The Dynamo enter the 2021 season with an established starter in Marko Maric, however there are question marks behind the Croatian in the event that he has to miss games. Can Maric continue his growth and become one of the better goalkeepers in Major League Soccer? And who wins the backup job?
Maric enters his second season in Houston, having started all 23 games for the Dynamo in 2020. If there is one thing you could say about Maric from last season, it is that he is durable. The Croatian played every minute last season, all 2,070 of them. Maric came to the Dynamo as a noted passer out of the back, especially on long balls, but he struggled in his debut season in connecting on a high percentage. Tab Ramos will look for Maric to improve on this in 2021 to add another element to the counter-attacking offense.
There is no question that Maric is the Dynamo’s starter coming in to the 2021 season. His durability and discipline to avoid suspension last season show he is fully capable of handling the job for an entire season. Maric posted just three clean sheets in 2020, but with an improved defense in front of him, you would expect that number to go up. The question marks and lack of experience behind him may lead to Houston’s #1 getting most of, if not all, of the minutes between the posts again in 2021.
Morton signed with the Dynamo on January 27 of this year after spending the 2020 season with Saint Louis FC in the USL Championship. The Pennsylvania native made 14 appearances in the shortened season with two clean sheets as Saint Louis reached the conference semifinals before being eliminated. The club folded at the conclusion of the season and now Morton is making the jump to Major League Soccer. Morton spent time with the Philadelphia Union Academy before playing college soccer at James Madison University. Now 27, Morton has his first shot at the “big leagues” and will look to win the backup job behind Maric.
Nelson was a first-round pick by the Dynamo in the 2018 SuperDraft but has yet to break in to the first team. He did make his Dynamo debut in 2019 in the US Open Cup but has spent most of his time in Houston on loan with the Toros. Nelson made the match day roster three times in 2020 but never saw game time. The local kid, Nelson attended Seven Lakes High School in Katy and SMU, will have a chance to win the backup job this year and perhaps for the future. If he cannot beat out Morton for the right to back up Maric, Nelson may be sent out on loan. However, at 26 years old now, the time has come for Nelson to either become a contributor in Houston or perhaps move to another opportunity. 2021 is a big year for both Morton and Nelson.
How do you feel about the goalkeeper position heading in to 2021? Let us know in the comments.