Bruin delivers in all areas as Dynamo down Montreal 1-0/ MLS maturity comes in form of “healthy pressure”

Every article and preview on the Houston Dynamo in 2014 has stated the obvious, that Will Bruin must convert more clear cut opportunities this season. It is a story heading into this season because according to Opta stats he had more clear cut chances in MLS than any other player.

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As a striker you grab the glory when scoring goals and can be fairly and unfairly criticized when you aren’t. Still we must consider all the responsibility placed on the striker position in the modern age.

From being a “possession” player and providing the hold up play, to being a provider for others via the pass and link play, making a variety of runs and movement off the ball and then to all the DEFENDING they must do, the job description has clearly changed in the last 15 years. Yet sometimes strikers must not forget that scoring goals lies in the criteria of the position.

Last night Will Bruin picked up his third goal of the year and it turned out to be a game winner against the Montreal Impact.
On this night his finish took a deflection and gratutiously nestled into the Montreal goal behind Troy Perkins but his willingness to shoot must be applauded! After two stunning goals against NE in the 4-0 win , Bruin now has 3 in 2 games! What a way to start the season!

Still for me, the contributions from the man go far deeper in this match. His overall effort, willingness to lead the line from the front and lead his teammates through effort was impressive.

On this night his defensive work was exceptional for a striker, numerous times he came back in midfield to disrupt Montreal attacks vertically and at times was even in his own penalty area defending during the run of play and on set pieces.
Oh, and lets not forget that his near post run dragged a Montreal defender out of the middle so Giles Barnes could find the trailing Andrew Driver.

The goals are pouring in for Bruin right now which is a great sign but it is a great time to take stock in his OVERALL game and CONTRIBUTIONS in other areas. Does healthy pressure and attendance have some motivating factor in all of this?
Regardless of what the answer is, this healthy pressure is a clear statement the game is growing and maturing in MLS.

Twitter: GlennDavisSoc

Stats, analytics in soccer, have we gone to far?

Data, statistics, analytics (fashionable word these days) are all important in the world of sports but when it comes to soccer is it a stretch now a-days?

When analyzing a game I don’t necessarily need someone to tell me that Barcelona dominated ball possession yesterday at the Camp Nou against Manchester City or that last year the Dynamo did not finish enough of the real chances that they created.

The point to me is that the naked eye and experience in watching the game is unbeatable, the great managers will tell you this also.
Then again at times the use of stats and analytics are useful and prove points depending on how far you want to go.
Managers use them these days in world football in varying degrees but sometimes they can be less than truthful.
Fact is we have many writing pieces based on analytics that did not even watch the game nor may have ever kicked a ball.
Welcome to MONEYBALL!

So how much is enough?

Did it really matter that the Dynamo and failed to convert chances last year and ended up 15 of 19 teams in goal scoring?
After all they were only one game away from the MLS Cup final and advanced farther than most teams that scored more goals than them in the regular season. Surely if some of those were converted the Dynamo might not have had to scrape into the playoffs and might have had a less stressful playoff path.

Ever heard of a big chance? I am assuming this is a “clear” good goal scoring chance” by definition.
Apparently Dynamo striker Will Bruin missed more “big” chances (17) last year according to an article by Devin Pleuler of MLS Soccer than any other player in the league.

Not that we needed the article to come to this conclusion if we watch the game but the data pulled by OPTA stats last year claims that Dynamo striker Will Bruin’s “big chance” conversion rate was 26 percent to the rest of the league’s 46 percent. Hard to argue with that.

Have I lost you yet? Do you care ? Or do you find it interesting? I have never felt that soccer/futbol is a statistics laden sport to the degree of others but the balance of using statistics to prove points can be useful at times.

As for Will Bruin, his conversion rate this year is pretty good scoring twice in the Dynamo opener against NE and embracing the “magnifying glass” of the striker position!
The fact that the man has continually gotten chances is the real piece here.

