Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Top Houston Dynamo Stories of 2010

CHESTER, PA- OCTOBER 2: Geoff Cameron  of the Houston Dynamo and Juan Diego Gonzalez  of the Philadelphia Union go up to head the ball at PPL Park on October 2, 2010 in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

It's December, that time of year when we look back on the year that was and try to sum it up as best we can. In that spirit, here are, in my opinion, the top Houston Dynamo stories of 2010, in chronological order.

west ham's mark noble battles with bolton's stuart holden FA Barclays Premiership. West Ham United v Bolton Wanderers. 21.08.10 Photo By Karl Winter Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Stuart Holden & Ricardo Clark Head to Europe:

Last December, the matter weighing on the minds of Houston Dynamo fans was whether Stuart Holden and Ricardo Clark, who were out of contract and fresh off high profile stints with the U.S. National Team, would sign new contracts with Houston or ply their trade in Europe.

Ricardo Clark, who had been linked with European clubs like Livorno during the summer of 2009, signed with Eintracht Frankfurt in mid-January. A few days later, any notion that Holden would return to the Dynamo was dashed by his signing with Bolton.

The departures of Clark and Holden left holes in the Dynamo midfield that were never completely resolved during the 2010 season.

Geoff Cameron's Knee Injury:

With the departures of Clark and Holden, Geoff Cameron, who was a core part of the Dynamo's 2009 back line, was moved up to midfield with hopes that his speed and versatility could help the Dynamo reach the playoffs for the fifth season in a row. Cameron started the season strong, working well with Jamaican International, Lovel Palmer, who was new to the team, but during a match in Chicago this April, Cameron ruptured his right PCL.

Initial reports indicated that Cameron's injury was season ending; however, he returned to the line-up in August, but by then the team's fate had been all but sealed.

TAMPA - FEBRUARY 24: Forward Brian Ching #11 of the U. S. Men's Soccer Team scores a game-tying goal against El Salvador February 24, 2010 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Brian Ching Excluded from 2010 World Cup Finals Squad:

Although Dynamo forward Brian Ching had missed the 2009 Confederations Cup due to injury, Ching was a vital part of the US National team's World Cup qualifying efforts and was one of the few US players to show maturity, experience, and leadership during the team's loss to Mexico during the 2009 Gold Cup final.

This past May, as the US team prepared for South Africa, it appeared that Ching had recovered from a hamstring injury and was a lock for the World Cup squad. But to the shock of Dynamo fans, US Coach Bob Bradley did not include Ching on the final 23 man roster, and Ching's leadership up top was missed by the US team as it failed to get past the knockout stage.

The Departure of Louis Angel Landin:

In late 2009, the Dynamo signed Louis Angel Landin as its first designated player. Landin, who was signed during the off-season in Mexico, was clearly out of shape and never made a huge impact during the tail end of the 2009 season. Dynamo fans were left hoping that Landin would use the MLS off-season to get fit so that he could player a bigger role with the team in 2010.

Unfortunately, Landin never found his groove with the Dynamo or MLS and he was released in July.

COMMERCE CITY, CO - OCTOBER 23: Brian Mullan  of the Colorado Rapids battles Javier Morales  of Real Salt Lake for control of a bouncing ball during the second half at Dick's Sporting Goods Park October 23, 2010 in Commerce City, Colorado. The game ended in a 2-2 draw as Real Salt Lake scored two last minute goals to tie the game. (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)

Brian Mullan Traded to Colorado Rapids:

As the MLS trade deadline approached, the Dynamo's playoff hopes looked dim and it was time for the front office to start building for 2011. In September, the Dynamo traded Brian Mullan, a fan favorite, to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for an injured Colin Clark and allocation money. As a result of this trade, the Dynamo now have an extra $200,000.00 or so of cap space to play with this off-season and the trade clears the way for Danny Cruz to play a bigger role in midfield.

The Houston Dynamo Fail to Make Playoffs:

Since moving to Houston for the 2006 MLS season, the Houston Dynamo won two MLS Cups, got knocked out of the first round of the 2008 playoffs, and made it to the 2009 MLS Western Conference final, which they lost to the Los Angeles Galaxy. The 2010 MLS season was the first season that the Dynamo failed to make the playoffs. It was a new and uncomfortable feeling for the club and its fans to not be playing in November.

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 23: Brian Ching  and the Houston Dynamo salute the fans on fan appreciation day as they play the Seattle Sounders at Robertston Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Houston, Texas. Houston won 2-1. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Dynamo Stadium Progress:

While 2010 was not the best year for the Dynamo on the pitch, it was a great year for the Dynamo's efforts to obtain a soccer specific stadium. While the stadium progress has been slow, earlier this month the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority approved construction of the stadium, which will be located on the east end of downtown, and a 30 year lease agreement covering the stadium. Once the Sports Authority's actions are rubber stamped by the city and county, construction on the stadium can proceed.

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