Houston Dynamo FC: No MLS Cup this time, but here's your change

Starting the season with inconsistent results and formation experimenting, Houston Dynamo FC went on to shock the MLS Western Conference during the 2023 post-season
Houston Dynamo v Los Angeles Football Club: Western Conference Final.
Houston Dynamo v Los Angeles Football Club: Western Conference Final. / Harry How/GettyImages

Houston Dynamo FC started this season not exactly sure what formation would work with personnel. They started the year an unimpressive 2-3-0 in the first five games, focusing on the 4-3-3 in its offensive scheme.

After a horrific loss 6-2 loss to Vancouver in June, coaches put the brain trust together. Starting August 21, Houston tore through their remaining opponents without a loss save for one September match dropped to Sporting Kansas City. And in December, they met Los Angeles FC for the Western Conference final game.

The game plan that brought so much success for Houston Dynamo FC is staying with the 4-2-3-1 formation. But that’s not all: coaches learned not to be shy about moving fresh legs to the front of that formation in the second half.

It’s the formation they used through the playoffs until the Western Conference championship loss to Los Angeles FC. It's worked more effectively for this squad than previous squads in recent years.

It was a long and hard road to this winning development. Through the disappointing 2022 season, Dynamo supporters met with the team front office, armed with hard evidence. They formed the Dynamo Fans for Change organization.

The Fans for Change documented season-ticket sales dropping from 12,000 to under 7,000, among other results of reduced team performance. But one of their key demands was getting a player of top caliber.

The supporters will say they had to wait too long, but the team’s answer to their player demand this season is Hector Herrera.

He appeared for Mexico in the 2014, 2018, and 2022 FIFA World Cup matches and was the Captain. He previously served professionally with Atletico de Madrid, winning La Liga and playing in the UEFA Champions League.

Beyond Herrera’s leadership, they’ve also got the depth to outlast most of the top teams in the MLS Western Conference. They were finally stopped 2-0 for the MLS Western Conference championship by Los Angeles FC. But to get that far, they brought in 17 new signings under the direction of head coach Ben Olsen in his first year, partnering with General Manager Pat Onstad and the front office.

They beat Inter Miami CF for the U.S. Open Cup. Olsen said that, although knocked out just short of playing for the MLS Cup, the Dynamo brought fire back to the pitch.

So Dynamo Fans for Change – there’s your change. And it’s good.