On Saturday against the Colorado Rapids, Joseph Ngwenya was handed his first start of the 2010 MLS season, and while the Dynamo forward played well and converted the game-tying goal, Ngwenya hopes that he can improve upon his performance.
“I thought I did OK,” Ngwenya said. “It can be better if I can get my fitness back.”
During the World Cup break, Ngwenya got significant minutes in friendlies against the Laredo Heat and CD Aguila. Against Aguila, Ngwenya netted the game’s opening goal and contributed to the Dynamo attack throughout the first half. His performance in both games must have caught the eye of head coach Dominic Kinnear, who rewarded Ngwenya with his first start of the season on Saturday.
“It’s nice to see him back on the field, and it’s nice to see that he’s been productive so far,” Kinnear said. “I thought Joe was really menacing in the first 30 minutes [against Colorado], finding little pockets underneath, and he took his goal well later on.”
This is Ngwenga's second stint with the club. He played the 2007 season with Houston, making 25 appearances and scoring seven goals before spending a couple of seasons in Europe.
With Brian Ching now healthy, Houston will continue to look for the best option next to the Hawaiian forward. Ngwenya’s combination of both speed and power seems to be a better fit alongside Ching than Cam Weaver’s strength, Dominic Oduro’s speed, or Luis Landin’s skill. As the game against Colorado showed, Ngwenya and Ching make a dangerous partnership.
“It’s good to be back with the guys,” Ngwenya said. “It’s just unfortunate we didn’t get a win [against Colorado], but it’s better than a loss. We’ll take a point, I guess.”
If he can continue to finish his opportunities like he did late against Colorado, that finishing can go a long way in helping Houston make a playoff push. Brian Mullan set up the forward perfectly near the penalty spot, but Ngwenya’s first-time effort went into the upper corner of the net, making it impossible for Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens to stop.
“The ball was a great ball from Brian Mullan,” Ngwenya said. “I got good contact on it.”
Ngwenya’s teammates were also happy with his performance and to have the forward back in the starting lineup.
“I thought Joe did well with his first start getting back in with the group,” Brad Davis said. “He did a good job finding holes underneath and getting the ball, and he scored a great goal for us. I thought he was great for us [during his first stint], he just needs a bit of confidence, to get back in form, and hopefully he will continue to score some great goals for us.”