Though the unfriendly nature of Sunday’s 3-0 friendly win over CONCACAF champions Monterrey may have earned the post-game headlines, there was some actual soccer played. And from the Houston Dynamo's point of view, there were a lot of positives to take away.
Against a quality opponent, Houston showed from the start it could match the Rayados in the attacking department. With both teams playing a mix of starters and reserves, the Dynamo proved they could generate exciting play.
“I thought we played some real nice football tonight,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said on Sunday. “The guys looked comfortable, and I thought they enjoyed it.”
What stood out in the Dynamo’s play was their ability to control and pass through Monterrey's defense. Houston applied pressure from the opening kick, and there were examples throughout the night of good combinations and precise passing.
“If we dribble through [their defense], we knew we were going to get caught up, so we just let the ball do the movement and the talking,” said Geoff Cameron, who featured at center back with Eddie Robinson hurt and Jermaine Taylor and Andre Hainault away on national-team duty. “Dom gave guys a heads-up on who was playing … and it allowed other guys to come in and show their stuff.”
As has been the case when Mexican clubs visit Houston, a large number of the 28,440 fans in attendance were donning the blue and white of Monterrey.
“Some guys were joking around in the locker room that this was our first away win of the season,” Kinnear said. “I think when the guys showed up and saw the crowd, it made them more determined to play well.”
Cameron said it was an opportunity for the Dynamo to once again show the fans that they are on par with their Mexican counterparts.
“It’s a good atmosphere, but at the same time it’s disappointing,” Cameron said. “While it was a home game, it was really an away game, and it just lets those fans know that, ‘Hey, we’re better than them.’”
Cruz and Bruin pass early test
Will Bruin and Danny Cruz made their second appearances in a week after coming off significant injuries that kept both out for nearly a month. After returning to action Thursday in a reserve match, the pair made substitute appearances on Sunday as they work their way back into game shape.
“We were telling Will just to get his runs in and work on his fitness so the next time he steps on the field he feels comfortable,” Kinnear said. “It was the same for Danny. We were trying to get him some movement and touches on the ball, and I think it went well.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.