The Dynamo winter camps culminated last week with the Dynamo Elite and Junior Elite camps presented by Statoil. While the usual contingent of players from the Houston area graced the field at Delmar Stadium, others traveled hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to catch the eye of the Houston Dynamo coaching staff.
One such player was Baran Kilic. The 18-year-old midfielder from Darmstadt, Germany, traveled to Houston with his friend, Sandro Falcone, hoping to impress the coaches at the Dynamo Elite Camp.
“We like to watch MLS in Germany,” Kilic said. “We see [David] Beckham and [Thierry] Henry on TV and it’s fun to watch. The Houston Dynamo are a great club and we want to come play here.”
Director of Youth Development James Clarkson was pleased with the turnout at both camps and was pleasantly surprised at the number of international kids in attendance.
“Normally we get kids from the Houston area and throughout Texas at our camps and occasionally we’ll get a few kids who drive up from Mexico," he said. "This is the first year where we saw a real influx of talent from around the world.”
Aside from Kilic and Falcone, players from Venezuela, South Africa, Tanzania, Ivory Coast and cities across the United States were in attendance last week. Venezuelan natives Jose Cubillan and Hender Sanchez said the clubs in Venezuela do not have open tryouts the way the Dynamo and other MLS clubs do. In Venezuela you are either recommended by other coaches or you go unnoticed.
“Winning two MLS Cups in their first two years, it brought a lot of attention to the Dynamo and proved they are a serious soccer club,” Cubillan said. “Over the past few days, I have learned a lot about the game. The culture here is completely different but I am enjoying it.”
Sanchez spent four months training with Aragua FC, a first division soccer club in Maracay, Venezuela and now hopes to ply his trade in MLS.
“This is a great opportunity for me, to show the Dynamo coaches what I can do. I came here to knock on the door of MLS and hopefully someone will open it for me.”
Clarkson hopes this is the just the beginning for the Dynamo, as they continue their mission to become a global soccer brand.
“The Dynamo front office, along with head coach Dominic Kinnear and his coaching staff, have already established this club as one of the top clubs in MLS. In the States, we have a strong, recognizable brand but now we are seeing that brand expand outside of the country and there is no limit to where it can reach. Dynamo Cocula will be hosting tryouts in Guadalajara, January 17-18, and we are in the final stages of establishing satellite programs in Africa. Hopefully we can continue to use this network and find talent that will help the first team going forward.”