2012 Houston Dynamo Preview

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  1. The Richuation

    The Richuation Walk On

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    Goalkeepers

    Depth Chart: 1. Tally Hall, 2. Tyler Deric, 3. Erich Marscheider

    Strengths: The athleticism of Hall and Deric are what stand out. Both have the ability to get to shots that many ‘keepers of their size have trouble with and will be the cork to a stout Dynamo defensive mix.

    Weaknesses: Houston lacks proven depth behind Hall. Deric is a player that has tons of talent but only two starts in MLS play – both wins at the end of 2010.

    Wildcard: Hall is the incumbent starter and it will likely take an injury to change that. If that happens, Deric will have to show that his game can transition from potential to production if he wants to duplicate the success of LA Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders, who claimed the starting job over an injured Donovan Ricketts, in 2011.

    READ: 2012 Houston Dynamo Preview

    Defense

    Depth Chart: LB 1. Corey Ashe, 2. Jermaine Taylor; CB 1. Geoff Cameron – Bobby Boswell, 2. Jermaine Taylor, 3. Nathan Sturgis; RB 1. Andre Hainault, 2. Jermaine Taylor, 3. Kofi Sarkodie

    Strengths: Houston’s backline has the talent to be the best in MLS, if they don't already hold that title. With potential MLS All-Stars at every spot, the Dynamo have a mix of physical skill and experience that will make them a nightmare to play against.

    Weaknesses: Depth could be an issue for the Dynamo as the Olympics, friendlies and World Cup qualifying threaten to take Cameron, Hainault, Taylor and possibly Sarkodie away for long stretches. With the number of international responsibilities looming, it could be difficult to get the same group on the field every week.

    Wildcard: With three current or former internationals on the backline, Ashe has the chance to make his mark in 2012. The stout, 5-foot-6 left back has the physicality and speed to lock down the left flank and provide support for Davis. If year two brings more seasoning as a defender, Ashe’s career has the potential to take off.

    SEE: Preseason Schedule and Results

    Midfield

    Depth Chart: LM 1. Brad Davis, 2. Colin Clark, 3. Josue Soto; CM 1. Luiz Camargo – Adam Moffat, 2. Je-Vaughn Watson, 3. Nathan Sturgis; RM 1. Colin Clark, 2. Je-Vaughn Watson, 3. Alex Dixon

    Strengths: Once again the Dynamo will be a midfield that lives and dies with breaking up play and providing service. With the talent they have in midfield, the club will be able to create chances from all angles.

    Weaknesses: Settling the right midfield spot is objective No. 1. Clark and Watson are the frontrunners to start opposite Davis, a position for which the club has actively sought reinforcements. Set at the other three spots, if the midfield quartet is to be a complete unit, one of the two will have to provide consistent production.

    Wildcard: Camargo is a playmaker who has the touch and vision to be a creative force in the mold of Stuart Holden in the middle. A full preseason with the club could extend the flashes he showed in 2011 into a full season of stellar play.

    READ: Houston Dynamo 2011 season statistics

    Forwards

    Depth Chart: Target Striker 1. Brian Ching, 2. Cam Weaver, 3. Colin Rolfe; Second Striker 1. Will Bruin, 2. Mac Kandji 3. Calen Carr

    Strengths: It is the land of the trees for the Houston Dynamo forward line. The shortest strikers in the group are 6-feet tall (Carr and Rolfe). On a team predicated on pumping service into the box, Houston should once again rule the air in front of goal.

    Weaknesses: Will Houston find a double-digit scorer in 2012? They have taken a scoring by committee approach since 2008, but can one of these strikers become the go-to-guy in 2012 and take the lead in the attack? The answer to that question will go a long way to determining thier success.

    Wildcard: Kandji is the best candidate to be the ‘take ’em on’ type of player the club has lacked since losing Dwayne De Rosario several years ago. If the 6-foot-4 striker can finish his dynamic runs with goals, he could propel the Dynamo attack into another dimension.

    Setting the Scene
    One game. That is how close the Houston Dynamo came to claiming their third MLS Cup title in 2011. Unfortunately for them they ran into an historically great LA Galaxy squad that claimed the spoils in a 1-0 win at the Home Depot Center last November.

    Galaxy win MLS Cup



    On their way to the finale, Houston saw both sides of an MLS season. The push down the stretch overshadowed the struggles the club encountered early in the year.

    After starting fast the Dynamo stumbled in the summer heat to a point where a playoff spot was in jeopardy. Compounding their issues was a near season-long dry spell away from the not so comfy confines of Robertson Stadium.

    But as the temperatures cooled Houston's fortunes turned.

