While other MLS teams get set for the 2022 playoffs, the Houston Dynamo are left to wonder what if and look ahead to next year. Following the change of command patrolling the sidelines for La Naranja, the team had a whole different vibe. They gave the appearance of the Dynamo from yesteryear.
The Houston Dynamo were on life support when the organization decided to make a coaching change. They parted ways with Paulo Nagamura less than year into his first team coaching career. Kenny Bundy was elevated from the Dynamo 2 and the team responded. General manager Pat Onstad asked for momentum heading into 2023 and Bundy and the Dynamo answered the call.
Sunday night's home loss to the L.A. Galaxy illustrated both how far Houston has come in just five games under Bundy's tutelage and how far they still have to go.
"It's important to understand what they're (L.A. Galaxy) playing for. What's at stake for them. But I think the message throughout the week was what's at stake for us? Right? What are we playing for? They came out with a little bit of energy. We threw the first punch. Right, and (players) woke up a little bit. And then it's about matching intensity. It's about matching the game and what's the game going to take? I think they edged us a little bit in that battle."
Houston scored first in the match but could not keep the pressure on primarily due to lack of possession. With a possession ration of 2:1, it's hard to keep a thread of continuity going and Bundy admitted that not being able to string passes together hurt the home cause.
"We knew they were going to have the ball," continued Bundy. "The plan was never, they're not going to have it or let's stop them from keeping the ball. It's just something that they're going to do. One thing that maybe hurt us the most is that when we did win the ball, we gave it away really quickly. We never forced them to defend for extended periods of time."
With Sunday's home finale behind them, the question is simply what's next? Has Bundy shown enough to the organization with his time between leading the Dynamo 2 to a playoff berth in the MLS Next Pro League and his five games at the helm in MLS? The answer to that question will determine how long it takes for them to travel the next leg of the journey back to respectability.