They might have lost their last two MLS matches against Texas rivals Austin FC and FC Dallas, but the Houston Dynamo are headed in the right direction according to head coach Paulo Paulo Nagamura.
The manager expressed his pleasure at the performances his team have been putting in recently despite back-to-back defeats that came after a six-game unbeaten streak across all competitions.
“There is an improvement with the play of the group, that means that we are (competitive) in every game,” Nagamura told reporters on Thursday.
“In the last two games, we lost by one goal, but if you analyze all the games that we’ve had this year, you can say that we are in there. We could have tied, or we could have won, it would not be an unfair result. I give credit to our players, they are fighting, they are being disciplined and most importantly they are playing better than they have in the past.”
Midfielder Adalberto Carrasquilla played the full 90 minutes against Austin and 89 minutes of the defeat to Dallas. He’s well-placed to make a judgment call on why the Dynamo came away with no points against their Texas rivals, despite taking the lead in both matches.
For Carrasquilla, it all comes down to strengthening Houston’s mentality – something that can only be done by experiencing adversity.
“We have touched on a variety of things, from concentration to having more personality during the most difficult moments of the game. In the end, we lost a couple of games due to small details. We have learned from those experiences so that it does not happen to us again,” the Panama international said.
He added: “The team is energetic, they look motivated and the vibe is positive. The team is very hungry to get back on the winning track.”
Standing between Houston and that ‘winning track’ are DC United, who have been polarizing under interim head coach Chad Ashton, to say the least. The Black and Red beat the New England Revolution 3-2 in Ashton’s first game in charge, but fell to a crushing 3-0 loss away at the Columbus Crew last week.
But Nagamura is still wary of any bounce DCU might still be feeling under a new coach.
“It’s difficult to comment on [DC United] because when any team changes coaches, the players are fired up,” he said. “They see it as a new opportunity to show the new coach that they deserve to play, there’s always extra motivation there.”
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