    Head coach Dominic Kinnear shuffled his roster, adding Adam Moffat, Carlo Costly and Luiz Camargo – all of whom played starter's minutes – and moved Geoff Cameron from central midfield to center back. His tinkering paid off. Led by MLS MVP runner-up Brad Davis, the Dynamo started to ascend up the Eastern Conference standings, dropping just two of their final 13 matches.

    While they were one game short of capping their remarkable run with another Cup, the outlook for 2012 is bright. Houston return with much of their roster intact and are looking to those holdovers to duplicate last year’s success.

    BUY DYNAMO TICKETS HERE

    In and Out
    IN: M Nathan Sturgis (12/29: trade from Toronto); F Colin Rolfe (1/12: SuperDraft); M Warren Creavalle (1/12: SuperDraft); F Brian Ownby (1/17: supplemental draft); F Karo Okiomah (1/17: supplemental draft); M Eder Arreola (1/17: supplemental draft); F Phillip Aseweh (1/17: supplemental draft); M Daniel Roberts (1/17: supplemental draft); F/M Macoumba Kandji (2/8: trade from Colorado); F Brian Ching (2/16: trade from Montreal); G Erich Marscheider (2/22: waiver wire)

    OUT: M Francisco Navas Cobo (11/23: waived); G Evan Newton (11/23: waived); F Carlo Costly (11/24: option declined); D Hunter Freeman (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/Colorado); F Jason Garey (12/12: option declined); D Eddie Robinson (1/11: retired); M Danny Cruz (1/20: trade to D.C.)

    READ: 2012 Houston Dynamo Depth Chart



    Star Attraction: Brad Davis
    Davis was pure class in 2011 and showed that, especially from a production standpoint, Houston are his team now. The left-footed playmaker notched a league and career high 16 assists last year, leading to a runner-up finish for MLS MVP. Recovered from a right quad tear he suffered in the Eastern Conference Championship, Davis will once again be counted upon to drive the Houston attack. In short, getting the ball on Davis’ dangerous left foot will be vital to Houston’s success in 2012.

    READ: Dynamo Notebook: Davis, Carr cleared for returns

    Unsung Hero: Andre Hainault
    It is simple; Hainault can do everything asked of him on the backline. Voted as the second-most underrated player in 2011 by MLSsoccer.com, the Canadian international draws little attention with his quiet demeanor and consistently good performances – although he did score twice in the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs, raising his profile a bit. But ask his teammates and the defender they call "Droid" is at the top of the list of all-around defenders the club has to offer.

    Ready for Primetime: Will Bruin
    Bruin set to become main contributor



    No one has gotten more praise than Bruin this preseason. After being leaned on heavily early in 2011 with Ching out injured, the Dancing Bear hit a wall, scoring just one goal in the last seven months of the season. Now the sophomore striker is showing a confidence and finishing ability that was not there as a rookie. If he can build on his preseason form, he has the ability and quick shot to be a double-digit goal scorer, something the club has not had since Ching notched 13 in 2008.



    READ: Will Bruin all fired up after US Olympic snub

    Storylines to Watch
    1. How will the Dynamo deal with their long road trip to start the season? After six years, the Dynamo will open their brand new home on May 12. It should be a great night, but how will the club enter the stadium after a season opening seven-game road stretch?

    2. Will the move to bring Brian Ching back pay off? The saga dragged through the offseason, starting with his selection in the Expansion Draft and ending with a trade back to Houston. Ching says 2012 is likely his final season. Will the ever-popular 33-year-old retain his role as the figure in attack for a club with MLS Cup aspirations?

    WATCH: Will this be Ching's final season?

    3. How will Houston cope with a return to Champions League play? After a two year hiatus, the Dynamo are back in the CONCACAF Champions League. Scheduled to kick off competition this summer, the added fixtures could throw a wrench into the club’s success, testing their depth should they embark upon a deep run.

    READ: Hall hopes strong performances will translate to US call-up

    What He Said
    “Our outlook’s positive. I look at the run last year and think, ‘Can we keep that confidence and mentality for a full year?’The first seven games on the road will be difficult. If we can show we’re a difficult team to play and then come back to our new stadium I think we’re going to be very tough team to beat.”

    – Houston midfielder Brad Davis

    SEE: 2012 Season Preview Archive

    If Everything Goes Right
    The reigning Eastern Conference champs enter 2012 as one of the favorites and the goal is simple: win one more game and claim their third MLS Cup. Houston will ride what should be one of the league’s best defenses, with standouts at every position – including a potential USMNT regular in Geoff Cameron. And of course the midfield includes one of the best servicemen in the league.

    If everything goes right and Houston get scoring from their frontline and avoids the injury bug, the third title they missed in 2011 could be in their sights.
     

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