To get everyone ready for Atlanta United’s opening match of the 2018 season, we spoke with Dynamo Theory’s Derek Stowers to get his take on Houston’s terrific 2017, a recent player rumor, and the Dynamo’s offseason.
DSS: The Dynamo had a great playoff run last season. What are the expectations this time around?
DT: The Dynamo on any given day can go out and compete with anybody with the players on our roster. It’s stacked with attacking talent that, even if we go down a goal, we can go and get some more if we play to our style. There are a few problems with this direct attacking approach. For starters, teams are beginning to figure out how to play against us. Sure, we can whip in balls to Alberth Elis who I think can beat anyone to a ball with his speed. But teams are now sitting deeper against us and forcing us to possess and penetrate – something Wilmer Cabrera has tried to address, but hasn’t yet. The other real problem has to do with how we attack. Houston will often get an early lead and sit back which invites pressure from opponents to come back.
So what does all that have to do with expectations this season? If we play to our quick, counter-attacking style, we can absolutely return to the Western Conference Finals and have another go at the MLS Cup. But if we can’t figure out how to build things up or if we sit back on leads a lot this year, it might be a short postseason. Overall, the expectations are pretty high about where this club can place at the end of the year, but it’s important to ground some of those expectations in reality.
DSS: What can you tell us about the Darixon Vuelto rumor?
DT: Not a whole lot, but from what I’ve read and heard, the Dynamo were scouting the Honduran, but do not hold his discovery rights. It now appears that he may be heading to the Portland Timbers USL side. He could have fit in pretty well in our attacking oriented style which features three fellow countrymen.
DSS: How do you feel about Houston’s offseason? Did they address their problem areas?
DT: The Houston Dynamo absolutely addressed some offseason concerns and the biggest way they that they accomplished this was by keeping Alberth Elis and Juan David Cabezas on the roster as both players were on loan last season.
There were a few other savvy moves by the front office which helped bolster the roster. Tyler Deric’s legal situation made things difficult for the club so they brought in Chris Seitz at goalkeeper and re-signed Joe Willis. Dynamo legend Ricardo Clark is now a member of Columbus Crew SC, so the Dynamo signed another enforcing-type midfielder in Darwin Cerén. Defense was the biggest hole for Houston last season, so they brought in a young center back in Alejandro Fuenmayor who should grow into a starting role. I wish we signed a new right back while A. J. DeLaGarza heals up from his ACL injury, but it’s hard to complain about keeping the band together that made it to the WCF last year.