It's only been four games but interim head coach Kenny Bundy has the team playing like they belong at the top of the table and not the bottom. The Houston Dynamo parted ways with Paulo Nagamura on September 5th and its been a different team from the start. Why?
First, Bundy has won everywhere he has gone as a player and more recently as a coach. He knows what it is to be a player and he knows what it means to produce winning soccer as a coach. This is the biggest difference. He may be young when considering an MLS head coach but consider so was Jason Kreis when Real Salt Lake hired him in 2007. Two years later RSL won its first MLS title.
Kreis and Bundy share many of the same characteristics of success. They appear to have the same thought process when it comes to players. If their players are willing to fight hard, play hard and learn then they stay. If not, they believe they can make lesser talented players player if they have the previous three attributes. How else do you explain his Bundy's success at Brazos Calvary Fc, the Dynamo 2 and now the Dynamo first team.
“It's such an intangible thing that is really, really hard to coach," said Bundy following the Sunday night win. "It's really hard to get out of people. The way that we've tried to do that as a staff, and the way we've tried to get the players to understand what that actually means. In a short amount of time, it's very difficult. When you have your first game after three days, with the staff, and you go down a man and you get a draw, okay, that's the first piece of the character. Then you play in New England, you win a game at home and you win in the fashion that we did, it shows a different type of character. Then you go to LAFC, which is an extremely difficult place to play -- I felt we played really, really well -- and you lose, that also tests a different layer of the character. Coming into this, we had already seen three different scenarios that we could lean on. This is a learning moment for the group. Individual characters is really important, but really what you want is you want a collective group character. You want them to understand these are the principles, this is what we're trying to do. This is how we're going to be together. Alot of times I challenged the group, like there's going to be times you're gonna have to do work for someone else. Someone's going to go down with an injury, we're going to have a guy off the field, we're going to be playing with 10 men. Are you willing to do the work for each other? Are you willing to fight and do the gritty, nasty work that it takes to win games for each other? And they did it tonight.”
Kreis and Bundy are both meticulous in their preparations. They don't allow anything to go unmanaged or short changed when it comes to preparation.
"I don't think this gets enough credit," continued Bundy "but the work of the staff throughout the week, because there's a lot that goes into what happens when there's a coaching change, and the staff has to do different things, and they're working with someone that's maybe a bit different. The plan that we put in place was executed tonight to a tee. There was nothing that we saw that we hadn't prepared for."
Bundy has produced results unlike Wade Barrett or Davey Arnaud did when they held the same role. The Dynamo have earned seven of a possible 12 points since he took over. His message has remained constant. The players respect him and they trust him.