- Houston Dynamo
- Western Conference
- Home: BBVA Compass Stadium
- MLS CUP: 2006, 2007
Major League Soccer's playoff history has orange splattered all over it, as the Houston Dynamo have been regular participants. Change, however, has thrown the club's reputation up in the air. After missing the postseason in 2014, the club is embarking on a new journey with new personnel at every corner. Last season's fallout saw Dominic Kinnear head home to San Jose and club president Chris Canetti draw up a new structure complete with Owen Coyle as a new boss, Matt Jordan as his first general manager and several new players. It's up to them to shape the club's new identity.
Houston's plunge back into the loaded Western Conference is rife with rivals. The Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City have put on epic duels in the playoffs three times in the past four seasons and will continue their rivalry in the West, with Sporting accompanying Houston in switching conferences. In-state rival FC Dallas will be a regular on the schedule again, with three showdowns to settle the battle for El Capitan. And don't forget about the San Jose Earthquakes, who kept two of the club's MLS Cups when they moved to Houston and now have Kinnear at its helm.
Not much went right for the Dynamo in 2014. They missed the playoffs for just the second time in club history, gave up a franchise-worst 58 goals and saw injuries gut the roster. It only took Houston three months to drop out of the playoff mix in earnest and - outside of a standout season from forward Giles Barnes, who led the team with 11 goals - it was a season to forget for the proud MLS club.
- M Memo Rodriguez (Homegrown)
- GK Joe Willis (trade from DC)
- F Chandler Hoffman (Re-Entry Stage 2 Draft)
- M Nathan Sturgis (Re-Entry Stage 2 Draft)
- F Erick Torres (transfer from Chivas Guadalajara, currently on loan)
- M Leonel Miranda (loan from Independiente)
- D Raul Rodriguez (free)
- M Zach Steinberger (SuperDraft)
- D Oumar Ballo (SuperDraft)
- D Taylor Hunter (SuperDraft)
- M Rob Lovejoy (SuperDraft)
- D Eric Brunner (retired)
- D Anthony Arena (option declined)
- F Omar Cummings (option declined)
- M Andrew Driver (option declined)
- F Brian Ownby (option declined)
- F Bryan Salazar (option declined)
- M Servando Carrasco (out of contract)
- M Andrew Driver (traded to DC)
- GK Tally Hall (traded to Orlando City)
- F Mark Sherrod (Expansion Draft to Orlando City)
After a gut-punch 2014, Houston went back to the drawing board this winter. The club hired energetic manager Owen Coyle and sprinkled Hispanic and Latin American talent on a roster that returns five World Cup veterans as well as two high-value forwards in Barnes and Will Bruin.
Houston exploited Jordan's scouting contacts to pluck center back Raul Rodriguez from La Liga and winger Leonel Miranda from Argentina. There is also the pending arrival of ex-Chivas USA scoring star Erick Torres, with whom the club made waves by signing this offseason.
Coyle is looking to open things up, literally expanding the field three yards in width. It will be up to him to put the jigsaw puzzle together and bring Houston an exciting, winning brand of soccer.
"You'll certainly see a character on the sideline with Coyle. Under him you'll see a very hard-working team, but also a team that will try and play soccer with the players they've got."
"Obviously, a new coach, new look, new voice can sometimes be very positive. I think Garrido getting a preseason, rather than coming in mid-season, and also Beasley, is a big thing for team unity."
PROJECTED LINEUP: 4-4-2
Deric; Sarkodie-Rodriguez-Taylor-Beasley; Garcia-Garrido-Clark-Davis; Bruin-Barnes
Complete roster [HoustonDynamo.com]
Looking for a starting central defender under $7m? Jermaine Taylor is your man, assuming David Horst doesn't push him out of Owen Coyle's XI. Across the board, the prices in Houston are reasonable, and managers have to be looking at Brad Davis ($9.5m) with anticipation. Oh, and Will Bruin for $8m? Steal.
Armchair Analyst's Best Case Scenario
For a team that returns two double-digit goal-scorers and added a third, all supported by a midfield comprising four World Cup veterans, everything still feels kind of unknown for this Dynamo team.
That's obviously a product of having a new coach for the first time in franchise history, but it's also a product of most of those midfielder and forwards not really working together at a high level last season. Add in a shaky defense - which looks better on paper, but still - and big questions remain for Houston.
Best case, they get all the right answers and compete for a top three or four playoff spot in the West. Anything better than that would honestly be kind of shocking.