Sporting Kansas City knocked the Dynamo out of the playoffs last season before going on to win the MLS Cup.
With departure of defender Bobby Boswell to D.C. United, the retirement of Brian Ching and loss of Calen Carr to recurring injuries, the 2014 season looked bleak.
Saturday, the Dynamo responded by crushing perennial rival the New England Revolution, 4-0, in the season opener. Will Bruin returned to his scoring ways with a goal in the 64th second of the game.
His attack began with a pass to Kofi Sarkodie, who returned it to him for the score. With that, the Dynamo caught scoring fever.
Bruin struck again in the 13th minute off a Corey Ashe cross from the left — after Ashe’s brilliant interception of a pass. Less than 10 minutes later, Bruin shared the scoring with an assist to Boniek Garcia.
Omar Cummings subbed in for Giles Barnes and earned his pay with a goal in the second minute of stoppage time, assisted by Ricardo Clark. Last year, the midfield did most of the scoring but Saturday, the front line strutted its stuff in a manner not seen in several seasons.
The midfielders effectively controlled the center and sent strong passes down the left and right alleys. Brad Davis dominated the left wing and repeatedly drove deep into Revolution territory.
In the center, Ricardo Clark and Boniek Garcia were at midseason form with effective distributions. The new right winger, Tony Cascio, on loan from the Colorado Rapids, lagged back a bit but gained his footing and kept the Revolution from shooting on goal before leaving with a hamstring injury.
It appears the back line will be much stronger than last year. Up until game time, Boswell’s replacement was unknown. David Horst was acquired in a preseason trade from the Portland Timbers and competed with Eric Brunner for the position.
Brunner was injured in a 2-0 win preseason over the Charleston Battery, which gave Horst his chance. After a few poor early passes, he stepped up and completely dominated the Revolution forwards.
He nicely complements the back line, which includes last year’s starters Ashe (left), Kofie Sarkodie (right) and Jermaine Taylor (center). Both Ashe and Sarkodie repeatedly drove deep into Revolution territory with counter plays.
Tally Hall only needed one save to coast to a clean sheet.
Attendance was 22,230 — a sellout. The Dynamo’s next home game is Saturday against the Montreal Impact.
The World Cup begins in June with the likely call-ups of Jermaine Taylor (Jamaica), Boniek Garcia (Honduras), Corey Ashe (USA), Will Bruin (USA), Brad Davis (USA) and Tally Hall (USA).
Coach Dominic Kinnear has assembled a strong bench to provide replacements.
Jason Johnson, Bryan Salazar and Mark Sherrod can step in at forward. Brian Ownby, Andrew Driver, Alexander Lopez and Servando Carrasco will be able to control the middle. The defensive line will be able to call upon second-year players Warren Creavalle, Eric Brunner, and Anthony Arena and new acquisition A.J. Cochran.
Tyler Deric and Michael Lisch can fill Tally Hall’s boots, if he is called up. Coach Kinnear has assembled a balanced side for this year’s title run.
At halftime Saturday, the Dynamos new partners, the Houston Dash of the National Women’s Soccer League, were introduced. The 19 players include 13 USA players and two from the Canadian Women’s National Team.
The Dash will play 24 games, half at BBVA stadium, beginning April 12. Their last home game will be Aug. 9.
Dan Freeman, an avid soccer fan, lives in Galveston.