2012 MLS Cup - Houston Dynamo Training Session

Houston Dynamo building reliably through MLS draft


Homegrown signees are all the rage in MLS now, what every clubs wants to trumpet, and the amount of talent developed through clubs’ academy systems will only rise going forward.

But something else deserves mention now that Houston appears to have some summer issues sorted out, seemingly pointed in the right direction at the right time of year: under manager Dominic Kinnear, the organization has reliably cultivated starting talent through Major League Soccer’s annual SuperDraft.

Now that Warren Creavalle seems set as Ricardo Clark central midfield partner (Adam Moffat’s trade to Seattle was a pretty loud announcement that Kinnear’s staff thought Creavalle was ready), the Dynamo has four starters that were drafted by the team, molded by the team and then assigned into prominent roles.

That may not sound like much; other teams can and have developed reliably through the draft – but perhaps not as much as you might think. And not for as long as Houston has done so.

Corey Ashe, Will Bruin and Kofi Sarkodie are other current Houston starters who were plucked by the Dynamo in MLS drafts past.

(There are plenty of MLS clubs with several draftees starting or playing key roles, although not always for the club that selected them; MLS is fairly transient that way. Houston starters Tally Hall, Ricardo Clark and Brad Davis, for instance, were all MLS draftees elsewhere who eventually made their way to Houston.)

Don’t forget, U.S. international Geoff Cameron, now with the Premier League’s Stoke City, was the 42nd overall selection (3rd round) in 2008 for Houston. Not a bad pick at all, eh?

What’s more, in some of these years the Dynamo had precious few draft picks to work with, having traded them away previously. There are plenty of player acquisition mechanisms in MLS, from trades, to homegrown development, to discoveries and transfers. But smart drafting still works – just ask some of the familiar faces around BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.