Navas Cobo's first trip one to remember

Players play prank on unsuspecting rookie

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Photo Credit: 
Wilf Thorne/Houston Dynamo

This past weekend marked another milestone in Francisco
Navas Cobo’s soccer career. For the
first time, the 18-year-old packed his bags and traveled with the Dynamo first
team to Chicago
for their league game against the Fire as part of the 18-man gameday roster.

“I was so excited when I found out I was traveling,” Navas
Cobo said. “I immediately went home and
told my family, and they were all very happy for me.”

It has been a quick ascent to the top for the former Dynamo Academy
product, but this past weekend his teammates were quick to remind him
that he, in fact, was still a rookie.

“On Thursday they told me I would be traveling, and Pat
[Onstad] told me, ‘I guess you’ll be rooming with me.’  My initial reaction was, ‘Oh my god!’” Navas Cobo said.

Onstad was expected to share a room with Richard Mulrooney on the
road, but with Mulrooney injured, the team thought this was the perfect opportunity
to play a joke on the rookie.

“Francisco is scared to death of Pat,” said goalkeeper Tyler
Deric, himself a Dynamo Academy product in only his second season. “We were leaving training, and he
didn’t want to ask Pat for a ride so he rode with me.”

After Navas Cobo shared with Deric who his roommate would be,
Tyler saw the opportunity to get in on the fun.

“I started telling him all these quirks about Pat that he
had to watch out for," Deric said. "I told him that
when [Francisco] watches television the sound has to be really low, that if he wants to
talk on his cell phone he has to leave the room to do it, and if he wants to
take a shower he has to ask Pat’s permission first.”

Navas Cobo tried to take in what he was hearing, but inside
the nerves grew.

“I have a lot of respect for Pat,” Navas Cobo said. “But I was definitely nervous when I was
hearing all these things.”

Onstad himself got in on the joke at Friday's training session, challenging his "roommate" to beat him during finishing drills. The joke continued that night, when the team arrived at the Embassy Suites hotel in Chicago. Team administrator Nick Kowba told
Navas Cobo he was staying on the 10th floor and that Onstad had already
picked up their room keys.

“When I got to the room, Pat was in there, but so was Andrew
[Hainault], so I just assumed we were all sharing a room,” Navas Cobo said.

Hainault told Francisco he would be sleeping on the
pull-out couch for the night.

“He was content with that,” Hainault said. “But as he started unpacking his things, you
could see him shaking a little.”

After 10 minutes, the Canadian pair decided they had
had enough fun and let Navas Cobo in on the joke.

“He was pretty relieved when we told him,” Hainault
said. “He had a big smile on his face and
took it pretty well.”

Navas Cobo said the experience furthered the connection he
has with his teammates and definitely made him feel like one of the guys.

“Being a rookie means carrying all the
stuff, but I enjoy it,” he said. “Everyone
has been great with me, and I’ve been learning a lot. I just hope that I am here for a long time.”

If his track record is any indication, he will be. Then
he will be the one planning the pranks and striking fear in the hearts of
unsuspecting rookies.