Orange in the Oven is playing out an alternative reality managing the Houston Dynamo using the in-depth management simulation, Football Manager 15. For the inaugural season of 2014, we are putting up multiple posts so people can get a hang of the game. Thereafter, we will update only 1-2 times per season. The first post can be found here.
Three matches to go and we are hanging around the edge of the playoffs (games mirroring real life). If we can take maximum points from these matches we can reach 4th place and host a wildcard game. Flop and we miss the playoffs altogether. With home matches against D.C. United and New England followed by a road trip to Chicago, it won’t be easy.
10/12/14 D.C. United: Will Bruin’s 41′ goal puts us up 1-0. Kofi Sarkodie goes down with injury in the 50′, however, and A.J. Cochran is sent off with a second yellow card in the 64′, leaving us in a bad spot. When D.C. draws a penalty in the 76′, all looks lost. However, Eddie Johnson misses the penalty and we go on to survive with a 1-0 win and a vital three points.
We receive the bad news after the game that Sarkodie is out for the rest of the season and likely will miss the playoffs as well.
10/16/14 New England Revolution: The match against United seems to have taken a lot out of us. We aren’t great but we hold a solid defensive line and it looks like we might come away with a point. An 84′ goal from Patrick Mullins ends those hopes, however, and we fall 1-0.
Columbus has stumbled, though, and we need only a point against Chicago to clinch a playoff spot. A win could still send us to 4th as we trail Toronto by 2 points (click on table to expand).Credit: Football Manager 15
10/24/14 @Chicago Fire: With the season on the line, we play a wild one at Chicago. Within the opening 10 minutes we are up 2-0 thanks to Ricardo Clark and Will Bruin. Benji Joya pulls Chicago to within one in the 11′. Clark notches a brace in the 23′ to put us back up by two. Claudio Bieler pulls Chicago back to within one just before halftime. In the 77′, Brad Davis puts us up 4-2 only to see Quincy Amarikwa pull it back to 4-3 two minutes later. We hang on for the final 11 minutes to get the win and clinch the playoffs. We end up level on points with Toronto, but they have us on goal differential, so we’ll visit Canada for the wildcard.
10/30/14 @Toronto FC: DaMarcus Beasley reinjures himself in training, leaving us without both of our starting fullbacks. Our old nemesis, Gilberto, puts Toronto ahead in the 16′. Out of nowhere, Corey Ashe levels the match in the 22′. It stays 1-1 for the full 90, we’ll need another 30 minutes to settle this. Doesn’t bode well for the winner with the next round starting in two days.
Boniek Garcia puts us in front just two minutes into the extra period. It stays that way until the finish and we advance to face New England. The bad news is that the team is exhausted and we lose Brad Davis to injury in the 108′. Luckily, it is a minor injury and he will be able to play in the next round.
11/2/14 New England Revolution: Two days removed from having played 120′ our players are exhausted even before kick-off. The squad is already thin due to injuries so not many moves we can make to freshen it up. We play hard, but New England predictably is able to pick our tired defense apart. Federico Puppo puts us down after just 6 minutes. Kelyn Rowe makes it 2-0 just before the half. Patrick Mullins completes the blowout in the 47′ to make it 3-0. Not even Elton getting sent off in the 65′ can save us, we are simply exhausted.
11/8/14 @New England Revolution: The 2nd leg is a formality but we aim to make a match of it anyway. An A.J.Cochran injury has added to our misery, but Eric Brunner steps in and scores on a corner in the 8′. Kelyn Rowe equalizes in the 20′, meaning we need at least 4 goals to go through. Will Bruin scores his first goal of the playoffs in the 23′. It stays 2-1 until a wild final 12 minutes. Keyln Rowe equalizes again in the 28′, Omar Cummings coverts a penalty in the 84′ and Tony Cascio scores a minute later to make it 4-2. Patrick Mullins makes it 4-3 in the 86′ which is how it ends.
It was a good fight, but our season is over. In the end, MLS Cup is a re-match of 2013 with the same result as Sporting Kansas City tops Real Salt Lake by a score of 2-1.
It was a great season for Will Bruin, he scored 22 goals plus 1 in the playoffs. He finishes 2nd in goal scoring to Cubo Torres, however, who scores 24 goals. Brad Davis has a phenomenal season with 7 goals and 15 assists. Boniek Garcia has his best year with the Dynamo with 12 goals and 7 assists, really benefiting from playing as a raumdeuter. After a sizzling 1st half of the season, Giles Barnes struggles over the 2nd half to finish with 6 goals and 9 assists. Barnes is still voted by the fan’s as the Fan’s Player of the Year, though.
League wide awards are as follows:
Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year: Donovan Ricketts (Portland)
Visa Defender of the Year: Jose Gonçalves (New England)
MLS Coach of the Year: Caleb Porter (Portland)
Goal of the Year: Matt Watson (Chicago) vs. Columbus
Golden Boot: Erick Torres (24)
Newcomer of the Year: Gilberto (Toronto)
Rookie of the Year: Sebastian Saucedo (Real Salt Lake)
MLS W.O.R.K.S Humanitarian of the Year: Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Referee of the Year: Jorge Gonzalez
Volkswagen Most Valuable Player: Luis Bolaños (Chivas USA)
Xbox Individual Fair Play Award: Dom Dwyer (SKC)
Xbox Team Fair Play Award: Montreal Impact
MLS Best XI: Bill Hamid (DCU); Jose Gonçalves (Revs), Matt Hedges (Toronto), Ike Opara (SKC); Graham Zusi (SKC), Michael Bradley (Toronto), Federico Higuaín (Columbus), Matías Pérez García (San Jose), Luis Bolaños (Chivas USA); Erick Torres (Chivas USA), Gilberto (Toronto)
A busy off-season will follow with the Chivas USA dispersal draft, expansion draft, transfers and the college draft. Given the unusual number of events, for this off-season alone we will have a separate post before heading into the 2015 season.