MLS Training Camp Preview: Houston Dynamo

HOU_Primary_COL

By AVI CREDITOR

To date, perhaps no team has had as active a preseason as the Houston Dynamo. And the club has barely hit the training pitch.

With the team breaking ground on its new downtown stadium last week and the club being shifted to the Eastern Conference (for this season at least), change is in the air in Houston. That's a good thing, considering the team missed the postseason for the first time since the franchise relocated from San Jose.

With a couple of highly touted draft picks in the fold, more of an infusion from the team's academy and an eye toward the future, the Dynamo are hoping to be this season's turnaround success story. Before Houston opens the season at home against the Philadelphia Union, it'll continue its loaded preseason with 11 matches, including games at the Disney Classic and Atlanta Pro Soccer Challenge.

Here's a closer look at the Houston Dynamo's preseason plans:

HOUSTON DYNAMO

Training Schedule: Feb. 7-14 in Houston; Feb. 15-19 in Phoenix; Feb. 20-21 in Houston; Feb. 22-26 in Orlando; Feb. 28-March 10 in Houston; March 11-13 in Atlanta; March 15-18 in Houston.

Preseason Game Schedule: Defeated Houston Baptist University, 2-0, on Feb. 5; Feb. 12 vs. FC Dallas in Corpus Christi, Texas; Feb. 15 vs. Sporting Kansas City in Phoenix; Feb. 17 vs. Columbus Crew in Phoenix; Feb. 19 vs. Portland Timbers in Phoenix; Feb. 22 vs. Seattle Sounders in Orlando; Feb. 24 semifinals of Disney Classic in Orlando; Feb. 26 final/third-place game of Disney Classic in Orlando; March 5 vs. Southern Methodist University in Houston; March 8 vs. Real Salt Lake in Houston (tentative); March 11 vs. Columbus in Atlanta; March 13 vs. New England in Atlanta.

Key Arrivals: F – Will Bruin, Jason Garey; MF – Josue Soto, Alex Dixon; DF – Hunter Freeman, Kofi Sarkodie, Jordan Graye.

Key Departures: F – Joseph Ngwenya, Dominic Oduro; MF – Anthony Obodai; DF – Ryan Cochrane, Adrian Serioux; GK – Pat Onstad.

What to Watch For: It'll be interesting to see how coach Dominic Kinnear uses Sarkodie, considering that he and Freeman are both right-sided fullbacks. With all of the attacking prowess that Sarkodie possesses, it's feasible that he could play in the midfield. Freeman could also be shifted to the left side to make room for the Akron product. The two of them are the team's top offseason acquisitions, and both figure to get premium minutes all season as opposed to playing in a time-share. 

Aside from Sarkodie, the other Generation adidas rookie on the team also has much to prove from the onset. Will Bruin will have likely have to fight off Cam Weaver and Jason Garey to earn the right to start next to Brian Ching in the early going. A strong showing in the preseason could expedite his path to the starting rotation, though.

Tally Hall is expected to take the reins in goal, filling the void left behind by longtime veteran Pat Onstad, who is now a coach with D.C. United. Kinnear seems to be content with his current goalkeeper crop, considering that the team hasn't shown any indication of acquiring a veteran keeper and also opted out of the lottery for David Bingham. Hall will be pushed by academy product Tyler Deric, the only other keeper on the current roster. 

Of Note: Midfielder Colin Clark, acquired in a trade with Colorado last season for Brian Mullan, is still recovering from a torn ACL. He's continuing his rehabilitation with the team in Houston but has yet to resume active ballwork. He could join training by the end of the month, according to a club official…With all of the personnel comings and goings, the Dynamo has yet to fulfill its pledge to bring in a Designated Player, though the quest is still on-going…The Dynamo's academy is at the forefront of the club's youth movement. Francisco Navas Cobo and Deric both saw limited minutes last season and are due for expanded roles in 2011, and Dixon and Soto will look to leave their marks on the club in 2011, though they will most likely have to do so in the reserve division.

This entry was posted in MLS Training Camp, MLS- Houston Dynamo. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to MLS Training Camp Preview: Houston Dynamo

  1. Duck says:

    I heard MLS requires each club to carry three GKs. Is this true? Also, Houston might need to find a fast striker to complement its contingent of big forwards.

  2. David says:

    Great point . . . sounds like too many hammers and not enough nails up top right now.

    Would be interesting to see if Sarkodie is pushed up the pitch a little bit. He defended well in college, but seemed like he relied a lot on pure athletic ability/playing across from top talent. Its feasible that he struggles to find a balance at the pro level, at least initially, if he is slotted at the back.

    someone more informed/wiser –
    where does he project long term?

  3. cfig says:

    I think we’re still waiting to learn more about how the roster will fill out by the start of the season, but apparently Sarkodie has looked really good attacking from the back in early scrimmages.

  4. rob says:

    sounds like the kid could be better than sean franklin and johnny bornstein at outside back

  5. Frenchy says:

    The only key departure was Pat Onstad. Obadai and Odura didn’t live up to potential. We’ve let Ngwenya and Serioux go before, no real loss. Cochrane’s form was wanting, inevitable player on the way out. Looking forward to the new season.

