As the 2011 season draws closer, HoustonDynamo.com will introduce you to the newest members of the Dynamo roster. With 10 players who have yet to play a game for the Dynamo, the squad will feature a new look in 2011.
This week we look at five players who the Dynamo either traded for, or signed, since the end of last season. We start this week's profiles with Jordan Graye.
Graye came to the Dynamo last December in a trade from the Portland Timbers for a 2014 draft pick. He made 20 starts in 2010 for D.C. United and finished fourth on the team in minutes played. He was then selected by the Timbers in the 2010 Expansion Draft before being traded to Houston.
Graye, one of five Dynamo players who attended the University of North Carolina, played primarily outside back for United last season but has seen time at both the outside and center back position during preseason with the Dynamo.
MEET JORDAN GRAYE
HD.com: Give us a bit about your soccer background.
Jordan: I played for youth clubs in D.C. up until I was 16 including the D.C United youth academy when I was 14. After two years with D.C. United, I played for Reston F.C. before moving to the University of North Carolina and playing there for four years.
HD.com: What is your earliest soccer memory?
Jordan: Probably getting hit with the ball when I was just walking across the goal, not even paying attention to the game.
HD.com: How old were you?
Jordan: I was 3 years old, and because my parents were so excited that I blocked the other team from scoring, I became more interested in soccer because I got so much praise from it.
HD.com: What is your most memorable soccer moment prior to
joining the Dynamo?
Jordan: It was probably making my professional debut last year for D.C. United.
HD.com: Who is a soccer player that you looked up to growing up?
Jordan: Probably Thierry Henry. Defenders always want to be attackers and score goals, so I would have to say Henry.
HD.com: Aside from yourself, there are four other UNC Tar Heels on the roster; does that ease the transition coming to a new team?
Jordan: Definitely. I played with three of the guys directly, and Eddie Robinson was a little before me, but it definitely eases the transition. They got me acclimated to the conditions and what to expect.
HD.com: Does the UNC-Duke rivalry extend to the soccer field? Do those games have any more meaning to you guys?
Jordan: They have a little bit more meaning. Duke isn't really competing with us these days, so they have a little less, but when Duke is good and we are good, the games are definitely heated.
HD.com: What are your early impressions of Houston?
Jordan: The weather is pretty nice. It's a little bit cold back where I'm from, so I like doing preseason where it's warm.
HD.com: What was the biggest adjustment for you coming from the college game to the pro game?
Jordan: Probably staying mentally tough. A lot of people say the speed is a challenge, but I have some athleticism, so for me it was more staying mentally tough. In this league athleticism does not matter if you do not stay mentally strong in each game.