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 Soto – will be joined in preseason camp by supplemental draft picks Sergio Castillo and Evan Newton. Both of those players will be trying to earn a spot on the roster.
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 table.
“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.