Strikers in modern game are asked to do many things including provide multiple runs and movement off the ball, hold up play and defend when the ball is lost . Apparently the main job of scoring goals has not been lost on Bruin.

Hear what he had to say about the pressure of playing in the striker position from last night’s DYNAMO ALL ACCESS on Yahoo Sports Radio, Bruin is embracing it after scoring twice and providing an assist to Boniek Garcia in an outstanding performance vs. NE! GlennDavisSoc

Why I love smoke bombs and flares!

For smoke bombs and flares I have a real “soft” spot in my heart.
So my heart went fluttering when I heard that the “smoke bomb” of the Orange variety my show up at the Dynamo/NE opener.

Smoke bombs are fun!
They also symbolize the sport of soccer too so many.
The billowing orange that came above the “supporter’s ” group after the Will Bruin goal was a statement. A statement that we are football, that we can be international/
At that moment Houston sent out a smoke signal to the world!

I will never forget sitting above the supporters groups at RFK in 2007 when the Dynamo scored in the MLS Cup final en route to the MLS Cup win.
I watched from above supporters light a flare or smoke bomb with their faces covered with bandana’s.
I looked at my brother and said “look at these guys” they are awesome!
That moment is indelibly etched in my mind and coincided beautifully with what had happened on the field.
If it is good enough for Milan, Istanbul and other places around the world it is good enough for us!

So as not to get MLS mad at me I will remind that the smoke bombs at BBVA are being let off responsibly by the Dynamo organization and not individual fans like that day at RFK.

Credit to all the supporters that lobbied for the return of the “smoke bomb” and credit to the Dynamo organization for getting it done.

It is something unique, something futbol and it draws the attention of media and soccer/futbol fans alike!

By the way, does anyone know the identity of those guys who let the smoke bomb off at Rfk that day! I want to shake their hands!

Twitter: GlennDavisSoc

Men against boys! My thoughts on the Dynamo crushing NE

Opening matches to MLS season have often brought lots of unpredictability.
Players and fans emotions alike are at a high.
Last night I surely did not see a 4-0 scoreline coming against the NE Revolution especially based on the tight nature of their games last year where the clubs went 1-1-1.
Still the Dynamo were so alive and up for the moment against NE that it was simply “men” against “boys”.

Here are some of my thoughts:

The Dynamo midfield is one of experience. Three internationals in Boniek Garcia, Ricardo Clark and Brad Davis. Immense experience trumped and outplayed the vaunted youth of NE.
These men set the tone. The diligence and attention to detail was epitomized when Brad Davis won a throw in keeping the ball in the NE half of the field.
Ultimately Will Bruin would get a second goal.

Lots of questions going into the season and one game does not make as season for a team or a player but the “dancing bear” lived up to it on opening night. It only took 2 minutes for him to open his account after a huge mistake from Josey Goncalves who should have cut out and easy cross. Still Bruin had to dip his shoulder and hit a side volley with a large degree of difficulty. Class finish with great wow factor.
He would add a second on a speared in volley at the far post after wonderful delivery from Cory Ashe and then set up Boniek Garcia.
A night to remember for the big striker.

Center back David Horst lived up to the billing of adding a so needed “edge” to the back-line that was missing last year and not provided. Smart in the tackle, unbeatable in the air the big man is off to a great start with room to grow the relationship with Jermanine Taylor.
Dynamo fans were introduced in many cases to an unknown.
Tony Cascio sadly went off injured but on the broadcast it looked akward, head athletic trainer Theron Enns quickly asked for a substitution. No word on Cascio yet.

When Giles Barnes was subbed out he was not pleased but that is only indicative of a great sign. Hungry, wanting to play strikers are vital and Barnes was disappointed not to get his first goal of the year. His work and movement all night was dangerous and he contributed mightily to the win.

