For the first time in nearly eight months, the Houston Dynamo are not practicing this week, the result of a disappointing season that saw the team eliminated from playoff contention several weeks ago. On Sunday afternoon, players cleared out their lockers and underwent season-ending medical exams.
“It’s been a disappointing season to say the least,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “We had some expectations at the beginning of the year, and we haven’t hit those.”
For the players who have had success for several years in the league, the team’s drop-off from losing a hotly contested Western Conference final last year to being eliminated from the playoffs with more than a month to play has been difficult to digest.
“It’s a tough year, as it’s something we’ve never experienced before,” said captain Brian Ching. “As the players, we’re the first to look at ourselves and say we didn’t do enough this year, as we weren’t able to turn the ship around. For guys who are used to winning and making the playoffs, it’s a tough pill to swallow.”
While there is plenty of time for postmortems on the season to analyze where things went wrong, Kinnear and his staff are already beginning their preparations for what they expect to be an active offseason. The first step will be to meet with players later this week to share with them the team’s plans for 2011 and to discuss each player’s part in those plans, if any.
“This offseason will be busy,” explained Kinnear. “We have to work, all of the coaches, as hard as we can to try to find the right parts to improve things.”
While previous offseasons have included surprise trades and departures, it seems likely that this particular winter will have the Dynamo more active than they have ever been in their five-year existence.
“Every year in this league there will always be turnover because of expansion, and so there will always be some change, as it is inevitable,” noted Kinnear. “It is a good group. I’ve said from the beginning, if we had the same team to start the season all over, I don’t think our record would be what it is, because we would not make the same mistakes. But the reality is that we have the record we have because of the way we played.”
Dwain Capodice is a contributor to MLSsoccer.com. Questions or Comments can be sent via email to email@example.com.