After the way the Houston Dynamo gifted three points to the LA Galaxy on Saturday night, it’s hard to find many bright spots on the night. Despite the poor result though, the side took heart in a couple of developments.
First and foremost was the play of midfielder Lovel Palmer.
“We have Lovel here for a reason,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “I thought one of the few positives [against the Galaxy] was his play.”
Palmer entered and got his first extended minutes of the MLS regular season when midfielder Richard Mulrooney exited the game in the 28th minute due to injury. The Jamaican looked very comfortable in the center of the midfield, making several simple plays in traffic and under pressure that helped the Dynamo relieve pressure on the ball. He also seemed to distribute the ball well to his Dynamo teammates.
“I thought he did OK,” continued Kinnear. “Especially in the first half, he looked tidy on the ball and made good decisions in tight spaces. He has to get up to the pace of the game in that he hasn’t played in a while. It was one of the few positives on the game; getting an extended run and I think he looked comfortable.”
If Palmer can continue to push Mulrooney and others for playing time in central midfield, Kinnear would have options. Mulrooney could platoon at right back to spell Andrew Hainault, who also played well against the Galaxy. However, that's dependent on Mulrooney’s injury and his status over the next several weeks.
Other positives on the night included the energy second-half substitutes Corey Ashe and Danny Cruz brought when the team was down two goals and one man.
“The guys battled very hard in the second half, fantastic effort, especially the guys who came on,” said keeper Pat Onstad. “Corey, Lovel and Danny Cruz, I thought they really gave us a lift.
Finally, there's the energy that regular right midfielder Brian Mullan brought to the forward position.
“He makes good runs, he holds the ball up and he’s brave and challenges for everything,” said Kinnear. “He has a desire to make something happen when he’s up there, so I thought his performance up there was pretty good and gave them some problems.”
Lining Mullan up at forward is not the preferred option for the Dynamo. However, with Luis Ángel Landín suspended next week and Brian Ching and possibly Cam Weaver out injured, the less preferred option may be the only one with a bright spot.