Outside of CONCACAF I would say the Houston Dynamo put very little into actual scouting. Don't get me wrong, it isn't they don't scout there, but they don't actively scout there. Now, this is all just in my estimation based on rumors and what little I've heard here and there, but as of very recently most Major League Soccer clubs don't have a dedicated scouting department or personnel.
The majority of scouting work done by MLS clubs is either initiated from ideas/concepts offered to them via agents, friends, coaches, colleagues, etc. There just isn't the financial justification as current to support a full or even part-time scouting system within the confines of US Soccer.
Still, we've seen names pop up here and there from Europe, primarily, that are linked with the club. We know from this there is at least some form of scouting, even if it isn't active scouting. Rumor also had it the Houston Dynamo were sending Dominic Kinnear and another one or two coaches to Europe this past offseason to scout, but I think that trip never came to fruition.
Unfortunately, it took me two weeks to get to this, and at this point Seth Trout has answered this question rather eloquently via the comments sections in other articles. The reality is the club is cap-strapped right now due to veteran guaranteed contracts which means little movement. Those salaries and contracts are either expiring or in option years come this offseason, so there will be significant flexibility for the team to make moves.
As for the new CBA, according to Seth whom I hold in the highest regard with this kind of stuff, he doesn't expect much movement of the cap overall. It probably won't move much, and the guaranteed contract stuff won't change much either. So what does it all mean? This current cycle will continue for a few more years, 5-7 at least, where teams will have a year or two where they are unable to make drastic moves without sacrificing their entire lineups. Either a team goes almost fully youth and any time a player hits the end of their youth contract they are sold off to the highest bidder, or a team goes the route the Houston Dynamo find themselves stuck in(and many other MLS clubs will next season or the one following that).
In the past, referees who continuously performed poorly were subjected to probations or suspensions. Currently, there are two referees within PRO who have an average of 1 Red Card per match officiated, Marcos de Oliviera and Sorin Stoica. There are currently six referees within PRO who have an average of 5 Yellow Cards per match officiated, William Anderson, Marcos de Oliviera, Andres Pfefferkorn, Yader Reyes, Javier Santos and Sorin Stoica.
Why is this important?
In an article published by the Toronto Sun on May 5th of this year, Paul Rejer, a manager with the PRO, explained the review process. "We look at all of the incidents over the weekend. I discuss it with Peter Walton (GM of PRO org) and Michael Kennedy (PRO referees manager). We decide between ourselves whether we think the referees are correct or incorrect." Also according to Rejer, they take a look at the incorrect calls and the nature of the error, trying to figure out ways to assist in development with the official to make sure the same mistake isn't made twice.
Rejer also explained if a referee continues to make the same mistakes over a consistent period of time then he may drop down to NASL or USL-Pro for a few matches until he shows confidence in his decisions. Also, when suspensions are handed down for players, it isn't always just MLS making the call. PRO has a say in those as well.
For those unaware, this question stemmed from a tweeted picture from Brian Ownby's account. Ownby was suspended on a red card suspension for a swing/swipe at an opposing player during a match. The first of the two matches Ownby spent with Pittsburgh Riverhounds, playing in their match the same evening as the Houston Dynamo. The second, however, Ownby tweeted out a picture of him at what I was told might have been the Houston Free Press Summer Fest concert event (UPDATE: informed this was a concert in Pittsburgh, not Houston), and the timing of the picture came during the Houston Dynamo match.
Is it customary for a player to support his team over recreation, even during a league-mandated suspension? Yes, it is.
While Brittany Bock has endured rehab on her injured knee for the entirety of the NWSL season, she has maintained a presence at almost every home match and away watch party. While an injury isn't the same as a suspension, it is still a show of her professionalism to sit and cheer on her team even if they don't know she is necessarily doing it.
We've seen other instances of this in other sports, where a NFL player is injured and will still watch his team play (or even a suspended player taking in the game on TV). Why should Ownby's situation be different? Sure, he's young and it wasn't the smartest move to make, but that is just an excuse. He is a professional athlete, and while recreation is great, in this day and age of instant social media access you need to be more aware.
There are other examples of the same type of mental lapses by young athletes, but I won't spend the time going into them here.
Feel free to post your own answers to the above questions, and your own thoughts on what players we could make a run for in the offseason. I intentionally left that portion of the question unanswered from Michael so you all could participate. Enjoy!