The Dynamo completed the 2014 preseason with a 2-0 win over the Charleston Battery on Saturday night. The victory capped a dizzying stretch of 11 preseason games in 32 days in preparation for the regular season, set to begin on Saturday as the Dynamo host the New England Revolution at BBVA Compass Stadium.
While preseason offers many benefits to all players, the just-completed training camp provided a strong base and a fresh start of sorts for three returning players: Servando Carrasco, Omar Cummings and Alexander López. The trio joined the Dynamo on the field at various stages in 2013.
After spending the majority or last preseason rehabbing after offseason knee surgery, Cummings made his Dynamo debut in the third game of the season but didn’t start a game until July 7 due to various injuries.
López transferred to the Dynamo from Olimpia of Honduras on Aug. 7 and made his Houston debut in a CONCACAF Champions League game at W Connection on Aug. 20. But the 21-year-old midfielder didn’t start an MLS game until Sept. 8 and saw limited playing time as Warren Creavalle seized a starting role in the center of midfield.
Carrasco experienced a similar situation after joining the Dynamo via trade from Seattle on Sept. 13. The midfielder made an appearance in an important 1-0 win at Philadelphia the very next day, after a cross-country, red eye flight brought him to Philadelphia from Seattle. Like López, he joined a deep and talented midfield corps and had to be patient for playing opportunities.
With the 2014 regular season just six days away, the group agrees that there are multiple benefits to experiencing a full preseason with the club.
“I think it is good because you get to kind of write the story with the entire group and be here for the entire season,” said Carrasco. “I feel like last year we came in on the last chapters of what they were trying to write and I feel like now we start on the same page and hopefully write a good story.”
“Condition is important, getting that fitness in and that core work that you’re going to need for the rest of the season,” offered Cummings. “And working with teammates, creating those partnerships, in preseason we have time to iron out things within games, when normally you probably won’t be able to during a regular season game."
In addition to the on-field benefits of a full preseason, the familiarity to teammates and the daily expectations within the club can now be enjoyed by the second-year players.
“It definitely gives me a sense of comfort, knowing the guys beforehand and getting a feel for what trainings are like,” said Carrasco. “Having a preseason behind us now, it definitely makes us feel like we are a part of the group.”
“I don’t think I went six weeks last year without something happening,” said Cummings. “To have this time with the team and not be injured and not in the treatment room, it feels good."
Countdown to Kickoff on March 8:
7 days: No major changes in forward corps, but health could give attack a new look
8 days: MLSsoccer.com 2014 Dynamo preview
9 days: Several Dynamo players seeking place in 2014 World Cup squads
10 days: The Pulp, On location in Charleston, S.C.
11 days: The Pulp, 2014 Dynamo preview
12 days: Several milestones and records within reach for Houston Dynamo veterans in 2014