If you’re a Dynamo fan, you’ve probably been thinking about the 2010-11 offseason. There are a lot of uncertainties about the offseason, and we won’t know a lot of answers until next year, but here are some things you need to know about the 2010-11 offseason:
November 24, 2010 MLS Expansion Draft
This year’s expansion draft has two teams, the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps, making 10 selections each from the unprotected rosters of the league’s other 16 teams. Once a player is selected, his team may protect one additional player. The Dynamo have 23 players on their roster, with Tyler Deric and Francisco Navas Cobo both exempted and Danny Cruz possibly exempted, depending on his Generation adidas status. Of Houston’s five international players (Appiah, Hainault, Palmer, Obodai, Serioux), the Dynamo must protect at least three EDIT: two, according to league officials. In the past, the Dynamo have lost Adrian Serioux (Toronto FC), Ryan Cochrane (San Jose Earthquakes), and Nate Jaqua (Seattle Sounders) to the expansion draft, while Houston avoided selection from Philadelphia last year.
December 2, 2010 FIFA Executive Committee meeting
The FIFA Executive Committee is scheduled to meet on December 2 to vote on World Cup host countries for 2018 and 2022, of which the United States is a candidate for the latter. Recent news about potential vote-selling has led to rumors that this meeting may be delayed.
December ??, 2010 Stadium groundbreaking
The Dynamo are hoping to break ground on their new stadium by the end of the 2010 calendar year, with major work beginning in January and continuing until the stadium opens in 2012. After years of anticipation, this will be a memorable event for any Dynamo fan.
December 20, 2010 Dynamo Academy showcase, Carl Lewis Track & Field Complex, 7:30 p.m.
This annual game gives the top Dynamo Academy players the chance to impress the Dynamo coaching staff with the hopes of being signed to a professional contract in the spring. It traditionally pits a team made up mostly of college players – the Dynamo have 11 collegiate players on their home-grown player list – against the Academy U-18 team. Josue Soto (SMU) and Daniel Roberts (UNC-Wilmington) are seniors and are allowed to sign directly with the Dynamo to avoid being selected by a different team in the MLS SuperDraft. Soto trained with the Dynamo all this summer, while Roberts is currently sidelined and may receive a medical redshirt and one additional year of eligibility. Keep an eye on Alex Dixon (North Carolina) and Sebastien Ibeagha (Duke) as the top underclass prospects.
January 13, 2011 MLS SuperDraft, Baltimore
The league’s annual draft immediately follows the player combine, held in Florida, and is the main mechanism to sign players from the college ranks. This year, the Dynamo hold the highest pick in team history with the No. 7 overall pick (the previous high was No. 8 in 2006), giving them their best chance ever to select a high-impact player, possibly from the league’s Generation adidas program. The Dynamo have not selected in the first round since 2007, and that was the No. 13 pick. After the first round, however, Houston is not scheduled to pick until the fourth round due to trades with New York and Toronto.
February 1, 2011 Training camp opens
The Dynamo are likely to start training camp on February 1 and, as in previous years, will probably spend much of the six-week preseason in Texas, California, and Florida, playing scrimmages and friendlies against a mix of college and professional opposition. Last year, the Dynamo looked at six different central midfielders during preseason, and 2011 could see a similar revolving door of players trying to earn a spot.
March 3-5, 2011 Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic, Orlando FL
While it is not yet confirmed, there is a good chance Houston will return to the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic in Orlando the week of February 28-March 6. Last year, this two-game tournament against MLS opposition introduced Dynamo fans to a Jamaican midfielder named Lovel Palmer, who scored on a long-range screamer to bolster his case for a roster spot. Academy trialist Francisco Navas Cobo cemented his roster spot in last year’s tournament.
Early March, 2011 Pre-season season ticket holder event
Although the date and format are still to be determined, the Dynamo plan to have an event exclusively for season ticket holders during the pre-season, either for a practice or a pre-season friendly, like last year’s match against SMU. More details will be announced at a later date. 2011 season tickets, which include a priority number for seats in the new stadium, are on sale now.
March 19, 2011 MLS opener, Dynamo vs. TBA
There is no hard information yet available about MLS First Kick 2011, but it seems likely that Portland and Seattle will open the MLS season on Thursday, March 17 (just an educated guess), and the Dynamo will get into the action with a home game two days later.
The Dynamo’s 2011 schedule has not yet been released, but here’s what we do know:
MLS regular season – 34 games (format TBA).
Dynamo Charities Cup – 1 friendly against an international opponent with proceeds benefitting Dynamo Charities and a cause to be determined
International friendly – 1 additional friendly against an international opponent to be determined, probably one from a major European soccer country
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup – The Dynamo will have to qualify for the Open Cup for the first time, likely competing against nine other squads for one of two spots in the tournament. Qualification is often broken up geographically, but most of the automatic qualifiers come from the 2010 Western Conference. Houston will need at least 2-3 games to qualify for the tournament, in which the Dynamo could play 1-4 games.
The Dynamo finished the 2010 season with 23 players. As in any offseason, there will be definite changes. The first variable is the expansion draft, which could see the Dynamo lose up to two players. Another variable is contract status, and only Corey Ashe and Dominic Oduro are out of contract, so the Dynamo will consider re-signing them while also evaluating the contract options for 2011 on a number of players, giving careful consideration to age and salary-cap cost. Another factor to consider is that MLS is likely to expand roster sizes to accommodate the return of the Reserve Division in 2011, so the supplemental roster is likely to include 8-10 players in addition to the 20-player senior roster. Dynamo Academy players will also be eligible to play in reserve matches.
The 2011 season is less than five months away, and Dynamo fans can look forward to a busy offseason and a fresh start in February.