With 2020 in our rearview, it’s time to look ahead with the hope that a new year brings. For the Houston Dynamo, things could not have been much worse. Another last place finish and the sale of Alberth Elis and Mauro Manotas makes for a roster turnover under the Matt Jordan regine.
Although we cannot say that a contender will be in play, we can say that this roster does present the opportunity for growth and excitement. But, before you get your hopes too high, what do fans have to look forward to in 2020?
First: With players like Tomas Martinez gone, Memo Rodriguez has an opportunity to take another step forward and make this team his team. The communication between head coach Tab Ramos and Memo indicates that both believe that this HomeGrown Player can be great for this team and the league. If Memo becomes the man, the number 10, this team can become good in a hurry. Not only does the 25 year old have a nose for the goal but he is becoming a dynamic facilitator of the game.
Second: Ariel Lassiter may become the best signing of the Jordan era. He showed in a small dose what he can do after arriving in mid-August. Nearly 50% of his shots, not only in 2020 but throughout his career, have found their way on target. With his speed and natural left foot, maybe he becomes the assist machine that another former Dynamo lefty was in Brad Davis. With Christain Ramirez returning, expect the offense to have a little more pop as his shots on target average is near that of Lassiter’s. The team also has the 2020 MLS leader in assists back in Darwin Quintero. And who knows what Mateo Bajamich will bring to the table in 2021?
Third: With most of the backline returning intact, one would think that they can only get better. Surrendering 31 goals in the final 15 minutes of play resulted in a loss or draw more often then anyone wants to be reminded. So yes, this defense has been bad but three of the four on the 2020 backline returning will be key to turning this defense from bad to better, and boy it was bad. Only five of the 26 MLS teams surrendered more goals and to make matters worse FC Cincinnati, which had just four wins, surrendered less goals than Houston Dynamo FC. This defense will be better.
Finally, the Dynamo have gotten younger in a sense. Although, they emphasize that 13 of the 23 players currently with a contract are under 25 years of age, you cannot logically expect that Juan Castilla (15yrs old), Daniel Rios (17yrs old, Marcelo Palomino (19yrs old) or Ian Hoffman (19yrs old) will get a lot of playing time in 2021. Subtract those four and that leaves you nine of the remaining 18 players under contract and under 25 years old.
Juxtaposing that into the starting XI for 2021 means making significant progress will definitely take time. As of today, only Memo (25yrs old), Sam Junqua (24) and Marko Maric (24) will be contributing significantly in 2021.
In conclusion, we are left with Ramos’ words from last year when he said “We’re always looking to add new players. The work is never done.” Let’s hope not or Dynamo fans will see the same old same old with new branding.