Houston Dynamo Season Review: Underwhelming regular season, but trophy shines through

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HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 26: DaMarcus Beasley #7 of Houston Dynamo lifts up the championship trophy after defeating the Philadelphia Union 3-0 during the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final at BBVA Compass Stadium on September 26, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Editorial (January 19, 2019) – The Houston Dynamo missed the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2018 but won the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. They finished 9th in the Western Conference with 38 points (10-16-8). While this might have been a step backwards for the Wilmer Cabrera era in Houston, they’ve still did a lot with the league’s smallest budgets and many young players.

Houston Dynamo Season Review: Underwhelming regular season, but trophy shines through

Team MVP:

Mauro Manotas was the Dynamo’s team MVP in 2018 and it’s not even close. The 23-year-old scored 19 goals, double what anyone on the team scored other than Alberth Elis. He was extremely productive as part of the Dynamo’s three (sometimes four) man counter attack. With defenses often focusing on stopping Elis, Manotas took advantage of his opportunities. He’s improved every year since coming to MLS and is ready to be just as good in 2019.

What went wrong in 2018:

The health of the back line and consistency. Outside of the ageless wonder, DaMarcus Beasley, no one on the backline was able to stay healthy for the entire season. Leonardo and Philippe Senderos are both well past their prime and slow, which hurt the club. A.J. DeLarGarza spent much of the season rehabbing from an ACL injury from last year, playing in just four games. Alejandro Fuenmayor
had a decent first season in MLS, which was a bright spot.

The Dynamo were inconsistent throughout the year as well and never won more than two games in a row in league play. Within that, the offensive pieces had trouble finding consistency, especially on the road. Manotas, Elis, Tomas Martinez, and Romell Quioto are capable of being the best four-headed monster in MLS when all are on their game. They’ve struggled to be on form together and individually and that hurt their season.

What went right in 2018:

They won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup! The Dynamo lucked out having played no road games through the entire tournament, but took down three playoff teams in their final three games. The offense showed up scoring 16 goals in five games. They had a huge performance to beat rival Sporting KC then held on to beat Los Angeles FC in PKs after leading 3-0. Despite their final opponent, Philadelphia Union, being experienced in this tournament with two recent finals appearance, they came out and capitalized quickly, scoring three goals to win the match comfortably 3-0.

What to improve on in 2019:

A little bit of everything. Given the Dynamo are a budget MLS team, they need to get more value over some of their cheaper players and Homegrown players, as Cabrera continues to work with the academy and USL affiliate Rio Grande Valley FC Toros. The defense must get healthy and stay healthy. Cabrera needs to find a way to get whomever is playing in the attack to be more consistent within games and from game to game.

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