Rookies face transition to pro game

Goalkeeper Deric offers advice to draft picks, Academy signees


Photo Credit: 
Wilf Thorne / Houston Dynamo

Tyler Deric is as qualified as anyone to give advice to the
Dynamo’s newest players on the transition to the professional game.

At 22 years old, Deric is entering his third professional
season but saw his first Major League Soccer action at the end of last year,
winning back-to-back starts to close the season.

As the Dynamo’s first home-grown player, signed back in
2009, Deric knows what rookies – be they draft picks or home-grown players –
can expect in their first year, and that includes carrying equipment to
training sessions and unloading bags on the road.

“I’ll show them the ropes of what it’s like to be a rookie,”
Deric said. “I’ll give them some advice here and there. Mostly I’ll tell them
to be themselves and don’t try to do too much.”

The four players introduced in Houston on Wednesday – first-round draft
picks Will Bruin and Kofi Sarkodie and home-grown players Alex Dixon and Josue
– will be joined in preseason camp by supplemental draft picks Sergio
and Evan Newton. Both of those players will be trying to earn a spot on
the roster.

PHOTOS: Rookie class introduced

Of the newcomers, Soto has the most experience in the Dynamo
locker room and training in the oppressive Houston heat. He spent the summers of 2008
and 2010 training with the Dynamo first team and gradually felt more comfortable
with his teammates and coaches.

“The transition to the locker room will hopefully be a
little easier for me,” Soto said. “Those summers were important, because the
coaches got to know me as a player. It also helped me to know how the coaches
worked and to get to know the other players.”

Soto and Dixon are also
familiar with Deric and the Dynamo staff from their years in the Dynamo Academy.
Deric, from Klein, and Dixon,
from Humble, have known each other even longer.

“We go back to when I was U-15, and he was U-13, both
playing for the Texas Heat with him on a younger team,” Deric said. “I saw this
little kid on another field, and they told us he was going to come play up with
us. He did, and he was fast and good right away.”

Deric and Dixon were also
teammates with the Texans Soccer Club in Houston,
along with College Station
product and FC Dallas midfielder Brek Shea. Dixon
and Shea, two years younger than Deric, then qualified for their class at the U.S.
U-17 residency program and went off to Florida.

Deric and Dixon stayed in
touch, however, first when Dixon made his
recruiting visit to the University
of North Carolina, and
later via Facebook and cell phone. So Deric has a unique appreciation for what Dixon can bring to the

“Most of all, he brings quickness,” Deric said. “He always
wants to run at players, which is an important thing you need in this league to
create opportunities. He’s a great striker of the ball, and I think he can be a
great addition to the team.”

For his part, Dixon
– having completed three years of college soccer – says he expects a
challenging transition.

“I’ve heard it’s very difficult, and the first year is the
hardest,” Dixon
said. “I’m ready to get into it and start working hard and take everything as
it comes.”

Deric, Dixon,
Soto, and midfielder Francisco Navas Cobo form the Dynamo’s quartet of
home-grown players, tied for the second most prolific academy in Major League
Soccer. Deric credits both Dynamo Director of Youth Development James Clarkson
and head coach Dominic Kinnear for bringing Houston players into the fold.

“It’s very cool to have all of us with the first team, and I
think it shows the talent we have here in Houston,”
Deric said. “James knew he had some talented players, and I think Dom has
handled the Academy situation very well.”

Now it’s up to the Academy players and other rookies to
handle their first season well, a process that will start Monday morning,
bright and early.