If someone approached you on the street and asked you to define the 2010 Houston Dynamo in one word, what would you say?
If you answered with the word "inconsistent" you'd be giving the individual who queried you an accurate description of the season. What we witnessed in 2010 can be described with a variety of adjectives, but when you really get down to the root on the problem, there isn't a better word to use than inconsistent.
Just look at the pattern of league results from the season opener in late March to the end of June: draw, win, loss, win, loss, win, loss, win, loss, win, loss, loss, loss, draw.
If the results from the first half of the season were an amusement park ride, it would be the one most despised by park employees because of how many riders got sick on or after the ride.
To add to the frustration, until things really hit the skids in August and September, the Dynamo were still in the playoff hunt despite the Jekyll and Hyde like pattern of match results. It was only after a busy July with SuperLiga and Open Cup matches that things went from annoyingly inconsistent to downright poor.
At the end of July, the Dynamo had a 5-8-5 record, nothing to get overly excited about, but right in the mix if they could start getting some better results, maybe but together a winning streak. Unforuntately, it wasn't in the cards. When the month of August ended, the team's record had sunk to 6-11-5...by the end of September, 7-14-5. The damage was done and even with a 3-1-1 record in the final five matches, including ending the season with their first two-match winning streak of the year, the playoffs were out of reach.
It was a roller coaster ride of inconsistency that I think everyone in the Dynamo organization and fans alike were ready to see end. There were plenty of contributing factors that led to the disappointing season but at a real basic level it was the team's inability to ever really get in to any kind of rhythm that doomed them. It felt like they spent 6 months tring to find an identity and by the time they were able to find one, it was October 23rd and the season was over.
So why were the Dynamo so inconsistent?
Obviously the loss of key contributers over the past year and a half had an effect as did various injuries. Still, these feel more like convenient excuses rather than a definite explanation. I'm not trying to insult anyone by saying this, but the Dynamo simply didn't look mentally sharp and focused for much of the season. There were multiple cases where the team beat themselves as much as they were beaten by their opponent. In a league with as much parity as MLS, it's the little things that can turn a season. When those little things are mistakes and apparent loss of concentration at key moments, things can good bad very quickly.
You just got the feeling that this team never really got going and spent the first five months of the season lurching around like a student driver trying to master using a manual transmission. Of all the things that the Canetti and Kinnear need to accomplish in the coming months, there may not be anything more important than getting their roster focused and mentally sharp.
The Dynamo can turn things around in 2011 but to do it, they will have to eliminate the mistakes and mental errors than plagued them throughout the past season. This is not a bad team and with the expected roster changes this winter, it's going to be an even better team, at least on paper. Getting everyone's head back in the game is the real challenge, but it's one I think the coaching staff is more than capable of handling.