HOUSTON – The Houston Dynamo's run to the 2011 MLS Cup final proved that the team has the foundation to return to the elite of MLS in 2012.
And though there's still plenty of work to be done with preseason barely a month away, the club is confident the roster doesn't need a huge makeover – as was the case last winter – in order to remain competitive.
“It’s a little bit of a different offseason this year than last because we’re not looking at the level of change,” Dynamo president Chris Canetti told MLSsoccer.com. “We’re going into next season with a nice base of a team, but we know we’re not the finished product. We have a couple of positional needs we’re working on, and we feel like if we add those things, we’ll go in as a pretty strong contender.”
Houston will build on a base that includes a number of above average pieces – All-Stars Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis and Tally Hall, to name just a few. Still, the club has suffered some losses that could push them to make some moves.
Brian Ching was taken by the Montreal Impact in the Expansion Draft, and Carlo Costly has returned to Mexican club Atlas after his 2011 loan stint. With those big names departing, forward is a position of need, even with the club’s established depth.
“We’ve got [Cam] Weaver, [Calen] Carr and [Will] Bruin and those guys can step in for us and play no problem if we need them,” Canetti said. “However, it’s clear to us that it’s a positional need we’re looking at, and ideally we’d like to find an impact player – or two – at that spot.”
Another position the club will be looking at in the offseason is right wing, where the technical staff hopes someone will step up and claim the position as their own in 2012.
However, the need to find impact players will not push the club to make rash decisions or spend money unwisely. With cap space limited, Houston is looking to make prudent moves in order to find potential impact players.
If that means an addition that comes with a Designated Player tag, so be it. But that won’t the focus. Rather, Canetti said they are more concerned with finding the right fit.
“The priority for us is to build a winning team," Canetti said, "and we don’t try to build our team around a Designated Player. At the same time, if the right opportunity is there, the appetite is there as well. It’s just a matter of identifying that right guy. We’ve been presented with some opportunities already, but none of them appear to be the right fit.
“We’re not a cap-rich team. … We’ll have to be really smart with how we use our cap space. Every bit of it counts and making it all fit into the puzzle is the art we have to work out right now.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.