SBI MLS Team Previews: Houston Dynamo

HOU_DYN_LOGO 

By TRAVIS CLARK

Dominic Kinnear and the Houston Dynamo have some big questions to answer this year if they hope to qualify for a fifth consecutive postseason berth.

The departure of Stuart Holden and Ricardo Clark to Europe leaves two gaping holes in their midfield, and Kinnear must reshuffle and prepare for life without two of his stars.

Enter third-year player Geoff Cameron. The versatile 24-year-old will likely slot in for Holden, and the recent signing of Jamaican international Lovel Palmer will help tidy up the defensive midfield spot Clark vacated. Still, replacing the two U.S. national team members is not going to be easy.

A solid defensive core returns for Houston, and if Eddie Robinson regains his form alongside Bobby Boswell, the defense should be in good enough shape to keep Houston in playoff contention — even if it takes some time to sort out the new midfield.

Here's a look at the 2010 Houston Dynamo:

2010 HOUSTON DYNAMO

Players to Watch- Brian Ching, Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis, Luis Angel Landin, Bobby Boswell

Key Arrivals- Lovel Palmer, Francisco Navas Cobo, Adrian Serioux

Key Departures- Stuart Holden, Ricardo Clark

Projected lineup (New starters in bold)

—————-Brian Ching————-Dominic Oduro—————–

Brad Davis—————–Geoff Cameron—————Brian Mullan

——————————Lovel Palmer——————————-

Mike Chabala—Eddie Robinson–Bobby Boswell–Andrew Hainault

——————————–Pat Onstad———————————

Biggest question- Can Houston succeed without Clark and Holden? Until the Dynamo prove otherwise, that will be a question Kinnear will likely get sick of.

Some interesting pieces are in place to do that, but outside of signing Palmer and Academy product Fransisco Navas Cobo, it looks like Houston will try and fill those holes with players already on the roster.

Cameron is a leading candidate to replace Holden, and Richard Mulrooney has seen time in the midfield during the preseason, though he is on a comeback from an injury. Brad Davis will need to shoulder more of the offensive load, and continue to dish out assist this year.

X-Factor- Luis Angel Landin. Signed in 2009 as a Designated Player, Luis Angel Landin came with high expectations — and to this point, expectations that he has failed to live up to. Since joining the club last August, Landin scored just once in seven appearances and was often accused of being out of shape.

He's enjoyed a relatively quiet pre-season while battling through various injuries, only recently going the full 90 in a friendly last week.

Goals will have to come early and often from Landin, and if he's able to produce, it would give the Houston attack a huge boost. With an 18-month loan in place, it's a make-or-break year for the Mexican striker. If he isn't the answer, Dominic Oduro and Cam Weaver will need to come up big.

Outlook- While the Holden-Clark conundrum keeps Houston off the MLS Cup contenders list, Dom Kinnear has proven himself as an MLS coach and there's no reason to believe that he can't get the job done this year.

The Houston Dynamo may not be as deep or menacing as in past years, but should be able to at least contend for a playoff spot in a tough Western Conference.

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36 Responses to SBI MLS Team Previews: Houston Dynamo

  1. Wondolowski says:

    Dale! Dale!

  2. Kirk says:

    Interesting that you left out Adrian Serioux as a Key arrival. He offers cover at Centerback, and I’d wager that he will be the starter in the middle rather than Palmer.

  3. rory says:

    I’m trying to pick out which player will be taken by Europe next– Cameron I guess?

  4. madmax says:

    I look for Landin to be cut early. It was not an accusation, he was fat and slow. Robinson and Serioux will fail at CB and Cameron will need to fill in again. Serioux was bad at CB for Toronto, and Robinson looked very poor on his return from injury. The less time these three see the field the better Houston will be, but they need a Holden replacement.

  5. Eric K says:

    It’s like watching the Revs, in the sense that after a while, they’ve lost so many talented players that they’re not the same team. Coaching and remaining veterans will keep them competitive; however, I don’t know if they have enough to overcome LA and RSL (and possibly Chivas and Seattle) in the West.

  6. Charles says:

    I hope Clark got a lot of money, because he isn’t getting any playing time.

  7. swagg says:

    Unless we acquire a true attacking mid we are done for. No mid field to produce runs means no quality touchs for the forwards.

  8. Dinho says:

    Correct, Serioux provides cover at “CENTERBACK”

    Palmer is playing the “6″

    Serioux cannot (or at least should not) play there.

  9. PetedeLA says:

    Why don’t they move Davis to the middle with Cameron? Then have Landin or Ashe on the left, and you’re done.

    As long as they can keep the same team unity, I’m sure they’ll do fine.

  10. cfig says:

    Pete, sort of my thoughts.

    I think we could see Davis move to CAM and have Cameron play on the wing as Kinnear has suggested before that that’s Cameron’s best position, I can also see Cameron playing at CDM. Ashe is definitely more than capable on the wing as well but he tends to play better as a supersub rather than as a starter. Landin on the wing, however, is more than a hair laughable with his pace (or lack thereof) if that’s what you were suggesting.

  11. cfig says:

    That’d be my guess. I would say Davis but he might be a bit too old to make a move.

