HOUSTON — The US and MLS have become a popular preseason destination for a number of Europe’s best clubs. As such, it has attracted EPL side Bolton Wanderers, who will wrap up their tour of the US against the Houston Dynamo in the Dynamo Charities Cup on Wednesday night (8:30 pm ET).
Coming into the trip, Bolton manager Owen Coyle mentioned that the warmth and training conditions were the main draws for the club to come to the US. A day from concluding the tour, the manager expressed his satisfaction with how his team has progressed.
“I equate [preseason] with a ladder,” Coyle said at a press conference on Tuesday. “When you start your preseason training, you start at the bottom of the ladder, and then rung by rung, you progress to the top. Tomorrow we’ll be getting close to the middle of the ladder.”
Coyle is expecting a tough test from Dominic Kinnear’s side. As many teams in MLS know, playing at Houston in July means dealing with the heat. While that is a problem for many of the Dynamo’s visitors, Bolton are actually looking forward to playing in what is likely to be a hot and humid environment.
But the weather wasn’t the only deciding factor in the English Premier club choosing Houston as a preseason opponent; Coyle wanted his team to get a quality test, and he feels the Dynamo will provide just that.
“I’ve stressed to our players that this Houston Dynamo team are a very good team with some good players,” Coyle said. “It’s not by accident that Houston have four players on the All-Star team — it’s because they’re quality as a side.”
Coyle’s admiration for soccer in the US does not stop with the Houston Dynamo. The manager pointed to the MLS’ growth and the level of players who have jumped from MLS to European sides as evidence of the league’s quality.
The Scottish manager believes that the next step for MLS is the development of young players, a process that's grown by leaps and bounds over the past several years with the Development Academy and Home Grown player initiatives.
“I think the most important thing for MLS is to get the balance right and to develop their own young US players,” Coyle said. “I went through the teams and it’s good to see the young kids coming into the league. … Without giving any names away, I will say that I already have my eye on a few players in MLS.”
While Coyle & Co. praised MLS as a whole, the immediate goal is to close out their trip with a strong performance against the Dynamo on Wednesday night.
“We’ve played some good matches in the US so far,” said Bolton captain Kevin Davies. “We managed to score three against Orlando [City], so we feel we’re pushing in the right direction. We expect a progression in the team and tomorrow’s the toughest test. We want to work on where we’re at in the game so we can take that back to the UK and be ready for the August 13 kickoff.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.