There is not a lot of guesswork needed when looking at the Houston Dynamo lineup ahead of Saturday’s season opener against D.C. United. The only question in the lineup, however, is who will man the forward line.
Omar Cummings was the assumed right-hand man to incumbent Will Bruin but a right knee injury has the speedy forward shelved. In his place, the Dynamo have a litany of options, in personnel and formation. Per usual, head coach Dominic Kinnear is not tipping his hand.
“We’ve got Brian [Ching], [Jason Johnson] and Will [Bruin] and you could go with a lone striker on the outside,” Kinnear said.
One option mentioned is to employ a lone striker, which would allow the Dynamo to exploit their midfield depth while Bruin would likely play up top by himself. That could be mean a player such as Giles Barnes enters the lineup either in the middle or the wing or Luiz Camargo mans the center of the pitch.
If Kinnear goes with two strikers, Cam Weaver and Ching are two established options that would give Bruin the opportunity to work off the ball and exploit his ability to find space.
Weaver paired with Bruin during the Dynamo’s last preseason action in Charleston, SC and the pair looked to work well together. Ching offers much of the same as Weaver, and there is some history that shows the pair can work well together.
“I think Will’s become a much better player,” Ching said. “He’s shown his game is getting better and better. If I get to partner with him up front I’ll be excited about that and looking forward to that. Anytime I get to play with the first team it’s exciting because those guys are creative and make the games exciting.”
The wild card would be Johnson, a rookie that has shown so well in preseason that Kinnear said he would not be hesitant to play him.
While they offer good options, Bruin admitted that playing off a target man has its benefits.
“I think Cam and I have combined well this preseason, I think Brian and I are on the same page. I’m still getting to know [Johnson] a little bit but I think he brings a different dimension,” Bruin said. “I’m at the point where I’m good because … because I can play with everybody.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @DarrellLovell.