If nothing else, the Houston Dynamo will be a team of fighters in 2021. This is the identity head coach Tab Ramos and general manager Matt Jordan have been looking for since the end of the 2020 campaign that saw the team finish last for the second time in three years. Ramos is not interested in building a team to win in five years but a team that will fight to win now.
Houston may have cured all its ills in one fell swoop. No longer will they be an inconsistent scoring offense or be a patsy with late game swoons. No longer will the Dynamo have a an indecisive midfield or backline that is more like a sieve then a wall in front of keeper Marko Maric. Dynamo head coach Tab Ramos and Dynamo general manager Matt Jordan may have had the best 30 days or so in franchise history working to build a new identity for 2021 ending with the MLS SuperDraft. Let’s chronicle the moves.
December 17, 2020
MF Fafa Picault
Picault was said to be a coveted player during the season by the Dynamo and then came their opportunity.
“Fafa’s quality and speed will help us create immediate dangerous opportunities at home or on the road,” Dynamo Head Coach Tab Ramos said. “Additionally, his professionalism off the field is another building block in continuing to establish a winning culture.”
December 31, 2020
MF Joe Corona
Five days after signing Picault, the Dynamo selected midfielder Joe Corona in the Stage 2 MLS Re-Entry Process They finalized the acquisition with the 30 ear old’s official signing on New Year’s Eve.
“We’re really excited to have Joe on board,” Head Coach Tab Ramos said. “He’s a player that fits into the type of midfielder profile that we were looking for, and he’s a great person to continue to build our culture going forward.”
January 14, 2021
F Tyler Pasher
Two weeks after Corona’s signing, the Houston Dynamo were back at it again inking forward Tyler Pasher from USL Championship side Indy Eleven. With back to back seasons of 10 plus goals and 23 goals and six assists in 50 appearances, Pasher proved he has a nose for the goal.
“Tyler is a relentless worker on both sides of the ball and he fits really well into our game model,” Dynamo head coach Tab Ramos said. “We feel that we added a player who is going to be successful and going to contribute in the attacking third.”
If Houston fans thought the Dynamo were finished just one week out from the draft, the best was yet to come.
January 18, 2021
F Max Urruti
The signing of Urruti capped an offensive minded 30 days. One look at Urruti’s resume says it all. He is a proven winner and a proven goal scorer (53 goals/23 assists since 2013). He has lifted trophies at nearly every stop of his career. In 2015, it was the MLS Cup in Portland, the Supporters Shield and the US Open Cup with FC Dallas in 2016 and a Canadian championship in 2019 with Montreal.
“Maxi knows first-hand what it takes to be a champion in MLS and has consistently scored goals since he arrived in the league,” Dynamo head coach Tab Ramos said. “He brings quality, speed and a tremendous work ethic.”
January 19, 2021
D Tim Parker
Two days before the 2021 draft, the Dynamo brought home a defender who is young, experienced and was the anchor on a backline that recorded a league best 14 shutouts in 2019 for the New York Red Bulls and was a key cog in a supporter’s Shield record setting points performance (71) in 2018.
“Tim is a winner, a leader and a fundamental piece for our Club as we build for the upcoming season and our future, both on-and-off the field,” Dynamo head coach Tab Ramos said.
Then came draft day.
January 21, 2021
MF Derrick Jones
At 6-4, Jones is a central midfielder that will be hard to miss. Jones has 20 starts in 44 appearances and is just 23 years old.
“Derrick is a player I know very well. Although he is young, he already has four years of experience in the league and knows what it’s like to be a starter for a playoff team,” Ramos said. “He has a big career ahead of him and we feel fortunate and excited that it will be here in Houston.”
D Ethan Bartlow
After swapping first round picks with Colorado, the Dynamo chose Ethan Bartlow. The best defender in the draft by all accounts had just signed a Generation Adidas contract on January 19. The Washington Husky was named the 2019 PAC-12 Defensive Player of The Year and anchored a backline that recorded 22 shutouts in his 38 starts.
“We are excited to have selected Ethan Bartlow, who was the best central defender in the draft. His precise passing, work rate and leadership makes our backline immediately more competitive and we can’t wait to see him here battling,” Dynamo head coach Tab Ramos said.
In his post draft press conference, Ramos added that the trade of Parker is what made everything possible on draft day.
F Kristo Strickler
Strickler, who was a walk-on at Virginia Tech and eventually was named team captain and made scoring history for the Hokies,is the epitome of what Ramos and Jordan have been creating over the last month. A fighter.
“Kristo Strickler’s intense desire to do whatever it takes to score goals makes him extremely dangerous,” said Ramos.
D Brandon Terwege
One would think that the 57th pick of the draft would be a long shot but not this SMU defender whom Ramos knows well. The Highland Village, Texas native played for Ramos on the U-20 team. In 2019while at SMU, he anchored a line that had 11 shutouts in 19 matches.
“He’s a centerback with lots of potential. I know him well and I know he can do well for us,” said Ramos.
The Houston Dynamo have spent their time well following a dismal 2020 season doing their homework and over the last 35 days it has paid off. The foundation has been set to create a team of fighters that will do anything to win.
“I mean its been a crazy last 8 or 10 days with all the additions. This was one of the most difficult drafts. Had to deal with about 80 players that did not play this year. Really happy with way things turned out. We did a lot of homework and couldn’t be happier,” concluded a tired but pleased Tab Ramos. “Guys with the right mentality, wiling to do whatever it takes to win. They are all fighters.”