Houston Dynamo: 2017 Season Preview

The 2017 MLS season is one where many Dynamo fans don’t know what to expect. After a dismal 2016 campaign, Coach Wilmer Cabrera is looking to turn things around with a lot of new faces in orange. Here is a look at all the transfers, offseason stories, and 2017 predictions.

Oct 23, 2016; Commerce City, CO, USA; Houston Dynamo midfielder DaMarcus Beasley (7) controls the ball in the first half against the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

First things first, the Houston Dynamo did not have the greatest year in 2016. Actually, it was their worst season in league history, and it seems like it is due to a lack of style and consistency. There has been a revolving door of head coaches lately with the departure of long tenured coach Dominic Kinnear, followed by the Scot, Owen Coyle, and Kinnear 2.0 and club legend, Wade Barrett.

Although, now it seems like the Dynamo may have found some stability in Head Coach, Wilmer Cabrera. Cabrera comes in wanting to define a Dynamo style with his influx of Latino players and possession based soccer. This can be a daunting task for any coach especially with Cabrera wanting to implement a new 4-3-3 formation with his new team.

Cabrera comes with a very strong background having played professionally and representing Colombia in the 1994 World Cup. He has been coaching in the US for the better part of the last two decades with the US U-17 National Team program, Chivas USA Head Coach, Colorado Rapids Assistant Coach, and finally, as the head coach of brand new Dynamo USL affiliate, Rio Grande Valley Toros FC.

So, if you have any doubts just know that Cabrera has his work cut out for him especially after leading RGV to 2nd place and the playoffs in their first season down in the Valley.

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Furthermore, fans have started to lose patience in the team after about three to four years of disappointing seasons that has seen the fan attendance dwindle the past season. It really is a shame to see such a beautiful new stadium like BBVA Compass Stadium have so many empty seats.

Unless the Front Office turns things around this season this is they way things will continue to go. Luckily it seems like Canetti, Jordan, and Co. have responded well to the critics and brought in what seems like difference makers for the Dynamo.

Houston Dynamo 2016 Recap

2016 Record: 7(W)-14(L)-13(T)

2016 Final Position in Standings: 10th in Western Conference and 19th in MLS. (Failed to make playoffs for 3rd year in a row)

Houston Dynamo started off the 2016 season guns blazing with 11 goals scored in the first three games, a MLS record. It seemed liked Owen Coyle was going to do dangerous things with Barnes and Bruin in the attack, until it all came crashing down.

Coyle’s defense was sliced through like no other, until his eventual mid-season “mutual termination”. This prompted Wade Barrett to come in for the second half of the Dynamo season as interim coach. Barrett evidently improved the defensive side of the game for the Dynamo, but the attacking part was completely missing for the Dynamo. The team saw Barnes, Bruin, and Maidana all lose form which had the Dynamo finish the season with 39 goals scored and 45 allowed… definitely not the best showing from the boys in orange.

A miserable season for Houston in 2016 led to a multitude of changes leading into the 2017 season including the likes of Bruin, Barnes, and Maidana.

Offseason Transfers

Aug 17, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Honduras forward Alberth Elis (17) and Brazil forward Gabriel Jesus (11) battle for the ball during the men's semifinal in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Maracana. Mandatory Credit: Eric Seals-USA TODAY Sports

Aug 17, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Honduras forward Alberth Elis (17) and Brazil forward Gabriel Jesus (11) battle for the ball during the men’s semifinal in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Maracana. Mandatory Credit: Eric Seals-USA TODAY Sports

Houston fans had the most active transfer window in the short history of the club moving out 10 players and bringing in a club record 12 players this offseason! For many casual Houston fans this could mean seeing many unrecognizable faces, but no worries the likes of Rico Clark, Tyler Deric, and Boniek Garcia are still here. Also, long time MLS and USMNT vet, Damarcus Beasley just resigned with the team as well. Well here are the list of outgoing and incoming players.

