After all the preseason talk and analysis, the Houston Dynamo are ready to turn the page and get down to business in 2011.
A lot has happened since the end of 2010. The club acquired 10 new players, and in the process got younger, and some say faster and more agile. The club also broke ground on a new soccer-specific stadium, which will open in 2012, and is close to completion on their new training facility. Still, questions about how it all went so wrong so quickly in 2010 linger.
“I think we want to go out there and get all the talk of last year out of the way,” said veteran defender Bobby Boswell. “You’re only as good as your last game, and we’ve been dying to get this season started.”
Moving ahead to 2011, the Dynamo are one of the more intriguing teams in MLS. Eyes will be on them to see if the offseason moves pay off and if the club can put itself back in the race for MLS Cup. To do that, Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear has to mesh the new talent into a proven system.
“The personnel has changed a little bit, but I think you’ll see the same attitude and same formation,” Kinnear told reporters at a press conference on Thursday.
The process of re-establishing themselves as MLS Cup contenders starts with the season opener against the Philadelphia Union. The second-year club made a number of offseason changes, bringing Carlos Ruiz back to MLS and signing Colombians Faryd Mondragon and Carlos Valdes. Despite the new players in Philadelphia, their style of play is expected to remain the same as in 2010.
“Peter [Nowak] coaches the way he played,” Kinnear said. “He was always working hard, and he expects the same from his team, and that’s to approach the game the same way with hard work and to make things difficult for the other team.”
The excitement in the Dynamo locker room is high ahead of the season opener. Now all that’s left is to get on the field and give the fans, media, and team itself something new to talk about.
“We’re excited," forward Brian Ching said. "There’s a lot of change that’s happened over the past two seasons, and that brings a lot of excitement and enthusiasm. We’re excited to get back on the field and back to our winning ways.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.