The Houston Dynamo 2 lost their Western Conference semi-final playoff match in stunning fashion. With the loss, the attention now turns to individual players and can contribute in 2023 to the first team. Who deserves elevation?
Three players come to behind for permanent elevation to the first team. Two others deserve at least a look see. The first group includes defender Ethan Bartlow, midfielder Marcelo Palomino, and midfielder/forward Beto Avila. The two in the second group are forward Kyle Edwards and defender Talen Maples.
You might say Bartlow is already a first teamer since he spent a lot of time on the pitch in MLS action. This writer thinks that its time to let Adam Lundvkist move on and lets see the youngster have his moment. On Sunday night, Bartlow had two big stops and put in a full 120 minutes of play.
Marcelo Palomino is the most deserving of the three. He not only lead the team in scoring but four of his seven goals came directly off of set pieces, a skill the Houston Dynamo first team has lacked ever since Brad Davis retired. Palomino, along with Memo, Herrera, and Coco would give Houston a young, experienced core in the middle of the pitch. If Houston does not give Palomino a fair shot, they will be saying good-bye because in today's sports world loyalty only lasts for so long.
Beto Avila is a young, dynamic player. He may not have a lot of soccer under his belt but he does have a lot of soccer experience. He has shown that he can produce at every level. Houston needs to move on from Fafa Picault and Avila is a guy that can do it. His movement off the ball, his ability to stretch defenses not to mention his one on one skill set makes him the perfect second half of a dynamic duo with Sebastian Ferreria.
In the second group and in Sunday's playoff game, Kyle Edwards showed why he is worthy of consideration as a first team forward. He consistently gets behind defenses and he even more consistently puts the ball on frame. He did again Sunday late in the match and were it not for a fortunate toe poke by the Sounds 2 keeper, Houston would be moving on to the finals. Edwards proven ability to score at every level in top form. It would be unfortunate not to give him a long look.
Finally, Talen Maples is a young defender who has shown at 23 years old he is ready. He has played at the collegiate level, USL level and captained at the MLS Next Pro level anchoring a defense that was one of the best in the league. He is another homegrown talent waiting for his opportunity. To have Maples alongside, Parker, Hadebe, Zeca, Bartlow and Junqua would be a plus. If the Dynamo doesn't provide him with a legitimate shot at the MLS level, someone else will.
Last but not least, remove Kenny Bundy's interim tag and let see what he can put together. He knows how to put a team together and motivate them to succeed. He has done it at every coaching stop with great success. Now is his time.