'14 Season Preview: More of the same for Houston?

Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Since its arrival in Houston in 2006 the Dynamo has been a model of consistency. And there is no reason to think anything will change this season.

The club has had just one head coach, Dominic Kinnear, and has reached the conference finals in six of those eight years, failing to reach the playoffs just once.

So with Houston returning the majority of a team that was narrowly beaten by Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference final, 2-1, on aggregate, Dynamo supporters will be expecting another postseason appearance at the very least.

Last season there were 13 players on the Dynamo roster who played at least 1,600 minutes, and the team will return 11 from that group.

Adam Moffat and Bobby Boswell are the two who won't be back in Houston, with Moffat being traded to Seattle last September for Servando Carrasco, while Boswell's contract wasn't picked up, allowing him to return to D.C. United.

Replacing Moffat shouldn't be too difficult as Warren Creavalle provided a capable replacement at the end of last season and should grow into that role with a full preseason ahead of this year.

Boswell's spot will be the one area where there figures to be competition this preseason as two players will battle for the other center back spot opposite Jermaine Taylor, who enjoyed a strong inaugural campaign last term.

Eric Brunner impressed during his 13 appearances last season, and he started all five playoff games after Taylor went down with an injury.

David Horst is the other option after he was acquired from the Portland Timbers in December.

The Dynamo became the first team to take advantage of the Intraleague loan rule, which began in 2012, when the club added midfielder Tony Cascio from the Colorado Rapids.

The 23-year-old netted three goals with three assists in 29 appearances for the Rapids last season, and he will compete for playing time with Brad Davis, Andrew Driver, Boniek Garcia and Brian Ownby.

Will Bruin returns as the team's leading scorer with 10 goals last year, while Kinnear will hope for more of the same from Giles Barnes, who contributed nine goals and two assists in his first full season in Texas.

Houston won't be attempting to integrate a whole new cast of players, so the club can instead use the preseason to focus on one particular area that Kinnear would like to see improve.

Of Houston's 14 wins in the regular season last year, only five came by two goals or more, which can be taxing on a team over the course of a long season.

With another playoff appearance likely, Kinnear knows that playing in so many close games can wear on a team, so he is hoping that this season doesn't provide quite as much excitement.

"At times we had chances to push teams out, I'm not saying [our problem was lacking a] killer instinct," Kinnear said of his team's penchant for being involved in close games. "I'm saying it's overall quality either playing with the lead or adding to it."

2013 IN REVIEW: Houston once again survived an inconsistent regular season by turning it on in the postseason and nearly reaching another MLS Cup. The club endured a seven-game winless streak from mid-May to early July and ended the season in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. But Houston showed its ability to turn up the class in big games once the postseason arrived, downing Montreal 3-0 in a knockout-round game before upsetting Supporters' Shield winners Red Bull New York. The club even had a 1-0 aggregate lead in the second leg against Sporting before falling 2-1 in Kansas City.

ACQUISITIONS: David Horst (D), Tony Cascio (M).

LOSSES: Brian Ching (F), Bobby Boswell (D), Calen Carr (F), Mike Chabala (D), Alex Dixon (M), Cam Weaver (F).

OUTLOOK: The Dynamo once again figures to be one of the top teams in the East, even if that quality doesn't show up until the postseason. This is a veteran team with few question marks that has plenty of playoff pedigree, so the Dynamo won't be an easy out for anybody. Kinnear would like to see his team make things a little easier on themselves during the regular season so there is more gas in the tank once November rolls around.