Fitness key as Camargo tries to make mark

New Brazilian midfielder has shown well in brief stint for Houston

HOU_20110901_Reserves_02_Camargo

Photo Credit: 
Colorado Rapids

The Houston Dynamo’s signing of little-known Luiz Camargo last month did not grab much of the transfer-window spotlight, something reserved for the likes of Honduran forward Carlo Costly or Galaxy forward Robbie Keane. Still, the Brazilian could turn out to be a big acquisition as Houston heads into the final stretch of the season.

With Camargo getting his first taste of action in two games last week – a reserve loss to Colorado last Thursday and a win over Monterrey on Sunday – the move has club officials feeling good. Camargo went a combined 172 minutes in both games and showed his ability to create as part of the squad.

“I felt physically good, and I thought I did well,” Camargo said through a translator. “They treat me super well here, and they’re helping me and keeping me aware of what to do on the field.”

The Monterrey win was the first time Houston fans got a look at the central midfielder, and the reviews were more than positive. After starting slow in the first 10 minutes, Camargo started finding lanes and space to operate between the forwards and midfield partner Adam Moffat.

Camargo set his teammates loose with a number of through balls and probing passes. While his passing bordered on the sublime at times, he also showed the ability to create in combinations. One of those combinations was a well-crafted run off a give-and-go with Brad Davis that led to a penalty kick for Houston’s second goal.

“He’s really creative and likes put those through balls through the middle,” said Geoff Cameron. “Creatively, he’s good and brings a different kind of style to our team.”

While his play gives hope that Camargo can provide another creative spark in midfield, there is still work to be done. Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear has spoken previously about Camargo’s need to get in game-shape. The midfielder played his last game for Paraná Clube in mid-July, and last week’s action showed that while Camargo is working his way toward full fitness, he is not there yet.

“I think he needs to be more active, because he’s good on the ball,” Kinnear said. “I don’t think people realize how hard it can be to [get fit] here. It’s not a problem when the ball’s at his feet, because he’s so good on the ball.”

With Camargo showing his skill, it is safe to assume that he has worked his way into the midfield mix. Houston is slated to play three important games in eight days, starting at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday afternoon (3 p.m. CT, TeleFutura, 950 AM, 850 AM), and the Dynamo's depth will be tested. It could give the 24-year-old newcomer his first chance to shine under the MLS lights.

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