How the Dynamo Can Save Their Season
Eric Villarreal ‘16
As everyone can easily observe, the Houston Dynamo’s season has not gone according to plan. Currently eight games in, the Dynamo rank dead last in the Western Conference with a 1-5-2 record and are riding a three-match losing streak. After scoring 11 goals in the first three matches of the season, the attack has only produced 3 goals in the last five matches. The defense has improved with the exception of the home match against the Galaxy, which they allowed 4 goals, by holding opponents to an average of 1.25 goals in the other four matches. An improvement from allowing six goals in the first three matches. With the ways things have gone so far, how can the Dynamo salvage the season and make the playoffs?
Step 1: Start Erick “Cubo” Torres
Torres was brought in last year to be the finisher up top, to be the scorer the Dynamo so desperately needed, and most of all to be the star to lead Houston to the playoffs. Well that hasn’t happened yet. Giles Barnes is a great center forward, but he’s better suited to the wing where he has more space to operate instead of having to fight off the opposing team’s center backs the entire match. Will Bruin has been wildly inconsistent over the past couple seasons. He’ll have a stretch of five games where he looks like he might get called up to the US national team and then he’ll totally disappear off the radar. Both players provide good depth at the position, but neither can get the team to the promised land of the postseason. Now is the time to start Torres. The team is in a bad run of form and time is running out on saving the season. Torres’s 2014 season, when he scored 15 goals for a horrendous Chivas USA team, is proof that he can be the answer. With no other options working, starting Torres is the first and best course of action.
Step 2: Bring in a Designated Player
The Dynamo still have designated player slot open that, which if they want to save the season, should be utilized this summer. And where a designated player can make the most impact is in the midfield. Guys like Alex Lima and Collen Warner shouldn’t be starting for playoff contenders. They hold their own, but they don’t add anything to the team. Holding your own is not enough in today’s MLS. Bringing in someone like Arsenal’s Mathieu Flamini, AC Milan’s Kevin Prince-Boateng, or FC Nantes’ Alejandro Bedoya would immensely improve the midfield and help push the Dynamo over the top. Flamini is a proven defensive midfield in the Premier League who could help lighten the load on Ricardo Clark. With Flamini in the primary holding position, Clark could focus more on getting forward and scoring more goals. Kevin Prince-Boateng is a talented winger/midfielder combo who could add some fire power to the attack. Boateng has bounced around in Europe playing in Italy, Germany, England respectfully. He could make the move to MLS in search of more stability and a fresh start. Bringing in Boateng could move Ricardo Clark into the primary holding midfielder role instead of having to focus on defense and attack. Alejandro Bedoya has been heavily linked to MLS and has almost made the move in the past. Putting rumors aside, Bedoya has been in a great run of form at FC Nantes. Bedoya could serve best on the wing opposite of Giles Barnes and would give the Dynamo a great distributor and finisher. Adding him would give the Dynamo more flexibility with their lineup as Bedoya can play on the wing or in the center midfield. Flamini seems to be the most realistic option with his contract at Arsenal expiring after this season and no other apparent options. Boateng would be a splashy move because of the big risk, big reward that Boateng comes with. Bedoya would be a big move because of his involvement and popularity with the US national team. If the Dynamo can bring in one of these guys then there is hope.
Step 3: Win on the Road
Presuming that the Dynamo have completed steps 1 and 2, their next focus is to earn points on the road. The Dynamo have not won on the road since July 10, 2015. Such form is not nearly enough to make the playoffs. Manager Owen Coyle is experienced now with MLS travel after being initiated in his first season at the helm last year. He needs to quickly find an approach that puts the team in a position to get and steal points on the road. If he can instill an attitude in this team to where they can succeed then this team will start producing.
If the Dynamo can complete these three steps then they will make the playoffs and contend for a championship. It’s not going to happen overnight, but if all these steps are taken then the Dynamo are guaranteed not to fail. Hopefully they can save their season.