For the next two weeks, MLSsoccer.com will preview each of the 19 teams in Major League Soccer, beginning with the clubs that brought up the bottom of the table in 2011 and ending with the league's newest addition, the Montreal Impact.
Depth Chart: 1. Tally Hall, 2. Tyler Deric, 3. Erich Marscheider
Strengths: The athleticism of Hall and Deric are what stand out. Both have the ability to get to shots that many ‘keepers of their size have trouble with and will be the cork to a stout Dynamo defensive mix.
Weaknesses: Houston lacks proven depth behind Hall. Deric is a player that has tons of talent but only two starts in MLS play – both wins at the end of 2010.
Wildcard: Hall is the incumbent starter and it will likely take an injury to change that. If that happens, Deric will have to show that his game can transition from potential to production if he wants to duplicate the success of LA Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders, who claimed the starting job over an injured Donovan Ricketts, in 2011.
Depth Chart: LB 1. Corey Ashe, 2. Jermaine Taylor; CB 1. Geoff Cameron – Bobby Boswell, 2. Jermaine Taylor, 3. Nathan Sturgis; RB 1. Andre Hainault, 2. Jermaine Taylor, 3. Kofi Sarkodie
Strengths: Houston’s backline has the talent to be the best in MLS, if they don't already hold that title. With potential MLS All-Stars at every spot, the Dynamo have a mix of physical skill and experience that will make them a nightmare to play against.
Weaknesses: Depth could be an issue for the Dynamo as the Olympics, friendlies and World Cup Qualifying threaten to take Cameron, Hainault, Taylor and possibly Sarkodie away for long stretches. With the number of international responsibilities looming, it could be difficult to get the same group on the field every week.
Wildcard: With three current or former internationals on the backline, Ashe has the chance to make his mark in 2012. The stout, 5-foot-6 left back has the physicality and speed to lock down the left flank and provide support for Davis. If year two brings more seasoning as a defender, Ashe’s career has the potential to take off.
Depth Chart: LM 1. Brad Davis, 2. Colin Clark, 3. Josue Soto; CM 1. Luiz Camargo – Adam Moffat, 2. Je-Vaughn Watson, 3. Nathan Sturgis; RM 1. Colin Clark, 2. Je-Vaughn Watson, 3. Alex Dixon
Strengths: Once again the Dynamo will be a midfield that lives and dies with breaking up play and providing service. With the talent they have in midfield, the club will be able to create chances from all angles.
Weaknesses: Settling the right midfield spot is objective No. 1. Clark and Watson are the frontrunners to start opposite Davis, a position for which the club has actively sought reinforcements. Set at the other three spots, if the midfield quartet is to be a complete unit, one of the two will have to provide consistent production.
Wildcard: Camargo is a playmaker who has the touch and vision to be a creative force in the mold of Stuart Holden in the middle. A full preseason with the club could extend the flashes he showed in 2011 into a full season of stellar play.
Depth Chart: Target Striker 1. Brian Ching, 2. Cam Weaver, 3. Colin Rolfe; Second Striker 1. Will Bruin, 2. Mac Kandji 3. Calen Carr
Strengths: It is the land of the trees for the Houston Dynamo forward line. The shortest strikers in the group are 6-feet tall (Carr and Rolfe). On a team predicated on pumping service into the box, Houston should once again rule the air in front of goal.
Weaknesses: Will Houston find a double-digit scorer in 2012? They have taken a scoring by committee approach since 2008, but can one of these strikers become the go-to-guy in 2012 and take the lead in the attack? The answer to that question will go a long way to determining thier success.
Wildcard: Kandji is the best candidate to be the ‘take ’em on’ type of player the club has lacked since losing Dwayne De Rosario several years ago. If the 6-foot-4 striker can finish his dynamic runs with goals, he could propel the Dynamo attack into another dimension.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.
WATCH: 2011 Houston Dynamo Goals