The Houston Dynamo Academy is set to kick off the 2015 calendar with a home match against Sporting KC Saturday, January 17 at Houston Area Sports Park.
The team ended 2014 on a high note by winning all their matches in the US Invitational in Florida in late November, early December. They won all three games in the Sunshine State against the New York Red Bulls, Carolina Rapids and Los Angeles Galaxy. After taking the winter holidays off, they’ll be hoping to continue their winning ways at 2pm.
The Academy posted an 8-1-1 record in league play to end the first half of their campaign, though they admittedly had an easier schedule than some. KC will provide a stern test for Head Coach James Clarkson’s squad, especially as they’ll face them again the next day at 9:30 AM at HASP.
He’ll be relying on standout midfielder Christian Lucatero to dictate the offense with his crisp passing and superb vision. The youngster wowed fans during the Dynamo Alumni Match by pushing forward and picking apart the Alumni defense with his smart passing and ability to dodge defenders.
During that match he made runs into the defense to provide scoring opportunities for himself. His ability to run at defenders, with or without the ball, makes him a huge threat offensively.
Lucatero’s midfield partner David Koloko will be crucial as well. Koloko usually sits a bit deeper, allowing Lucatero the chance to push higher up the pitch. That’s not to say he can’t, or won’t, push forward as well and wander over the field. He’s equally as talented and controls the midfield, forcing opponents to work their way around or over him.
Juan Martinez and Lucio Martinez are also quality midfielders who have wonderful pace and the ability to be game changers off the bench or starting as a dual attacking midfielders with Lucatero. Clarkson has a wealth of midfield talent to take the game to KC and pressure their defense.
The Academy don’t have just quality midfielders but boast an extremely talented striker in Juan Charlie Flores, the most consistent striker on the roster. The Wheatley High School star is capable of scoring any which way: leaping above defenders to nod a goal home, blasting a shot from anywhere in the box, blowing past defenders with nice speed. He’ll be a handful for Sporting’s defense.
An intriguing player to watch will be Josue Palomino, the youngest player ever to feature for the U-18s at just 13 years old. He debuted in Florida and will be looking to grab minutes in the team as he continues to develop his talent. He recently returned from a US U-14 training camp.
A deep lying player who will lineup next to Koloko at defensive midfielder, Palomino has loads of talent and a very bright future ahead of him.
Lastly, Dynamo Academy goalkeeper Johan Welch has been starting for Trinidad & Tobago at the CONCACAF U-20 Championships, so he won’t be available for selection for this weekend’s pair of matches. The first game against Jamaica ended in a 2 – 2 draw, while the second group stage match against Aruba saw his squad win 5 – 1.
Their third game against Guatemala ended in a 2 – 0 defeat. Highlights for the first two games can be found here. Welch and T&T will face off against Panama on Sunday, January 18 and the US on the 21st. If they finish in the top 3 of their group, they’ll advance to at least a playoff. The winner of the playoff matches will qualify for the U-20 World Cup.
The Dynamo Academy enjoy a long homestand for 2015, with the following schedule before an away game:
January 24 – Colorado Rapids – 2pm
January 31 – Solar Chelsea SC – 10am
February 7 – Dallas Texans – 11am
February 21 – Texans SC – 2pm
February 28 – Texas Rush – 1pm
March 7 – Dallas Texans – 11am
Be sure to come out to HASP to support the Academy team! They’re the future of the Dynamo.