Skip to content

Deconstructing the Houston Dynamo’s success

Nov 26, 2012, 8:20 AM EST

Montreal Impact v Houston Dynamo Getty Images

The Houston Dynamo is the plain Jane minivan of professional soccer: it never looks very exciting, but the doggone thing gets the job done with minimal fuss and distraction.

Four MLS Cup finals appearances in seven years (including two championships) is all the evidence you need, compelling data that says things generally work right for the men in orange.

Layer in the context of a roster rarely adorned with high-profile, high-priced figures, and the organizational success that has marked this club since its 2006 arrival into South Texas becomes even more impressive.

How can the club keep winning battles when so often devoid of heavy weapons? It’s about Dominic Kinnear, about the locker room and (mostly) about the blessedness of unbending accountability.

Kinnear himself jokes about his team’s straight-forward style, about the open orange book, one with no secrets worth keeping. Stylistically, they play quickly out of the back with minimal side-to-side movement; there’s not much possession for possession’s sake. Sooner rather than later, they want something direct into a big striker (it’s always been a land of big strikers). This is why Kinnear’s side never require a central playmaker, per se, although an aggressive slasher type (Dwayne De Rosario, Stuart Holden, Oscar Boniek Garcia) that can break down defenses is always helpful.

They’ll go wide and look for service when possible – although maybe not as much as you might think. By getting forward without much namby-pampying around, the Dynamo win their share of corner kicks and free kicks. And then … well, then Brad Davis.

On defense, it’s about shape, effort, tracking, tackling, challenging religiously for every ball, winning second balls and, mostly, a relentless pursuit of doing all of the above without the toxicity of killer mistakes. That is the accountability.

It’s not that other teams aren’t attempting all the same things; it’s that Houston is more dogged in never accepting the teeny-tiniest lapse.

Kinnear is a master of demanding things go a certain way. Technical mistakes may happen, but boo-boos born of sloth or inattention simply are not tolerated. Do it wrong and someone lets you know about it.

If a Houston Dynamo man looks like he’s thinking about not tracking back on defense, Kinnear is off the bench screaming at him. (That goes for an MLS Cup final seen by thousands or a preseason friendly in Arizona, seen only by me and about four local parks workers.)

If a wide midfielder of forward isn’t tucking in quickly enough on the weak side, Kinnear comes up hollering.

source:

The defender who clears a ball into the wrong spot … the midfielder who is slow to pursue a second ball … the goalkeeper who doesn’t communicate information quickly enough to his teammates … well, you get the idea.

It’s a demanding, daily grind – and it only works with the right kind of locker room. That’s where prudent roster construction comes in.  Kinnear and his assistants aren’t just scanning for talent, they always seek talent that is willing to “buy in.”

They must be men who don’t mind being held accountable, and men who will remind others about that uncompromising responsibility to faithfully toe the line. Fact is, some athletes (some people in general) just don’t want to be told they did something wrong, or may lash out defensively when told they aren’t putting enough effort into the enterprise.

Build a locker room with the right kind character, and things pretty much police themselves.

Generally speaking, Houston Dynamo men can be counted on to check their personal ambition at the BBVA Compass door; once through the gate, it’s about the collective. And when someone loses the orange-colored plot, Kinnear will be there to set them straight.

Latest Posts
  1. WATCH: Carlos Tevez’s stunning free kick as Juventus, Roma draw 1-1 in Serie A showdown

    Mar 2, 2015, 5:17 PM EST

    Carlos Tevez, Juventus FC Carlos Tevez, Juventus FC

    The title race was minutes from being OVER; it’s still probably over. Tevez’s goal was an absolute beauty.

  2. 2015 MLS season preview: San Jose Earthquakes

    Mar 2, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    http://www.sjearthquakes.com/ http://www.sjearthquakes.com/

    Last season’s worst team in the West has a new stadium and high hopes for 2015.

  3. WATCH: Midweek Premier League TV schedule – Week 28

    Mar 2, 2015, 3:30 PM EST

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every single PL game on Tuesday and Wednesday.

