite my love for the game, the team, and the staff that support my soccer habit, I remain aware of my own shortcomings. I have never coached a team – not even kids rec team. I’ve definitely never managed a professional sports organization or any portion of its staff. And, most tragically, I have never accumulated any kind of wealth that would earn me even the tiniest level of ownership of a professional team.

With those things in mind, when I take to the keyboard to review or critique the team’s performance in an article or online, I am doing so from a layman’s perspective. I am absolutely opinionated and appreciate every platform that I am provided to express my thoughts. However, I have never once expected that my opinions bear any weight or hold any purchase in the upper echelons of the actual Dynamo training space or front office. 

That is not to say that the organization isn’t listening. When John Walker came into the Dynamo/Dash organization as President of Business Operations almost a year ago, he worked to make sure that fans started having more access to communicate with and provide feedback to the front office. I’ve been in several rooms with him myself and have happened upon him out in the world on more than one occasion. But given an inch, a number of fans have taken this newfound access to another level. 

In addition to improving communication, John Walker has started making changes to the operations of the club and the stadium, which is absolutely what he was brought to Houston to do. Some fans were unhappy about changes and have taken to social media to lodge complaints. This became less of an opportunity for people to be heard and more of a showcase where fans with differing opinions began going after one another.

I have been right in the middle of it and own my place in the mudslinging. Fans that love the team are pitted against fans that love their seats. Fans that dislike ownership are frustrated at fans that continue to show up and spend money. The Dynamo have stopped being a uniting force for their Houston fans and have become a team that has fans split into factions, each with their own ideas and demands for the office and ownership.  

And besides all of the real life stuff, that is where my head has been for the last month. I looked around at my social media, my team, and its fan base and decided it was time to step away for a minute and take stock.

My simple reality is that I am here to support. Period. I’ll be standing, singing, and supporting my team for the rest of this season and into the next. I’ll have my 2020 season tickets in the supporters section – regardless of where the front office decides it will land next year. I refuse to be one more opinionated amateur screaming on social media, demanding to be heard, and I’m done engaging with them to increase the visibility and reach of their complaints.    

And to quote Bubba Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

And with that, it’s time to get ready and head to Houston – the Dynamo take on Orlando City tonight at BBVA Stadium.

Featured image: @HoustonDynamo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Houston Dynamo – Big Changes, Big Comebacks, and the Big Picture

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

 Since the Houston Dynamo played the Colorado Rapids at home last week, I have written, rewritten, scrapped, and started over on this article more times than I can remember.

It has been a whirlwind week, and I’ve struggled with how to communicate my ideas on the match as well as the state of the club. I’ve gathered some thoughts, so I’ll get this article written before something else monumental happens! 

Just four days before the Rapids came to Houston, the Dynamo front office announced that the club had parted ways with Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera. Cabrera’s time with the club was definitely Dickensian – both the best and worst of times.

While we brought home our first US Open Cup in 2018 and started the 2019 season with the best early showing in the club’s history, struggles also permeated his tenure with the failure to make the playoffs while on that Open Cup run and a steep drop in performance after the banner 2019 start. In short, Cabrera’s willingness to gamble in high stakes moments sometimes paid off, but his unwillingness to fold a losing hand cost the club – often more than they could afford. 

The Dynamo named David Arnaud as interim coach – a familiar face from the assistant coaching staff since 2017. Arnaud is no stranger to MLS as he just transitioned from player to coaching staff with D.C. United in 2016. He came back home to Texas the following year to join the Dynamo staff. As I said on Twitter this week:

With just a couple of days of training together, Arnaud led Houston against Colorado at home on Saturday. After struggling defensively in the first half and passing two easy goals to the Rapids, the Dynamo came back in the second half and tied it up, finishing the match 2-2.

While the team only earned a point, it was an important one. Houston showing fans they can regroup at the half, update tactics, and return with a different level of play is something that has been lacking. While the organization still has a lot of making up to do with fans, the results of the first match in this new era added more hope than fear to the relationship. 

With the playoff line rising further out of reach for the Dynamo, fans begin to determine their place with the club at this point in the season. It’s easy to love a team that wins more than they lose and cities love to tout hardware brought home by their teams. But fans that love their teams regardless of their results and cities that support clubs beyond their ability to win trophies are what make real stories.

