Notebook: Kandji thrives on flank in 9-point week
The Houston Dynamo are not a team historically known for their speed, but they have been exploiting just that in the last week. Three days after Calen Carr notched a brace from the right wing, the speedy Mac Kandji matched his effort from the left in Saturday’s 3-0 win over the Montreal Impact.
The 6-foot-4 left winger has flourished since Houston’s switch to a 4-3-3 and everyone saw what his speed can do on Saturday. He tore up the left side of the pitch by making numerous good runs to get into dangerous spots and making the Impact pay.
“We talk to him all the time and remind him that when he is moving and when he is mobile he is a completely different player,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “I think his goals definitely showed that tonight.”
That movement is becoming more impactful in Houston’s new formation and Kandji is showing that he can thrive in a system that puts him in one-on-one situations. After his 89th-minute strike from just inside the 18-yard box, the winger solidifed his presence.
HIGHLIGHTS: HOU 3, MTL 0
“Mac’s very tough to defend against, he’s a tricky guy and you saw that tonight,” defender Andre Hainault said. “I was really happy for him especially on that second goal. I saw him take his shirt off and told him ‘Hey, you’re going to get a yellow card here so show ’em that six pack.’”
Win caps big week
Coming into the week, the mantra for Houston was simple: three games, nine points. Mission accomplished. With some fortunate red cards, stellar defense and timely scoring, the Dynamo took the full reward while scoring nine goals and conceding just one. The big week jumped them from fifth place to sole possession of third in the Eastern Conference.
“This has probably been our most productive week in MLS with the games piled on top of each other,” Kinnear said. “To go from 25 [points] to 34 in a span of seven days, it gives us a huge boost in the standings and huge boost confidence wise.”
While it is normally the visitors who struggle with the Houston heat and humidity, Saturday was a bit of a different script. The humidity combined with three games in seven days had the Dynamo struggling to push the ball coming down the stretch. That is, until Montreal’s own push for an equalizer woke the Dynamo, who responded with two goals in the last 10 minutes.
“I think guys are coming in here and making a push to get the first goal, because if you give up a goal to us early it’s tough in the heat to chase the game,” said defender Bobby Boswell, whose 84th-minute header gave the Dynamo a 2-0 lead. “When you push like that you also take a chance of giving something up and it gave us the opportunity to finish them off.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.