With Monday's confirmation of the roles of Boniek Garcia and Giles Barnes to the 2014 Houston Dynamo, a few of the club's roster questions were answered. Yesterday, a few more were raised.
The Dynamo declined options to a trio of players - Cam Weaver, Mike Chabala, and Andrew Driver - leaving their roles and destinations next year up in the air. Weaver and Chabala were mainly backup players, but Andrew Driver - this year's Dynamo Newcomer of the Year - played a very important role for good portions of the season. Driver might have been the best of the three, but I think solid arguments for bringing all three back can be made.
First for Weaver. He was the highest paid of the three ($105,000 last season), but was mired in a multi-year scoring drought for most of the year. Two goals in two weeks in late July and early August changed that, and though he din't score again, he didn't seem to have as many wild misses as he had earlier in the season. The skied chance in Kansas City hurt the team, but he also made his fair share of non-scoring plays down the stretch. The fact remains that Weaver is an aerial threat, and that the Dynamo are a club in need of guys who can play up front. I could see him coming back for a reduced contract.
On to Chabala. His second stint with the Dynamo this year resulted in only four appearances this season (as well as one in the playoffs), and in that regard, it's fairly easy to see why the Dynamo declined his option. He was stuck behind Corey Ashe for the season, and with a younger, arguably better player ahead of him, Chabala was never going to see much time. But he was making just above the league minimum ($57,500), and the back line is just as shallow as the front end of the Dynamo roster - and when he had to fill in for Ashe in the playoffs, he held his own and brought in a different look (and another threat) for the Dynamo. In my view, his case is the weakest of the three, but I still would not be surprised to see the Dynamo bring him back to provide veteran cover for he back line.
Finally, we come to Driver. The Scottish international provided a spark to the Dynamo, scoring three times and notching an assist over 26 appearances. A true winger, his speed and style made him difficult to defend early in the year - but injuries slowed him down, and when he came back, it seemed like defenses had adjusted to defend him better. He still had flashes of brilliance, but they were fewer and farther between. Surprisingly, he had a five-figure contract ($95,000), and for that reason, I believe he has the strongest case of the trio. The Dynamo might be set in midfield, but Driver impressed, and would have a spot on this roster in any case. That being said, he also will have the most attention, with several European sides reportedly interested in him.
As I said at the beginning, I can see a scenario where the Dynamo bring all three back. I think they can all bring something to the table, and so it wouldn't surprise me to see any of them back. That being said, the Dynamo will have a bit less salary space (no Champions League bonus), so I get the feeling that unless they come back at a lower rate, they won't be coming back. It's a balancing act, but one that the Dynamo front office is fairly good at. We'll see how it all plays out in the coming months.