After some less than rosy predictions from the Keeper Notes crew on the 2016 Houston Dynamo season, the team opened the year with a 3-3 home tie against the New England Revolution. While the Revs are a likely contender in the East, Leo Ponce rightfully took the Dynamo to task for some of their preseason claims that failed to materialize. Regardless, let’s talk a little about a few of the positives from the match and determine whether those positives can be a sign of good things to come.
1. Ricardo Clark and Cristian Maidana
The new Dynamo #10 looked as good as possible in his first game. His goal was more fluke mistake by the Revolution more than anything, but the Dynamo offense was up-tempo and creative and Maidana played a big part in that change. Can we say that one game in that a team built around Maidana is more entertaining than one built around Brad Davis? Probably not, but it may be a simple decision after two or three games if Maidana can continue to perform like he did in his first game for the Dynamo.
Don’t overlook Ricardo Clark’s contribution to the game though either. He found Bruin on Andrew Wenger’s goal and carried a heavy load covering for Maidana defensively all game. His partnership with Maidana was a huge bright spot for a Dynamo midfield that was poor last year. It resulted in Houston winning the possession battle despite New England dominating late trying to equalize the match. Houston winning possession battles is something it did not do often last year.
2. Andrew Wenger
While Wenger’s debut was overwhelmingly positive, he did have two relatively easy chances earlier in the match that he should have at least put on goal. The defensive hustle he displayed on winning the ball that ultimately led to his goal though more than made up for his two misses.
However, Wenger has done well notoriously in all of his first starts at new clubs. In his first start for the Union, he scored a goal against Real Salt Lake. In his first start for the Montreal Impact, he scored a goal against the Colorado Rapids. The key for Wenger will be whether he can maintain the same form over an entire season.
3. The Importance of Demarcus Beasley
When you have two players in midfield like Barnes and Maidana, you have to have players around them who can do some of the heavy lifting defensively. For most of the match, Demarcus Beasley covered the left flank while Giles Barnes ran free. No disrespect to an injured and out of position Alex, but when Clark left injured it was not much of a surprise to see the Houston Dynamo concede via a cross coming in from it’s left flank. That’s not to say Beasley had a perfect game as he kept the Revs onside for their second goal, but he was playing well defensively and was missed when he left the match.
Dwain Capodice is a freelance writer covering the Houston Dynamo and the US National Team for Keeper Notes and also serves as the Fan Blogger covering soccer at Chron.com. He can be reached on twitter @dcapodice or via email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.