It wasn’t too long ago that Houston Dynamo fans got their biggest Christmas gift ever, courtesy of Chris Canetti: Erick “Cubo” Torres. The fans went nuts. The media went crazy and everyone was excited about the future of the team.
Well, that didn’t go down so well.
With three new members to the team, Dynamo management is hoping for a much better outcome (while also looking to move on from Torres in one form or fashion).
The biggest signing is certainly Panamanian International Adolfo Machado. A veteran of World Cup Qualifying, Gold Cup and the Copa Centenario, Machado has 67 caps to his name and frequently pairs up with Seattle Sounder defender Roman Torres. Between the two, Panama has long been known as a tough, defensive team. He last joined Costa Rican powerhouse Saprissa, where he led them to four titles over the past three calendar years. He earned the captain’s armband in 2014 and will bring a ton of CONCACAF experience to the team.
That last part would be more valuable were we in Champions League, or whatever it will be called soon.
Of course to be completely fair, Machado will be very familiar with many of the stars in MLS and won’t be intimidated by any of them. As of now, one would think he pairs up with Spanish defender Agus or MLS veteran Jalil Anibaba.
Unfortunately 2017 will be a busy year for national teams in our region, with the Hex continuing and the Gold Cup occurring in the summer. Machado, as well as another new recruit, will be missing and one hopes Matt Jordan and company have suitable replacements. Excuses for absent players won’t likely go over well with the fans.
The second signing by the team was Honduran International Alberth Ellis. A stand-out striker on their U-20 and U-23 squad, Ellis was a reserve for Liga MX side CF Monterrey. He has a heck of a pedigree and comes from a known quantity, CD Olimpia in his native country. Long have the Dynamo taken top talent from Olimpia, though indirectly this time.
Ellis comes on a season-long loan deal, and as is normal in MLS there is an option-to-buy at the end. Fans would be right to be wary given how the last season’s three loanee’s spent their time with the club. New coach, however, means new opportunities. Wilmer Cabrera is high on the player and Ellis has raised eyebrows for his national team to date so that is encouraging.
What is head-scratching is that Ellis is a Young DP. That means that he takes up one of Houston’s Designated Player spots. With Mauro Manotas and Torres occupying the other two, the Dynamo are tapped out. With all of them being strikers. Cabrera mentioned during his first press briefing that he wanted to play a 4-2-3-1. While it’s certainly possible to do just that with these three strikers, it means Jordan and Cabrera will have to work double hard to find a playmaker in the middle and wingbacks to cover both flanks.
Something the team doesn’t have at the moment, and in the former’s case something the team hasn’t had since Stuart Holden left for England. Currently there is no one on the roster capable of playing wingback (except maybe Oscar Garcia…another article for another day). With all of the DP slots taken, that limits the team’s options when it comes to that central playmaker, be it in a single-striker formation, all three or something in between. Another loan option or a free agent singing is all that is left.
Of course this is all based on the premise that Torres remains with the team and that Manotas remains a DP. As Canetti explained in an interview earlier in the year, the Colombian striker was a Special Discovery player and could go back, with the higher cap charge attached, if needed. And of course it’s always possible that Torres could be loaned out again, traded or sold. That becomes more and more difficult as time goes by without him getting playing time, much less scoring goals. But teams taking fliers on reclamation projects is quite common.
The final player acquired by the Dynamo, courtesy of one of the 47 different drafts that went down last week, was Seattle Sounders’ defender Dylan Remick. He is a left back and has been pretty good for the current champs (that won’t get easy to type….) during his four seasons with the team. Mostly used as a bench option, one would think that he won’t be the Dynamo’s starter in 2017 but that likely depends on how Cabrera lines his players up.
There’s also rumors that another Honduran is set to join the team, Romell Quioto, per Honduran site Diez. He is currently a free agent, meaning he can join before January 1 (officially, not that it matters since the season doesn’t start until March 4). It’d be another curious signing and be the striker corps up to 5 (Ellis, Torres, Manotas, Bruin). Like Ellis, Quioto is capable of playing out wide in a 3-man front line.
Adding more talent to the team is never a bad thing, and bringing in players that are familiar with your own team is even better. It helps chemistry click and helps to settle the newcomers faster (a huge, overlooked, bonus). It’s not exactly what the team needs (unless one or two of the above are moving on) as the attacking midfield position is in desperate need of being filled and the defense and wings require attention.
Let us know what you guys want Santa to bring the Dynamo in 2017. Any particular players you think can be gotten to fill those slots? Do you think Machado and Ellis will be successful for Cabrera in 2017. Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter and Facebook.