As we inch closer to the MLS SuperDraft, it's a good time to take a look at the Houston Dynamo roster and gauge fan's confidence in the offseason moves thus far.
Last season the Dynamo made it to the MLS Cup Final for the second consecutive year, advanced to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, and won the Reserve League title. Although we lost one of our best players in Geoff Cameron, the midseason additions of Boniek Garcia and Ricardo Clark and players like Jermaine Taylor, Bobby Boswell, and Kofi Sarkodie stepping up made the team adapt quickly to the loss.
As for this offseason, two big trades have occurred to address the team's needs. Eric Brunner was brought in from Portland and Omar Cummings from Colorado. Macoumba Kandji remains the only player out of contract whose future is unknown at this time. Kandji is interested in reviewing other options and with the addition of Cummings may not fit in with Kinnear's plans anymore. Andre Hainault is officially gone after joining Ross County in the Scottish Premier League.
As of today, here's where we stand at each position and a couple of notes on each position.
Starting GK: Tally Hall
Depth: Tyler Deric, Erich Marscheider
Goalkeeper is one of our strongest positions, with Tyler Deric showing he can step in for Hall during the CCL and USOC and perform at a high level. He'll get a chance to shine again this year.
Starting Defenders: Kofi Sarkodie, Bobby Boswell, Jermaine Taylor, Corey Ashe
Depth: Eric Brunner, Warren Creavalle
There are a couple of holes that could be trouble for Houston if the season goes on with only the defenders above. Ashe has become a solid left back in MLS, but the Dynamo don't have anyone that can step in and play that position in the event of an injury or to give Ashe a rest. In addition, with more than 40 games expected in 2013, an additional center back would help ease the wear and tear the schedule will pose this season. The consensus is Houston could be looking to address their defense depth issues in next week's SuperDraft.
Starting Midfielders: Boniek Garcia, Adam Moffat, Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis
Depth: Giles Barnes, Luiz Camargo, Je-Vaughn Watson, Alex Dixon, Brian Ownby, Josue Soto
With a full preseason, Barnes could find his way into the starting lineup after showing quite a bit of promise in the latter part of the season. Camargo and Watson will likely play a huge role in the CCL and could be standout reserve players. As for Dixon and Soto, it has come to a point where these young players need to begin to challenge for more playing time or they'll likely be let go. While they are both still young, keep in mind the impact Creavalle and Ownby made last year in their rookie year. Something is keeping them off the pitch (Dixon) and on loan (Soto).
Starting Forwards: Will Bruin, Omar Cummings
Depth: Brian Ching, Cam Weaver, Calen Carr
Bruin and Cummings definitely sounds like a dangerous combination. Time will tell, but right now the only concern is around depth in the forward position. Ching and Weaver are back, but will that be enough to make it through the loaded 2013 schedule since Carr is out indefinitely. With Carr out, Cummings is the only speedy forward on the roster. Forward could be another position we see the Dynamo look at in the SuperDraft.
The draft is up next (Thursday, January 17) for Houston and as we talked about, depth in defense is probably what they'll look for with the 13th pick. The Dynamo have picked a few good players in the past and are hoping to have similar luck this year.
As for other offseason moves, there's always the possibility of another trade to address their needs. While fans may be highly critical of someone like Je-Vaughn Watson at times, you have to imagine a Jamaican international may have some trade value to bring in either a backup defender or forward.
Time to gauge your confidence in the 2013 Dynamo team as it stands today. What's your thoughts on the moves this year? Have the Dynamo improved their roster at this point or is there still big pieces of the puzzle to fill?