As the Houston Dynamo prepare to get their US Open Cup campaign started this week, they will have to make due with their available resources.
In years past, tournament play has been a chance for reserves to shine. But with international duty, injuries and the squad taxed after a long May, head coach Dominic Kinnear will have to mix and match as he takes his club west on I-10 to face the San Antonio Scorpions of the NASL in the third round of the US Open Cup on Tuesday.
Still, the Dynamo boss has no intentions of fielding a weakened side.
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“You’ve got to put your best 11 on the field,” Kinnear said. “We knew this was going to happen and every time you go out there you’re trying to put your best 11 on the field that day.”
The defense will take the biggest hit Tuesday as both Geoff Cameron (US) and Andre Hainault (Canada) – who scored the winner in Saturday’s 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy in place of Cameron – are away on international duty and second-year right back Kofi Sarkodie is still recovering from a right ankle injury. In their absence, look for experienced reserve Nathan Sturgis and young fullbacks Warren Creavalle and Oscar Recio to pick up the slack.
Unlike the defense, the midfield will get a shot in the arm despite Je-Vaughn Watson being away with Jamaica. Brian Ownby is back from a dislocated elbow and Josue Soto, who has been on loan with the Scorpions, will return to provide reinforcements.
“All the guys in here have played well and we know you need a deep team to do well,” Bobby Boswell said after Saturday’s win. “As guys get called in, you’ll start to see the depth of the team as guys get tested. Everyone works hard in practice and that’s why we have success when guys step out.”
With the comings and goings at a high rate, Kinnear is left with 19 field players at his disposal ahead of a busy week that includes the BBVA Dynamo Charities Cup against Valencia on Thursday night. The lack of resources will force some regulars, who in the past would get some rest in these situations, to stay in the lineup as Houston look to mix and match their way to success.
“These games, most of the time, we say will test the depth of the squad, but now the depth is being taken away,” Kinnear said. “The guys have to be really ready and the standards can’t drop because you want the team to win.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.