The Houston Dynamo Charities Cup played this year on a Tuesday in late May after year’s of being played in mid to late July was just another in the series of moves this year by the organization.
One of the first things that made you sit up and take notice occurred before either team had stepped on the pitch. The 19 year old Columbian forward Mauro Manotas was starting up top over veteran Will Bruin who seems to have been relegated to the bench by head coach Owen Coyle. He answered the start with a pretty finish in the 49th minute giving Houston a 3-0 lead.
We saw why Will Bruin is now a bench player. In the 88th minute, with game on the line, the fifth year veteran passed up what appeared to be a clear shot on goal from the nine yard spot electing instead to pass and Houston missed a chance to win in regulation. In fairness, Bruin did score the clinching penalty shootout goal to win the game.
We saw a Dynamo set piece goal, a rarity in recent Houston soccer history. Midfielder David Rocha who has gotten little playing time this season got the start and the game’s first goal curling a set piece inside the far post from 25 yards out. We nearly saw Real Sociedad do the same late in the game only to have Deric make a stop that would have been worthy of MLS Save of the Week honors.
What else was seen you ask? Well Tyler Deric played goal like a number one keeper should. In the 13th minute, he stonewalled Carlos Vela, the talented Real Sociedad midfielder in a one on one match-up. Later in the match he came off his line to thwart a goal scoring attempt from Joseba Zaldua. Deric made it to halftime without a red card issuance.
We saw the Houston Dynamo lead at halftime, in fact they led by two at the intermission something they hadn’t done since trouncing FC Dallas 5-0 in their second home game of the 2016 MLS season. They scored three goals in a match, the most since a 4-3 loss to the New
We saw Christian Lucatero , the Dynamo Academy product signed last summer make his Houston debut in the 75th minute.
Unfortunately even in a charity game what we saw after the Manotas goal in the 49th minute was what we have seen all too often over the last season plus, the team giving back everything. We saw Raul Rodriguez get beat on the endline leading to Prieto’s goal in the 55th minute. Four minutes later, the lead ws down to one as Bautista who earned the assist on Prieto’s goal got one of his own. Fourteen minutes later Pardo completed the comeback.
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What we did not see was a team that wanted to win at all costs. Instead we saw a team that was tired and out of energy by the hour mark. Instead we saw the side that should have been suffering from jet lag gain their legs and the momentum. Once Miranda (Leonel), Steinberger (Zach) and Manotas were off the field so was the youthful enthusiasm that had driven the tempo for the opening 60 plus minutes of the match. It’s unknown what the Real Sociedad coach said to his team but they made the halftime adjustments and Houston stood pat. What we did not see was an animated coach off the bench and energizing his side. Well actually we did see that, it just happened to be on the opposing coach.
Although we did see Houston win for the fifth time in eight tries of Charities Cup play, we did not see anything that gave hope to the idea that this team is ready to go on the road against Vancouver and then FC Dallas over the next seven days to save their season.