It has been two games and two tough road draws since Houston Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made sweeping changes in his lineup.
One of the more notable alterations was inserting offseason signing Jermaine Taylor at center back to partner defensive stalwart Andre Hainault. Three starts into the partnership – the pairing debuted against FC Dallas May 28 – they have shown they can be productive despite some bumpy patches.
“Overall, it’s gone pretty well,” Hainault said. “We played together before in preseason and in training games, so it wasn’t too bad. [Taylor is] an athletic guy who can cover a lot of space and is good in the air, so it’s not much different than playing with the other guys on the team.”
Added Taylor, “Last time we played against Dallas, we did well in terms of positioning and keeping the ball and staying compact and organized, so Dom decided to put us together, and I think overall we’ve done well.”
Coming into the season, Taylor was pegged to be a day-one starter next to Bobby Boswell. The former St. George's SC defender proved the theory right when he started the first match of the season next to Boswell. Hainault, meanwhile, started at left back, the position many predicted him to play.
However, a plantar fasciitis injury Taylor suffered while on Jamaican national team duty opened the door for Hainault to move inside to his original position in the middle, where he has put down roots. The injury setback, plus the two players’ participation in this summer’s Gold Cup – Hainault with Canada and Taylor with Jamaica – has kept the pair from being in the starting lineup together for much of the first half of the season.
With both players back with the Dynamo and with a clean bill of health, Kinnear looks ready to stick with his pair of international defenders and let them work out the details of their partnership, mainly in the distribution and organization departments.
“They’re both internationals and are coming off a good Gold Cup where they showed they’re both strong and physical,” Kinnear said. “I think they do need to talk more, but I think Jermaine showed some good pace Saturday, and Andre’s very confident on the ball and plays 100 miles an hour the whole time, which is good.”
After three draws in three starts for the duo, Kinnear & Co. are certainly feeling good about the move to put the international starters together in the middle of the back line. Going forward, the task is to improve on their play, as the Dynamo’s success for the rest of the season is likely to hang on how well Hainault and Taylor can solidify the back line.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.