No major changes in Houston Dynamo forward corps, but health could give attack a new look

A healthy Cummings and hungry Bruin and Barnes look to build off of 2013

The 2013 campaign was the Will Bruin and Giles Barnes show up top. The pair each started at least 30 games and logged over 2500 minutes. The next most-used forward, Cam Weaver, made only six starts (22 total appearances) totaling just 709 minutes. For better or worse, the brunt of the pressure to carry the scoring load was heaped upon Bruin and Barnes.

Barnes took home the Budweiser Golden Boot at the team awards for his nine goals in the regular season, and he added one more to his all competitions total with a free kick goal in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The converted midfielder also provided four assists on the year.

Bruin saw a decrease in his raw goal totals from his sophomore season—scoring 10 in all competitions compared to 16 the year before—but his eight regular season goals and seven assists meant that he was directly involved in 15 of the Dynamo’s 41 goals, which led the team. Those seven assists were also the most ever in a single season by a Dynamo player not named Brad Davis—more than the likes of Dwayne DeRosario, Stuart Holden, Brian Mullan and Geoff Cameron.

While these two will once again play large roles in 2014, there looks to be even more competition for minutes in the forward corps. With a full preseason under his belt and looking to be fully healthy, Omar Cummings looks to add another dimension to the Dynamo attack. The veteran forward came over to the Dynamo last offseason but was only available for 10 substitute stints a lone start during the regular season due to a couple of nagging injuries. But the orange faithful got a glimpse of what he was brought in to do during the playoffs, as he scored two huge goals against the New York Red Bulls. Cummings appeared in all five playoff matches, starting the first leg against Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference Championship.

Cummings was brought into the fold last year to be a major contributor, and it looks like the Dynamo will finally get to see that for an extended stretch this year. Head coach Dominic Kinnear likes to point out that so-called “starters” often extend past the first eleven bodies on the field. The Dynamo have three proven starters in MLS that are likely competing for two spots on any particular game day, but each will have their chances to show their worth. If anything, the options give the Dynamo more of a multifaceted attack that can adjust to opponent style and game situations.

Past the presumptive top three, second year forward Jason Johnson and rookie Mark Sherrod are hoping to prove their worth as they compete for playing time, hoping to break into that realm of starters. Johnson made four starts last year in MLS play, but half of those came as an outside midfielder. He and Sherrod, a second-round pick in this year’s SuperDraft who has impressed enough in preseason to earn a contract, are hoping to break into that realm of regular contributors.

Kinnear noted to the media on the first day of camp this winter that he would like to see more runaway wins in 2014, piling on goals after building an initial lead. He notes that do that shows “you’re scoring goals in different areas of the game,” but increasing their total of 41 goals will likely also mean increasing the output of 20 goals scored by forwards.