Houston Dynamo: A Tough Week


Apr 27, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Dynamo midfielder Andrew Driver (20) reacts after a scoring attempt during the second half against the Portland Timbers at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Dynamo and Timbers played to a 1-1 tie. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

A week ago following the 4-0 mauling the Houston Dynamo received at the hands of New York Red Bulls, House of Houston considered the question of whether or not it was time for Houston Dynamo fans to panic. The Dynamo were two-thirds of the way through a stretch of 3 matches over the course of 8 days at the time, and were in the middle of 6 matches without a win as well as 3 matches without ruffling the back of the net.

This past Sunday, the Dynamo extended their winless streak to 7 with a draw against the Portland Timbers. On the positive side, the Dynamo did finally score a goal and generally were the better of the two sides. Unfortunately, it is only the result that matters and the Dynamo were added but a single point to their season total.

Starting this Saturday, the Dynamo embark upon what is arguably the most critical stretch of the season for the team. The Dynamo will again play 3 matches over 8 days: away to Chivas USA this Saturday followed by a mid-week home match against Columbus Crew and culminating in a second home match on May 11th against Real Salt Lake.

While calling matches critical when we are still in the first third of the season is perhaps overly dramatic, what has happened up to this point and what follows this stretch does indeed appear to warrant the urgency.

Mar 8, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Dynamo midfielder Tony Cascio (28) controls the ball during the match against the New England Revolution at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Dynamo shut out the Revolution 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dynamo have taken only 8 of a total possible 24 points this season.  At the completion of this 3 game stretch, they will lose Boniek Garcia for World Cup preparations and the World Cup itself, and very likely Brad Davis for at least the World Cup pre-camp. Even if Davis does not make the final US World Cup team, he will miss as many as 4 matches. Garcia could miss as many as 6. As critical as these two players have been to a struggling team this season, it is difficult to envision the Dynamo suddenly going on a run in their absence.

As a result, the Dynamo need at least 6 points out of 9 this week and preferably all 9 of them. Were they to take only 4 points, for example, it would leave them on 12 for the season and most likely sitting on or near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Factor in a minimum of points over the ensuing 4-6 matches and it becomes a hole that few teams could dig themselves out of.

Unfortunately, the Dynamo head into this stretch on the back of bad news. The team announced yesterday that midfielder Tony Cascio is out for the season with a torn ACL. This is concerning news on two fronts: 1) while Cascio had yet to impress this season following an injury in the opener, he had been one of the best players for the Dynamo in the preseason and much was expected of him, 2) it immediately put the team in a position of having only minimal depth at best on the midfield flanks for when Garcia and Davis are gone.

Brian Ownby was already recalled from his loan prior to the match against New York; it is now unlikely that he will return to Pittsburgh. At this stage, barring any roster moves, it is probable that the Dynamo will start Ownby on the right side and Andrew Driver on the left side during the World Cup period. While Driver’s performance has improved as of late, few teams will fear a midfield that as Driver and Ownby on the flanks.

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The Dynamo do have Panamanian midfielder Yairo Yau on trial this week. Yau last played in the A-League with Sydney FC but was released in January to seek treatment on a life threatening illness following an injury. A check with followers of A-League suggests that Yau did not leave an impression during his time with Sydney so his ability to stick with the team and contribute quickly is questionable.

If the recent poor run continues, that leaves the Dynamo with few options but to look to shake up the roster a bit through trades and transfers or to resign themselves to a season potentially without playoffs.

Should they opt for trades, the Dynamo may not have much to work with as the roster currently looks thin all over the pitch. Will Bruin perhaps has some trade value on the back of his 4 goals this season, and moving Omar Cummings may be an option. Warren Creavalle or Servando Carrasco might bring something in return; Carrasco in particular has seen little playing time.

Time may be rapidly running out on the 2014 Houston Dynamo, however, unless they can pull things together this week.

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