Just ahead of their Rivalry Week match up in Frisco against FC Dallas, the Houston Dynamo took the time to meet with their season ticket holders at a private event on Wednesday.

My stepson plays skiball with Adam Lundkvist, I get a photo with some of my guys, and get a selfie with Interim Head Coach David Arnaud.

Meeting players, coaches, and staff outside of the stadium is awesome. Maybe it’s the soccer mom that exists at my core, but I love these guys and I appreciate their efforts. And my Dynamo staff keep the place running so that I can continue to support week in and week out. I take that support on the road to FC Dallas this Sunday as we fight to return El Capitan home

Featured image:  @lesliecphotos

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Houston’s Road Trip Blues: Second Verse, Same As The First

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

The Houston Dynamo are in another slump, with a string of losses beginning with their exit from the League’s Cup at the end of July and three more MLS losses since. After letting three road points slip away in New York last Thursday, they traveled to Philadelphia to test their road efforts again. 

Head coach Wilmer Cabrera, no stranger to surprises with his starting XI, brought along Houston’s three new players. Chilean defender José Bizama, has been working through visa issues for a month, while Christian Ramirez and Niko Hansen were signed less than a week ahead of the Union match. All three made the roster for Thursday night’s match – Bizama and Ramirez started, while Hansen was on the bench. The new players may not have been fully prepared for league play, as Ramirez and Bizama each had to be subbed out due to cramping between the 70th and 85th minutes. 

Houston veteran DaMarcus Beasley had been subbed out even earlier, which left Houston with no options when Juan David Cabezas exited the match after being fouled hard, and the Dynamo finished the match with ten men. In New York, the team was down a man after a red card, so running shorthanded is starting to become a bad habit for Houston. 

The second familiar tune of the evening was heading into the half tied at a point. While the halftime result was identical to the NYC match, the Dynamo did less with the possibilities further down the East Coast in Philly. Houston put forth lots of effort and had some great combinations, but the constant turnover with subs and injuries in the last fifteen minutes was more than they could overcome. Houston fell to the Philadelphia Union 2-1 after an Elliot header in the 78th minute.

I attempt to belay cognitive bias when evaluating player’s efforts, and fight against the halo effect consciously. For those that aren’t psychology nerds like me, the halo effect as it applies to soccer is the tendency to judge a player’s overall performance based on a single match or play. That being said, I will abandon all of this academic speech to simply say that Houston keeper Joe Willis really needs to get his mojo back. 

Every keeper gets scored on, and every one makes mistakes. I’ve maintained a positive view of Willis through some of the recent losses and have refused to allow the halo effect to let a couple of bad matches color my entire view of his career. Whatever has happened to his game, I’m ready for him to recover. Recent shots getting past Willis are slow and sloppy – not impressive shots that would be forgivable to miss. 

Overall the Dynamo continue to show moments of brilliance offensively and defensively but have been unable to get the entire team functioning on all cylinders for more than a half. Big changes have happened to the roster over the last week, and Wilmer Cabrera has parted ways with the club in the time I’ve been working on this article! Undoubtedly, there will be lots of big things to discuss after the Dynamo come home to face the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.  

Featured image:  @HoustonDynamo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Houston Dynamo Get And Lose Points at Yankee Stadium

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

After the Houston Dynamo were unable to score a single goal in their last two matches at home, they traveled to Yankee Stadium on Thursday night to try to break the drought on the road. The Dynamo managed to find the back of the net twice that evening, but that wasn’t enough to save them from a 2-3 loss against NYCFC.

NYCFC took an early lead after a goal in the 16th minute, but the Dynamo were able to tie it up just ten minutes later. A perfectly placed pass from Tommy McNamara landed at the feet of defender Juan David Cabezas, who launched the ball at the net and surprised Johnson.

With the goal drought broken, a sense of hope began to stir for Houston. Unfortunately, poor decisions knocked the excitement out of the air only a couple of minutes later as Romell Quioto earned a red card in the 29th minute and left only ten men in orange for the last hour of the match. 

If ever there were a pitch to be defending a road point with ten men, however, it’s the efficiency apartment-sized pitch that NYCFC call home. The Dynamo dug in and held onto the tie through a barrage of New York chances.

The Dynamo went into the half tied 1-1 and the weather gave us some extra time to bask in our efforts and solidify the second half plan as lightning increased the break with a weather delay. 

