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2010 in Review: Best & worst of Houston

HOUSTON – To say the Houston Dynamo’s 2010 season was a disappointment may be a bit of an understatement. After a frustrating exit from the Western Conference Championship in 2009, the expectations were that Houston would at least compete for a playoff spot despite losing several key components in the offseason.

However, those losses, along with a combination of injuries, exposed a lack of quality depth in central midfield that undermined Houston’s once-dominant possession game. With less of the ball, the Dynamo defense was on its heels repeatedly and the unit's lack of pace and bad fortune resulted in other teams punishing every small mistake to the tune of the second worst goals against in the league.

Offensively, Houston struggled with efficiency in front of goal. The team also failed to convert several opportunities to extend leads and relieve pressure late resulting in conceding a league record for game winning goals surrendered during stoppage time.

There were positives, of course. Geoff Cameron’s unexpected early return from a PCL injury shed light on what a key player the young up-and-coming star is for Houston, and newcomer Lovel Palmer’s continued development provides hope for the future. Here is the best and worst of the 2010 season.

Best moment of the year

The Dynamo ended their 2010 season with back-to-back wins for the first time in league play all year. Despite a disappointing season, an impressive 23,990 fans were in attendance for the team’s final game on Oct. 23 and witnessed Houston beat a playoff-bound Seattle team that was one of the hottest teams in the league at the time.

Worst moment

If there were just one moment in which the season started to come off the tracks, it was May 29 vs. Philadelphia. After losing Geoff Cameron to injury about a month earlier, the Dynamo hosted the league’s most recent expansion team, which had yet to win a game on the road. After running out to a 2-1 lead, Houston conceded their first game-winning stoppage-time goal of the season. They went on to lose their next two games and remained winless in their next 10 league games.

Best goal

Brian Ching’s dazzling bicycle-kick goal against Chicago on Aug. 21 was easily the Dynamo’s best strike of the season. In the 59th minute, the veteran forward perfectly timed a rebound off a Bobby Boswell shot and threw himself up to rocket the ball past Sean Johnson for his second goal of the game. It was a reminder what kind of creativity and effectiveness the US might have been missing at this past summer’s World Cup.

WATCH: Ching's Goal of the Year candidate bicycle-kick

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Best save

It’s not hard to appreciate the awareness of Boswell on Sept. 22 at Kansas City. Jack Jewsbury’s header off a Kei Kamara cross in the 52nd minute had ‘keeper Pat Onstad beaten, but not Boswell. The defender made a clutch goal-line clearance with a stabbing right foot, then hustled to come out of the net and make a sliding stop on Teal Bunbury’s follow-up effort.

WATCH: Boswell saves Houston twice on goal line

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Team MVP: Geoff Cameron

While Ching led the team in goals, and Brad Davis led in assists, the Dynamo won more games when Cameron started (5) than when he did not (4).

Best Newcomer: Lovel Palmer

The young Jamaican midfielder scored an impressive goal in his first Dynamo start in April with a long-range bomb against Chivas USA. While he struggled in the first half of the year, he was a solid contributor down the stretch to an improved Dynamo midfield.

Dwain Capodice is a contributor to MLSsoccer.com. Questions or Comments can be sent via email to dwaincapodice@gmail.com.

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