Amid rain and wind, Houston Dynamo players and coaching staff braved the elements Monday morning to kick-start 2011 with the first day of preseason. With head coach Dominic Kinnear currently in Brazil on a scouting trip, assistant coach Wade Barrett took the reigns today and led the players through a training session which included light ball work, as well as running drills to shake off the rust of an offseason that was longer than usual for a Dynamo club accustomed to playing deep into November.
“I’ve been involved in quite a few of these first day practices with the Dynamo, albeit this time as a member of the coaching staff,” Barrett said. “We are definitely excited about a lot of things. As far as the team goes, there is always change in the offseason, and it’s difficult to see many of our former players move on. Looking around the locker room today at some of the same faces we have seen in the past plus some of the players we have brought in, we are extremely excited about this new group of players.”
With eight new players on the roster, including Colin Clark, who was acquired last September for Brian Mullan, the Dynamo will use the next few weeks to not only scout their opponents, but familiarize themselves with the players in their own locker room. Dynamo captain Brian Ching, who Geoff Cameron quipped is entering his 15th season in the league, is excited to put the 2010 season behind him.
“After last year we were all disappointed,” Ching said. “I can honestly say I was pretty excited to get back this year. When you look at everything that went on during the offseason, with the stadium developments, the training facility being built, and all the new faces we have, I cannot wait to get things started and turn last season around.”
With so many new faces on the squad, there is still much work to be done if the Dynamo look to move back to their place atop the Western Conference standings. Although many veteran players are gone and a slew of young talent is on board, the goals and expectations of the club are still the same.
“Professional sports is all about change and getting better and improving,” Ching said. “I think the coaching staff has done a great job this offseason. They have worked extremely hard - possibly harder than they ever have - going out and recruiting new players and bringing in young players with talent, and I think that is only going to help us out this year. I don’t think we know how good we are going to be just yet, but I think we have the potential to be a great team.”
Clark continues rehab
Midfielder Colin Clark did not train with the team today, as he continues his recovery from a rupture in the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. For the next two weeks, Clark will primarily work in the weight room with the training staff and build up his endurance, before joining his teammates on the field for ball work.
Newton joins training sessions
Goalkeeper Evan Newton, the Dynamo's first-round pick in the 2011 MLS Supplemental Draft, participated in his first Dynamo training session on Monday. Newton, a recent graduate of Old Dominion University, trained with D.C. United last summer. The Dynamo's other supplemental draft pick, Creighton midfielder Sergio Castillo, will complete the spring semester before pursuing professional soccer.