  12. LittleRockAnt says:

    Houston will suprise some people this year. Trust me LoL…Clark won’t be missed due to Cameron, Serioux, and Palmer. I’ve seen Palmer and he isn’t bad. Holden will be missed but the addition of Landin, plus the Davis and Cameron will make it okay. I think Htown only needs to add one more piece to the puzzle to be a championship team, but as of now they’re atleast a Playoff team. Landin isn’t as out of shape as some think. Yeah he’s just coming back from injury but I’ve seen him and he’s lost weight, plus his touch is still there.

  13. alf says:

    Continuity is the trademark of the really good teams in MLS, and Houston has had the stable core of wiley veterans for a while. However, they keep loosing talent and replacing it mostly with role players. Missing out on DeRo, Holden, and Clark in the last two years is going to catch up to them this year, as the rest of the core is another year older. Should still make the play-offs because of Kinnear and all the experience, but likely on the downward slide …

  14. elopingcamel says:

    Did I miss an injury? Is Wade Barrett still with the team and if so why not starting?

  15. Rex says:

    Dynamo needed to get a proven offensive midfielder. They did not do that. Their defense will keep them in this season but we could see a record number of games drawn. Still wish we could have had Szetela. Actually we should have thrown in 500k in addition to Ladins loan and got José Francisco Torres. He is the perfect player for Houston right now.

  16. UPthaTOON says:

    JF Torres isn’t a true attacking mid. He plays a role similar to that of Dax McCarty in Dallas.

  17. cfig says:

    Also, looking back at this there’s a few key names missing. Danny Cruz has shown some real potential and could see a lot more time on the wing this season, and Francisco Navas has supposedly looked really good in early season matches and could see time on the wing as well. Barrett and Mulrooney also give us some more depth on the backline, Barrett could challenge for a starting spot.

  18. jonp says:

    Barrett is still with the team and currently healthy, The big issue with him is that he’s losing pace and speedy wing play carves him up like a holiday roast.

    He has value as a sub and a mentor, but I don’t consider him a starter anymore.

    I don’t think you can’t count on Davis to go the full season either.

    Cameron is going to be a work in progress in the middle. The kid has great tools in terms of size and speed and is about the most coachable player you will ever meet. However, 3 things he currently doesn’t have that set DeRo and Holden apart are vision, passing, and first touch. We’ll have to see how much of that he can learn.

  19. AlexS says:

    Funny, he played the 6′s role on one of the MLS-cup winning Dynamo sides (after Rico went loco on El Pescidito) and did pretty well.

  20. scott47a says:

    Outsiders take: I think Houston continues to be a contender for the West title and the MLS Cup.

    Yes they have lost a lot recently, but count me among those who believes that Cameron is a future Nat star.

    To me the weak link is second striker — Oduro is all speed and no finishing and Landin was disappointing last year. If Landin can turn into someone worth DP money then they are really in great shape.

  21. Berlin says:

    I know Kinnear has employed a 4-1-2-1-2 in the past, but what makes people think he’ll continue this trend going forward? Frankly, I hope we switch it up because I don’t know that Cam can mentally switch between a CB and CAM so quickly. It takes a particular creative flair to play up front.

  22. swagg says:

    Landin on the wings, you must not follow the team all that well.

  23. K1p says:

    In Dom we trust! I think by the end of the season all will be well with the Dynamo. Might not compete for the Supporters’ Shield but I think they will have a good chance for the cup.

    Vamos Naranga!

  24. DL says:

    If Gringo was an option I think Dom would do what he has to make it happen.

  25. DL says:

    Dom keeps any club in the hunt. I trust the guy until he gives me a reason not too.

  26. PetedeLA says:

    Well, you’re right. I only follow them casually.

    But when I do watch them, I try to pay attention.

    But outside midfielders don’t have to be fast. Beckham has been more than effective for Galaxy out on right wing, and he’s got zero pace.

    It just seems that without DeRo or even Holden, the team is going to have to make a change in their formation/tactics. At the same time, I can’t imagine Houston running their whole offense through Landin. He just doesn’t seem to have the leadership/acceptance for that role. Hence, my suggestion of the wing.

    The main point of my comment is that I think Davis and Cameron have the potential for being a very good center mid duo.

  27. tim says:

    Wow you are clueless

  28. Hill says:

    ditto

  29. Chris H says:

    Some of you are completely underestimating Cameron. Remembering his speedy runs from the backline into the attack, with a usually good pass to put someone in scoring position. He’s good on the ball, fast, good passer, great defender, plays with heart and confidence. Only thing he might lack is consistency, but otherwise to me he’s golden.

  30. wichin says:

    Any word on Felix Garcia? Do they still hold rights or what is going on?

  31. DL says:

    Not sure if they hold Garcia’s rights but I do not think the kid ever steps foot on the field for the orange. Actually, not sure he is even playing soccer.

  32. Sgc says:

    He did all right, but it was a visible downgrade. Houston signed Palmer to start him.

  33. Jon says:

    I think Corey Ashe may be the “x-factor” this year.

  34. bf says:

    that’s because Ashe has no skill… (though his athleticism is amazing)

  35. Tim M. says:

    he was supposed to finish his last year of high school (which was last year) and rejoin the team in the future. Houston has his rights im pretty sure, and i don’t think i can see a valley kid from laredo going any further north then houston anyhow

  36. brentmcd says:

    Agreed on the second striker — that has been Houston’s problem for years, a veritable revolving door for players: Moreno, Ngwenya, Dalglish, Jaqua, Caraccio, Oduro, Landin, Akinbiyi, Thompson, Weaver, et al. Too bad Dynamo couldn’t hang on to Jaqua.