In the second half, the Dynamo continued their effort to hold on to that road point, rarely traveling outside of their own half. In one of those trips, however, Mauro Manotas gave Houston fans the thrill of the evening from 22 yards out when he pulled his team ahead with a second goal in the 77th minute. 

Houston was ahead for five glorious minutes until Castellanos tied it up again in the 83rd minute. The Dynamo were poised to make it out with a road point, and fans on social media urged the team to park the bus. The road point was not to be, however, as Castellanos scored again in the 93rd minute and Houston conceded all three points to NYCFC. 

As I mentioned in my last article, I am focusing on the positives for the rest of the season. From that lens, I was impressed by both Dynamo goals on Thursday. Neither was a messy luck shot; both were expertly placed rockets that beat Sean Johnson’s dives. I was also impressed that Houston held NYCFC at bay despite being down to ten men for an hour. The match analysis shows just how much worse the results could have been. 

It seems that the Dynamo found that finishing touch that they lost at home – their two goals being their only two shots on goal for the entire night. After weeks of repeated shots on goal with no actual points, this stark reversal of that trend was a welcome view on the stat board. Fans can only hope that it is a start of a new trend and not just a fluke in New York.  

The Dynamo remain on the road and take a short ride down to Philadelphia to battle the Union on Sunday evening. 

Featured image:  @HoustonDynamo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Chicago’s Fire Too Hot for Houston at Home

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

FT: HOU v CHI 0-1

When going up against an opponent with such a visual name as the Chicago Fire, I cannot help but fall prey to the metaphorical title.

The reality was, however, that the Houston Dynamo didn’t struggle with Chicago’s heat as much as with the brimstone brought by their own demons – the failure to convert chances into goals and their inability to shake off officiating disagreements. 

The collective Dynamo ego needed a solid win against Chicago last Saturday night to shake off the previous week’s loss on their home pitch, and Houston fans came with high expectations with the return of Alberth Elis to the starting eleven. The playmaker’s return, however, was simply not enough to overcome the darkness of a growing number of scoreless minutes at home.

Ultimately, a defensive error off of a Fire set piece late in the first half was the goal that lost Houston their points at home with a 1-0 defeat. A wild mess of ricochets in the box at the hour mark almost doubled the loss, but the one hour minute was the only time that Lady Luck wore orange in BBVA Stadium that night. 

It’s not an easy time to be a Houston Dynamo fan. Not only are our playoff chances slipping away, but it seems that the League’s Disciplinary committee, PROreferees, and the MLS community as a whole are rallying against us.

Even among fans, the schism between supporters groups and other fans is growing as seating changes for the 2020 season have pitted fans against one another. Additionally, the blame game continues to recruit fans to various camps looking for the reason behind the Dynamo season’s decline. 

And while many fans left the stadium on Saturday night disappointed and pondering their own blame stance, I left with a renewed vision of the real importance of soccer in our community. 

After Saturday night’s regular MLS match, the League’s Unified teams had an opportunity to play in front of fans at BBVA. The Unified teams are the result of a partnership between the League’s social responsibility platform, ESPN, and the Special Olympics. They provide an opportunity for athletes with intellectual disabilities, as well as advocates, to participate in the beautiful game in conjunction with their first team counterparts.

Both the Dynamo and Fire Unified teams put forth a great effort and ended their Saturday night match with a 1-1 draw. The fans in attendance were supportive, interactive, and absolutely the epitome of what I love to see among fans at any match. 

The rest of the weekend’s non-sports news has left me largely gutted, and that is undoubtedly the reason behind the lateness of this report. Supporting soccer, attending matches, and cheering on your team should be a reprieve from some of the more painful realities in the world – it absolutely shouldn’t be one more plight to add to the pile. The joy, the camaraderie, and the acceptance inherent in the Unified teams’ efforts is a flagship for where my own focus on the beautiful match should lie. 

I’m making an effort in the coming weeks to focus on the positive, to find hope in possibilities, and as always to support my team without fail. Being a fan is one of the best parts of my week, and I’m not going to be dragged down to the depths arguing over results, regrets, or reactions. I am Forever Orange. And I look forward to sharing more news about my team after the Dynamo face NYCFC on Thursday and Philadelphia on Sunday. 

