Football Manager 15: New Coach of Houston Dynamo

The new coach of Houston Dynamo has been named. In a shocking development, it is me. This is the alternate reality about to play out in Football Manager 15, the newest version of the popular series which came out last night. As promised in our review of the game, I will play out a Football Manager 15 career and chronicle it here.

Normally, I’d take on the challenge of a lower league side in a foreign league and try to work my way to the top flight either with my original club or through job hopping. This being Orange in the Oven, however, I am taking over our own Dynamo to see if I can win another title with the club.

My welcome message Credit: SI Games

When playing as a manager in MLS, the game starts with the beginning of the 2014 season, so this is truly an alternate reality; one where the end of season rosters are in place meaning I benefit from a full season of Luis Garrido and DaMarcus Beasley.

As the game gets started, I have two injured players: Eric Brunner (out 5-7 months) and Jermaine Taylor (out a few weeks). Four players are out on loan at the Pittsburgh Riverhounds: Anthony Arena, Michael Lisch, Brian Ownby and Brian Salazar.

I’ve decided to retain my staff; a little continuity is never a bad thing. My biggest issue from a staffing standpoint, however, is a lack of scouts. With only Nick Kowba in the fold, finding players to improve the side will be difficult. I could also use another coach or two to train the team, so I hit the job market looking for both coaches and scouts.

Dynamo front office and staff. Credit: SI Games

The roster is familiar to any Dynamo fan. There is plenty of talent there, along with some massive holes. There are two clear areas of concern as I review the roster. The first is the lack of a top notch striker, the second is at center back where we look a bit thin and generally lacking in talent.

At center back, our options are currently quite limited with only David Horst and the rookie, AJ Cochran, healthy and in Houston. Jermaine Taylor will be back soon to provide reinforcements. The center backs are generally slow and somewhat unimpressive, however Cochran looks to have some promise according to my coaching staff.

The playing staff. Credit: SI Games

At striker, the options are recognizable: Will Bruin, Omar Cummings, Mark Sherrod, Jason Johnson and Giles Barnes. Barnes, however, is odds on favorite to start as the central attacking midfielder in my preferred tactical set-up.

According to my assistant manager Wade Barrett, Bruin looks to be the best of the bunch followed closely by Cummings. Sherrod has some promise for the future while Johnson is likely to join his teammates on loan at Pittsburgh.

A quick look at the scouting report on Bruin, however, highlights my concern. He may be the top striker on the team, but that is a relative term. According to the scouting report, he is fairly one dimensional and not much of a dribbler and relatively ineffective off-the-ball as well. Not a great combination. He is good in the air, however (no comment).

Scouting report on Will Bruin. Credit: SI Games

Having looked over the staff and players and started the process of hiring more scouts (as well as dispatching Kowba to look for a new starting center back with an emphasis on strength, positioning and pace), it is time to set up my tactical system and begin training the players on it.

My preference is to play an attack oriented 4-2-3-1 with the two wings split out wide and the deep midfielders playing fairly high up the pitch. Whether or not this team is capable of executing my system remains to be seen, but we will give it a go. At the same time, we’ll also train the team on a more defensive minded 4-2-3-1 set-up and a 4-4-2 diamond should we ever find ourselves wanting to play with a second striker.

I am keen to use the creative skills of Brad Davis and Boniek Garcia, so they will be set out as raumdeuter’s and, therefore, allowed to drift to find space and create. Barnes will similarly be given a license to create as a trequartista. Despite his deficiencies, Bruin will be set up as a target man to hold the ball up and give the three advanced midfielders the chance to get forward.

Our preferred XI. Credit: SI Games

Ricardo Clark and Luis Garrido will be the deep midfielders, with Garrido set out as a defensive minded ball winning midfielder while Clark will be given box-to-box midfielder instructions. The fullbacks, DaMarcus Beasley and Kofi Sarokdie, will be told to get forward in attack at every opportunity and overlap with the midfielders.

We have seven games on the pre-season schedule, mostly against USL-Pro sides. Included in the schedule is a chance to play against our affiliate the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

We’ll open the MLS season at home against the New England Revolution followed by a visit from the Montreal Impact and a visit to Vancouver to face the Whitecaps.

Pre-season, Sporting Kansas City is rumored to be interested in Tally Hall and the Los Angeles Galaxy inquire as to the availabilty of Brad Davis. I let the press know that Hall could be had for the right price but I tell the Gals to stick it where the sun don’t shine.

Lastly, we have $319k of allocation funds and around $300k of cap space to work with. We can add a couple of decent players with the space we have available, but the cap will definitely be tight.

Next time out: a look at the early season result and any transfer activity as well as our recruiting efforts for new staff.