Speed kills and, for the first time since arriving in Houston since March 23, Calen Carr showed the Dynamo coaching staff he has plenty of it over 90 minutes.
The veteran forward played his first full shift in Dynamo orange on Sunday morning, helping the reserves defeat their Real Salt Lake counterparts 1-0 a day after Houston’s first team pulled a dramatic 3-2 win over RSL.
Carr played the full match at the head of the Dynamo attack and showed off the speed that caught the Dynamo’s attention, making a number of penetrating runs. In a win that moved the reserves up to second place in their division, Carr found satisfaction in showing that he can be effective for a full 90 minutes after a long layoff following a concussion.
“It’s another level of experience that’s closer to the games at night with the first team,” Carr told MLSsoccer.com after the game. “The 90 today is exactly what I need, and I tried to make it as game like as possible. This is the sort of test I need, physically and mentally.”
Carr’s showing on Sunday caps off a week that saw the forward get his first regular season action, starting with Wednesday’s 1-1 draw against New England and continuing in Saturday night 3-2 win over RSL. Logging minutes in two crucial matches shows the faith the Dynamo coaching staff has in their speedy forward.
“He’s been around and is an experienced player,” said goalkeepers coach Tim Hanley. “We know if we put him in there, he won’t be overwhelmed, because he’s been around in this league.”
Now Carr is out to provide a payoff for that confidence, and his work in the reserve game is an example of that. With the forward working to get back into game shape, the reserve matches offer him the opportunity to work in a game setting, something that training cannot duplicate.
Sunday’s game showed that Carr still has a knack for finding space behind the defense and causing problems for opponents. With the current Dynamo roster filled with forwards who are more physical than they are fast, Carr could provide an element the club has missed all season.
“Any time the coach puts you in the game and trusts you to do a job is great, and my job is to reward that confidence,” Carr said. “I have a responsibility to the team to do my best and be a part of it, and I’m trying to hold myself accountable.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.