Cameron, Watson surprise duo in midfield

Makeshift midfield pairing earns praise for recent performances

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Photo Credit: 
Ned Dishman / Getty Images

Coming into the season, the Houston Dynamo felt the pairing of Lovel
Palmer
and Geoff Cameron would solidify their central midfield. However,
things look to be changing as the team pushes into the back stretch of
the season.

With Palmer serving a suspension against D.C. United on June 25 after
receiving two yellow cards against Columbus the week before, head coach
Dominic Kinnear inserted Je-Vaughn Watson next to Cameron to see what
the pairing could do. Three games into the lineup change, the pair is showing potential as a dangerous two-way duo.

“I think it’s going well,” Watson said. “We’re similar players who can
play both defensively and offensively, so I feel it’s a good
partnership.”

Cameron was a known commodity coming into his fourth season, showing
flashes of ability in the middle of the park. Watson showed creativity
and flare during a preseason trial, but his arrival in Houston from
Jamaican club side Sporting Central after the season started, as well as
Gold Cup duty with the Reggae Boyz, made it difficult for him to break
into the lineup.  

“It really wasn’t the pairing we were expecting going into the season,”
Kinnear said. “But they’re two good players who are physical, and when
they get around the ball they can win a bunch of challenges.”

The similarities in their styles make the pairing different from
previous combinations. Traditionally, the club has played a true holding
midfielder such as Eintracht Frankfurt’s Ricardo Clark paired with advanced
midfielders such as D.C. United’s Dwayne De Rosario and Bolton’s Stuart
Holden.

Cameron and Watson are of a different mold. Both are creative players; each
can get forward while also having the ability to play defense. The pair
is still working out the finer points of their partnership, which,
predictably, has come with some growing pains.

“They do like to take chances going forward, which is good, but
sometimes you want to be more conservative,” Kinnear said. “They do take
turns going forward, which is good, but we want them to consistently keep
the ball.”

Still, the work rate and potential the pair has shown gives the team something to build on in the middle of the attack.

“They do a lot of the hard work in midfield, when they’re surrounded by
players, that sometimes go unnoticed,” Kinnear said. “We notice the
amount of work they put in, because it makes it easier for us to keep the
ball.”

Watson added that, although the pair is still working on things, they have one goal in mind.

“We have to talk a lot and we have to do the work on and off the ball,” Watson said.
“We have to do that work to make the playoffs, because in the end, that’s
what we want to do.”

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.