In medical education, and medicine in general, there is something called a Differential Diagnosis. It contains all the possibilities a physician or medical trainee can think of to describe what's wrong with a patient's health. Basically, what Web MD tries to do - albeit, poorly - when you input "headache".
As a medical student, we do this probably as well as Web MD. Our knowledge base is broad, but ultimately unfocused. So for "headache" I can tell you that migraines are definitely an option, while brain tumors and abscesses are right up there on the differential, too. Eat raw pork? It could be Neurocysticercosis. Have a cat? Toxoplasmosis.
When I hear hoofbeats, it's always a zebra.
But with soccer? I've got 20 years of playing experience, and 2 of semi-amateur blogging, to draw from. If you tell me that a team isn't scoring goals, the problem could stem from the attackers, providers, or formation governing their interaction. Focusing on the attacker, they could have difficul interacting with a strike partner, be failing to take advantage of opportunities, or have a decreased work ethic.
And thus expands The Differential.
So, with that in mind, I present this new series of articles for the 2014 Dynamo season.
In it, I will focus on the current week's match - what went wrong, what could be improved - and what I expect the players and coaches in orange will do to address those problems. I'll also look at the week's match in the context of the previous weeks' problems, and see what has been done to improve on those.
A medical differential diagnosis is all about finding the specific problem at hand. Once that's done, we can work at treating it, to eventually return the patient to a state of well-being.
In The Differential, we'll look to identify and address the problems ailing the Dynamo, with the goal of building a team that will win The Supporters' Shield and the MLS Cup.
On Wednesday I'll post a season preview of the boys in orange as a means of comparison and reference for this thread of posts. I'll discuss the questions facing our team after a good, if not great, 2013 season, and state some realistic goals for 2014.
Here's a quick hint - I think Houston will win one (real) trophy this year.
But, for now, contact me on twitter (@CiudadDeClutch) or comment below with questions you think are facing Houston this year.
That will be our starting point for The Differential.