  4. WATCH: Bungled tackle in Bundesliga.2 turns into well-hit own goal

    Mar 2, 2015, 3:15 PM EST

    VfL Bochum v VfR Aalen - 2. Bundesliga Getty Images

    The 23-year-old German defender was attempting to win a loose ball, and instead struck a strong ball past his keeper.

  5. 2015 MLS season preview: Montreal Impact

    Mar 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EST

    www.impactmontreal.com/ www.impactmontreal.com/

    After finishing with the fewest points in MLS last season, the only way to go is up for Montreal.

  6. 2015 MLS predictions: Cup winners? MVP? Lampard or Gerrard? Kaka or Giovinco?

    Mar 2, 2015, 2:20 PM EST

    2014 MLS Cup 2014 MLS Cup

    Why wait for the season that might not happen, when we’ve got all the answers for you right now?

  7. Liverpool’s Rodgers: Gerrard back “in very near future”, Ibe out for a while

    Mar 2, 2015, 2:14 PM EST

    Liverpool v Leicester City - Premier League Getty Images

    The captain has been out since Feb. 10, while Ibe was hurt in last week’s Europa League dismissal by Besiktas.

  8. MLS Atlanta makes shrewd hire, bringing in Carlos Bocanegra as technical director

    Mar 2, 2015, 1:30 PM EST

    bocanegra Getty Images

    Bocanegra will work with MLS Atlanta president Darren Eales, who has worked with Premier League clubs West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur.

  9. BBC report: Sunderland’s Adam Johnson arrested on suspicion of sex with a 15-year-old girl

    Mar 2, 2015, 12:36 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    The Daily Mail had reported that three cops cars stormed a Premier Leaguer’s apartment earlier Monday to make the arrest.

  10. Is Rafael van der Vaert closing in on a move to MLS with Sporting KC?

    Mar 2, 2015, 12:22 PM EST

    FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-BAYERN MUNICH-HAMBURG Getty Images

    KC only has two Designated Players — Matt Besler and Zusi — and RVDV would be a nice match provided the money works for both parties.

  11. 2015 MLS season preview: Orlando City SC

    Mar 2, 2015, 12:00 PM EST

    Orlando_City_2014.svg

    The Lions will roar into MLS after several successful seasons in the third-tier. How will Orlando fare in 2015?

  12. Premier League Playback: Why Manchester City are throwing away the title

    Mar 2, 2015, 10:06 AM EST

    PST’s Editor and Lead Writer take a look back at Week 27 in the Premier League.

  13. Police investigating post-League Cup racist behavior claims against Chelsea fans

    Mar 2, 2015, 10:00 AM EST

    Chelsea v Burnley - Premier League Getty Images

    Chelsea fans on a train from London to Manchester have been accused of more racist behavior following the club’s 2-0 League Cup final win over Tottenham on Sunday.

  14. Mourinho: “Need to feed myself” with titles. Will Chelsea finish with one, two or three? (Vote now)

    Mar 2, 2015, 9:23 AM EST

    Britain Soccer League Cup Final AP

    Barring a catastrophic run of injuries, Chelsea looks set for a double, but the treble will take all of Mourinho’s managerial magic and likely some luck.

  15. 2015 MLS season preview: New York City FC

    Mar 2, 2015, 9:02 AM EST

    NYCFC_Badge

    Can NYCFC capture the hearts and minds of soccer fans in the Big Apple? Here’s a look at how things are shaping up for their inaugural season in MLS.

  16. WATCH: Lukas Podolski offers up one of the worst corner kicks in Inter Milan history

    Mar 2, 2015, 8:15 AM EST

    56e7def813d446eabef28b3cc190021d Getty Images

    It has not been a banner loan for the 6-foot Polish-German striker.

  17. Rumors know no window: Orlando using Kaka to lure Balotelli to MLS

    Mar 2, 2015, 7:48 AM EST

    Kaka Balotelli Getty Images

    The transfer gossip out of Spain is that Orlando City is trying to woo the agent for Mario Balotelli.

  18. VIDEO: Premier League Team of the Week — Stars of Matchweek 27

    Mar 1, 2015, 11:10 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Find out who made the cut as one of the top performers of Round 27 in the Premier League.