HOUSTON – Two weeks ago, Dominic Kinnear took responsibility for how he handled his team during a busy stretch. With Tuesday’s match against the streaking Chicago Fire (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), the Houston Dynamo head coach has a chance to make amends.
Just three days removed from a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union this past Saturday, Kinnear is in a similar situation to the one he was in after a 4-2 loss to the Montreal Impact on June 23. Following that match, Kinnear told MLSsoccer.com he mismanaged his exhausted team during a time when they had four matches in two weeks.
Heading into Tuesday's date with the Fire at BBVA Compass Stadium, he's looking to balance a good performance this past weekend with heavy legs.
“You’d like to keep the team the same as it was because the team played pretty well and deserves another crack at it,” the Dynamo boss said on Monday. “But obviously physical health plays a big part in that. If guys are struggling, it’s smart to change it up. If guys feel great and are ready to go, then you run with it.”
Keeping the same team could mean sticking with a 4-3-3. Houston employed the formation to tighten up the midfield and match the Union's attacking formation. The move was met with positive results Saturday as the club held long periods of possession with a tight and aggressive midfield led by Brad Davis and Boniek García.
While the club is unlikely to go away from their 4-4-2 roots altogether, the winning performance against Philadelphia could open the door to further use in the future.
“I truly feel like we had one of our best performances the other night,” Brad Davis said. “I think being a versatile team is a good thing. We go out there and if [Kinnear] puts us in a 4-3-3, that’s what we play. I think he was encouraged by [our performance], we were encouraged by it. We had good possession and created a lot of chances.”
Regardless of who is on the field or which formation they are in, putting a team on the field that has the best chance to win is at the top of the list ahead of Tuesday’s match. To get a better handle on the health of the squad, some heart-to-heart conversations with players – who, like all professionals, want to be in the thick of the action – will be in order.
“I’ve got to have honest conversations with a lot of guys,” Kinnear said. “We had that [conversation] yesterday. We told them, ‘If you’re struggling, you’ve got to let me know.’ We want to keep guys as fresh as possible. I know they want to play, everybody does, but you have to make sure when you step on the field you give yourself the best chance to play well.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.