Featured image:  Leslie Chairez 

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Stats Don’t Earn Points – Dynamo Fall to Seattle At Home

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

HOUvSEA: 0-1

The Houston Dynamo returned home last week hot off a road win in Toronto. There was no time to rest, however, as they went up against LigaMX powerhouse Club America on Wednesday.

While the Dynamo had an amazing showing, they narrowly lost after tying in regular time and going to penalty kicks. In MLS standings, they were sitting just below the playoff line and needed three points to keep from falling any farther out of playoff contention. With a solid record at home, Houston being in their fortress on Saturday should have been a recipe to a win. 

The pot began to spoil before the match even started, with the MLS Disciplinary Committee dealing out some late decisions on Friday night. Playmaker Alberth Elis had already served a single match suspension in the last league match after being carded for contact with the referee on July 17. DisCo decided to extend his suspension to include Saturday’s game about 24 hours ahead of the match. 

No one can be sure what Wilmer Cabrera had planned for Elis’s role in the match against the Sounders, especially since Elis started in Wednesday night’s Leagues Cup Quarterfinal. But if Elis was a part of a starting plan or even a contingency plan for Saturday night, the shakeup of removing him from the roster may have been a blow to Cabrera’s plan. 

Regardless of the effect of last minute changes, the Dynamo came out on Saturday night ready to play. Houston ran the match in the first half and had stellar stats at the end of the first forty-five. 

Despite the impressive offensive statistics, the Dynamo finished the second half missing the key one – goals scored.

The Sounders came back in the second half with a renewed sense of purpose and a much better showing. Unfortunately, the second half also brought a lot more chippy play and the referee seemed to be flipping coins to determine what to call and for whom. 

For Houston, when calls don’t go their way and opposing teams start getting physical, they start getting frustrated. The frustration gets into the player’s heads and silly mistakes start. Our midfield, which had been solid in the first half started to falter. The increased pressure on the defense led to a Sounders goal in the 59th minute. The dust up in the box ahead of the goal was sloppy on all ends, and there was at least one foul, but the ref kept quiet and Seattle was up 1-0 at the hour mark. 

The Dynamo continued to try to rally through the last half hour but their inability to get a quality shot past the Sounders revitalized defense held, and Houston lost at home for the second time in MLS play this season. 

Houston does have a bright spot ahead of them this week. Between the US Open Cup, Leagues Cup, and a stacked MLS schedule, the Dynamo have not had a full week off without travel yet this season. They have six full days in Houston to figure out how to make the necessary changes as they try again for three points at home next Saturday against the Chicago Fire.    

Featured image: @HoustonDynamo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

The Dynamo Bounce Back Big in Toronto

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

As I mentioned in my last article, Houston basketball legend James Harden bought into the Dynamo/Dash organization last week to much fanfare. Fans looking for signs of life in the ownership circle welcomed his willingness to use his media status and hope the change in energy might make some waves among the owners. I’ve tried hard to stay out of the fray of ownership complaints, so when I was a little surprised by Harden’s move I chalked it up to being a less informed fan in that area. 

However, as I watched the Dynamo vs Toronto match from my living room on Saturday night it all became clear. What else does a basketball player recognize more than how to read a bounce? When the Dynamo are at their lowest point of the season, what do they do? They. Bounce. 

Coming into Saturday’s match coach Wilmer Cabrera’s lineup looked a little closer to standard, but some pundits and fans still questioned his choices. Heck, I still questioned some of his choices. But Houston didn’t leave fans questioning long as Tommy McNamara found the back of the net just 4 minutes in.

The team that showed up on the pitch was one that Houston fans hadn’t seen in well over a month as the boys seemed to play with a level of confidence and skill that has simply been missing this summer. Wherever the tactical magic has been hiding, it was back in lockstep as passes linked up through narrow channels and chances were consistent in the first half. Tomas Martinez gave Houston some breathing room in the 23rd minute and they went into the half ahead 2-0. 

Houston is no stranger to the second half choke, so fans were still nervous as the teams took the pitch for the second half – and rightfully so as Toronto subbed in heavy hitters Altidore and Shaffelburg. While TFC had some of their best minutes in the first part of the second half, Mauro Manotas calmed nerves with a third goal as the match neared the hour mark.

Mauro Manotas made a lonely run, shook off all the defenders, and scored in the 57th minute.

