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MLS Update: Houston Dynamo

Last Season Finish: 7th 

Points: 49

Record: 12-9-13

Top Scorer: Geoff Cameron, Brian Ching, Will Bruin, Bobby Boswell (5)

In: Nathan Sturgis, Colin Rolfe, Macoumba Kandji, Brian Ching (Lost in Expansion Draft, but traded back to Houston from Montreal)

Out: Carlo Costly, Danny Cruz

The runner up to the 2011 MLS Cup may only have finished 7th overall and 2nd in the Eastern Conference, but had a strong surge of form through the playoffs.  The Dynamo put in a strong team effort, but without Brad Davis in the lineup they struggled to keep possession and did not have the threat on dead ball situations that they do with Davis (left footed Beckham) in the starting XI.  Seen through their lack of a solid goal scorer with 2 forwards and 2 defenders each scoring 5 goals through the season and only 2 players that saw at least one minute did not score at least one goal.  That’s scoring from many different angles.  That does leave one area to improve upon though.  The Houston Dynamo’s leading scorer over the past 4 years has not scored over 10 goals in a single season, In 2008 Brian Ching scored 13 goals (that was when Dwayne De Rosario was still on the Dynamo).  This is the season for a second forward to take control of a starting spot along side the target forward Brian Ching.  Will Bruin did well last year, but was offended for being snubbed for the various Olympics camps that have occurred recently.  He should turn that anger into goals this season otherwise one of NCAA’s leading scorers Colin Rolfe will be given the chance to step up to the task of banging in goals. With the signing of Kandji, i imagine initially he will be given the start along side Ching, but both strikers work better as the number 9 as opposed to the 2nd choice support striker.  Overall, Houston should have no problem making the playoffs this season even though the forwards will be swapped more often then any other forward tandem of MLS teams.  
RM 

MLS Update: Columbus Crew

Eddie Gaven Andres Mendoza #10 and Eddie Gaven #12 of the Columbus Crew celebrate after Mendoza scored a goal on a penalty kick against FC Dallas at Crew Stadium on April 1, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio.

Last Season Finish: 9th 

Points: 47

Record: 13-13-8

Top Scorer: Andres Mendoza (13)

In: Carlos Mendes, Ethan Finlay

Out: Andres Mendoza, Robbie Rogers, Jeff Cunningham, Emmanuel Ekpo

The Crew always seem to be my mystery team.  For a team that usually contends for top spot in the Eastern Conference they just made the playoffs in the second to last spot, a play-in game against the Colorado Rapids which they lost 1-0.  They have lost their leading goal scorer from 2011, in Andres Mendoza, as well as MLS’s all time leading scorer Jeff Cunningham, speedster Emmanuel Ekpo, and the face of the Columbus Crew for the past few years, Robbie Rogers.  All of these players had come under some kind fire during the season.  Rogers was in and out of form all season long and with rumors circulating about him moving abroad many questioned his loyalty to the club he became a little less popular at his first club.  Mendoza before this year had a terrible scoring record and Cunningham had been virtually ineffective 2 goals in 21 appearances.  Mendes brings depth and experience to the back four.  Finlay is a highly rated striker coming out of the draft, playing for Creighton scoring 3 goals in the NCAA D1 Championship Tournament.  I expect teams like DC United to push hard to take the Crew’s playoff spot this year.  Lets see if Eddie Gaven is up to the task for grinding out results this season.  
RM