Houston Dynamo this week announced their contract options for the 2022 season. The list of players who had their options exercised is made up of Darwin Ceren, Griffin Dorsey, Sam Junqua, Nico Lemoine, Tyler Pasher, Marcelo Palomino and Fafa Picault. The players who had their options declined include Jose Bizama, Maynor Figueroa, Erik McCue, Marko Maric, Kyle Morton, Darwin Quintero and Maxi Urruti.
Darwin Ceren started in 13 out of the 25 games that he appeared in last season with two assists. The Salvadorian had a busy 2021 playing for both club and country. He has been called up a number of times by La Selecta for the Gold Cup as well as the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Griffin Dorsey was a pleasant surprise last season. He came in as an unknown, however, he quickly became a fan favorite with the way that he ran up and down the field creating many scoring opportunities. The former Indiana Hoosier took full advantage of his MLS breakthrough playing in 20 games for a total of 1490 minutes, scoring 2 goals and adding 3 assists. Dorsey’s season was impressive enough to win the Dynamo’s Young Player of the Year award.
Sam Junqua has been as versatile of a player as it gets since being drafted by Houston back in 2019. He has played in so many different spots that it’s been hard to keep track. In 2021, Sam found himself dethroning Adam Lundkvist out of the starting left back position and even filled in at center back due to injuries. The 25-year-old appeared in 22 matches for the team and summed up a total of 1612 minutes.
Nico Lemoine is a player that has showed plenty of potential when given the chance. Unfortunately for him, injuries and setbacks made him pretty much nonexistent in 2021. At 21 years of age, Nico has plenty room for improvement if he can stay away from the trainer’s table. Houston is still looking for someone to take charge of the attacking third and Lemoine could be that if he is healthy and continues to improve, but time will tell.
Tyler Pasher like Lemoine suffered from plenty of injuries, however, he was the most explosive and dynamic player when he was on the field for the team. Even with his limited action, the Canadian scored 4 goals and added 3 assists to his stat sheet. He was a part of Canada’s Gold Cup roster this summer, where he made his senior debut against Haiti in the group stages. Hopefully, he has enough time in the offseason to get fit and show his full potential in 2022.
Marcelo Palomino was loaned out to Charlotte Independence in 2021, where he had plenty of playing time. The Houston native appeared in 32 games in which he scored 6 goals for the Jacks leading them all the way to the Conference Semi-finals. The homegrown should be seeing some action in 2022, which will help him find his legs in MLS.
Fafa Picault had to be brought back. The guy checks every box that Pat Onstad has talked about. MVP caliber ability, can score goals, and has connected with the fan base. With a new coach he may see his role tweaked, but the expectations will be high for Fafa for next season.
The club had to make some difficult decisions as well, to move on from a number of players.
Jose Bizama had such bad luck since arriving from Huachipato in 2019. The Chilean look set to take over the right back position, however, injuries and inactivity ended those aspirations. His only appearance last season came in a 3-1 loss to Colorado where he played the entire 90 minutes. He was then loaned out the remainder of the season to Charlotte Independence joining Marcelo Palomino. But unlike Palomino, his time with the Jacks was limited to only 11 games and a total of 432 minutes.
Maynor Figueroa was another player who saw plenty of action for club and country in 2021. He was the starting left center back before the mid-season arrival of Teenage Hadebe. The Honduran appeared in 13 matches for the Dynamo but was called up plenty to captain the Honduras National Team during the Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers. Maynor has been a work horse his entire career, however, at 38 years of age the body has taken a toll and he has fallen off his prime.
Erik McCue has yet to make his debut with club since signing as a homegrown in 2019 and it may never happen at this rate. He was another player to be sent out on loan, this time to Charleston Battery. where he struggled to win a starting role and only appeared in 15 out of 32 games played. He is only 20 years old and has time to improve, however, moving to a new club may give him a fresh start.
Marko Maric took on the starting keeper role soon after arriving to the club in 2020. He was one of the youngest at his position in the entire MLS. After making some horrendous mistakes in 2021, he found himself on the bench. The other goalkeepers weren’t perfect but managed to have less errors when the opportunity came their way. Maric recorded only 6 clean sheets in 45 appearances and conceded 74 goals.
Kyle Morton was one of the other goalkeepers who saw action when Maric had his stumbles. He was originally loaned out to Memphis 901 where he immediately found success but was recalled when questions arose from Houston’s goalkeepers group. His only appearance for the Houston Dynamo was in their final game of the season against Montreal in which the game ended 2-0 in favor of the Canadian team.
Darwin Quintero lost nearly half of the season, for what was perceived as falling out of favor with the former coach. He eventually was given an opportunity when the team lacked creativity and the Colombian delivered. The team dynamic changed when he was on the field, but lack of rest was a factor for the 34-year-old veteran. Quintero seems to want to continue with the team in 2022, which means contract negotiations are likely happening behind closed doors.
Maxi Urruti was impressive with his high motor and pressure. In 2021, he got off to a quick start netting 6 goals in the first 11 games before going through a nearly 3-month drought before his 7th and final goal of the season. Unless his contract can be brought down, it’s hard to justify his hefty salary going into 2022.
Alejandro Fuenmayor and Boniek Garcia, who had already expressed his departure, are also out of contract. No surprise here.
The club is working to bring back some of these players for the 2022 season.
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