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MLS: Eastern Conference Preview

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CHARLESTON, SC - FEBRUARY 23: Giles Barnes #23 of the Houston Dynamo celebrates his goal against the Charleston Battery with teammate Brad Davis #11 during the first half of the Carolina Challenge Cup at Blackbaud Stadium on February 23, 2013 in Charleston, South Carolina
CHARLESTON, SC - FEBRUARY 23: Giles Barnes #23 of the Houston Dynamo celebrates his goal against the Charleston Battery with teammate Brad Davis #11 during the first half of the Carolina Challenge Cup at Blackbaud Stadium on February 23, 2013 in Charleston, South Carolina

Overview: Last season may have ended in painful disappointment, but if there’s one benefit to losing a cup final, it’s knowing that your team needs very few changes. Dominic Kinnear is clearly aware of this reality, as his off-season moves have only served to bolster an already solid team backbone. Apart from the consistency that Kinnear’s tenure offers, the Dynamo also benefit from having arguably the most important triad in soccer: toughness, speed, and creativity. Veteran Ricardo Clark will offer much of the brawn in the midfield whilst the team’s player of the year in 2012, Boniek Garcia, pulls the offensive strings. New signing and MLS Cup winner, Omar Cummings, will provide the pace up-front, and his partnership with Will Bruin could develop into one of the most lethal combos in the league.

Key Player: Garcia may have been the team’s player of the year, but there’s little doubt that Brad Davis is the squad’s leader. Having ranked among the league’s top five assist leaders with 12 last year, Davis will have to be at the top of his game in order for Houston to remain a serious contender.