Toronto cancelled Houston’s shutout with a goal by Altidore in the 75th minute, but a comeback was out of the question and Houston earned their first road win since March.   

So what was the difference maker for Houston in this magical road win? The biggest stand out in the lineup was the return of homegrown player Memo Rodriguez, who has been battling a leg injury and hasn’t been with the squad since May. Could this relatively young midfield floater somehow be the keystone to the Dynamo’s lineup? One of my go-to Dynamo twitter accounts sees something there. 

Whatever the cause, Houston fans got a great big dose of win this weekend and not a moment too soon. In wider soccer news, Houston’s NWSL team the Dash staged a comeback win against the Washington Spirit and the organization’s USL team the RGV Toros also won on Saturday night.

So whether it is the Harden Effect, the Memo Protocol, or simply Houston’s turn to get back on top, I hope this is a good bounce that lasts at least as long as the drop. We’ll find out when the Dynamo return home to face the Sounders next Saturday. 

Featured image: @HoustonDynamo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Who’s Driving This Bus? Houston Runs Leaderless in ATLANTA

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

Hmmm…this is new!

Houston had an away match on Wednesday in Atlanta. For Dynamo fans with low expectations for a road match, the team’s odd lineup didn’t instill any confidence, and the match itself managed to duck those expectations.

Alberth Elis was red carded only 6 minutes in, and somehow the loss of a forward destroyed the defense which then killed the confidence of the entire team. Houston lost 5-0. It was awful. That’s about all I have to say about that…but I do have more to say. 

The Dynamo’s summer struggles have been blamed on many different elements. Some believe the ownership needs to open the purse strings to allow for recruitment of bigger-named players. Some think that head coach Wilmer Cabrera is not pushing the team appropriately. Others believe that the team needs a strong, consistent player wearing the Captain’s armband. The commonality across all of these areas? Houston suffers from a lack of leadership at multiple levels. 

Before I quit my real job to be an unpaid soccer fan I worked in Human Resources for almost 10 years. During that time and since, I’ve volunteered in leadership in churches, political groups, a PTO, and other organizations. Industrial organizational psychology is my dream major if I were ever to get to graduate school. I read books on teams and leadership FOR FUN. I’m kind of a nerd about it. So it’s amazing that it has taken this long for me to recognize and call out this issue with my team. 

For years I have tried to be the supportive soccer fan, staying in my lane in the stands and trusting the staff and ownership to do their part for our team. I’ve told myself that the staff have had more training in how to coach than I have and tried to trust their decisions.

I assume that while I invest hundreds of miles on my car each season, the amount of money invested from owners must motivate them to seek out the best decisions for the squad. But as I watched my team struggle, falter, and lose on Wednesday, the reality of the state of leadership sank in. 

As someone who has seen organizations from multinational manufacturing giants to 15 member churches work through leadership deficiencies, I can only imagine that one with as many moving parts as a professional sports team must be a real mess to correct. But there is hope! 

New management in the front office is showing promise and progress – listening to stakeholders and making intrepid changes. While the changes have not been universally welcome, one of my favorite management classics reminds us that Sacred Cows Make The Best Burgers

The biggest news in Houston this week is the addition of a Clutch City sports great to the ownership team, which could be the first sign of bold changes to come. Hopefully this innovation will continue to move through other areas and the organization will find its way back on track soon.

While I’m available to my team for consulting at any time (*wink*), I’ll be in my own lane on Saturday supporting the Dynamo as they continue their road trip in Toronto. 

Featured image: @HoustonDynamo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

The Houston Dynamo’s Road Woes Continue in Cincinnati

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

Not that long ago, the Houston Dynamo gave the hometown crowd a play-off worthy performance against the Red Bulls. This was especially necessary as they had just come off a rash of road losses that left fans dejected.

Houston players didn’t even have time to celebrate the win, as they immediately got back on the road to Cincinnati. This was expected to be an easy reintroduction to road points, as Cincy sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. The road woes returned with tenacity, however, as the Dynamo fell to FC Cincinnati 3-2 on Saturday night.  

Photo credit: Houston Dynamo Twitter

Sometimes I worry that my articles are more prophetic than observation. Recently, I have discussed the Dynamo’s propensity to allow setbacks that effect their play and highlighted that the team must stop placing their success on one key player’s shoulders. These two factors certainly came together to play their parts in Houston’s loss.

