Je-Vaughn Watson and Koke are finding just how steep the MLS learning curve is. The Houston Dynamo's newest players are both learning on the fly how to play together and adapt to a faster and more physical style of play.
“They’re quicker and stronger in MLS, and they're adjusting to that,” said midfielder Geoff Cameron of his new teammates. “[Last weekend at Toronto], Koke thought there were a lot of fouls out there, but I just told him, ‘Welcome to MLS,’ and, ‘You just have to roll with it.’”
Watson and Koke both got the start for Houston last Saturday night, each going the distance in a 2-1 loss to TFC. Watson — who made his second start in a row — played right midfield, and Koke started at forward next to Cam Weaver.
The pair was effective throughout the match, and Watson got the assist on the Dynamo’s lone goal for the second straight match. Still, while the transition is going well, both players are noticing that playing in MLS offers different challenges.
“It’s a bit different here, because you have to keep running, and you’ve got some players who are technically better,” said Watson, who came to the Dynamo from Sporting Central in Jamaica.
While both players are adapting to the speed and physicality involved in MLS, the team is finding that both players bring attacking quality. Watson and Koke came to Houston with the reputation of being skilled players who have a track record of creating for teammates as much as for themselves. Getting on the field and facing live action for the first time brings both optimism for the future and the realization that the process of integrating into a new team can take some time.
“All the players are helping me, and they know I’m new, but with their help, it’s easier,” Koke said. “I think they’re getting confidence in me, and I think that’s very important.”
Added Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear: “For some guys, especially foreigners, it takes some time to adjust. So I think if you come in and you’re ready, it still may not be enough, because you don’t know the players here. But overall, I think both guys have done well.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.