With Major League Soccer expanding its commitment to home-grown players and possibly bringing back the Reserve Division in 2010, the Houston Dynamo Academy, presented by Statoil, is stepping up its physical training in an effort to close the gap between the Dynamo's amateur and professional players.
An elite group of 17-25 players will add an additional training session each week focused strictly on sports performance training, working out at Plex with renowned trainer Danny Arnold. While all Dynamo Academy players already have access to the various Plex locations, this squad will be working each week on specific areas in which Plex can make a difference.
"This is a very important season for the Academy, especially if the reserve league comes back," Dynamo Director of Youth Development James Clarkson said. "It's vital that we have these players prepared if the opportunity comes for any of them to participate with the first team or reserves."
The squad includes players from the Dynamo's competitive U-18 and U-16 teams, which begin their second season in the United States Soccer Federation Development Academy league this weekend on the road in San Antonio. Last year, the Dynamo U-18s finished second in their USSF playoff group, narrowly missing a trip to Finals Week.
The group, which will begin with 17 players but could increase, is expected to provide the core of the squad that will travel to the Copa Chivas in Guadalajara, Mexico, in January 2011. After a team beset by injuries and absences struggled in last year's tournament, Clarkson wants the entire Academy to up its year-round fitness levels.
"These players will now be training four times per week, including the soccer-specific sports performance training they receive at Plex every Tuesday," Clarkson said. "This added training will play a major part in our preparation for the Copa Chivas in January, which is an outstanding tournament and opportunity for us."
Plex has worked with Dynamo players and other prominent athletes in the past, including hosting Dynamo Trials tests.
"We at Plex are very exited to be working with the elite players of the Dynamo Academy and to offer them the very best in sports performance," Plex owner Danny Arnold said. "We want to give each athlete the opportunity to be the best soccer player he can be."
Dynamo Elite Player Academy Training
Defenders - Leo Ayala, Chance Bergen, Bradley Bourgeois, Christian Gonzalez, Sebastian Karpen
Midfielders - Siegfried Casar, Bryan Celis, Josue Morales, Raymundo Marquez, Irvinn Ramirez, Miguel Zapata
Forwards - Martin Castillo, Manuel Chavez, Jade George, Abe Matamoros, Tamay Sanchez, Diego Velazquez