2020 Season Preview: Houston Dynamo

All eyes are on Tab Ramos in 2020... as Houston and the wider American soccer public watches to see if the former USMNT great can replicate at club level the impressive work he performed for the US Under-20 side for the best part of the previous decade.

After Houston failed to make the playoffs for the fifth time in six years in 2019, leading to the exit of Wilmer Cabrera midway through the campaign, there is much for Ramos to do. 

2019 Finish

  • MLS Reg. Season: 40 points (12W-18L-4D), 10th in West / 19th overall
  • MLS Cup Playoffs: Did not qualify
  • U.S. Open Cup: Eliminated in Rd. of 16 (vs. Minnesota United)
  • Concacaf Champions League: Eliminated in QFs (vs. Tigres UANL)
  • Leagues Cup: Eliminated in QFs (vs. Club America)

Star players

  • Alberth Elis — Despite reported interest from Europe, Elis remains in Houston, which is good news for Dynamo fans who can expect a continuation of the 20 goals and 20 assists he has produced over the past two seasons.
  • Mauro Manotas — Like Elis, Manotas has long been the subject of transfer interest from Europe. While last year he didn’t quite replicate the 19-goal breakout season he enjoyed in 2018, the Colombian remains one of the most talented strikers around.
  • Matias Vera — After arriving from San Lorenzo, the defensive midfielder had an impressive debut campaign in MLS in 2019 and will again be integral for the Dynamo.

Extratime Analysis: Houston Dynamo

Key acquisitions and departures

  • IN: Darwin Quintero — The experienced former Colombia international forward hit double figures in goals during two seasons with Minnesota United and should bring a fresh outlet to the Dynamo attack.
  • IN: Marko Maric — Although he failed to make an appearance in the Bundesliga, the former Croatia youth international has plenty of pedigree as he aims to cement himself as the Dynamo’s new No. 1 goalkeeper.
  • IN: Victor Cabrera — While he has struggled for fitness in the past two seasons, the Argentine defender showed when healthy for Montreal to suggest he can help the Dynamo improve on their record of 59 goals conceded in 2019.
  • OUT: DaMarcus Beasley — The USMNT legend’s leadership abilities will be tough to replace after he retired at the end of 2019.
  • OUT: Romell Quioto — Traded to the Montreal Impact as part of the deal that brought Cabrera to Houston.
  • OUT: Joe Willis — After starting 53 games for the Dynamo in the past two seasons, Willis was traded to expansion side Nashville SC at the end of 2019.

Projected Starting XI

2020 Roster

  • Goalkeepers (3): Cody Cropper, Marko Maric, Michael Nelson
  • Defenders (10): Kyle Adams, Jose Bizama, Maynor Figueroa, Alejandro Fuenmayor, Kevin Garcia, Sam Junqua, Adam Lundkvist, Erik McCue, Aljaz “Kiki” Struna, Zarek Valentin
  • Midfielders (7): Darwin Ceren, Boniek Garcia, Tomas Martinez, Tommy McNamara, Marcelo Palomino, Memo Rodriguez, Matias Vera
  • Forwards (7): Alberth Elis, Niko Hansen, Mauro Manotas, Ronaldo Pena, Darwin Quintero, Christian Ramirez, Michael Salazar

Armchair Analyst: Strengths and weaknesses

  • Strength: We’ve seen it at times over each of the past three years: When Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis get rolling, this team can score goals in bunches against anyone. And despite years of transfer rumors and reports, both guys are still here – joined by another match-winner in Darwin Quintero and a veteran goalscorer in Christian Ramirez. This team has firepower.
  • Weakness: It’s not exactly clear how balanced the midfield will be, or even can be. Matias Vera is a lock to start at d-mid, but the No. 8 position is up in the air, as is whether Darwin will play on the wing or as a No. 10. If he’s the 10 then that will leave a ton of defending for Vera and the mystery No. 8, while if he’s a winger then Adam Lundkvist will spend a lot of time on an island defending vs. overloads.

Predictions

  • Ben Baer: 12th in West
  • Marcelo Balboa (Univision): 7th in West
  • Calen Carr: 9th in West
  • Charlie Davies: 6th in West
  • Matt Doyle: 12th in West
  • Kristian Jack (TSN): 12th in West
  • Frederic Lord (TVA Sports)12th in West
Series: