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2010 Season Opener - Dynamo in Dallas
Thursday, 25 March 2010
With a new five-year collective bargaining agreement in place, fans and players alike can turn their focus to the season opener this Saturday against in-state rivals FC Dallas. The opening game marks the first time the teams have opened the season against one another.

Boswell and Cunningham

The Dynamo has only won one of its previous four season openers; the only victory being against the Rapids at the inaugural game at Robertson Stadium in 2006. In 2008, the Dynamo started the season on the road, which resulted in a 3-0 loss to the New England Revolution. In fact, since 2007, the Dynamo has managed to win exactly two games in the months of March and April.

While the slow starts have relatively little significance in a league that doesnít crown its champion based on who has the best regular season, itís something the Dynamo can avoid this season if for no other reason than to maintain bragging rights over a rival that theyíve historically dominated.

New season, new questions
How will the team account for the losses of Stuart Holden and Ricardo Clark? New signing Lovel Palmer seems to be the most obvious replacement for Clark. While not as accomplished a player, the 25-year-old Jamaican brings similar attributes to the table. The return of defender Adrian Serioux provides an additional option in midfield if necessary. His versatility as a center back and defensive midfield should give the Dynamo coaching staff more options and help to lessen the reliance and pressure on Palmer. The versatile Geoff Cameron is an obvious choice. Even the newly-fit Richard Mulrooney, who has played defensive midfield admirably when Clark was absent in years past, is an option.

The more pressing concern is who will take Holdenís role? Brad Davis has played attacking midfield with mixed results. Again, Cameron is an option. Given the makeup of the Dynamo roster, the most likely scenario is that the Dynamo will make a small change to their 4-4-2 formation going with a flat four in midfield instead of their standard diamond formation. Center-mids like Cameron and Palmer will be responsible for both attack and defense and will be forced to work together to cover the entire middle of the field without leaving an area exposed.

Despite historically slow starts and changes to both their roster and possibly their formation, the Dynamo carry a lot of positives into their season opener. With the exception of Cam Weaver who suffered a knee injury during the pre-season game against San Jose, the team is relatively fit.

Defender Adrian Hainault was not active for much of the preseason but has managed to get some playing time recently. Mulrooney played nearly the entire game against Chivas USA, indicating he is close to regaining his full fitness. Even Luis Angel Landin, who seemed snake-bitten with injuries, managed back-to-back 90 minute outings before being rested for the final preseason match.

Additionally, the team depth and quality is superior to that of Dallas.

FC Dallas' offseason changes
Dallasí biggest off-season moves have to be the addition of GK Kevin Hartman and the loss of left-sided midfielder Dave van den Berg. Both moves are somewhat puzzling. Hartman is definitely a quality acquisition but fan-favorite Dario Sala is still on the roster. Both goalies probably expect to start their fair share of games and itíll be interesting to see how the coaching staff manages that.

While 33, the departure of van den Berg leaves a huge hole as he was one of the teamís better performers last season. The team will be hoping that their youth can continue to develop and that 2009 league leading goal scorer Jeff Cunningham can manage back-to-back quality seasons Ė something he has had difficulty doing in his career.

Nonetheless, there is more than enough quality on Dallas to challenge Houston and it can not be understated how difficult it is to start the season on the road, especially given Houstonís history of slow starts. While no result would be surprising, I see this one as a draw. And honestly, thatís not a bad result for Houston.

FC Dallas 1, Dynamo 1