The Houston Dynamo are hitting pause on their MLS campaign after 2-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids June 9 with a two-week break from league play while the 2018 FIFA World Cup starts up in Russia.
The break will not be completely game free, however, as the team advanced to the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 and will host Minnesota United FC on June 18 before returning to league action a week later.
It’s a good matchup for the Dynamo away from MLS play and will help them as they approach the second half of the season, according to head coach Wilmer Cabrera.
“It’s going to help us prepare for what is coming against Sporting Kansas City on June 23, who are on top of the Western Conference table,” he said. “We want to win at home and we have to win at home, so it’s a very important game for us.”
Aside from the cup competition, the respite from MLS action will also allow the team’s injured players to recuperate for an extra couple of weeks without the worry of missing games.
“Basically, we need to bring back Juan David (Cabezas), Darwin (Cerén), Jared (Watts); we need to bring back the ones that are still injured,” Cabrera said, adding that the break will also be good for players such as midfielder Boniek García and defender Alejandro Fuenmayor, who have picked up extra minutes in recent weeks.
Cabrera is also looking to continue working on the team’s ability to finish games without conceding goals – especially when it comes to set pieces, he said.
The Dynamo were able to secure a shutout against the Colorado Rapids June 9, which Cabrera said was an important turning point for the team – their first clean sheet since opening day against Atlanta United.
“I hope is something that we can build on, realizing that we are solid enough to keep our opponents from scoring,” he said.
Midfielder Tomás Martínez said he also believes the team must continue to improve and win as the team takes aim at surpassing last year’s accomplishments.
“Step by step, we are growing,” he said. “The team needs to get stronger to go further than last season where we reached the conference finals.”