Combine Day 1: The participants
It was almost business as usual for a Houston Dynamo training session at the Carl Lewis Track & Field Complex on Wednesday. That is, until one looked closely at the participants.
There were only a few familiar faces – midfielders Geoff Cameron and Francisco Navas Cobo – among the field players as the Dynamo hosted the first of four training sessions in their potential player combine. The contestants included 11 professionals from seven different countries, three 18-year-olds from the Dynamo Academy, and four veterans of the Dynamo first team. Several other players had to withdraw from the combine due to rescheduled games in their respective leagues. Other players could still arrive for a brief look.
Assistant coaches Wade Barrett and Steve Ralston ran Wednesday's training session, which was similar to a light Dynamo session, with head coach Dominic Kinnear in Cary, N.C., scouting the ACC quarterfinals. Kinnear will return for Thursday’s session.
The players putting on Dynamo orange on Wednesday included:
Nelson Akwari, DF, 28
Sturdy Houston native who went to Strake Jesuit, played for the United States in the 2001 U-20 World Cup and playing for seven different teams in North America, including three in MLS, during his professional career. He played the 2010 season with the Vancouver Whitecaps but is not in their plans for 2011.
Yordany Alvarez, MF, 25
Cuban defector who trained with the Dynamo during their final week of the regular season. He has played the last two seasons with the Austin Aztex.
Chance Bergen, FW, 18
Cy Woods High School graduate who has notched three goals and one assist in five games for the Dynamo Academy this year.
Pablo Brenes, MF, 28
Experienced Costa Rican midfielder currently playing for Brujas in Costa Rica after playing for the MetroStars in 2004 and Deportivo Saprissa from 2005-08. He has played in the Olympics and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Emmanuel Gaytan, MF, 24
Experienced Mexican attacking player currently at Puntarenas in Costa Rica after beginning his career with Estudiantes Tecos in Mexico.
Omar Gomez Galicia, MF, 30
Veteran Mexican who has spent the last several years in Mexico’s Liga de Ascenso, the level below the Primera Division.
Jade George, FW, 18
Tall, lanky forward with outstanding speed who graduated from Langham Creek High School and has shown flashes of potential in the Dynamo Academy.
Risto Lakic, DF, 27
Montenegrin international who spent most of his career for Buducnost in his native Podgorica, Montenegro, with recent stints at Partizan Belgrade and FK Vojvodina in Serbia.
Gherland McDonald, MF, 24
Costa Rican had brief stint with Colorado Rapids in 2007 but not appear in any MLS games. He has most recently played for Barrio Mexico and Brujas in Costa Rica.
Brandon Poltronieri, MF, 24
Born in Los Angeles, Poltronieri has dual American/Costa Rican citizenship and has also played in Portugal. He is currently playing for Brujas and was one of the most outspoken communicators on the field Wednesday.
Pablo Salazar, DF, 27
Defender currently with Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR).
Jhonatan da Silva, MF, 21
A stocky, left-footed central midfield player from Atletico Paranaense in Brazil.
Diego Velazquez, FW, 18
Dynamo Academy forward who graduated from San Antonio’s Johnson High School and has netted one goal this year.
Yedi Zahiri, MF, 25
Speedy wing midfielder from France of Ivorian descent, he most recently played with White Star Woluwe in the Belgian second division.