Thursday, March 27, 2008

Projected Starting Lineups: Houston Dynamo

Projected Starting Lineup:



B. Davis---------------------------------Holden




Off the Bench: GK Tony Caig, DF Patrick Ianni, DF/MR Richard Mulrooney, MF Corey Ashe, MF Brian Mullan, FW Franco Caraccio, FW Kyle Brown

In the back, not many changes - substitute Ryan Cochrane for the recovering Bobby Boswell. He's had a couple decent competitive performances so far in CONCACAF Champions Cup, but if we keep anything in mind from last year, it's that consistent form is not Boswell. A lot of people were also touting Patrick Ianni to get a lot of time this year and that could still happen but it would hinge upon Robinson getting called away for USMNT duty and/or Boswell to get hurt, royally screw up. Ianni didn't turn many heads in the Olympic Qualifying either.

This midfield is getting younger as Stuart Holden and Corey Ashe start to work their way in there. Brian Mullan will start the season unhealthy and, unfortunately, it has become common for him to pick up knocks. After all, he is getting older. Expect Holden to build on his breakout season last year, if in fact he gets the starting position.

Brian Ching is back and healthy, but how long will that last? If he goes, and Wondolowski's up to new man Franco Carraccio to pull the load. Kinnear has also mentioned that he could put Brian Mullan up there or even speedster Corey Ashe. After that, there isn't much. The loss of Joseph Ngwenya and Nate Jaqua to the Austrian Bundesliga will certainly sting, but in what limited view we've seen Carraccio and Wondo, their workrate and effort should produce and/or create goals that are much needed. And who knows...maybe Ching has that 100% health year that he's been hoping for.

The defense has lost a step and that's basically because Craig Waibel and Wade Barrett have gotten another year older. Doesn't mean they won't be as effective as they normally are. They will be tested time and again, however, by a pacier offensive setups this year. I don't see Boswell as a step down from Cochrane. In fact, I see the exact opposite. Boswell might not return fully to his 2006 form, but he will come close. Barrett, Robinson, and Waibel will make damn sure of that. There's not a defense in the league that I'd be more scared to disappoint than one captained by those three.

Overall, same solid team. A couple injections of youth will help and just like last year, I think you'll see some others creep out of the woodwork. Rico is going to man the center and as long as he stays away from kicking people, it will be a good year for him. Look for John Michael Hayden to contribute this year too, but that blend of veteran leadership and new young blood is going to be the key to Houston's success. A three-peat is most certainly a possibility though, even in the midst of the most roster turnover Houston has had since their inception.

Outlook: 1st in the West

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