In 2018, the Houston Dynamo continued to regress on the defensive side of the ball surrendering a franchise record 58 goals. In 2019, that will not be the case as the powers that be on Avenida de Americas seriously addressed the needs of the team. Dynamo Senior Vice President and General Manager Matt Jordan spent the offseason bolstering the Dynamo backline, an example the Houston Texans should be paying attention too.
Here are the three biggest moves Jordan has made to strengthen Houston and send a message to the rest of Major League Soccer for 2019.
Jordan and company gave Houston fans a Christmas present with the signing of Aljaz “Kiki” Struna. The Slovenian national team player with more then 200 game day experiences at the highest levels of soccer brings a measure of leadership not seen on a Dynamo backline since Bobby Boswell was allowed to leave in 2014.
“Our top priority this offseason was to strengthen our defense with a key signing at center back, and Aljaz Struna fits the profile we were looking for,” Jordan of the signing. “He joins our club at a prime age with the quality, experience and winning mentality that will improve our group right away.”
With the 28 year old in the prime of his career, Houston is in a great position in 2019 to turn their porous defense into one of the best in Major League Soccer.
The Dynamo captain is back for another season. At 36, many thought the longest tenured left back in franchise history would be calling it quits. Fortunately for Houston fans, such is not the case. A week after signing Struna, the 2018 Dynamo Defender of the Year was back in the fold. Entering his 20th professional season, the Indiana native is without a doubt the heart and soul of the Dynamo much like fan favorite Brad Davis once was.
“We are extremely pleased to announce that DaMarcus will be returning to the Houston Dynamo for the 2019 season,” said Dynamo Senior Vice President and General Manager Matt Jordan. “He is a key leader in our team, and a true professional in every sense of the word. His winning mentality and quality as a player will be important for our group as we prepare for the 2019 season.”
Realizing that the key to winning on defense is a solid mix of old and young, the Dynamo made a big splash in the SuperDraft. A trade of goalkeeper Chris Seitz to DC United brought the captain of the 2018 collegiate nation champions to Houston. Andrew Samuels, a right back, The former University of Maryland defender started 51 of 78 matches in his college career and was a two-time College Sportsmanship Award winner.
Houston paired Samuels with University of California (Berkley) right back Sam Junqua whom they picked up earlier in the draft. In addition to starting 45 of 68 college matches, Junqua also has a long list of other soccer accomplishments including participation for the U-18 U.S. Men’s National Team in 2013, and being named to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy West Conference Best XI for the 2012/2013 season.
With their final selection, the Dynamo took Wake Forest defensive midfielder Chris Dunwell.
The Final Word
According to Matt Jordan, Dynamo Senior Vice President and General Manager, “We have a strong core returning and are currently in discussions with several players from last year’s roster while continually looking to strengthen the team in preparation for the 2019 season.”