On Saturday the Houston Dynamo kick off the 2017 season at BBVA Compass stadium against the defending MLS Cup Champion Seattle Sounders.
Here are 8 things to get your ready for the Dynamo’s upcoming season, because if you haven’t been paying attention, a lot has changed.
8. Different Looking Starting XI
The Starting XI will look a whole lot different from what was out there last year to start. The team brought in almost an entirely new attacking front and while there will be familiar faces like Ricardo Clark and 2016 MVP Alex along with Tyler Deric healthy and in form in goal.
PROJECTED LINEUP (r=returning; n=new):
K: Deric (r)
D: A.J. DeLaGarza (n), Adolfo Machado (n), Leonardo(n), DaMarcus Beasley (r)
M: Clark (r), Juan David Cabezas (n), Alex (r)
F: Alberth Elis (n), Romell Quioto (n), Mauro Manotas or Erick Torres (r)
Six of the projected starters will be new faces for this club, many hailing from Central American countries with a common theme: speed.
7. New Formation
You might notice that that lineup looks a little different from the standard 4-4-2 the Dynamo have played in the past. A new 4-3-3 formation looks to really put the pressure on the opposition by using the speed and creativity of the front line to create more opportunities for the squad. Clark, Cabezas, and Alex will be required to press the midfield of opponents and work quick outlet passes to counter-attack and create chances. So far the new formation has looked to infuse more excitement in the team. They scored 9 goals in four games during the preseason tournament in Arizona.
6. New Head Coach
That new formation, the new guys in the lineup. That is all thanks to new head coach Wilmer Cabrera. A new lifeblood has been installed with the club under Cabrera that should lend to a faster pace, more attacking style that also sees the back for hold their own on the defensive side. One thing the MLS doesn’t see a lot on the field is un-ending speed. The MLS game tends to be slower, more defensive and played a lot slower than in many other leagues around the world. Expect Cabrera’s new system to try to change that in Houston.
5. Beasley Is Back
Veteran (but not the oldest on the team) DaMarcus Beasley returns to the squad. The 34-year-old left back is on the tail end of his career, but his experience, leadership, and world-class skill will lend him to becoming an exciting member of the Forever Orange crew. Playing on the left side with Alex will allow Beasley to help those counter attacks in a way he did when playing in Germany and for the USMNT. Who knows, we may even see a few Beasley goals in 2017 (he has one in 2016).
4. Cubo or Manotas
The battle for top goal scorer on this team might come down to the left forward. “Cubo” Torres or the young Manotas are trying to battle to start up front. Manotas got his first touch of an MLS pitch last year at 20-years-old. After a bit of growing pains early, he found his scoring form, putting in six goals in the last two months of the season. But Cubo, the elder at 23, hopes his reunion with Cabrera will also see his ability to put the ball in the back of the net return to his days at Chivas where he scored 15 goals in 29 games under Cabrera. Having too many goal scorers isn’t really a problem to have.
3. 1/2 A New Team On the Radio*
SportsRadio 610, CBS Sports Radio 650 and SportsRadio610.com (and the Radio.com APP) will have the call of every Houston Dynamo game. (FULL SCHEDULE) Jeremy Branham returns for his second year at the helm as the play-by-play voice of the Dynamo, but a new voice, Alex Del Barrio will pony up beside his smooth delivery to add his soccer knowledge to the fold. Tune them in every game. (*This bullet point was brought to by shameless self-promotion.)
2. New Home Kit
There will be a new home kit on the Houston Dynamo for 2017. Space City blue is back in the form of pinstripes across the front. Love a little more blue on the kit (would have liked to see even more) but this is a vast improvement to the blended orange to white kit of the last few years. The good news, it’s orange. That can never change. Also the black kits are still in the rotation. Look out for some early season and late season night games when you can break out the black uniforms.
1. Two New Opponents
A few new faces to the MLS will be coming to Houston. The new expansion teams, Minnesota United FC and Atlanta United FC join the league this year. Both clubs face the Dynamo this season, but only MUFC (oh I just realized that makes me think of Manchester United…good marketing there) will come to BBVA Compass Stadium, April 15th & Sept. 30th. The Dynamo will travel to Atlanta on May 20th for the team’s only meeting of the season.