When a rookie comes on in an opener a manager is making a statement. Dom Kinnear brought on University of Memphis striker Sherrod who only a few days ago signed his first professional contract.
Sherrod will be the “Cam Weaver” target type replacement. He promptly won his first aerial ball. The kid is good in the air.

This club look ill-prepared and of course were stunned by the opening goal.
Scott Caldwell looked incredibly soft in the holding midfield role, Jose Goncalves was a shadow of an “MLS Defender of the Year” from last season.
With three of four on the road coming up for the Revs they need to get their ship corrected quickly so as not to drop alot of early season points.

Fagundez provided a few excited moments and reminded us why at 19 he is so revered and has European attention. First a ridiculous scoop pass behind the Dynamo defense should have been finished by Kelyn Rowe and then he beat everything but the woodwork after bending a ball from long range.
The kid can play and will provide exciting moments in NE again this year at only 19 years of age.

The cool weather, a great turn out led to a great night at BBVA. The match provided five star entertainment, goals and smoke bombs.
Fans an players alike left with broad smiles as big as Boniek Garcia.
It is only one game but you only get one opener but the Dynamo lived up to it!

Give me your thoughts! Comments!


On Bruin, Barnes and more…..

My thoughts on Will Bruin, Giles Barnes and todays match:

WILL BRUIN: No doubt the modern striker has to provided hold up play, make good runs, not to mention defend when the ball is lost. It is clear that Bruin has done these things and created chances for himself last year but struggled to deliver the final product.
He is talented but after only scoring ONE pre-season goal (vs Dynamo Academy) in ELEVEN games one has to wonder where he is goal scoring confidence level is today.
Lets hope he scores today and avoids long stretches like last year without goals.

GILES BARNES- he has come in trim and fit and will provide real danger coming from deep but the question for Barnes is can he be disciplined enough throughout the year to stay fit, trim. It’s one thing doing it in pre-season but another to do it for an entire year.
Lots looks good here and Barnes remains the best aerial threat for the Dynamo.
Look for him behind Bruin, next to Bruin and beyond Bruin interchanging positions today against a tough NE backline led by Jose Goncalves.

CHEMISTRY- as I mentioned Wednesday, based on pre-season my feeling is that David Horst at cb and Tony Cascio at right midfield will start with Warren Creavalle out to injury as well as Eric Brunner.
Kofi Sarkodie will be next to Horst and playing in combination with Cascio. Chemistry and learning the qualities of each other begins in real match competition today as Sarkodie and Cascio must lock down the left side where teen sensation Diego Fagundez operates for NE.

Twitter: GlennDavisSoc

Giles Barnes – Fans Want To See Me Entertain

Glenn Davis sits down with Houston Dynamo attacker Giles Barnes

Giles Barnes

We have done a few interviews this preseason and you have come back with an incredible fitness level. Your preseason was wonderful. Did something just go off in your head because I believe you can be a top star in the league. When did the light bulb go off?

After every season I always evaluate where can I improve my game and be better. One thing that came to my mind was my fitness level. Obviously when you do that, you get stronger, quicker and more powerful. You are able to last longer. My fitness level is feeling really good so I am ready to go.

Fifteen to twenty goals this season, is that the target for the season.

I have set a number. You hit the nail on the head, it is somewhere around that. I always want to improve my numbers from last year so I’ll be headed that way hopefully.

You have a brother, Marcus, only 17 years of age. He has recently played for the under 21 Southampton on their youth system. Tell us about the progression on your brother.

They have embraced him over there in Southampton. They really like him as a player. He had a little injury which has kept him out for a while but right now he is the youth top goal scorer at the moment. He is still seventeen so he has a lot to learn yet.

For the whole interview with Giles Barnes, you can find it below:

Some burning Dynamo thoughts ahead of opener

In the next few days via the radio, facebook: Soccer Matters, Twitter: GlennDavisSoc and I will be providing you the best in Dynamo coverage ahead of the exciting opener this weekend.
The game will be broadcasted on CSNHOUSTON with a full pre and post game show and Eddie Robinson and I will have the game call along with sideline reporter Sebastian Salazar.

