Houston Dynamo’s 2015 season was essentially one of transition after their switch from the Eastern Conference to the Western. It also saw the arrival of a new head coach in the shape of Owen Coyle. There’s no denying that an eight placed finish in the Western Conference will be seen as a disappointment, but given the strength and growing competitiveness of MLS, it shouldn’t be seen as a complete failure. The 2015 campaign probably seemed like a case of déjà vu for Dynamo fans as 2014 also saw them finish eight, although they gained three more points this time around. The run to the MLS Cup Playoff Finals in 2013 will certainly seem like a distant memory now after a couple of below par campaigns.
Last season’s finish:
Western Conference – Position: 8th – P34 – W11 – D9 – L14Embed from Getty Images
What needs to change this year?
There’s two main issues that need addressing in the Houston camp. The first is their defensive record. Owen Coyle’s teams in England were renowned for grit, determination and a focus on defensive stability. It takes time for a new manager to impose his style on a team, so Coyle will be hoping he can have more of an impact this time around. The Dynamo conceded 49 goals last year, which is more than any other side in the Western Conference. The second area that desperately needs improving is their away form. Houston only picked up two wins on the road, which was also the worst record in the Western Conference – only Chicago Fire (0 away wins) had a worse record across the whole of MLS.
Key changes to squad:
Ins: Calle Brown – Goalkeeper, Bradley Bourgeois – Defender, Jalil Anibaba – Defender, Sebastien Ibeagha – Defender, Agus – Defender, Christian Lucatero – Midfielder, Cristian Maidana – Midfielder, Andrew Wenger – Midfielder, David Rocha – Midfielder & Abdoulie Mansally – Defender
Outs: Michael Lisch – Goalkeeper, AJ Cochran – Defender, Jermaine Taylor – Defender, Kofi Sarkodie – Defender, Brad Davis – Midfielder, Luis Garrido – Midfielder, Alex López – Midfielder, Nathan Sturgis – Midfielder, Chandler Hoffman – Forward
Key Player:Embed from Getty Images
Will Bruin – Forward – He’s been a mainstay in the Houston side since 2011 and has been one of their most consistent performers in that time. Bruin scored 11 goals and made four assists in 2015 and at 26 years of age, he’s at the peak of his career. It will be fundamental for the Dynamo that he continues to do his job of leading the line and bringing others into play. Any potential success could hinge on Bruin’s performances in 2016.
One to Watch:
Rob Lovejoy – Midfielder – The youngster arrived on the scene last season making a number of substitute appearances. He only made two starts in 2015, but with the departure of the hugely influential Brad Davis to Sporting Kansas City, there is a gaping hole in the Houston Dynamo midfield that is up for grabs. The likes of Rob Lovejoy will have eyes on making the position his own. 2016 could be his year.Embed from Getty Images
Western Conference – 8th – Gaining a playoff spot will undoubtedly be the main ambition for Houston Dynamo in 2016 after two years of failing to do so. But before a ball is even kicked, it is tough to make a strong case for why they are capable of achieving that aim. There are so many strong sides in the Western Conference who are all looking to improve, which makes it so hard to break into that top six. It remains to be seen whether the squad changes will make Houston a better team and a playoff spot is of course not out of the question, given the unpredictability of MLS. But ultimately, another year of transition looks likely.
What are you expecting from Houston Dynamo in 2016?