Defending MLS Cup Champions Houston are the most exciting team in MLS in my opinion. I've always enjoyed watching Houston/San Jose play. Heading into the match last night, with a 2-0 lead from the home leg of the semi-final series with Pachuca, I was expecting a favourable result. It had the potential to be a famous result for both the Dynamo and MLS. Of course it wasn't meant to be. I suggest the final 5-2 scoreline was a generous result for the MLS Champions. It should have been much worse.
That said, I am not questioning the talent level, or work ethic of the Dynamo or the MLS. The players appeared to work and fight as hard as they could in my opinion. Pachuca in mid-season form, are obviously a very talented talented side. Instead, I question Houston's prepparation for this very important match. The loss last night goes well beyond Houston being in pre-season form. Houston were simply not prepared to play at high altitudes in Mexico.
Moreover, I ask why the heck were Houston in South Carolina participating in the Carolina Challenge Cup last week, when instead they should have flown south and practiced at high altitudes to better prepare the players for this match. One look at the players gasping for breath was enough to understand that Houston were at a serious disadvantage. Toronto's own Dwayne de Rosario was ineffective, and looked like a shadow of his usual self.
Didn't anyone at the Dynamo or MLS have the foresight to consider the implications of proper preparation when the pre-season schedule was being drawn up? Were they not counting on making it this far? Was defending a meaningless pre-season trophy really worth it? Could they not have backed out on the Carolina organizers, or found them a replacement team?
In a week where MLS signs Mexcian star Cuauhtemoc Blanco for millions of dollars, hoping to tweak interest, and gain some much needed respect amongst the highly coveted Mexican soccer community in the United States, MLS instead takes 4 steps back with the humbling loss of its Champions. Although Houston showed sporadic flashes of how brilliant they can be last night, they spent much of the game bunkered up in the back, reduced to a lowly kick and chase team, that will gain the respect of no one (work ethic aside).
Learn from this MLS, as this was an enormous opportunity lost!