The 2017 Houston Dynamo season is probably going to end up a similar tale to the previous three seasons. Since losing in the Eastern Conference Finals to Sporting Kansas City in 2013, the Dynamo have done nothing but regress. They have missed the playoffs in the three seasons since and have seen their season point totals drop every year. Last year, they finished dead last in the Western Conference with only 34 points.
Three Questions for the 2017 Houston Dynamo Season
One would think that after a trio of awful seasons, the franchise would look to reinvent itself. However, the Dynamo had a fairly quiet offseason that saw one key attacking player leave and nobody of note replace him. Will Bruin was one of their most used men up front, but he has moved on to Seattle with an uncertain loan signing brought in to fill his shoes. The defense has a new look, but that won’t do much good if they can’t score goals of their own. Here are three questions that will need positive answers if Forever Orange wants to avoid becoming Forever Outside the Playoffs.
Which DP Striker Scores the Goals?
The Dynamo have a pair of Designated Players on their roster and both are best used up front. Erick “Cubo” Torres only started four games last year and saw seven substitute appearances. He didn’t score a goal and only provided one assist. His production was so low that he feels like a waste of a valuable DP spot as well as a load of cash. His main goal for the season should be justifying his contract, assuming he can earn a starting spot.
The other is 21 year old Honduran Alberth Elis. He was fantastic for Olimpia in his home country for four years, but failed to catch on with Liga MX’s Monterrey. In his brief spell there only played five times and never scored. He arrives on loan to the Dynamo as what could be their most dynamic attacker.
Other goal scoring threats on the roster are their two leading scorers from a year ago, midfielder Andrew Wenger and forward Mauro Manotas. Both only tallied six goals on the year, which was the lowest total for any club leading scorer. Manotas’s numbers look more impressive. He played about half the minutes of Wenger, or, for that matter, most of Houston’s other attacking options from last year. Sliding him into a starting role could help scoring, but he will need one of those high priced DP’s to help him out.
Will the Revamped Defense Be Better?
The Dynamo did bring a couple experienced MLS players onto new look defense. The only returning starter in the back four is the elder statesman DaMarcus Beasley. He is joined by a pair of transfers from LA Galaxy and a Panamanian international.
A.J. DeLaGarza arrived in January via a trade with LA Galaxy. He’s a solid option as a defense first right back who will help bring more talent to a defense that was around league average last year. They also added center back Leonardo from LA. He hasn’t been a regular for a couple years, but he was a solid MLS center back in his prime. Coming to Houston will allow him tos ee the field more and lead the Orange defense to greater heights.
Panama’s Adolfo Machado also enters the side from Costa Rican giants Saprissa. He’s a little older at 32, but he was a regular fixture for a CONCACAF Champions League side last year that can add a little more experience.
This defense should do well to keep goals out of their net assuming the older legs can keep it going. Beasley, in particular, is sure to show more of his age as the lengthy MLS season drags on, but he isn’t the only wild card. Machado is not only on the wrong side of 30, but he is coming from a lower reputation league. Leonardo will need to get back to full time form after spending a year as a part time player. DeLaGarza is more of a known commodity and it will be up to him to set the trent at the back.
Will Wilmer Cabrera Do What Owen Coyle Couldn’t?
The Dynamo have brought up Wilmer Cabrera, the manager from their USL affiliate at Rio Grande Valley, to lead this bunch into the future. He takes the reins from Owen Coyle and his interim replacement Wade Barrett. Coyle was supposed to reinvent the side and add a British tenacity to them, but couldn’t get that mentality to stick.
Cabrera brings a more youth focused and American attitude. He knows MLS far better than Coyle could claim to. He managed Chivas USA in the final season, served as an assistant with Colorado Rapids before that, and managed the United States U17 and U18 squads. This experience at the youth and sub-MLS level combined with a few years within the league should help the Dynamo develop players for the future and install a mentality the club hasn’t seen since their title winning season in 2008.