The Houston Dynamo continue to be make off-season news, this time by declining options on Omar Cummings, Andrew Driver, Brian Ownby, Anthony Arena, and Bryan Salazar. While declining some of these players may seem as a shock, it signifies that the Dynamo are ramping up their efforts to begin searching for a new identity in the post-Dominic Kinnear era.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Houston Dynamo have declined options on five players including Omar Cummings, Andrew Driver, Anthony Arena, Bryan Salazar & Brian Ownby.</p>— Darrell Lovell (@DarrellLovell) <a href="https://twitter.com/DarrellLovell/status/537280991740432384">November 25, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Omar Cummings provided firepower for various stretches in the 2014 season playing in the midfield and finding success partnering with Giles Barnes as a Forward for the injured Will Bruin towards the end of the season. However, Cummings struggled to stay healthy and his hefty contract provided plenty of reason to decline his option.
Andrew Driver never quite lived up to preseason expectations and proved most effective coming off the bench rather than making the most of his starting opportunities while Brad Davis and Oscar Boniek Garcia were away with their respective national teams. Driver commands the MLS equivalent of a mid-level contract, but the Dynamo still have depth in the midfield including former midfielder and former MLS All-Star defender Corey Ashe.
Declining Arena, Ownby, and Salazar is a bit more puzzling considering their cheaper contracts. Arena and Ownby both found success with the USL Pro affiliate the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, but Salazar struggled for playing time. While Omar Cummings and Andrew Driver could renegotiate their contracts and remain in Houston, it's unlikely that Arena, Ownby, and Salazar are in a position to do so given their contracts are already fairly close to the league minimum.
Another player that won't be returning to the Dynamo is Tony Cascio who will be headed back to the Colorado Rapids. Cascio was part of the first inter-league loan that sent him to the Dynamo. The team had the right to make him a permanent player at the end of the year but declined and his option was picked up by Colorado. Cascio started the season at right midfield, but after an ACL tear was sidelined for most of the season although he was able to make a few end of the year appearances.
Designated player Alexander Lopez was retained by the club and will get a chance to earn playing time behind a strong central midfield pairing of Ricardo Clark and fellow Honduran Luis Garrido.