Dominic Kinnear
R. Mora/Getty Images

Davis: Changes may loom in Houston

but both of which were mostly the finishing touch off the work of others. He's not creating much on his own.

As for Ching, the big target man isn't having his best stretch. Going back to last year, the hard-working Hawaiian hasn't scored in 13 regular season contests. His goals do tend to come in bunches, as when he scored seven during the first five matches of 2006.

So, this tell-tale two-week stretch may be huge for Ching. His current form isn't for lack of effort, by the way. He's toiling away, as always. It's just not leading to much right now.

If things can't improve now, Kinnear might have no choice but to make some personnel moves. If it comes to that, he can only hope to be as successful as in 2007.

By late May, the Dynamo were reeling with a 2-6 record last year. More troubling, Kinnear's men had recorded just five goals. It all looked very similar to this year. The defense remained a stubborn bugger, tough to get past. But things weren't so spiffy on the other end, were service aplenty was going unclaimed.

By then, Richard Mulrooney had been claimed from the bargain bin of the MLS swap shop. He came in from Toronto in exchange for Kevin Goldthwaite, who was stuck behind left back Wade Barrett with little chance of cracking the starting 11.

Soon after, Joseph Ngwenya came to Houston for Alejandro Moreno. Moreno's stock is rising now in Columbus. But for whatever reason, it just wasn't working at Robertson Stadium. Moreno had three goals in 34 matches for Houston, and that's just not good enough for a forward on a championship side.

The final piece came in a trade for Nate Jaqua, who moved from Los Angeles in exchange for reserve midfielder Kelly Gray. Gray was never a major contributor for the Galaxy and gave up his Victoria Street address in the offseason.

Mulrooney provided the Houston midfield some badly needed depth during a tough summer stretch, and supplied extra offensive push when inserted at right back. Ngwenya and Jaqua combined for 13 goals and five assists and helped drive the team into a second MLS Cup.

Back to 2008: It's a long season. Eight of 14 teams make the playoffs, so there's time to seal the cracks. It probably won't even take a 10-game unbeaten streak like last year, especially in the West, which appears to be the left hand on a right-handed boxer. But it will take more than what's happening now. And if things don't start going well this week at Robertson against Chivas USA, it could be time for Kinnear to start working the phones.

The Dynamo are particularly deep at midfield. Or, perhaps, Kinnear can find a couple of hidden gems in the trade market once again without giving up true value. It will be tough to repeat last year's swap-shop magic -- but he might have no choice but to try.

Steve Davis is a freelance writer who has covered Major League Soccer since its inception. Steve can be reached at BigTexSoccer@yahoo.com. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or MLSnet.com.


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