Dynamo Missing Jaqua, Ngwenya
By Andrew Winner
The Houston Dynamo find themselves in the cellar of the Western conference and have only their offense to blame. However, the time to panic has not yet arrived.
As Ives Galarcep wrote in his Soccer By Ives blog, the offseason departures of Joseph Ngwenya and Nate Jaqua left Houston terribly thin at forward, with Brian Ching and Chris Wondolowski the only natural strikers on the roster at that time.
Early results show the Dynamo’s power outage. Through five games, the Dynamo have only pushed five goals into the net, tied for the second-lowest total in the league (the expansion San Jose Earthquakes have only netted twice.) Additionally, Houston has been shut out three times in the last four games. The exception during that streak? Two goals against the abysmal Los Angeles Galaxy defense featuring the utterly useless Abel Xavier.
However, there are three reasons to believe the dip in form is only temporary.
First, the offseason introduction of Argentine striker Franco Caraccio has alleviated some of the pressure. With two goals on the campaign, the 21-year old has shown himself to be a dangerous option for Dominic Kinnear and will draw attention away from Ching. However, at a young age and still adjusting to play in a new country, Caraccio alone is not able to shoulder the entire scoring burden right now. But his early goal-scoring form bodes well for the team’s future – he looks like the real deal.
Second, it’s extremely rare for an MLS teams that competed in the Champion’s Cup to get out to a winning start. While other MLS teams were in training camp, Houston traveled to Hawaii, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. The Dynamo’s early-season struggles can be directly attributed to that heavy offseason workload.
Third, the Western Conference is ripe for the picking. Western Conference parity has left all teams with at least one loss, and despite their winless start the Dynamo are only five points back of FC Dallas. Should the Dynamo string together some victories, they will be back in the hunt.
With two home games coming up against Chivas USA and Colorado, the Dynamo will have the opportunity to put their early-season wobbles in the past.
Should they fail to write the ship, Steve Davis adeptly writes that Kinnear must duplicate his brilliant personnel moves from 2007. While Caraccio and Ching are quickly developing a rapport, the Dynamo should look to add depth at forward. Having already shown an inability to score, a Ching injury, if (or when) it comes, would be disastrous.
If you haven’t lined up your “dentist appointments” at work, you’re likely to miss out on what figures to be a fascinating couple of Champions
Rob at The Offside has created a Champion’s League drinking game for your midday-drinking enjoyment. He says it should make everyone a wee-bit drunk – absolutely shattered would be a bit more likely. It is not recommended for anyone who has even a bit of sympathy for their liver.
Extra: Nate Jaqua is having a great run over in Austria, having scored 5 goals thus far. What’s his salary over there compared to what he was making in the MLS? With Houston he was making $112,500 in 2007. I’m guessing he’s making more over there. I believe his agent is Patrick McCabe, who represents a number of other MLS players. Was there a transfer fee paid to the Dynamo?
Andrew Winner is a freelance soccer writer based in Seattle, Washington. He can be reached at: email@example.com