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.
With the 2014 season behind us, we embark upon a busy off-season. Things get rolling with the news that we will be moved to the Western Conference for the 2015 season along with our rival Sporting Kansas City. Furthermore, Chivas USA will discontinue operations which will bring the league to an even 20 teams including the two expansion sides: Orlando City SC and New York City FC.
The departure of Chivas USA means their players will need to find a new home. We, of course, get a crack at their players via the dispersal draft. On the day of the draft, when our turn comes around young midfielder Marky Delgado is still on the board. He has had his share of injury issues, but we are all to happy to grab the player and add him to our squad.
While Delgado is incoming, a number of players are outgoing as we decide not to pick up options or not to enter negotiations on a new contract. We say goodbye and wish best of luck to: Brian Ownby, Anthony Arena, Omar Cummings and Servando Carrasco.
Next up is the expansion draft, a chance for the two new teams in the league to build their roster. After much debate, we settle on a list of players to protect: Tally Hall, Tyler Deric, Kofi Sarkodie, Jermaine Taylor, Ricardo Clark, Boniek Garcia, Corey Ashe, Giles Barnes, Andrew Driver, Alexander Lopez, Brad Davis and Will Bruin.
We take a calculated risk in leaving DaMarcus Beasley unprotected. We expect that his DP status will make him unattractive to the two expansion sides. If one of them does opt to take him, however, we won’t shed a tear as we are not keen on using a DP slot on a defender and we will still have Corey Ashe.
Draft day comes around and for 9 rounds, none of our players are taken. In round 10, however, Orlando City takes DaMarcus Beasley and the aging stalwart defender is off of our roster. The teams have done a decent job with their picks by the looks of things:
New York City FC: Joe Willis, Luis Silva, Austin Berry, Eriq Zavaleta, Mikey Lopez, J.J. Koval, Paulo Nagamura, Omar Salgado, Chris Tierney, Luis Gil
Orlando City SC: Steve Birnbaum, DaMarcus Beasley, Khalif Alhassan, Joe Bendik, Robbie Findley, Zach Lloyd, Amobi Okugo, Andre Akpan, Ashtone Morgan, Warren Creavalle
We look towards the re-entry draft, college draft and the transfer market with a clear plan. After conceding 63 goals last season, we need help in defense. We are also anticipating that Boniek Garcia and Will Bruin will be subject to transfer inquiries from Europe, and despite his 22 goals we were less than thrilled with Bruin this year – it could have been more given the quality of service he received and his on the ball work was poor.Sep 22, 2013; Harrison, NJ, USA; FC Dallas defender George John (14) brings the ball up field during the second half against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. New York Red Bulls defeat FC Dallas 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Jim O
Re-entry affords us our first opportunity to bulk up the defense. We pass on stage 1, but in stage 2 we take Nana Attakora in the 1st round and George John in the 2nd round. Attakora’s salary demands end up being too high and we are unable to sign him. John is similarly high, but worth it so he signs for $200k per year.
In the other direction, D.C. United comes in and offers us allocation money and an international slot for two years for Jermaine Taylor. Taylor was our only CB to have had a good season, but his salary is high and the offer is tempting. We take it.
We have also decided that the keeper job will be Tyler Deric’s next season. As a result, we deal Tally Hall to Colorado for allocation money and a draft pick.
Between these and other deals, we end up going into the College Draft with 8 picks and a chance to rebuild our team for the future. We come away with what looks like a pretty successful draft, especially in later rounds (note that FM15 has not updated the draft to recognize a single draft of 4 rounds but rather still shows a two round Superdraft and a 4 round Supplemental draft).
1st round (5) – Mafika Khumalo: A South African attacking midfielder. Our scouts and coaches see him as a potential star.
1st round (15) – Leonard Ntombela – In a rarity, another South African but with a U.S. passport. He is a striker who years from now could look the steal of the draft.
2nd round (26) – Glen Massey – A pacey left back, possibly a long-term replacement for Ashe.
2nd round (27) – Michael Taylor – A ball winning midfielder. Once we get him in camp he surprises us with his potential.
2nd round (35) – Greg Whalen – A right side wing who also looks surprisingly good in camp.
1st round (15) – Greg Kolarcik – Our scouts come through with a steal. This left sided midfielder looks very high potential.
3rd round (56) – Luis Dautt – Looks decent but will struggle to stick at the MLS level.
4th round (75) – Steve Jones – A center back who has some minor potential, we’ll have to develop him and see.
After a year of scouting primarily Latin America and Korea, we have a shortlist of targets which consist primarily of forwards, right wings and central defenders. First up is centerback Sebastien Ibeagha; we hold his rights and he looks promising upon scouting him in Denmark. His club, AC Horsens, is willing to sell and Ibeagha is willing to return to Houston. For a $38k transfer fee, he is ours.
From there it gets more complicated; as expected, European clubs come in for Boniek Garcia, and before long he is off to Basel for a transfer fee of $2.9 million. Our first choice striker is a 19-year old Korean with loads of talent playing for Daejeon in K-League Challenge. We make an offer, which is accepted, but news of the transfer leaks and offers flood in from J-League and K-League Classic sides. In the end, Jeonnam Dragons top our contract offer and the youngster opts to stay in Korea.
Next up is a Peruvian player, but before we can even get in transfer discussions he is off to Europe. We then turn to Kim Seung-Dae of Pohang Steelers, but Suwon Bluewings come in for him as well and blow us out of the water.
After those mishits, we finally seal a deal for a Brazilian striker Diogo Acosta (not to be confused with Diego Costa). He joins us from São Bernardo for $375k but has been on loan with Incheon United for the past two seasons.Lee Seok-Hyun Credit: 블루포토 홍준기
Our next signing is a young and promising Korean attacking midfielder, Lee Seok-hyun. He is a former teammate of Acosta at Incheon United before moving on to Jeju United where we get him for $950k. He signs as a DP.
Our main target as Garcia’s replacement is Lee Nguyen, however no matter what we offer, New England is unwilling to trade. So, in the end his replacement also comes from K-League; Park Young-Ji from Busan I’Park who can play both the left and right wing as well as striker. He signs as a young DP on a $425k transfer fee.
Much to our surprise and chagrin, however, suddenly nobody wants Will Bruin. Mid-season we turned down offers from Europe of over $1 million. Now, however, we cannot give the player away. With Acosta signed, that causes us a problem. We don’t really have the salary cap space for Bruin and need to offload him.
As it stands, between the draft and the transfer market, we are $500k over the salary cap so need to use allocation dollars to buy our cap hit down. This is something we will have to rectify before the next season starts so that we can have some flexibility and not blow all of our allocation money on mitigating cap constraints.
Onward to the 2015 season…..