One of the most underrated international soccer players in today's game is Adalberto "Coco" Carrasquilla. The Houston midfielder was a quiet late 2021 season acquisition yet his importance to the club was so evident that they wasted little time buying out his loan from La Liga's FC Cartagena for $1.7 million dollars. It is money well spent.
Houston fans got a look at what they could see from his appearances at the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup in Houston. He wasted little time showing what he was ready to do once he arrived in the Bayou City. Fans should remember his run against the Colorado Rapids in the 2022 preseason when he raced from midfield to the Colorado 18 yard box before delivering the game winner in stoppage time.
The excitement he produced on that one run was a prelude of what was to come. Former Houston Dynamo head coach Tab Ramos may have said it best when "Coco" arrived.
“Adalberto is a young player who has excellent technical ability in possession, as well as the creativity to generate opportunities for his teammates and for himself,” Dynamo head coach Tab Ramos said.
With the impending arrival of Hector Herrera, Carrasquilla's stock will go up. His ability to work from the outside in and find the right player at the right moment is going to pay huge dividends in the offensive third. No longer having to do the work of a defensive mid and an attacking mid makes the 23 year old even more dangerous.
The love affair between the player, the fans, and the organization were evident in the tweet put out on adalbertocarrasquilla18 the day of his buyout from FC Cartagena.
"Very happy to be able to stay in the club that believes in me. From day one @houstondynamo they have shown me all their love and now it's time to keep giving everything for the shirt. I'm happy to continue with you. To our fans to tell you that #keepcoco is a fact."
The buyout was not the first time in the young footballer's career. In 2019, he was sent on loan from Panamanian side Tauro to FC Cartagena and within months the loan was bought out making him a permanent fixture in the FCG midfield.
The numbers for Carrasquilla like Herrera speak not from the stat box of goals and assists but from the unheralded skills like passing. His passing accuracy of 93% in defensive third is one of the best on the team and he delivers in the offensive third with 74% of his passes finding the foot of a teammate. Overall his passing rate is 82% while his long passes forward connect at a 59% rate. With nearly a 1,000 minutes logged in 13 appearances with 10 starts he has quickly become an integral piece of head coach Paulo Nagamura's Houston Dynamo.
Houston needs more players with the youth, vitality and humility not to mention great soccer skills like Cararsquilla.