Editorial (February 19, 2019) – The Houston Dynamo 2019 season begins tonight. In the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16, they will play at CD Guastatoya in Guatemala. Wilmer Cabrera’s side missed the playoffs in 2018 by 10 points, finishing 9th in the Western Conference with 38 points (10-16-8, +0). Defensive inconsistencies and poor road form undid their season.
Houston Dynamo 2019 Season Preview: Three Big Questions
Can the defense figure it out?
The Dynamo saw significant changes to the squad this off-season. Several contributors retired despite being relatively young. The squad also got a bit younger. Center backs Adolfo Machado and Leonardo are gone. Eric Alexander was selected in the MLS Expansion Draft.
Chris Duvall and Kiki Struna will provide some younger and more reliable legs along the back line along with a healthy A.J. DeLaGarza. This defense needs to find chemistry quick. They’re still vulnerable but if this core can be just average, they should be much more competitive in the league.
What’s the future of their offense look like?
Houston had a bit of a scare this off-season with rumblings of Alberth Elis being on the way out with transfer offers from Europe. Those subisded and the four-headed monster of Elis, Rommell Quioto, Mauro Manotas, and Tomas Martinez are still intact. When they’re on their game, this is one of the most dangerous counter attacks in MLS.
This group however has been inconsistent, especially on the road. Aside from Quioto, this core is 23-years-old or younger. Can the improve and become more consistent? Can Cabrera find a way to get more out of them on the road and improve on a 2-10-5 record?
More over, with MLS moving towards being a selling league, can the Dynamo front office flip one of these players in the summer for a profit and reinvest in the club? Or would they prefer to keep the squad together despite having little money to spend elsewhere? This was the smallest budget club in the league last year.
Will progress be made on the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup win?
The Dynamo spectacularly won the Open Cup last year, their first major trophy in a decade. Combined with a run to the Western Conference Finals in 2017, Cabrera showed he can get results on a budget. But can they build on this? The Dynamo took a step back last year in league play. Their competition is spending bigger and promoting more young players. They attacking options are good but that’s only going to get one so far in MLS 3.0 without making improvements elsewhere.
If Cabrera can become a Peter Vermes type, the Dynamo can become a consistent and competitive small budget club in MLS. The Dynamo don’t need to make the playoffs but they do need to show that the ship is headed in the right direction. If they can do that, invest some money in 2020, they’ll be in a position to contend going forward.