Glamor lies on the pitches of Europe for many of our finest stars. But, as pioneers like Donovan, Dempsey and Bradley have proven, those who do most of their work stateside are just — if not more important — to USMNT hopes. This is the story of the players and teams of the MLS, American soccer’s National Guard.
When you look up and down the roster, look at the club history and even look at their list of alumni, it becomes clear the Houston Dynamo might just be the most MLS of all the MLS clubs. That may come out sounding pejorative, but I certainly don’t mean it that way. In fact, I’d say it means they are probably setting a pretty good model for the rest of the league.
Starting with the former Dyanmo (Dynamos? I never know where to go with these), you have plenty of solid, lifetime MLSers who floated in and out of USMNT relevancy, Brian Ching being the standard-bearer there with Brad Davis holding down the fort currently. They have the relatively well-known CONCACAF players. Dwayne De Rosario, Carlo Costly, etc. They even have those players that moved on to greener pastures and found success in Europe. A pair of names you might recognize, in Geoff Cameron and Stuart Holden.
As for the club history, it’s a little bizarre. They really are the relocated San Jose Earthquakes, but left the team history there for the current iteration, much like the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns. There was even a totally MLS naming controversy when the club attempted to make Houston 1836 work. Seeing as it didn’t stick even for a moment — for myriad reasons, but it’s hard to ignore that most other clubs in Europe and around the world use the club founding date and Houston 2006 just sounds kind of sad — Dynamo was a compromise and one in a long line of strange MLS naming moments straddling the line between Americanism and bizarre fascination with European traditions.
Houston also isn’t bad, winning the MLS cup in its first two years. It has been on the cusp the past two years, falling to the LA Galaxy each time. They don’t have the star power of a Galaxy, or a Seattle or New York, but they have a good solid MLS team. And that’s what I mean as a compliment. Players who are on the radar of Jürgen Klinsmann, even if they don’t often see the field in the Stars and Stripes. Young talents, who might never achieve stardom, but are more than good enough to move the needle in Houston. CONCACAF stalwarts who can improve their own countries fortunes with their play in America. It’s a proven cocktail in MLS, and the Dynamo have found great success.
DREAMS OF BRAZIL: Brad Davis
If I have to hear one more poetic flirtation with Brad Davis’ left foot from an American soccer analyst, I don’t even know what I’d do. That said, Davis is a solid player for Houston and sits right on the cut line for the World Cup. Unless he falls off completely and totally this year, I don’t think his stock can move up or down too much; Klinsmann knows what he brings. It just becomes a question if he wants him on the plane or not.
Other Names to Note:
Tally Hall. Just kidding.
FUTURE GOLD CUP HEROES: Will Bruin
To call Bruin a future Gold Cup hero might seem a little cruel, considering he was never able to get off the bench last time around, but hey it’s what we got in Houston. Guess what? Tally Hall and Corey Ashe have both spent some time in USMNT camps. Between the trio? Two caps, both Bruin’s. Keep fighting boys!
Other Names to Note: Tally Hall, Corey Ashe
YOU MIGHT HAVE SEEN ME IN FIFA: Omar Cummings, Forward, Jamaica; Óscar Boniek García, Winger, Honduras
This team is full of the CONCACAF stars I mentioned earlier — and a couple of not that great Englishmen to boot! Cummings hasn’t had much of an impact since moving from Colorado, but García and his 91 caps for Honduras have been instrumental on the wing the past two seasons. It remains to be seen the impact his countryman Alex López can have, but the young midfielder has talent to spare in the midfield.
Other Names to Note: Alexander López (M – Honduras), Jermaine Taylor (D – Jamaica), Giles Barnes (F – England)
AS SIMPLE MINDS SAID, “DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME“: Ricardo Clark
Can we just actually forget about Ricardo Clark? Yeah, that would be great. Thanks.
Other Names to Note: None
GET READY FOR DOHA: Kofi Sarkodie
Sarkodie has been solid, not spectacular for Houston since coming into the league as the No. 7 pick in the MLS SuperDraft. From the Akron NCAA powerhouse, Sarkodie also holds a Ghananian passport — have no fear, he wants to play for the USMNT — and can play right back, a position of great need. He might not be the favorite to latch onto a regular place for years to come, but you can bet he’ll rack up a few caps over the next eight years.
Other Names to Note: Bryan Salazar
HOW MUCH DOES JÜRGEN CARE: 5 out of 10