Following a dismal 2010 season, the Houston Dynamo are looking at turning over a new leaf and showcasing a new, younger, more athletic team.
Loads of players came and went during the offseason, and at times, it seemed there were more questions than answers about what this team would look like in 2011. The departure of Pat Onstad, Ryan Cochrane, Joseph Ngwenya, Richard Mulrooney, Adrian Serioux, and Anthony Obodai left a number of positions vacant, and for the first time in a long time, there was a chance for serious competition for minutes in training camp.
Jason Garey, Jordan Graye, Hunter Freeman, Kofi Sarkodie, Will Bruin, Evan Newton, Josue Soto, Alex Dixon, and Jermaine Taylor represent the new group of young guns and new faces eager to fill the void and challenge for starting spots.
There are still some questions about who Dominic Kinnear will start today, but that seems to be part of the fun for Dynamo fans. For once, there are options at all of the positions and enough depth that there are two or three potential starting line-ups for the team.
The Dynamo, historically, have done well in their opening game, going unbeaten in the last five, and know that a win today would mean a lot of the fans and the team's psychology moving forward.
- Houston is unbeaten in home openers (2-0-3), defeating Real Salt Lake last season 2-1.
- MLS SuperDraft picks Kofi Sarkodie and Will Bruin both ended the preseason competing for starting spots. No Houston rookie has ever started an Opening Day match, and only Geoff Cameron (3/29/08) has played at all as a rookie in an opener. Eighth-year head coach Dominic Kinnear has only started one rookie on Opening Day in his coaching career: Danny O'Rourke in 2005 with San Jose.
- At 19 years, 362 days, defender Kofi Sarkodie could become the youngest player in Houston history to start an MLS match if he gets the nod on Saturday. The current Dynamo record is held by midfielder Danny Cruz, who scored in his first MLS start on May 22, 2010 at the age of 20 years, 139 days.
- Midfielder Brad Davis led the Dynamo offense in the preseason with four goals and six assists in only535 minutes. Davis notched five goals and 12 assists in league play in each of the last two years to earn team MVP honors. His preseason goals included one penalty kick and three direct free kicks; his six assists included four from corner kicks.
- Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall is expected to start in net, taking over for the departed Pat Onstad. Although Hall has played only five MLS games, he has made 18 starts for the Dynamo in all competitions over the past two years, twice tying the club record with 10 saves in a single match.
- Almost five years after the club's first ever match on April 2, 2006, only four players have remained on the Dynamo roster: Mike Chabala, Brian Ching, Brad Davis, and Eddie Robinson. In addition, former captain Wade Barrett is in his second year as a Dynamo assistant coach.
HOUSTON DYNAMO -- OUT: MF Colin Clark (L knee); MF Francisco Navas Cobo (R hamstring strain); DOUBTFUL: FW Brian Ching (R hamstring strain)
PHILADELPHIA UNION -- QUESTIONABLE: DF Juan Diego Gonzalez (L hip flexor strain)
Projected Dynamo Starting XI
FW: Will Bruin
FW: Jason Garey
LM: Brad Davis (C)
CAM: Geoff Cameron
CDM: Lovel Palmer
RM: Danny Cruz
LB: Mike Chabala
CB: Jermaine Taylor
CB: Bobby Boswell
RB: Hunter Freeman
GK: Tally Hall
SUBS: Tyler Deric (GK), Kofi Sarkodie, Andrew Hainault, Eddie Robinson, Corey Ashe, Cam Weaver, Dominic Oduro
Check back here closer to kickoff for the full game day roster for both the Houston Dynamo and Philadelphia Union. Also, don't forget to follow here for live, in-game updates and feel free to check out Dynamo Theory for Zach's game stream.