Don’t forget to download the podcast of SOCCER MATTERS on ESPN 97-5 and of course Dynamo All Access on YSR 1560 which airs tonight. I am encouraging fans to have an opinion, don’t sit on your hands but talk about the game. Get out from behind the computer and come on the air and talk the game! This is a World Cup year so lets live up to the game in the international context.


PRE SEASON: It seems to have been a typical Dynamo pre-season with lots of games being played and I often tell me former teammates that I wish our pre-season would have been more like the one Dominic Kinnear applies.
Players are expected to come in fit and those that are not will stick out like a “sore thumb”. In my day there was ridiculous physical work as an emphasis early.
Here are three that have stood out in pre-season for me:

GILES BARNES- Barnes had come in trim crediting an off season boxing regime and I would assume a focus on diet. He is trim, fit and scoring goals in pre-season. He remains the Dynamo best aerial threat at this time .
He also is capable of providing the “spectacular”, look for him coming from a deeper position behind a striker. His 9 goals last year I believe will be bested by 15+ this year. Opponents will truly have to track him.

BRAD DAVIS – The captain has had a strong pre-season scoring goals as well and has the multiple motivation of pushing to make the United States World Cup team as a “specialist”.
He is focused and what stood out to me was how serious he took a pre-season match against HBU.

TONY CASCIO- The loan player from Colorado has come in motivated, mobile and has scored goals also in pre-season. He will provide vital cover for Boniek Garcia whom we know will represent HONDURAS in the World Cup and possibly Brad Davis if selected by the U.S.
Cascio doesn’t like watching soccer but simply playing it when I questioned him on SOCCER MATTERS. He also has scored five plus goals in pre-season.

WILL BRUIN- The talented Bruin did well to get in goal scoring positions last year but he clearly should have produced more goals in the “pressure cooker” position of striker. A concern is that he only has one pre-season goal against the Dynamo Academy team. It is a worry based on last year struggles. Can the regular season get him more precise around goal? Where is his confidence heading into the season. It is a real question.

POPULARITY- The Dynamo have the continual challenge of staying popular on a daily basis on a crowded sports landscape. Mainstream media still is a challenge but in a World Cup year more eye-balls will be on the sport of soccer in the United States. Can those be converted to Dynamo fans.
Will more international fans head to BBVA Compass stadium this year to sample the Dynamo product. Attendance was down last year and no shows who had season tickets hurt the atmosphere. The Dynamo are working diligently to change this.

LOTS OF HOME GAMES EARLY-The Dynamo got out of the gate last year at 6-2-2 and have numerous home games to stockpile the points early ahead of the World Cup. Last year they made it a point to finish higher in the conference and dramatically scraped into the playoffs then rolled to the Eastern Conference final.
Finishing higher must be a priority to be better positioned for the playoffs. Can they finish in the top two in the conference?

Enjoy the international matches today and get out to BBVA Compass Stadium this weekend.
A big thanks to the fans that are supporting the game in the media.
You are growing the game!


San Antonio or Miami? Where do you want to see MLS expand?

Saturday night in San Antonio the Scorpions of the NASL will take on FC Dallas of Major Legue Soccer in a pre-season match at Toyota Field.

Scorpions owner Gordon Hartman built this stadium with his own funds and it is a beauty with the capability of adding additional levels for expanded capacity. To my knowledge this is the only professional sports franchise in the world that all the profits outside of operating the team goes back to a charity Morgan’s Wonderland.

Additionally they were drivers of KICK CANCER the soccer charity for pediatric cancer that we in the Houston soccer community support!

Ok back to the significance of this game. It is expected to be a sell-out and a statement for possible expansion to San Antonio. Certainly the geographic connection to Houston and Dallas would make for great rivalry.

