As June begins to creep in, the Houston Dynamo are glaring at the potential absences of several starters (and new signings) that could stretch nearly into August. Copa America, Gold Cup, and PanAm Tournaments could disrupt the roster and leave head coach Owen Coyle picking up the pieces to withstand a harsh set of summer matches.
Last summer, the Dynamo dealt with the losses of Brad Davis and Boniek Garcia in what ultimately was a fragile lineup that suffered 7 losses in the ten matches that World Cup players missed. It would appear that the Dynamo missed out of 2014's playoffs due to that horrid stretch of games.
This year's summer is much of the same (if not worse than 2014) due to a handful of overlapping tournaments that serve to pull players out of the Dynamo roster just as the team has begun to surge. Here are the Dynamo players that will (or could) miss matches. Let's take this one at a time:
COPA AMERICA (June 11 - July 4)
Giles Barnes (Jamaica) and Jermaine Taylor (Jamaica) have already left for Copa America duties and will be gone at least through June 20th (group stage finale). That puts both out for the 6/17 US Open Cup match and 6/20 at Portland. Jamaica is in a tough group stage with Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay making the Reggae Boyz not a safe bet to advance. Should they beat those odds, Dynamo fans might not see them until after the Gold Cup.
GOLD CUP (July 7 - July 26)
Provisional rosters are out for the Gold Cup and it looks ugly for Houston. All told, the Dynamo are faced with the highly likely scenario of losing Barnes and Taylor again, as well as Boniek Garcia (Honduras), Luis Garrido (Honduras), DaMarcus Beasley (USA) and Brad Davis (USA). While these are provisional, all but Brad Davis should be considered a lock. Davis, who hasn't been called up since the World Cup, will be competing for a spot in a crowded midfield that includes Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Alejandro Bedoya, Mix Diskerud, Fabian Johnson, and Graham Zusi. If he does make the final 23-man roster, then he (along with his five Dynamo teammates) could be out for five MLS matches - FC Dallas, Chicago, San Jose, Real Salt Lake, and LA. However, if a team doesn't advance past the group stage, Houston could have returning players as early as July 15th ahead of the 7/18 fixture with RSL.
PANAM 2015 (July 10 - July 26)
This Toronto tournament, though not FIFA-sponsored, hosts many Olympic-like events including soccer. The only team that could disrupt Houston's roster is Mexico should they decide to call up Erick "Cubo" Torres. Following his exclusion from the Copa America and Gold Cup rosters, the PanAm tournament is Cubo's last shot to wear the Mexico shirt this summer. The age restrictions (U-22) make this tournament a good opportunity to hone young talent and keep them on the national team radar -- all things that Cubo needs to do following his encouraging previous year playing for Mexico. As of right now, I'd expect Cubo's scheduled debut (the July 10th match against San Jose) to be pushed back until after the tournament. That could leave Cubo not donning the orange until August 1 in Kansas City.
One thing that can be said for the 2015 Houston Dynamo is that the roster depth is vastly improved from last year. With players like Alex Lopez, Will Bruin, and Rob Lovejoy logging positive performances, the Dynamo may not feel as dire as they did last summer. Coupled with the promising talent of Leonel Miranda, Mauro Manotas, AJ Cochran (and maybe the return of Corey Ashe?), Houston should feel as if they have enough to endure the summer roster drought, barring injuries (knock on wood).
This also makes next Wednesday's US Open Cup match against Austin Aztex an intriguing one where fans may get a good look at second string players that could prove prominent in the months ahead.