Houston Dynamo want consistency in their performances, starting with Open Cup match vs. Colorado Rapids


Owen Coyle wants the Dynamo to start showing their quality on a consistent basis as the team embarks on a two-match homestand that begins with Tuesday’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tie against the Colorado Rapids (7:30 p.m. CT; TICKETS).

The head coach has been pleased with much of what he’s seen this season but in recent matches the side has failed to put the pieces together for the whole 90 minutes and fell to 2-0 road defeats to the Portland Timbers and, last Friday, FC Dallas.

“What we have to do is what we’ve shown in bits and pieces I would suggest, that consistency level,” Coyle said. “If we bring that consistency we’re more than capable of getting us on a run that gets us where we want to be.”

The Dynamo could point to moments of misfortune that contributed to their downfall, such as Jermaine Taylor’s own-goal that gave Dallas the lead in Frisco. But Coyle wants his players to make their own luck. “When all’s said and done, we’re the ones who control our own fate, our own destiny. That’s what we need to understand,” he said.

Forward Giles Barnes agrees. “It’s just going to be matter of time before it all starts to flow on a consistent basis,” he said. “With different lineups, different formations, a new coach setting his way of how he wants things to happen as well there was always going to be a transition phase. I think we’ve shown really well, just not consistently right now.

“People know that we’re dangerous. I think other teams [know] we’ve got dangerous players and they’re hunting us, they’re going to try to make it as difficult as possible.”

With Friday’s Armed Forces Appreciation Night MLS clash against the Chicago Fire looming, Coyle is set to make wholesale changes for the fifth-round tie at home to Colorado. It’s a strategy that paid off in the previous round, as a number of fringe players impressed in a 2-0 win over the Austin Aztex at BBVA Compass Stadium on June 17.

“We need to make sure that the squad’s balanced and fresh for [Chicago] but at the same time we want to win a cup tie with boys who need a game. They showed in the last round they can do that,” said Coyle.

Recent signing Mauro Manotas is set to start against the Rapids as he continues his American education. The 19-year-old Colombian has settled quickly and made an instant positive impression.

“We’ve got a great group, we’ve got a good mix of guys who’ve been around and some young guys. It’s a very welcoming group and it’s nice to see him transition so well into the group,” said Dynamo vice-president/general manager Matt Jordan, who played a key role in securing Manotas amid interest from other clubs.

Fellow forward Barnes is a fan. “He’s very lively, he’s always smiling, he’s got great feet, he’s a good size, he’s strong, he’s quick, he’s got everything you need to be a top, top player. From the little conversations I can have in Spanish with him he seems like such a genuine and humble guy, willing to learn. He’s fitted in straight away,” Barnes said.

“I like Manotas, he’s young and he’s only going to get better,” said Coyle. “He moves well, he’s elegant, got good touch, he’s a strong lad for such a young boy, I think it’s fair to say he’ll start the game against Colorado and that’ll be a real test for him, starting a game rather than coming in here and there for ten minutes, against some very good players in the Colorado team.”

Another probable starter is goalkeeper Joe Willis. With Tyler Deric in the kind of form that makes it seem like an omission when he’s not nominated for MLS Save of the Week, Willis has seen his opportunities restricted. But he had a solid game against Austin and is ready to step in for a competition that means a great deal to him: he was part of the D.C. United side that won the Cup in 2013.

“I’ve played a decent amount of Open Cup games in my career, I’ve always enjoyed them and try to make the most of my opportunities,” he told HoustonDynamo.com.

Willis doesn’t think that the team will find it hard to gel despite such a shuffled lineup—as long as they keep talking. “I think we get a lot of preparation on the training field. A lot of guys who aren’t getting first team minutes, throughout the week we’re usually playing with each other so I think we have a decent chemistry just from practicing,” he said.

“But the biggest thing is communication, starting from me but it goes through the entire team. Talking to the line in front of you and making sure we’re organized is the biggest thing. You can always talk to people and tell them what you want them to do.”

Willis will step into goal on Tuesday at BBVA Compass Stadium aiming to bring the Dynamo closer to the final of a competition they have never won. “It’s an important tournament, there’s a lot on the line when it comes to it and it’s one I take very seriously. I know Owen does too. When he came in he said he wants to win everything we do, so that needs to be the mentality from everyone on our team,” he said.

Tom Dart is a contributing writer to HoustonDynamo.com and HoustonDashSoccer.com. Former editor and reporter for The Times of London and reporter for SI.com, Dart currently freelances for The Guardian.