As the 2015 Major League Soccer season gets closer to first kick, the Houston Dynamo are getting ready to embark on it with a new coach for the first in their history. While Houston Dynamo fans may not be able to judge Owen Coyle by his first game. The public can start getting a feel for him by how players speak about him. In an interview that we conducted with Houston Dynamo forward Giles Barnes, he kept on emphasizing how the major difference between Dominic Kinnear and Owen Coyle is Coyle’s tendency to play a more offensive game. Barnes was quick to shine a light to the fact that the importance of possession is what Coyle is trying to instill in his players.
Houston is a team that is built for a possession heavy type of style. The team currently has four World Cup veterans in their midfield, Brad Davis, Oscar Boniek Garcia, Luis Garrido, and Ricardo Clark. Not to mention another World Cup veteran on defense that is not shy to join the attack in DaMarcus Beasley. This is pretty telling of the type of coach that Coyle is, he’s a coach that is willing to change his style to coincide with the type of players on his roster. This is something that Kinnear was slow in adopting while in Houston. During our talk with Barnes, he also stated that he has been playing deeper in the midfield to get on the ball more often. This instruction came from the coach and is not something that he has decided to do independently, even though, he would be the type of player to be more inclined to have done it.
If Giles Barnes is going to play deeper in the midfielder than he did last season, we can expect Will Bruin to be the Dynamo’s starting forward. All signs indicate that Barnes will be the bridge between the midfield and the attacking third. He will have the freedom of a central attacking midfielder, but the team will depend on him to score more goals than a natural CAM. Barnes indicated in our interview that, “the competition [in forward] is a great thing. We have four players that scored in the double digits last year, myself and Bruin, then Torres for Chivas USA, and Hoffman for LA Galaxy 2, so everybody will be fighting for a spot.” If all of those players can fire on all cylinders, goals being scored should not be difficult.
Now that we have taken all of this into account, the possible starting line-up for the opening game could look like this:
This line-up is dependent on whether Brad Davis, Raul Rodriguez, and Giles Barnes are completely healthy by opening day. Barnes has indicated that he’s feeling better, so it should be expected that he starts. If Davis and Rodriguez are not completely healthy, then Leonel Miranda can be placed in for Brad Davis and David Horst can replace Raul Rodriguez. While this line-up indicates very little change from last season, it should be noted that I have Barnes playing slightly behind Bruin and between Davis and Bruin. This is a 4-4-2 that can look like a 4-5-1 while Houston is on the attack or Barnes is trying to regain possession. The 4-4-2 formation is extremely flexible, and should be taken with a grain of salt. The important factor that has to be taken into consideration is the message the coach relays towards the players.
Other than Giles Barnes playing deeper in the midfield than what was expected of him last season, the other important change is Raul Rodriguez at center back. Rodriguez may not be the fastest player on the field, but he uses his experience to get ahead of attackers and recover the ball. When he has possession of the ball, he is not afraid to dribble and start plays from the back. The only thing that needed more improvement that Houston’s offense from last year was their defense. Even though the defense stayed mostly the same, Rodriguez can add that experience that may solidify it. If Jermaine Taylor returns to his 2013 season form, then the Dynamo’s defense will be vastly improved from last season. Another factor that cannot be ignored is the fact that Corey Ashe will likely be on the bench and is capable of filling in for both Beasley and Sarkodie. If Taylor is not capable of starting a game, then an arguably just as good defender can start in David Horst. These are the tweaks and changes that will make this Houston Dynamo season an interesting one, and this will all happen before there biggest signing Erick “Cubo” Torres even suits up.
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