Cincinnati came out swinging with several hard knocks against the Dynamo in the first five minutes. Challenges during these early moments are unlikely to draw cards out of referees, but are most adept at lighting the pilots of the Houston tempers.

The Dynamo respond to the rough play, and Alberth Elis earns his first yellow less than 20 minutes into the match with defensive enforcer Cabezas earning another just five minutes later. With Houston’s focus rattled, the goals started. Cincy scored twice before the first half was done, and the Dynamo faced the familiar foe of being shut out on the road. 

Another factor in the Dynamo’s struggle was the absence of Maynor Figueroa, the Honduran clutch defender. Unavailable due to a red card, his absence shook the back line. The Dynamo have depth in that center back position, but they seem to be lost any time that Figueroa is out of the lineup. This is an issue that Wilmer Cabrera has got to find a way to turn around within his squad – the loss of one player should absolutely not mean a loss for the team.

Houston did stage a comeback in the last half hour. A combination in the 57th minute was Houston’s first good chance at Cincinnati’s net. The Dynamo conceded one more goal – an embarrassing nutmeg on keeper Joe Willis in the 61st minute – but then the team came alive.

Romell Quioto scored the Dynamo’s first goal with a penalty in the 79th minute, and the intense pressure of Alberth Elis panicked a defender into an own goal in the 81st. In the end, Houston couldn’t find the equalizer and left all points in Cincy. Had Willis maintained the 2-0 lead or had Houston played longer at their potential, the day may have gone differently. 

Fans of the Houston Dynamo get brilliance in flashes. At home, we often get a full match and other times it’s just a few moments on the road. The potential is there, but the coaching staff must continue to demand consistency and accountability from the entire team.

The Houston Dynamo come home again on Friday night to defend their unbeaten record in BBVA Stadium against LAFC. 

Featured image: @HoustonDynamo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Full Strength Houston Dynamo Come Home With A Vengeance

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

With their full squad back from international duties and back home after a cross-country tour plagued with losses, the Houston Dynamo came to BBVA Stadium on Saturday, June 29, needing a win. The men in orange did not disappoint and stunned the New York Red Bulls with a 4-0 victory. This win maintains the Dynamo’s unbeaten home streak and breaks the winless streak that has plagued them since mid-May.  

Houston’s Starting XI featured the return of Alberth Elis and Mauro Manotas up front and Maynor Figueroa in the back, all of whom were expected to shore up the struggles of a June that showed little success on either end of the ball. 

The New York Red Bulls are a great team with a comfortable spot in the Eastern Conference standings, and I really expected a close match. The Dynamo came out with a fire in their bellies, however, and dominated the match from the start. The Red Bulls seemed to really enjoy the efforts of the BBVA grounds crew, as they took many opportunities to get a close look at the grass.

There were plenty of fouls for both sides, but the New York players seemed particularly keen to go to ground. While I was concerned that the constant restarts would affect the flow of the match or that the frustration of the calls would get in the heads of the Dynamo players, the laser focus of Houston was unshakable. 

Whether it was the confidence gained in being back home or having key players back on the pitch, the team that stepped out at BBVA was almost unrecognizable as the team that I watched in June. The players were tough and decisive. The passes were quick and well-placed. The chemistry of the team was amazing for how little time they had to work as a squad ahead of this match. And while I was thrilled with the results and wowed by the level of play, I can’t help but wonder how the team can maintain this level of confidence through the season without shouldering it on just a few individuals. 

The Houston Dynamo must figure out a way to have confidence as a squad and not be crippled by the loss of a key player. GM Matt Jordan is a brilliant scout who has worked hard this year on improving depth, but no amount of bench depth is going to save a team that sees that depth as a supporting cast for a single star. The reality is that introducing stars like Elis and Manotas to MLS may pay off in transfer fees before it pays off in trophies.

Barring any updates from the MLS Disciplinary Committee, the Dynamo will test their confidence again without defensive playmaker Maynor Figueroa in Cincinnati on Saturday. After only one match back from Honduran national duty, he and New York’s Kaku were each sent off after an off-ball conflict in the 94th minute. I expect to be pleasantly surprised by the Dynamo again, and look forward to telling you all about it next week.   

Featured images: @HoustonDynamo

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale