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2021 Houston Dynamo FC season preview

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After a 2020 to forget, the Dynamo are poised to improve in 2021.

There is nowhere to go but up for Houston Dynamo FC this season after a last place finish in the conference in 2020. This offseason brought about a new name (hello Football Club) and a new crest, to help usher in a new era as Tab Ramos enters his second season in charge of trying to get Houston back to its glory days of MLS Cups and yearly trips to the playoffs. With a host of new players brought in from clubs around the league, and the ability to still bring in some big names on designated player contracts, the Dynamo come in to 2021 with a huge question mark. They have to be better, right? But how much better?

Houston Dynamo FC (4-9-10, 12th place in Western Conference)

Head coach: Tab Ramos

Key additions:

  • Maxi Urruti (trade with Montreal)
  • Joe Corona (re-entry draft)
  • Tim Parker (trade with New York Red Bulls)
  • Fafa Picault (trade with Dallas)
  • Derrick Jones (trade with Nashville)
  • Tyler Pasher (signed from Indy Eleven in USL Championship)

Key losses:

  • Mauro Manotas (transfer to Tijuana)
  • Kiki Struna (trade with Montreal)
  • Niko Hansen (trade with Minnesota)

Projected Best XI:

Best offseason move: For years, the Houston Dynamo have needed defensive help, especially at center back. With Kiki Struna traded to Montreal, Houston made their big splash this offseason acquiring Tim Parker from the New York Red Bulls. Parker will bring some stability and leadership to a defensive group that has conceded far too many goals in recent years. Look for Parker to partner with veteran Maynor Figueroa while also helping to mentor first round SuperDraft pick Ethan Bartlow.

Reasons to be worried about the Dynamo: Now in his second season, Tab Ramos has a rebuild on his hands in trying to turn around a club that has just one MLS Cup Playoff appearance in the last seven seasons. Ramos has his hands full with a roster that has looked to strengthen itself only within Major League Soccer and not looking internationally or using Designated Player spots. Houston has all of its DP spots available (depending on who you ask, as some sites list Darwin Quintero as a DP) and don’t look to be in the market to use them any time soon.

While the defense looks to be improved, questions remain on who will start in the midfield and attack and where the goals will come from. With Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis both sold in the last year, fans will be looking to see who will step up in 2021 to fill the void of the duo who scored and assisted on so many of the Dynamo’s goals in recent years.

Why the Dynamo are worth watching: You will want to tune in to Dynamo games because there really is no telling what is going to happen. Houston can look like an unbeatable juggernaut at times when they are playing at home and other times when on the road, they will look like a group of guys who just learned how to play the sport. You’ll also want to watch Dynamo games to see that maturation of Tab Ramos as a coach and how his tactics and system begin to become ingrained in this team.

They may not be the best team, heck, they might not even be that good, but Ramos is going to have them playing his way and playing hard. The Dynamo are on the path to becoming a relevant team again and at times it may not be pretty, but you’re going to see a team learning, growing, and becoming the embodiment of their manager out on the field.