The Houston Dynamo went from playoff outsider to Western Conference finalists in one season. If they can ride that momentum into 2018, it could be a special season.
Head coach: Wilmer Cabrera
2017 finish: 13-10-11, 50 points; No. 4 West.
Postseason: Lost to Seattle in conference final
The Houston Dynamo sat out of the 2016 playoffs and focused on hiring a new coach to revamp the team. Wilmer Cabrera stepped in and quietly retooled Houston’s approach, getting the most out of under-performing players like Erick “Cubo” Torres and putting newcomers in a position to shine. The club struggled to win on the road, but Damarcus Beasley was among a group of strong leaders who helped Houston rack up points needed to reach the postseason. The Dynamo shocked Portland to advance to the Western Conference finals, but a combination of injuries and suspensions were too much to overcome against Seattle’s relentless attack. Houston’s goal was to make Seattle uncomfortable, but the Sounders managed to impose their will.
Cubo’s comeback: Torres struggled during his first two scoreless seasons as a Dynamo designated player and many questioned whether he could get his career back on track. He thrived after he was reunited with Cabrera, his coach at Chivas USA. Torres finished fourth in comeback player of the year voting after breaking the Dynamo club record for goals in a season (14). The Mexican international’s club success during the early part of the year resulted in a call-up to the Mexican national team.
Houston is eager to build on its success. After falling to Seattle, the club had to focus on not getting too disappointed about the playoff exit and acknowledging it had pulled off a major turnaround in one season. Road wins will be key in 2018 as the team pushes for an MLS Cup.
Season opener: March 3 vs. Atlanta United, 3:30 p.m.
Signings – GK Chris Seitz (free agent); M Eric Bird (USL)
Trades – Acquired M Arturo Alvarez from Chicago in exchange for natural second-round pick in 2019 MLS SuperDraft.
Re-sign – D Dylan Remick; M Eric Alexander; M Boniek Garcia
Contract option declined – D Jalil Anibaba, GK Calle Brown, M Ricardo Clark, D A.J. DeLaGarza, GK Tyler Deric, M Jose Escalante, M Joe Holland, D Taylor Hunter, M Christian Lucatero, F Vicente Sanchez.
Contract expired – D DaMarcus Beasley, GK Joe Willis; M Alex.
Other – Acquired F Alberth Elis (full transfer from Mexico’s C.F. Monterrey after spending 2017 on loan with Dynamo); Acquired M Juan David Cabezas (full transfer from Colombia’s Deportivo Cali after spending 2017 on loan with Dynamo).