Lineup changes provide a spark
There were some surprises when the Houston Dynamo lineup was released for Saturday’s game against D.C. United.
Dominic Kinnear made five changes to his starting 11 from the week
before. Though one change was forced — Je-Vaughn Watson started in place
of the suspended Lovel Palmer — the bulk of the changes were made to
try and reinvigorate a squad that has been on a two-month-long slide.
It provided for some interesting and anticipated combinations. Brian
Ching partnered rookie Will Bruin in attack for a full 90 minutes for
the first time this season. Jermaine Taylor partnered fellow Gold Cup
starter Andre Hainault in defense and was flanked by Kofi Sarkodie.
“We mixed it up a little bit, and I thought we did fine,” Kinnear said
about his new lineup. “You look at Brian’s contribution, and he got pulled
down for a penalty and he scores a goal. I thought Je-Vaughn and Geoff
[Cameron] did well. Danny [Cruz] was obvious energy. Two guys we wanted
to look at were Kofi and Jermaine, and I thought they were really
Added Taylor, “Both individually and as a group, we need more chances
and playing time. For me, my playing time has been limited, so when I
get my chance, I have to be solid and play hard.”
Looking back on the 2-2 result, Taylor & co. look to have taken
advantage of their chances. In coming back from a one-goal deficit twice
against D.C., as a group Houston showed some of the grit and determination
the club has sought over the past two months.
But though the comeback and cohesion of the group were positives, the
lineup changes did not cure everything. Houston relinquished the opening
goal again when Chris Pontius found space 24 yards out, and the second
goal came on a defensive breakdown. In the attack, there were a number
of missed opportunities to take the lead.
“We got a ton of balls in the box in some great areas, and we’re just
unable to finish,” said Brad Davis. “Those are things that we all have
to take on our shoulders individually. That’s goes for whoever’s out
there: When we have a chance to score goals, we need to.”
Even so, the lineup changes have to be judged a success, as a result on
the road against a team close in the standings is a positive. Moving forward, all eyes will be focused on which changes stick heading
into a tough road match against Colorado on Sunday night.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.