Season Outlook: Dynamo Ride Offense to MLS Cup Playoffs
Every year that Hair Balls does a season preview on the Houston Dynamo, footy aficionados always complain and moan about the same things: why didn't the front office bring in a star player, is this team aging before our eyes, blah, blah, blah.
Photo by Danny Lopez Good or bad, Dynamo are the San Antonio Spurs of MLS.
For starters, the average age on the Dynamo for 2014 is 25 years old. As for the lack of star players - the Dynamo will tell you they play more as a team.
Generally speaking, you have to give the club the benefit of the doubt since the Dynamo have appeared in the Eastern Conference Finals in each of the past three seasons.
But the club will also be the first to tell you that that was then, and this is now.
The Dynamo gear up for an opening match this Saturday when they take on the upstart New England Revolution (7:30 pm, BBVA Compass Stadium). To get you ready for the season, we've broken down the Dynamo's 2014 outlook to five points.
5. Twenty-five percent new look defense
Pundits point to the defense as possibly the Dynamo's weakest area; which is weird to think of the Dynamo having a porous defense. In 2013, the Dynamo defense allowed 41 goals - which is the same amount of goals they allowed in 2012, when they went undefeated at home.
The defensive back four remain most intact, except for the loss of Bobby Boswell in central defense. Expected to replace him are Eric Brunner, David Horst, or rookie AJ Cochran. Whoever fills his shoes in 2014 (Brunner will be out against the Revs with an ankle injury) will have plenty of guidance from goalkeeper Tally Hall and defensive partner Jermaine Taylor.
"It's only one guy missing, and its Bobby Boswell," Taylor said. "We still got Corey [Ashe], we still got Kofi [Sarkodie]; all [the defense] needs is good communication and we can work from there easily."
4. Attacking soccer in Houston
Maybe it's not the FC Barcelonaesque "tiki-taka" style of soccer, or the Dutch 4-3-3 formation that has propelled Sporting KC or Real Salt Lake - but the Dynamo do have the attacking options to create some noise in 2014.
A staple of a Dominic Kinnear offense will always be the wide play, and the Dynamo have two of the best in MLS in Brad Davis and Boneik Garcia. Once either of those two swing the ball in, the choices at forward for Kinnear are some of the best he's had in a while. Will Bruin and Giles Barnes were his top choices in 2013, but they could find themselves on the bench in favor of Omar Cummings, Jason Johnson, rookie Mark Sherrod, or homegrown signee Bryan Salazar.