Houston Dynamo: Three players offer hope after tournament exit

Houston Dynamo, Darwin Quintero (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Houston Dynamo, Darwin Quintero (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /

The Houston Dynamo exited the MLS is Back Tournament at the group stage. However, three players offer hope for the future.

The Houston Dynamo head home to clear out the lockers after failing to qualify for the knockout stages at the MLS is Back Tournament. New head coach Tab Ramos got everything he should have from his players, earning two draws against both LA teams and falling to the Portland Timbers in what was viewed as an extremely difficult group.

However, while the results were ultimately disappointing, there is hope for the future, especially from three key players.

More from MLS Multiplex

The Houston Dynamo signed Darwin Quintero in the offseason from Minnesota United. He was expected to jumpstart what has the making of an exciting attacking unit. Across the opening first two games, he played 152 minutes. He recorded two assists in the first match, a 3-3 draw against LAFC, but in the second, a rout by the Portland Timbers, he got off five shots, only one of which was on goal.

Then against the LA Galaxy, Quintero found himself leading in possession while getting in three tackles and a dispossession. Despite exiting the tournament, he was the highest-rated player on the pitch, playing another 83 minutes. He also scored his lone goal of the tournament against the Galaxy, which would have seen the Dynamo qualify from a tough group until Cristian Pavon scored a last-gasp penalty.

Another blooming star for the Dynamo was midfielder Memo Rodriguez. The homegrown further established himself as the everlasting pride of the Dynamo Academy in this pandemic-shortened season. He stayed on the pitch 208 minutes during the three matches, scoring two goals in the first game.

Rodriguez is highly thought of by Ramos and has flourished with a move into central midfield, away from the wide role he predominantly played last season. In behind Quintero, Alberth Elis and Mauro Manotas, there are plenty of opportunities for the 24-year-old to shine.

And then there is a third player who offers hope for the future. Nico Lemoine may have only played in 41 minutes for the tournament, but he showed plenty during his short stint on the pitch. Such limited action may not seem like much, but until last season, he was barely established in the USL. And as the team traveled back home from the tournament, his spot on the Dynamo website roster doesn’t yet compile any statistics for him at all.

Nevertheless, Lemoine has demonstrated competent passing throughout his tournament opportunities, including completing 100% of his attempts in the final game. He was combative on the ground, winning several tackles, won an aerial duel and a vital dispossession. Still only 20, there is plenty of time for Lemoine to grow into a more substantial squad role this season.

And so, the Houston Dynamo exit the MLS is Back Tournament full of disappointment. But they are not without hope, and with these three players demonstrating what they are capable of, perhaps Tab Ramos can continue to build a competitive team.