2016-17 Season Preview: Dynamo Dresden back in the 2. Bundesliga

Dynamo Dresden has a rich history dating back to the German Democratic Republic, winning multiple league titles, cups, and even reaching the semifinals of the 1991 UEFA Cup.

However, once the East German Oberliga was combined with the Bundesliga, success and silverware were hard to come by. Last season was the exception, as Dynamo dropped only two matches in the 3. Liga to win the league and therefore promotion back to the second division.

Dynamo will hope to continue last year’s success beginning on August 6, when they host 1. FC Nürnberg.

Who Departed?

Success won’t be easy for Dynamo in the upcoming season. Last season’s high scorer, Justin Eilers moved on to Werder Bremen when his contract ended this summer. His league-leading 23 goals will be hard to replace.

Center-back Michael Hefele also departed the club, moving on a free transfer to English Championship side Huddersfield Town. His towering presence (he’s listed at 6 feet 3 inches tall) also helped him to score seven goals, good for third-highest on the squad.

Further weakening the defense is the fact that keeper Janis Blaswich returned to Mönchengladbach after making 30 appearances and helping the side to concede just 35 goals, third-fewest in the league.

All told, ten players from last year’s championship side will not be part of this year’s side after leaving over the summer, taking with them a total of 202 appearances to be replaced. To make matters worse, all the non-loan departures were free transfers, bringing no cash to a club needing to bring in more talent.

Who Arrived?

The answer is simple: “not much so far.”

Dresden brought in another keeper on loan from a Bundesliga side, this time getting Hoffenheim’s Marvin Schwäbe to compete for the number one goalkeeper position.

The club did sign American Under-23 International Mario Rodriguez from the Borussia Mönchengladbach reserves. However, the club doesn’t see him as a short-term answer and immediately loaned the striker out to 3. Liga side Chemnitz.

The club also brought in Manuel Konrad on a free transfer from FSV Frankfurt. The 28-year-old will be expected to anchor a midfield and display on-field leadership like he did as the captain for the Bornheimer last season.

The club also signed Florian Ballas from FSV on a free transfer. The tall center-back will be called upon early to help help provide stability to a back line that faces three of the top six clubs from last season and a newly relegated Hannover 96 right out of the gate.

The side has also brought in Stefan Kutschke on loan from Nürnberg. The attacker spent the second half of the season on loan with Dynamo scoring three goals, while also assisting twice. Kutschke clearly found a role at Dynamo, but what he lacks is a lot of seasoning in 2. Bundesliga where he earned just 42 minutes of playing time for Nürnberg last season.

The Coach and Formation

Manager Uwe Neuhaus was brought in to the Saxony club before last season and exceeded expectations. He set up the side in a 4-3-3 formation that not only showcased Eilers talent, but also saw attacker/winger Pascal Testroet score 18 goals. This formation seems to be something Neuhaus will continue to use in 2. Bundesliga, as the side used that formation in their only preseason friendly to date, a 2-2 draw with Ingolstadt on July 23.

Prior to his arrival at Dynamo, Neuhaus was the longest-serving manager at Union Berlin managing the club for over 200 matches. The 56-year-old guided the Iron Ones into 2. Bundesliga and with his steady hand helped the club finish no lower than twelfth in five years with the club in the second tier. His experience will be invaluable to helping the club avoid falling into the relegation battle.

Key Player

The 25-year-old Testroet will once again be asked to lead the line. Coupled with Finnish international Tim Väyrynen and his contribution of five goals and three assists, much of the goal scoring will need to come from those two.

Despite last season’s success, both Testroet and Väyrynen will be going against stiffer competition than either has faced before in their careers. Fans should not expect another season where Testroet finished as the third-highest scorer in the league.

The Schedule

As I mentioned earlier, the schedule makers did Dynamo no favors in handing them a tough early slate to the season.

Opening at home against last year’s promotion playoff side 1. FC Nürnberg, Dresden then travel to Union Berlin, before returning home to face St. Pauli. They also open up the DFB Pokal at home against fellow Saxony club RB Leipzig.

Getting through the early season schedule with some positive results will allow the club to build some confidence. The ending schedule is a bit more forgiving with their last three matches at home against sides which finished 14th, 15th, and 12th last season in the league.

While I’d love to be positive and say that Dynamo will return back to the second division and show everyone that they’re a side to be reckoned with, I personally don’t feel this side has added enough talent that is capable of competing for a mid-table place. Should the side add some more players with 2. Bundesliga experience, they could avoid the relegation fight. However, at this point I don’t see this squad as one that can move too far from the bottom of the table. They will need every point they can get to avoid finishing in 17th or 18th place.

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Andrew Smith

Born in Indiana, Andrew is a 27-year-old Social Studies teacher who has traveled to Germany on multiple occasions. He enjoys learning more of the tactical side of the game and can be followed on Twitter at andsmith_46.