After overturning a number of stones this offseason in the transfer market, the Houston Dynamo finally hit pay dirt with a player they feel adds quality to a front line in flux. MLS Cup 2010 hero Macoumba Kandji is now a Houston player after the Dynamo struck a deal with the Colorado Rapids in exchange for a conditional SuperDraft pick in 2014.
“Everyone knows we’re on the hunt for forwards and we have a player that Dom [Kinnear] believes in and thinks will fit into our system,” Dynamo president Chris Canetti told MLSsoccer.com via phone on Wednesday night. “It was a deal that was there to be had and everything just came together.”
In Kandji, Houston adds a player that brings a unique combination for size, pace and technical ability. The 6-foot-4 forward compares favorably to former Dynamo man Kei Kamara, who found some success while in a Houston uniform.
“I’ve always liked Macoumba as a player,” Kinnear said in a team release. “His athleticism and good play to goal will be a good fit for our team.”
The Senegalese forward – who has a green card and will not take up an international roster slot – has shown the ability to cut through MLS back lines with his pace and has shown flashes of being dangerous in front of goal at times since being brought to MLS by the New York Red Bulls in 2008.
Kandji flirted with interest from Europe in 2010 but found himself on the move to Colorado that summer. He took the shot that was deflected on goal to give the Rapids the MLS Cup title but suffered an injury to his left ACL on the play. After coming back from the injury, Kandji appeared in the last nine games in 2011 for the Rapids.
The Dynamo will be looking for Kandji to bring his pace and ability to go at opposing back lines to Houston. He has played as a right winger – another position of interest for the team – in the past but will get a chance to stake his claim to starter’s minutes in a wide open group of Dynamo strikers.
“We have some big guys in Will [Bruin], Cam [Weaver] and Colin [Rolfe], and when you put Kandji and [Calen] Carr together, they bring that speed element,” Canetti said. “That speed balances off the type of players that we have up top on the roster at this point.”
Kandji is expected to join the Dynamo on Thursday in LA, where the club is training at the Home Depot Center.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.