The new boys came to play.
Both pickups from the Dynamo’s deal with the Philadelphia Union on the first day of the trade window in December—Cristian "Chaco" Maidana and Andrew Wenger—were influential throughout Sunday’s 3-3 draw against the New England Revolution, providing a goal apiece in the season opener.
The pair provided new dimensions for the Dynamo attack, which controlled play for much of the match and put up 14 shots against a tough New England squad.
“I was delighted with them, as you know myself and Matt Jordan worked very hard in the offseason to try to bring them to the club,” head coach Owen Coyle told media during Sunday’s postgame press conference. “I think you see today what ‘Chaco’ Maidana can do … even when he’s not in form, the delivery from set plays—which affects how we could have scored as well—it is a wonderful thing. Wenger gives you pace and power on the wide areas. When you see Giles on the other side, we will be a very exciting team.”
Wenger was one of the most active players on the pitch, nearly getting on the end of a Will Bruin cross less than 30 seconds into the match. When not patrolling the right flank, he popped up in the box to get headers towards goal, and his flick-on header right before the half set up Maidana’s goal.
His day was exemplified with his own goal in the 50th minute. The 25-year-old ended a Revs counterattack by chasing down Teal Bunbury, winning the tackle, then fed Ricardo Clark to lead the charge the other way. He then followed the pass from midfield into the penalty area, in time to receive a layoff from Bruin and place a cool finish past Bobby Shuttleworth.
Maidana, who only went 76 minutes while getting into game shape after missing parts of preseason, showed an awareness for space in the final third that changed the look of the Dynamo attack and kept New England guessing.
“They pressure a little bit more, you can tell that they’re a little more dynamic going forward,” Revs head coach Jay Heaps said of facing the revamped Houston front. “I think Maidana shows he can find those gaps. I thought Will Bruin is reading the game well and Giles Barnes all do a nice job of being good in that attack.”
The starting attacking group of Bruin, Barnes, Maidana and Wenger didn’t get a ton of game action together due to injuries and experimentation during the preseason, but the initial returns on the new group are promising, according to defender DaMarcus Beasley.
“Especially in the first half, we controlled the game. Our passing, our movement was very good. I thought that says a lot for Chaco and Andrew because they kept the ball for us and they did well up top. It’s going to get better.”