- Finished 8th in the Eastern Conference last year with 39 points, 10 back of the playoffs
- Splashed for Owen Coyle as new manager
- Won 2006 and 2007 MLS Cups
Key Player: Erick Torres
This is a tricky one. “Cubo” is the newest Designated Player at Houston, and has a lot of weight on his shoulders. Houston really struggled to score last year, and they need someone like Torres to repeat last year’s form at Chivas USA. Unfortunately, he’s not currently with the club. On a six-month loan to Mexican side Chivas Guadalajara as part of his deal with MLS, there’s a possibility he doesn’t end up with Houston until the summer. However, according to the club, he could come back as early as May with some contractual triggers. The Dynamo need him to come back ASAP, as a poor start ruined their season from the get-go last year, and they certainly don’t want history to repeat itself.
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Other names to watch: Raul Rodriguez, Brad David, Boneik Garcia, DaMarcus Beasley.
Brad Davis is the leader in the clubhouse with Tally Hall and Dominic Kinnear gone, and he will have extra pressure on his shoulders while Torres remains in Mexico (as does Garcia). Rodriguez is a new signing with experience, having spent five years in La Liga with Espanyol but still just 27. As much as Houston struggled to score last year, they also conceded a whopping 58 times, and Rodriguez is the answer to that.
Manager: Owen Coyle
The former Burnley, Bolton, and Wigan manager is looking for his next success story. Since taking Burnley to the Premier League in the 2008/09 season, the Scot has struggled for continued positives, seeing Bolton relegated in 2012 and spending just six months at Wigan. Coyle is embarking on a journey that not many have taken up, moving from a more standard league setup in England to the quirkiness of Major League Soccer. There will no doubt be an adjustment period, although thankfully for Houston they got Coyle to sign on in December to give him a few months of adjustment to the lifestyle before the season began. It will be interesting to see if Coyle can have success at Houston and potentially pave the way for other managers from abroad, or if he will fail and cause those against the way of thinking to raise up louder.
Outlook for 2015
2014 was the worst season on record for the Houston Dynamo. They’re looking to pick up the pieces, and with any new regime, there’s fanfare and hype. However, this team is still largely similar to the one that finished with less than 40 points last year, and Coyle is already using phrases like “we can punch above our weight” before the season even begins, suggesting an inferiority. With the leaky defense of last year still largely in place and an inexperienced goalkeeper behind them, Houston will need to prove they are back in business before people take them seriously. It will be a struggle to make the playoffs, but it’s by no means out of reach if Coyle can navigate MLS successfully and the players unite under the new system.