The Houston Dynamo dropped a 2-0 result to Bolton Wanderers in the Dynamo Charities Cup on Wednesday, but it was a match that provided a valuable opportunity for the club to see how much depth it has at this point in the season.
With the match sandwiched in between weekend MLS matches, head coach Dominic Kinnear took the opportunity to get his reserves and younger players a chance to get experience against a talented English side. Coming away from the match, the Dynamo showed their squad is in a good place as the team navigates the back half of the MLS schedule.
“We had some really good moments, and then we had some moments where we let ourselves down,” Kinnear said. “The attitude was good, and we pressed forward with some of the young guys coming on and giving some good energy.”
The Dynamo starting lineup included just three players who started against Sporting Kansas City last week. The remaining spots were allocated to players who have pitched in as part-time starters, key reserves, trialists, and young players.
And while a number of the Dynamo reserves put in positive shifts, certain young players, including Alex Dixon and Tyler Deric, took advantage of their opportunity by putting in good shifts against the EPL side.
“It’s a good experience for some guys like Tyler and Alex,” Kinnear said. “Alex was playing against Duke and Wake Forest last year, and now he’s playing against Bolton. It’s a great experience for them, and it was good for Tyler to get another game under his belt.”
Getting an up-close look at what it takes to play against top-level European competition can serve as an eye-opener for some younger players. Seeing the speed of the game and the skill level can provide them with a barometer for their skills. One player that stood out to rookie forward Will Bruin was Bolton captain Kevin Davies, who notched a goal and an assist on the night. The English international displayed the toughness that has defined his career in England.
“He’s a big, physical forward who holds the ball up well,” Bruin said. “I noticed that he doesn’t turn the ball over, and he’s really good in the air.”
Even though the scoreboard was not in their favor at the end of the match — the club’s first defeat in the three-year history of the Charities Cup — the Dynamo are hoping to capitalize on the experience going forward.
“It was fun getting in to play against some guys that I grew up watching on TV,” Bruin added. “Seeing these guys and playing against them gives you confidence.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.