French trialists debut in training
The two new faces in the Houston Dynamo's training session Thursday may
come from the same country and play the same position, but they were
plenty easy to tell apart.
Khadim Diouf looked more like a basketball player, towering above his
teammates at a lanky 6-foot-4 and sporting a headband in the steady
rain. Léandre Griffit, standing a more average 5-foot-8, sported neon
green boots in the slick conditions. Both impressed in their first day
with their new squad.
"It is hard to say anything after one day, but I thought they came in
and worked hard," Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said. "You never
know what their travel schedules have been like, but you can't look at
those guys and say they were disappointing."
A third trialist, Nigerian Blessing Kaku, is expected to join the Dynamo
on Friday, and Kinnear hinted there may be more new faces to come as
For now, the 25-year-old Griffit - a veteran of Southampton and Crystal
Palace in the English Premier League - showed slightly better on the
first day. Despite his smaller stature (5-foot-8), he showed outstanding
technique as a central midfielder in 11 v. 11 scrimmages, rarely taking
more than three touches and moving the ball quickly. He also handled
some of the physical challenges that can be expected in the American
"I can play on the left or the right, but most of the time I like to
play in the middle of the pitch," Griffit said. "My best thing is my
technique and my speed, so I hope I can bring something different to the
team, because it's always good for the coach to have many options in
A former French youth international, Griffit also had an easier time
fitting in and communicating with the Dynamo players thanks to English
picked up during his stints in England.
"I know this is a really good team in America, so I'm really glad to be
with them," Griffit said after the training session before being asked
about differences in style of play. "Football in Europe sometimes goes
more slowly; we keep the ball a little bit more. Here, it's my first
day, so I didn't know what to expect."
Diouf showed good touch in small-sided drills but seemed to take a
little longer to settle in during a roughly 45-minute scrimmage. He
played centrally alongside draft pick Samuel Appiah, with Griffit and
guest player Peter Maciel on the opposing squad.
Diouf, Griffit, and possibly Kaku will feature in Saturday's scrimmage
against SMU, open only to season ticket holders and kicking off at 11
a.m. at the Carl Lewis Track & Field Complex. As in last week's
scrimmage against Houston Baptist, Kinnear said he expects to play two
completely different squads in the two halves.
"These guys know expectations are always to go out there and work hard,
work on your game, and work on our strengths," Kinnear said. "It's
important that we try to get a result, because we should be winning
these games that we play early on, and then obviously you get to see in a
competitive environment the players you've brought in, whether it be by
draft or to look at, to see if these guys are good enough."