As the off-season continues to drag on for Major League Soccer fans, it’s only natural that fans would turn to simulators to help fill the void. I’ve always been a huge FIFA series fan, owning many titles in the series. Now that the latest copy is in my hands, I figured I’d go ahead and play my favorite mode, Career Mode, in the hopes of leading the Dynamo to more glory than they saw in 2014.
This will strictly be a manager mode. I’ll set the rosters, make transfers and what have you but won’t be participating in the matches. In this way it’ll mimic more what the others are doing with the Football Manager series. I know there are several ways to easily increase the budget as well and none of those will be used. This is strictly a straight up career. So, without further adieu, let’s get on with the show!
As I take over the reigns of the Houston Dynamo, the board gives me two objectives right off the bat: reach the quarter-final in the US Open Cup and qualify for the playoffs. Doesn’t sound too tough a job, but then I glance at the roster and there’s a lot of work to do. Also waiting in my e-mail is a message from my Head Scout, Taylor Johannsson informing me that there is a severe weakness in central midfield and he already has some options lined up.
What jumps out right off the bat is the weakness in central defense more than midfield to me, though. For some reason Garrido isn’t listed as a squad player while Torres and Rodriguez, along with Inkoom, Sturgis and Willis, are. Weird. With that in mind I go ahead and set up my team sheet as is, with Lopez partnering alongside Clark and Torres up top with Barnes, pushing Bruin to the bench. That defense though…
With a budget of $4.1M and a wage budget of $25,000, it’s going to be tough to make all the changes needed. First things first is to put Lisch, Rodriguez and Johnson on the loan list. All three could use some playing time to help grow. Hoffman is kept around, giving me a solid stable of strikers to work with. Besides help at centerback, the wings are looking mighty thin with only Davis and Garcia as natural wingers. They’ll need some backups incase of injury or national team commitments.
The central midfielders recommended by Johannsson are a combination of amusing to not bad. Higuain, Feilhaber, Dorman, Edu and Juninho highlight the list. While Higuain and Juninho would be fantastic, the odds of landing either are slim. Best to start the leg work myself. First up is checking the Free Agent list for centerbacks and a few names jump right off the list: 18 year old Luis Canga, 19 year old Miguel Araujo and 21 year old Cedric Djeugoue. All three look like promising defenders so I scout them further.
For the central midfielder role, I start scouting Free Agent Gualberto Mojica, a 29 year old. He looks like the perfect kind of player to play in front of Clark, capable of dictating the play with his great short and long passing and good ball control and movement. His defense is even pretty good. Two others I keep an eye on are Krzysztof Maczunski and Hector Ortiguilla. Hopefully I’ll be able to sign one of them to bolster the spine of the team.
Wing players are in short supply as Free Agents, netting just Lucio Reija for the left and Nejc Pecnik on the right.
With scouting still commencing on the FAs, First Kick is on upon us so I go into the season with no changes yet. Lopez starts with Clark and Torres up top with Barnes. While Inkoom looked ok in pre-season, it looks best to use Sarkodie until the Ghanaian gets his legs under him.
March 8, 2014 vs New England Revolution
The match starts off poorly with a 4′ goal to Davies and goes to worse as Fagundez and Nguyen increase the lead with a pair of second half goals. Ouch. Even some defensive help off the bench can’t right this match as the Revs take a 3-0 win on the road. Man, even in the game the Revs have our number. Jermaine Jones absolutely dominates the middle of the park, preventing us from creating many real threats.
March 15, 2014 vs Montreal Impact
Well, after a few tactical adjustments, the second game kicks off. A 15′ goal by Davis is canceled out by Felipe just a minute later. Too busy celebrating the first goal of the season. A 57′ strike by Lopez gives us the lead again, though. Ashe comes in for Run while Memo takes over for Clark. Both have great sub minutes, helping to keep the Montreal offense at bay to secure the first win of the season!
March 30, 2014 at Vancouver Whitecaps
After a needed bye-week to calm the nerves and continue scouting for players, we get out first game away from the comfy confines of BBVA Compass Stadium. Canada has never been nice to the Dynamo, but with confidence high after the win, we go in with no changes. Bad idea. A 5′ goal from Morales starts things off poorly. Clark levels the match in the 50′, only for the Dynamo to give up a 55′ goal to Hurtado and the clincher comes in the 87′ when Morales bags a brace. The defense is off to a poor start.
April 5, 2014 vs FC Dallas
The pressure is really on as we host our biggest rivals. A 1′ goal to Keel is continues to trend of conceding early goals. After the shaky start by the defense, Cochran levels the scoring with a set-piece goal to level the score in the 34′. After a tense 1st half, and an even more tense 2nd half, the match seems destined to end as a tie. Barnes finds some space, receives a pass from Torres to take the lead in the 78′! Yes! The team holds on desperately for the win. After 4 games, we are in 5th place.
It’s clear after the first few games that the defense is in serious need of some work. Let’s check out the scouting reports and hope for some good news.