Don Garber the MLS commissioner has NYCFC and Orlando coming in to MLS next year and further expansion will come in the form of 24 teams by the year 2020.
David Beckham and Miami are also going to enter the league.
Other cities vying include Atlanta (Falcons owner Arthur Blank), Minneapolis, Sacramento , and San Diego.

If I had my chance and I am biased I would select San Antonio any day over Miami!!!

Where would you expand and are you heading to check out the scene in San Antonio?

What clubs are the innovators in MLS? What clubs are the followers?

So who are the innovators? Who are the followers? Who are just hanging in when it comes to Major League Soccer Clubs?

The question is clearly a fair one and is not easy to answer.

The innovators at the moment with the biggest bang are the LOS ANGELES GALAXY.
By showing the confidence to invest in a USL Pro team they have automatically taken the poll position in player developement and have brought relevancy to their academy.
USL affiliations pare in comparison to a situation where they can truly monitor their players.
The Galaxy pull off the biggest move in the MLS off season by far and it will have effect down the road. It is a confident move in player developement and they are showing the confidence in that they believe they will get a return.

I am hearing FC Dallas and others will ultimately fall in line.

TORONTO FC has also raised the bar by spending 100 million to bring back Michael Bradley and Premier League man Jermaine DeFoe.
All MLS players should be excited as all ships will rise with the tide of higher wages.
MLS clubs should be grateful and use the stars of TFC to sell out their visits to their markets.
ON another note, MLS, please make these stars available to clubs they visit during the week for promotion, these players must do the PR end of the game.
No complacency is acceptable at this time in MLS. Make these stars available and not to just a select few.

SEATTLE /PORTLAND have clearly been innovators and in that category also goes SPORTING KC.
REAL SALT LAKE would make the list as well.
The HOUSTON DYNAMO along with PORTLAND have added an NWSL team which makes them unique as well.

MLS would never have gotten started without the Hunt (also first Soccer Specific Stadium) and Kraft family’s yet in the current age of MLS they might be considered dinosaurs.

Kraft’s Revolution remain one of the hold outs in the NFL Gillette Stadium on plastic while FC Dallas elected to build in the hinterlands of Frisco but are showing new signs of progress.

In Colorado they have yet to name a manager while owner Stan Kroencke is most focused it seems on Arsenal in England.

Some owners are reluctant to spend on players and it is not about lacking the resources to afford them but it simply may be that they believe they are making the best decision in their interests.

Who are the innovators? Who are the followers? Who are the hangers on?

Comment below!

Angelo’s Word: On Or Off The Pitch?

Simply, can I ask a couple of questions? It’s been reported that Alex Morgan will be featured in the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, again. That’s not a question. It’s a statement. But a question that I ask is this, is it possible to assume, that women’s soccer in this country, has a higher profile when it comes to being marketed, than men’s soccer in this country?

What I am saying is, or what I am really asking is, would men’s soccer in this country garner a bit more to a lot more mainstream respect via media and public alike, if there was an Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, or Mia Hamm to market, if you catch my drift.

It’s been said that the attention given to men’s professional soccer in this country will increase to mainstream levels when there is an athlete that transcends the sport in the vain that Michael Jordan transcended basketball or Muhammad Ali transcended boxing. I get that, that makes sense. But is the sentiment really true?

Women’s soccer in this country is astronomically less visible then men’s soccer in this country. Yet, I feel for some obvious reasons, and maybe some not so obvious reasons, the women’s side of the coin seems to hold more value and carry a bit more weight when it comes to infiltrating pop culture. Which given the limited soccer opportunities that the women’s game has overall in comparison to the men’s game overall in this country, seemingly goes against all conventional wisdom.

Would the men’s game going forward in this country, be better served producing an uber athlete that achieves supremely on the pitch? Or would the men’s game be better served by producing a talent whose profile can simply extend beyond, “soccer matters” and infiltrate pop culture? Or by both?

Angelo Lawford