MLS Repair Guide: How the Houston Dynamo can compete in 2017

After finishing in the cellar of the Western Conference in 2016, let’s breakdown how Houston can get back to winning in 2017.

A diagnostic look back at the 2016 Houston Dynamo season:

Owen Coyle was crafting the roster to his liking in the Scot’s second season at the helm in Houston, after replacing long time coach Dom Kinnear. The club returned a mostly intact lineup, but minus club legend Brad Davis, and plus the former Philadelphia Union duo of Chaco Maidana and Andrew Wenger.

Ideally, Maidana would be the #10 and provide service to Giles Barnes, Will Bruin, or Erick “Cubo” Torres. Tyler Deric would build on his eye-catching saves in 2015, and the defense would be stout. Very little of that happened in the 2016 season for Houston.

Coyle and the club parted ways, and he’s now the skipper at Blackburn in the English Championship. Wenger showed flashes of his good pace, and sharp attacks, but not enough. Chaco could not cement himself in the lineup. Throughout his career, his play making made up for his poor defense.

Without the play making, it was difficult to have him in the starting XI. Giles Barnes was traded to the Whitecaps, mainly for cap room. Bruin was not effective, and Cubo still hasn’t scored a goal for Houston, before being loaned to Cruz Azul. Deric was sent off in two of his very few starts this season, and battled injuries all year. Joe Willis was solid in goal, and the defense was a partial bright spot on most nights, especially compared to the offense.

Another bright spot was the emergence of Mauro Manotas. It may have taken interim coach Wade Barrett a bit too long to turn consistently to the young striker over the veteran Bruin. He finished with a tie for the team lead at six goals, despite only getting 10 starts. Alex Lima was the team’s MVP, and well outplayed expectations.

How to get back on the right track in 2017:

It is a constant theme with the Dynamo front office, including new head coach Wilmer Cabrera, and clearly the top priority this offseason: a play making #10. The search’s focus may be on South America, but no matter where, they need to be an impact designated player level talent.

Manotas may be a legit scorer at the MLS level, and adding an attacking force behind him can only help. They also may get back Cubo Torres, as Cruz Azul is rumored to not be picking up the option to buy him. Torres had his best years in MLS under Cabrera at Chivas USA. Another player within that could be a big boost is Charlie Ward.

The Englishman played every second last season for the Dynamo’s USL affiliate RGVFC Toros. He triggered the attack for the second best team in the league’s Western Conference under Wilmer, the Toros’ first ever head coach. They will likely bring him, alongside some other RGV players, into camp to give them a look.

The Dynamo need to be exciting offensively, and stay stout at the backline. Houston fans are not used to this poor of a product on the field, and the front office knows they need to hit the mark this offseason. They will have a top pick in the 2016 MLS Superdraft, and will have a lot of cap space to work with ahead of a pivotal 2017 campaign.

Key Returnees:

Mauro Manotas

Alex Lima

Jalil Anibaba

Top Needs:

Playmaking #10

A pacey, creative winger