When opportunity knocks, you have open the door. With depleted ranks at right back, Houston rookie Warren Creavalle looked to do just that when the Dynamo played Sporting Kansas City to a scoreless draw in Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic action on Friday night.
Creavalle, a second round pick in January’s MLS SuperDraft who is fighting for a contract, was given a full shift against a very talented Sporting KC attack. The youngster held his own, manning the right side of a Dynamo defense that repelled Sporting at every turn on their way to a 0-0 draw in their first match of the tournament.
“Those are some of the best attackers in the league and any time you’re going up against that type of competition it’s a huge learning experience,” Creavalle told MLSsoccer.com via phone from Orlando, Fla., after the match. “I just tried to get into places and link with guys on the field and really learn and it worked out a lot of times – but there were times I wasn’t so fortunate.”
The 6-foot fullback did his part, breaking up Sporting’s attack by sticking close to forwards Kei Kamara and C.J. Sapong while also providing width and service going forward on the right side late in the game. He just missed a game-turning moment in the first half when he was unable to put a deflected Alex Dixon shot on frame.
While good, Creavalle’s opportunity came, in part, due to necessity.
“With Andre [Hainault] a little knocked up and with [Jermaine Taylor and Kofi Sarkodie] away on international duty, it fell to him to play tonight,” head coach Dominic Kinnear told MLSsoccer.com via phone after the match. “He defended well and some of the players they had out there were pretty good and I think he held his ground. He got forward a little later in the game, which I thought was good and, overall, I thought he did all right.”
Underscoring Creavalle’s performance is the fact that he is still learning the ropes at a new position. Predominantly a midfielder in his time at the University of Central Florida, Creavalle has undertaken a steep learning curve in the first month of his professional career. Going through a crash course on playing right back, the rookie is hoping that his play holding down the fort on the right side will show he belongs at this level.
“You have to adapt very quick in this league,” Creavalle said. “With [Andre, Jermaine and Kofi] missing from the lineup, it’s left a bit of a void that I’ve been able to come in and help with. Hopefully I can keep taking advantage of these opportunities.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.