  6. islandofmind says:

    To fill in some of the blanks:
    On Trial:
    Midfielder Lester Peltier, Trinidad & Tobago
    Forward Steven Morrissey, Jamaica
    Forward Fran├žois Swaby, Jamaica
    Midfielder JeVaughn Watson, Jamaica

    Third GK: Evan Newton selected in the supplemental draft out of Old Dominion Univ.

  7. Duck says:

    The trialists sound interesting. The Dynamo website was reporting that they were two of the top scorers in the Jamaican National Premier League. They scored in a Dynamo scrimmage already.

  8. Brit says:

    Dom seems to be checking out a lot of Jamaicans. Is there anyone on staff with any connections to Jamaica?

  9. Duck says:

    Lovel Palmer is Jamaican. Not sure about the coaches.

  10. islandofmind says:

    The Dynamo scouted the Caribbean Cup pretty heavily. These 4 guys are just the first, there are several others on the way if the rumors hold. I know they’re looking at a Jamaican Center Back and an attacking Mid from Brazil. The squad should be significantly upgraded this season.
    BTW the kid from the academy, Josue Soto has looked very good in the two scrimmages I’ve been to. Very cool under pressure, calm on the ball, awesome left foot and seems to know how and when to serve it up.
    He may need a season in the reserves but it would be no surprise at all (to me) if he challenged for 1st team minutes on the left side of midfield.
    Alex Dixon has done some nice things too but not in such a comprehensive way just yet.

  11. Barry U says:

    What ever happened to Felix Garcia? I saw he scored like 14 goals in 13 games last year in the PDL and he should still like 20 years old. I think he has a contract with MLS and Dynamo but went back to finish high school and have a baby (i think).

  12. wichin says:

    I keep asking and no one knows…not even ives. He would help out soooo much. Put away your pride and call him in or let him go…

  13. Martek says:

    Last I heard about Felix Garcia is that the team is still pretty pissed at him. They rolled out that signing in a big way a year ago and then he up and left the team. Major maturity issues. He was very homesick for the valley and (weirdly, though probably apocryphally) was afraid to fly and didn’t want to be in airplanes. What’s the old saying, $1 million talent but a 10-cent head.

  14. wichin says:

    Afraid of flying??? Didn’t he fly around a whole lot during his U-20 days. He pretty much flew all over the world with the team. All I know is that he was young, he is a great talent and pride is probably affecting both. Get over it and play and let him play. Can’t somebody find out what is going on??????

  15. Edwin in Los Angeles says:

    You’re both right!

    MARTEK!!!!!! How is it going brother, Edwin from LA that aways calls Glenn’s show, (Gotta hurry up for tonight’s show too! lol)

    I do think they should look into getting this kid back in MLS, if anything to trade him, he is still young 20-22 and was fast and he was tearing it up in USL/NASL with the Laredo Heat.
    I remember reading that when he went back to Laredo, he didn’t even let the team know, missed a meeting and the team was like WTH? Where is he?

    Then I heard about the homesick and he has a baby with his high school gf?…. Not sure how making a nice decent living of 60-120K is bad for your newborn when both of the parents were still in High school and the job guarantees you a scholarship should it now work?

    Then I heard the flying thing but wichin is right, he was a U-20 guy, did he meet the team everywhere on his own travel account? WTF? Something happened where someone close to him died in a plane maybe? Then I heard he wanted to play in Mexico? Not sure if it was for more $ or for the chance to play there period or the nats there?

  16. Edwin in Los Angeles says:

    islandofmine is right, Dom went to the recent Caribbean Cup that Jamaica won with the likes of Dane Richards, Lovel Palmer, Shavar Thomas & Ryan Johnson all of MLS oh and Omar Cummings too, not sure why “Sir” Donovan Ricketts didn’t go?

    Not surprised Dom who is great at finding diamonds in the rough and needed to revamp the squad with speed and youth was there.
    He said South American contracts are sometimes tricky so I can see why Caribbean players might still be a quick & cheap talent feed for MLS. The guy they are REALLY trying to sign is Jermaine Taylor, a 6 foot CB who has played tons in Jamiaca’s nats. Was great in Caribbean Cup. He was suppose to play for a EPL team but the failure to obtain the so coveted work permit prevented him from joining.

    Of the 4 guys on trial 1 might pan out for the speedy forward spotDuck mentioned in the 1st comment so Swaby & Morrissey have best shots, Watson & Peltier are cover in case the Brazilian “secret creative mid” guy doesn’t pan out.

    I have to say, I am really curious to see who this guy is? Dom’s gone to Brazil twice I believe I think he wanted to look at the same guy again, work with agent/team but what I don’t get is why try to get his team to let him come for a trial? If he wants him so bad? Maybe he is skeptical about US & MLS?

  17. Edwin in Los Angeles says:

    Off the bat, I think RBNY are 1st in conference come end of regular season, followed by KC and closely behind it Houston? Does TFC break the spell? Can Philly make the final push with their Colombian infusion of talent and a more seasoned team of young guns like Mwanga, JackMac, Okogu, Torres, Nakazawa and Williams? I would love to see that but then again would like to see New England make something out of what I think is a great back line that could have Alston, MLS best XI kind of RB, Darrius Barnes & AJ Soares and the new French guy at LB, not bad?