>Tuesday Lunch Special: MLS Team Preview – Houston Dynamo

Posted: March 1, 2011 in mls
Tags: , , , , , , ,

>By Evan Ream, with help from the Intern

Last Year: 9-15-6 33 points, 7th in West, 12th overall
Key Losses: Pat Onstad, Joseph Ngwenya, Richard Mulrooney
Key Additions: Hunter Freeman, Kofi Sarkodie, Will Bruin, Jermaine Taylor
Projected Starting XI: Though the core of this team remains intact from last year, there are a lot of new additions that could figure to get playing time this year. Up top, the rookie Will Bruin has been reportedly impressive in preseason and looks to start over Cam Weaver and Jason Garey next to brianchingbrBrian Ching. The return to health of Lovel Palmer and Geoff Cameron, who were both injured for much of last year, should let Brad Davis return to his natural and much more effective left midfield position, though Colin Clark figures to get playing time there when he returns from injury. Danny Cruz, a role player for the last few years, looks to have a bigger impact this year and should start over Corey Ashe. Defensively, Mike Chabala and Bobby Boswell should return to their new starting spots, but look for newcomers Jermaine Taylor and Hunter Freeman to complete the roster. Eddie Robinson is getting up there in terms of age, but he should be able to challenge for a starting spot and contribute solid minutes, while Dominic Kinnear will definitely look for Kofi Sarkodie to get minutes at right back and possibly right midfield. The Dynamo have one of the most interesting keeper situations in the league. With Tally Hall and Tyler Deric as the only keepers with MLS experience on the roster (a combined seven games played), Houston looks unsure in goal, but if Kinnear is happy with what he has than they will probably be fine; he is usually right. The Dynamo will look to supplant their veteran’s minutes this year with all their young players, leading to a bunch of different possible lineups. I expect Kinnear to get the full use of his players this year.

Brian Ching         Will Bruin
Brad Davis         Geoff Cameron         Lovel Palmer          Danny Cruz
Mike Chabala          Bobby Boswell          Jermaine Taylor          Hunter Freeman
Tally Hall

Prognosis: Mixing veteran leadership and youthful talent is always a good formula for success, but for Houston, they might still be one year away from making the playoffs again. Though they have Brad Davis, Brian Ching, Geoff Cameron, and Bobby Boswell, there aren’t a lot of proven players on the roster after those four. I see Houston challenging for a playoff spot but ultimately falling just a bit short. However, if Hunter Freeman plays like he did at the start of the 2007 season, Jermaine Taylor becomes the next Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Will Bruin scores five to seven goals, Lovel Palmer avoids his usual dumb tackles, Brian Ching actually stays on the field, and Dominic Kinnear actually gets some production out of Colin Clark, than the Dynamo can be a contending force. It is very unlikely that all those things will happen, but in a perfect world, the Houston has the chance to be a great team. Unfortunately, for Dynamo fans though, this world is far from perfect.
The Intern’s Take: This is a hard team for me to figure out based off last year. There seems to be a decent amount of quality on the roster but it remains to be seen if that will translate into results on the field. With a healthy team, something Houston did not have for all of last year, I fully expect them to improve upon last year’s record, which included a midseason run between May 29 and October 10 in which the Dynamo only won two games. I think that the players Houston picked up for this coming year will be very beneficial to them in the long run, especially if Kofi Sarkodie and Will Bruin can play at the level most be people are hoping for out of them, but for this season I do not think that the new acquisitions make up for the loss of talent. The spot where this will be most noticeable will be in goal. The experience that Pat Onstad brought to the position last year will be sorely missed this season. The loss of Brian Mullan also hurts Houston because he basically guarantees that whichever team he is a part of has at least a 50% chance of winning the MLS Cup (Mullan has won the MLS Cup five times since 2001). I think that Houston still have a very solid team however and that they will compete for a spot in the playoffs but ultimately fall short of the postseason.

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