ORLANDO, Fla. – Houston Dynamo manager Dominic Kinnear is taking a page out of the Herm Edwards NFL playbook: “You play to win the game,” the ESPN on-air personality once pronounced.
When Kinnear’s squad kicks off the Disney Pro Soccer Classic against Sporting Kansas City on Friday (live stream on MLSsoccer.com Channel 2 at 6 pm ET), the goal will be clear.
“I want to win the tournament,” Kinnear told MLSsoccer.com at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on Thursday. “I’d like to. If you look at our record in the preseason over the years, we’ve had a pretty good record. Yes, it’s an exercise, but you can’t take your foot off the pedal because it’s hard to turn it on and turn it off. We want to remain competitive no matter what we’re doing.”
The Dynamo have lost just one preseason match thus far in 2012 – a 2-0 decision to the Portland Timbers – as Kinnear continues to fine-tune his squad, which will be missing Jermaine Taylor (Jamaica), Je-Vaughn Watson (Jamaica) and Kofi Sarkodie (US Under-23s) in Orlando due to international call-ups.
The Houston manager expects the starters to get more playing time in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic and he says he will likely make fewer halftime subs given the start of the season is just 16 days away.
The Dynamo’s five trialists – Brazilian Emerson Sato, Mexican defender Oscar Recio and draft picks Eder Arreola, Brian Ownby and Warren Creavalle – will get “minutes under pressure,” according to Kinnear, as he moves closer to making a final decision about their future in orange by the end of the tournament.
Another player to keep an eye on is midfielder Luiz Camargo, who ran laps and did other fitness work separate from the rest of the squad to wrap up Thursday’s practice session.
“He’s still got a couple more weeks away,” Kinnear said in reference to Camargo. “He came in a little bit late and he came in a little bit out of shape. As the preseason has been going on, he’s been getting better. He’s a good player. Fitness is the key for him.”
Lastly, Dynamo fans should not be surprised to see players pop up in new positions during the Disney tournament. Midfielder Nate Sturgis has already made appearances at center back during preseason as Kinnear plans ahead for the potential loss of four defenders to national team duty.
“There could be a time in the summer where we’re missing two to five guys,” Kinnear said. “Some guys have to be flexible and sometimes a player being able to play a couple of positions is helpful, especially in the summer time.”