Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Dynamo head into the 2015 season in unchartered territory.
Dominic Kinnear has been the club's head coach since the franchise relocated to Houston from San Jose in 2006. But Kinnear brought his impressive spell as Dynamo boss to an end in order to rejoin the Earthquakes, leaving the Houston brass with a mighty hole to fill.
Rather than succumb to the growing trend of transitioning former MLS players into head coaching roles, the Dynamo scoured Europe for an off-script appointment, ultimately landing on Owen Coyle.
Coyle's managerial career traces back to his native Scotland where he seized control of Falkirk and St. Johnstone, but he is most-recognized for his stints in England with Burnley, Bolton and Wigan.
The 48-year-old made no secrets of his need to learn the mechanics of the single-entity system in MLS, but he is a football man at heart, and it is the training ground where he feels most at home.
Coyle certainly has his work cut out for him as the Dynamo, after making it to three straight Eastern Conference finals, failed to reach the postseason last term.
Houston did, however, add reinforcements during the offseason in a bid to return to the playoffs.
The Dynamo won the lottery to secure the services of coveted striker Erick Torres, who was a lone bright spot for the now disbanded Chivas USA last season. Torres netted 15 goals in 26 league games for the Goats last season, and Houston splashed in December by signing the Mexican striker to a Designated Player contract.
Houston also shored up the defense by signing Spanish defender Raul Rodriguez from La Liga club Espanyol, a move that certainly compensates for Eric Brunner's offseason retirement.
Torres and Rodriguez join an established squad that has proven success in MLS.
Will Bruin is expected to the lead the line after producing 10 goals in 24 games last season. Coyle is hoping the burly striker will be a nice foil for the silk and skill of Torres.
Giles Barnes and Chandler Hoffman, meanwhile, will add some much-needed depth up top.
Brad Davis, the club's longtime talisman, figures to continue his role as the club's creative force in midfield while Oscar Boniek Garcia will add his tireless work ethic, as well as a bit of bite, to the proceedings.
With Kofie Sarkodie, Jermaine Taylor, DeMarcus Beasley and Corey Ashe as the projected starters in defense, Houston's roster is shaping up nicely.
The continuity in the team is a major advantage for the Dynamo, so it essentially comes down to how well Coyle can harness the talent at his disposal.
ACQUISITIONS: Raul Rodriguez (D), Erick Torres (F).
LOSSES: Eric Brunner (D), Tally Hall (GK).
OUTLOOK: The Dynamo should contend for a playoff berth on the back of their team chemistry and addition of Torres, but how far they ultimately go depends on Coyle's transition to America. If he settles nicely, Houston could be a tough out in the postseason. If he does not, the club may be looking at its second consecutive postseason absence.