Academy trio competes at Dynamo combine

Youngsters hope to follow in the footsteps of Deric and Navas Cobo

HOU_20101110_Player_Combine_George_Navas_Bergen

Photo Credit: 
Jonathan Kaplan / HoustonDynamo.com

As the Houston Dynamo’s player combine kicked off Wednesday
morning, three Dynamo
Academy players were
among the group, hoping to catch the eye of head coach Dominic Kinnear and his
coaching staff. Although the players train four days per week and play
competitive games on weekend, none felt completely prepared for the level of soccer they
encountered. 

“There is a big change of pace from academy training
sessions to these training sessions,” Dynamo Academy
forward Jade George said. “The speed of play here is much quicker than what we
are accustomed to.” 

George is one of three players on the Dynamo U-18 squad not
currently in high school, which allowed them to participate in the four-day player
combine. George and forward Diego Velazquez currently attend Lone Star College, while Chance Bergen is taking
the year off while considering options. Although Bergen missed the second day of training due
to a 24-hour stomach bug, he is ecstatic to get the opportunity to play in
front of Kinnear. 

“I wasn’t too nervous coming in here on Wednesday,” Bergen said. “But I was
definitely a bit jittery on Friday with Dominic [Kinnear] watching us. I feel
like I played pretty well, but I definitely realize I need to get bigger if I want
to be able to compete on this level.” 

Bergen
has been a bit of a revelation for the Academy squad this year. After tinkering
with him in different positions, Dynamo Director of Youth Development James
Clarkson moved Bergen
to the forward position this year. With three goals and an assist in five games – and two goals in
the combine scrimmage on Friday – Bergen
has blossomed in the striker position, and he has college coaches knocking on the
door. 

“I love playing forward,” Bergen said. “It’s a different mentality. It’s not so much about dribbling and doing fancy things with the ball, but more about
holding the ball and keeping possession for the team.” 

After the scrimmage on Friday, Dynamo goalkeepers coach Tim
Hanley pulled Bergen
aside and offered some words of wisdom. 

“He told me that I need to hold the ball up and not always
immediately look to pass,” Bergen
said. “It helps the team more if I can keep possession and help the team score
a goal, as supposed to giving it away, which could lead to a counterattack for the
other team.” 

Although Velazquez felt the Academy squad, as a unit, could
compete against the group of players at the combine, he acknowledged that the
level of play from the individual players was stronger than what he was used
to. 

“They don’t rush things here,” he said. “They take their
time and don’t force things as much as we do. Obviously we have some room for
improvement, but we are just out here to work hard and get better every day.” 

In the past two seasons, the Dynamo have signed two players –
Tyler Deric and Francisco Navas Cobo – from the Academy, so there is certainly
hope for the trio of youngsters that Kinnear is watching. 

“They did alright,” Kinnear said. “They worked hard, which
was nice to see. It’s nice to see our Academy is getting better individually
and as a group. These guys have been out here for three days now and have done
OK, and hopefully they will take the advice we give them and grow as soccer
players.”