Houston Dynamo 2 won its first competitive match over an MLS NEXT Pro opponent this afternoon when they took down their in-state rivals North Texas Soccer Club by a final score of 2-0.
Dynamo 2 scored one goal in each half in this match. The first goal came in the 37th minute, when midfielder Marcelo Palomino netted a penalty kick after forward Beto Avila was taken down inside the box. The second was scored by trialist forward Kyle Edwards, who volleyed a long cross from defender Mujeeb Murana into the back of the net.
Goalkeeper Xavier Valdez also came up big when he saved a North Texas penalty kick that would have given the opposition the lead early in the first half. Valdez and fellow goalkeeper Logan Erb combined to keep a clean sheet.
After the game, head coach Kenny Bundy expressed satisfaction with his team’s performance.
"Every game that we play, we go out to improve, and I think it was an improvement over our last game, which is what's important,” Bundy said. “I'm really happy with the level of intensity, the level of detail, and then the level of problem solving because North Texas caused problems that we haven't seen and they're a very well-coached quality team. So, I think, for us, it was about adjusting a little bit defensively to what they were doing, and to be honest, we scored two good goals."
First match against MLS NEXT Pro team
Thus far during the inaugural preseason, Dynamo 2 have exclusively taken on USL Championship opponents. This match marked the first contest against an MLS NEXT Pro, and one in their own division.
While the competition was different, Bundy emphasized that the approach to the game does not change regardless of the opponent.
“We approach every game the same way, which is 'how are we going to be successful?'” Bundy said. “MLS NEXT, USL, an MLS team, the first team, we're still approaching the game the same way, which is to go out and perform to our best ability.”
A wonderful goal from a collective effort
Edwards’ goal to put Dynamo Dos up by two was finished with a magnificent individual effort. And while Edwards generated chances throughout the match, Bundy was quick to draw attention to the collective build-up play that made Edwards’ display of skill possible.
“The goal that Kyle scored, it's an unbelievable individual effort, but it comes from great service from Mujeeb,” Bundy said. “The work rate that Papa (Ndoye) and Beto put together to create more opportunities for the group, that's what really needs to be praised. It's great when guys have individual moments to score goals, but I think we also need to look at where that comes from. If the back four doesn't build the way they do, Mujeeb doesn't serve the ball the way he does, then the Kyle effort doesn't happen. It's a lot of collective moments that lead to a goal.”
Leadership across the pitch
Defender Talen Maples received the captain’s armband in this match.
While the 23-year-old was certainly a vocal participant throughout the game, Bundy believes that every player on his squad needs to act as a leader.
“To be honest, everybody on the team has to be a leader. The armband is just a piece of fabric. Talen's effort and his communication and what he brings to the table is something that really flows through the group,” Bundy said. “But to be fair, the armband is just a representation of who does the coin flip. The most important thing is that guys don't see that as the only guy that's leading. We need all 11 guys being those leaders and being those difference makers.”