The Dynamo were amidst a rarity this week: a three-game schedule that left the team no choice but to use the entire roster and hope to patch together a lineup that could still get the job done against Toronto on Thursday night.
“It’s hard going Saturday-Tuesday-Thursday,” said midfielder Brad Davis prior to Thursday's match. “It’s pretty insane, but we’ll get through it, and it gives other players a chance to get minutes, which is good. Nothing we can do about it; we have to go through it.”
With only eight MLS teams participating in the U.S. Open Cup in a now 16-team league, it seems amazing that one could not find a non-Open Cup eligible opponent to play Toronto FC on Canada Day. While the Thursday night game made life difficult for Houston this week, the Dynamo host a Chivas USA squad next Tuesday that will have previously played on Saturday. Regardless of how hard this week was for Houston, though, the Dynamo players know that the schedule is no excuse.
“It’s tough, as these games always come around like that, and there is nothing we can do about it,” said Dominic Oduro. “We just have to work around it, but we have the players [to deal with it.]"
Head coach Dominic Kinnear utilized his bench as best he could in the Open Cup match against Miami on Tuesday, but several regulars who started still played significant minutes. Mike Chabala entered the game slightly earlier than expected due to an injury to Luis Landin and put in about 50 minutes, including injury time for both halves. Midfielder Danny Cruz got approximately 15 minutes, and Lovel Palmer also played a half.
“I think [on Tuesday night], the most important player for us might [have been] our coach, because you have to make sure that guys are prepared for Thursday,” said defender Eddie Robinson. “We still put a team that can get a result [in the Open Cup], because our attitude in this locker room always had been, and always will be, that we want to win every game we play.”
Thursday’s MLS midweek game likely did not alter Houston’s plans that much on Tuesday. However, for players such as Cruz, Chabala, and Palmer, playing in the Houston heat and humidity twice earlier in the week and traveling to Toronto to play was no easy task.
“It’s very difficult, but I believe we have a great group of guys all the way through the [roster],” said Cruz. “Dom is very smart about taking care of guys, and we still want to win.”
Dwain Capodice is a contributor to MLSsoccer.com. Questions or comments can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.