Happy almost New Year everyone! As we count down the hours left until a new year and a new Houston Dynamo season, it’s worth revisiting some of the remarkable moments and players that have donned orange over the last ten years.
Yesterday I put out my Team of the Decade featuring players that both performed well, but also were representative of the Dynamo based on legacy, impact, and longevity. The below XI will take those into account, but it will weight skill a lot more.
GK: Joe Willis – You could put just about any of the three major goalkeepers (four if you count Chris Seitz) the Dynamo deployed and put them in this spot and you could make a case. Tally Hall, Tyler Deric, and Willis were all spectacular shot stoppers who had spells of making mistakes, and needed to work on their distribution. But I truly think of the three Willis was the best shot stopper and he did it with a backline in front of him that changed often and wasn’t nearly as strong as the defense in the beginning of the decade.
LB: DaMarcus Beasley – Corey Ashe is the only real challenger to Beasley and while Ashe was one of the first players in the mass movement to put attacking minded players in a defensive position, so we Beasley. DMB kept his quickness, intelligence with his positioning, and was dangerous going forward.
CB: Kiki Struna – I was really tempted to place Maynor Figueroa here given his ability to go forward which provided the Dynamo an added dimension to the offense, but Struna shares that quality even if he isn’t quite as good as Figueroa. Figueroa though was more mistake prone than Struna so I’m giving the nod to the Slovenian. The only players I would throw in the mix for a spot here (apart from the CB partner) would be Phillipe Senderos and Geoff Cameron. Senderos was simply not durable even though he showed flashes of brilliance and Cameron had similar issues, but was also moved around to various positions such as the experiment with him at CAM.
CB: Bobby Boswell – Similar to Struna, Boswell offers a toughness that seems to embody the great Dynamo center backs like Eddie Robinson and Craig Waibel. Boswell wasn’t the most mobile of defenders, but was intelligent with his positioning to clear balls from danger and he offered a threat on the other end as a set piece target.
RB: A.J. DeLaGarza – Andre Hainault would be a good pick here as well, but as I said in the Team of the Decade piece, by 2012 he had been displaced by the younger Kofi Sarkodie. AJ did show signs of wear and tear following his devastating injury prior to the 2017 playoffs, but his absence in that post season showed how important a player he was to Houston. Portland and then Seattle repeatedly attacked down our right side of the field with success.
LM: Brad Davis – Not really much else to say other than of course one of the best Dynamo players in history will get the start here.
CM: Matías Vera – Ricardo Clark? Juan David Cabezas? No, the newcomer Matías Vera gets my pick in the center of the park. Clark has a very good case, but so many of the things that Clark does, Vera does and a little bit better. Vera is an excellent tackler and distributor. Originally brought in to backup or partner with the 2017 team MVP Cabezas, Vera displaced Cabezas altogether and became an important piece for the Dynamo this past season.
RM: Oscar Boniek García – I’m sticking with el Presidente who was also my pick for my Team of the Decade. Defensively, Boniek is sometimes a liability, but he transitions the ball from defense to offense very well and offers a lot going forward.
LW: Alberth Elis – traditionally lines up on the right side of the field, but often switches side periodically with the opposite winger, Elis has been a focal point of the contemporary Dynamo offense. Give Elis the ball with space and he’ll create a dangerous opportunity.
CF: Will Bruin – Not everyone’s favorite as I learned by putting him in my Team of the Decade, the Dancing Bear often suffered because of a lack of service and support in defensive oriented teams. Yes, he struggled to create for himself, but when he had the help he needed he was a terrific goal scorer.
RW: Mauro Manotas – Lining up on the right wing for now, a position Manotas has played for Wilmer Cabrera, Manotas was one of the most dangerous attacking players for the Dynamo this decade. He could bag goals in a variety of ways scoring from the air, from distance, or inside the box, Manotas with the ball and space to shoot should strike some fear in opponents.
Manager: Dominic Kinnear – duh
Bench: Tally Hall, Corey Ashe, Geoff Cameron, Andre Hainault, Ricardo Clark, Giles Barnes, Brian Ching