Transfers OUT:

  1. Cristian Maidana (Released) -Al Ahli SC (Qatar)
  2. Rob Lovejoy (Retired)
  3. Zach Steinberger (Released)- Jax Armada FC
  4. Sebastien Ibeagha (Released)- San Antonio FC
  5. David Horst (Released)- Real Salt Lake
  6. Raul Rodriguez (Released)- Shanghai Shengxin
  7. Collen Warner (Expansion Draft)- Minnesota
  8. Sheanon Williams (Transfer)- Vancouver
  9. Will Bruin (Transfer)- Seattle Sounders
  10. Abdoulie Mansally (Released)

Transfers IN: (1 * denotes International, 2* denotes unsigned draftee)

  1. Alberth Elis-Striker/Winger (Loan from Monterrey)*
  2. Romell Quioto-Striker/Winger (Transfer from Olimpia)*
  3. Adolfo Machado-Center Back (Transfer from Deportivo Saprissa)*
  4. Dylan Remick-Left Back (Transfer from Seattle Sounders)
  5. Vicente Sanchez- Winger (Transfer from Defensor Sporting)
  6. Juan David Cabezas- Center Defensive Midfielder (Loan from Deportivo Cali)*
  7. AJ De La Garza- Right Back (Transfer from LA Galaxy)
  8. Joe Holland- Center Midfielder (Draft pick from Hofstra University)***
  9. Leonardo- Center Back (Transfer from LA Galaxy)
  10. Danilo Radjen- Center Back/Outside Back (Draft pick from Akron)**
  11. Robby Sagel- Center Back (Draft pick from Penn State)**
  12. Jake McGuire- Goalkeeper (Draft pick from U of Tulsa)**

It’ll be interesting to see how Wilmer’s roster adjustments and Latin influence changes Houston this season. Beasley is back to lead the youth and bridge the language gap with his Spanish he learned while playing at Puebla!

Houston’s most promising pick up would have to be the Honduran Duo of Elis and Quioto. The duo will wreck defenses on both wings (mark my words). Meanwhile, it was hard to say goodbye to the likes of Bruin and Horst, but it was well past time as their service to the Dynamo was unparalleled, but not enough anymore.

Predicted Starting XI

Here Coach Cabrera breaks down what the team has been doing in preseason and how his starting XI is shaping up in Tucson as the Dynamo participate in a preseason tournament.

There are some questions to be answered by the squad this year, but there is depth like never before. Don’t be surprised to see a Open Cup run by the Dynamo this year. But first a few key points.

  1. Hopefully new transfers gel in time and adapt to MLS/America.
  2. Backline holds up and work the ball out the back.
  3. Does the midfield have enough creativity to seriously compete?

Here is the predicted XI for Houston this year.

Bench: Deric, Agus, Anibaba, Torres, Holland, Alexander, Boniek, Sanchez, Remick, Wenger, Escalante, Garcia

This lineup is as solid as it gets, compared to the last couple of years. The main concerns are the attacking presence in center midfield, and the center back pairing. Leonardo was known to be error prone at LA, but should be given the benefit of the doubt before the first game is even played for Houston.

Dynamo fans should look forward is the absolute blistering pace from Quioto and Elis. It is just up to Manotas and Torres to find the back of the net with the services. Manotas V. Torres will be a good striker battle as Cubo Torres has scored five goals in preseason already..

2017 Predictions

The Dynamo are at a pivotal time in their existence, somewhere they have never been before. It is a season that will define the future of the club, and the loyalty of the fanbase. Matt Jordan, the GM, has brought in the appropriate pieces addressing the team needs and Coach Cabrera brings the expertise.

All that is left is to develop the on field product and deliver wins for the fans and city. The team is very new, but Dynamo fans should have much to look forward to with the likes of Manotas, Machado, and Elis donning orange this season. Hopefully the lack of a #10 in team doesn’t hurt the attacking part of the XI, if so, it will need to be addressed by a summer signing, but don’t count out British draft pick Joe Holland just yet!

Predicted Finish: 6th in the Western Conference

Dynamo fans, get ready for 2017 because it’ll be one crazy ride but have faith in the product placed on the pitch, it is promising! Let me know your thoughts on the team overall and your predicted starting XI!

2017 MLS Team Previews:

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