It hasn’t been easy these last few years being a Houston Dynamo fan – or technically Houston Dynamo FC fan now which will take some getting used to. After a promising run in the playoffs in 2017, the Dynamo have missed the playoffs the last three seasons and finished dead last in the Western Conference and with the second worst record in Major League Soccer.
Still, a new season brings renewed optimism and if you’re new to Dynamo Theory I tend to have optimism in spades according to a former Managing Editor. Out with the old, in with the new; how can Tab Ramos get his team over the line? It all starts with who he puts into his first starting lineup of the 2021 season.
In goal the obvious starter is Marko Marić. Backup Cody Cropper recently signed with Cincinnati FC promoting Michael Nelson to the role of backup with newcomer and USL veteran Kyle Morton putting pressure on Nelson. Marić had high expectations last season and although he performed well, the defense towards the end of the season waned which made it difficult for him to keep clean sheets. With reinforcements coming in and a clean slate, it’ll be up to Marić to keep the Dynamo in games.
Along the back line it’s a little more difficult to predict who exactly will get the start – Tab Ramos has been throwing a variety of lineups out during preseason as well. Sam Junqua impressed Ramos towards the end of last season and the battle for right back between Zarek Valentin and José Bizama will be an interesting one. One certainty is Tim Parker in central defense. His partner could go to Alejandro Fuenmayor or Valentin in a pinch, but I’d wager the honor will go to the veteran Maynor Figueroa. On the left Junqua had been getting minutes, but Ramos will likely lean to Adam Lundkvist. At right back while Bizama is an option, Ramos has repeatedly gone to Valentin who is my pick to start as well.
The midfield and forward areas of the field may be the most challenging positions to predict with a 4-3-3 system that Ramos likes to deploy mostly because so many of the players are versatile enough to play multiple positions. In the midfield, at least for this game, I think we’ll see a combination of Memo Rodríguez, Matías Vera, Joe Corona. Memo will likely play the highest up the field supporting the wings and serving something as a number 10. Vera, who last season played so deep he was essentially a third center back, will be the deepest defensive midfielder – hopefully not that deep again – and will give Memo the freedom to link up and be a part of the offense. Corona will be what connects those two in the midfield and will have to be the most box-to-box of the trio.
Up top Fafà Picault will play on the wing with Tyler Pasher on the opposite side. Pasher has gotten a number of starts this preseason with Darwin Quintero getting back to 100% according to Ramos. Prior to signing Maxi Urruti I would’ve given the center forward job to Christian Ramirez, but Urruti has dug in and fought hard to win over the starting role and he should be expected to start on Friday.
My Projected Starting Lineup:
This is just the lineup that I think we’ll see, but what do you think we’ll see? What should the starting XI look like in the season opener against the Earthquakes? Let us know in the comments below!