Houston Dynamo’s revolutionary trajectory to the playoffs

The Houston Dynamo shocked Major League Soccer fans in 2023.

The Dynamo concluded the 2022 season in 13th place, with 36 points in 34 games and a record of  10W-18L-6D to miss out on playoffs. Now, the team has exceeded all expectations by lifting the US open Cup in a 2-1 victory over Inter Miami and clinching an MLS postseason slot when concluding in fourth place on the Western Conference table with 51 points.  

The Texas team may have entered the 2023 campaign as underdogs, but no one is underestimating their potential now.

Ben Olsen joined the Houston Dynamo as manager on November 8, returning to the helm after a two-year coaching hiatus following his departure from D.C. United in October 2020. He saw the opportunity as a way to start from scratch. 

The first couple games of the 2023 MLS campaign saw Olsen and the Dynamo struggle, picking up consecutive defeats to kick off the season. The team fell 2-1 to FC Cincinnati and 3-0 to the New England Revolution before earning the first victory against in-state rival Austin FC three weeks into the league. 

Beyond the results and necessary technical work needed to improve, Olsen sought to form a special bond with the players to form a unified team. He began experimenting with the formation ahead of every game, honing in on the importance of ‘adapting’ when tailoring the starting lineup to fit the specific opponent at hand. By trial and error, Olsen continues to build on what works for this Texas team. 

But the new strategy has propelled the Dynamo to highs, winning the US Open Cup when beating Inter Miami in the final and concluding the 2023 campaign in fourth place with 51 points. The team also kicked off their playoff campaign with a 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake in the first game of the best-of-three series. The coach’s approach revolutionized the Dynamo.

Houston has seen several key figures step up in 2023.

Hector Herrera, who joined the Dynamo in 2022 from Atletico Madrid after more than nine seasons in Europe, initially struggled to adapt to Major League Soccer. But after a year, the player stands as the distinguishing factor in the midfield. He’s managed four goals and 17 assist to propel the team to success, leading by example as captain when on the field. The midfielder lifts up the players around him, leading Coco Carrasquilla and Amine Bassi to net some stunning strikes.

Olsen explained the team’s success comes from a complete group effort, with no one player taking the credit. And the statistics reflect the statement, as each player has contributed to the overall 51 goals scored by the Houston Dynamo in the MLS regular season. Under his methodology, each figure made the necessary effort to reach the playoffs.

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