Having a good backup goalkeeper is like having a good insurance policy: You rarely think about it until there is an emergency.
The LA Galaxy's Josh Saunders reminded everyone of this last year when he stepped in at midseason for the injured Donovan Ricketts, then won the No. 1 shirt and led the club to the Supporters' Shield and the MLS Cup title.
The Houston Dynamo feel they have a similar insurance policy in Tyler Deric. The 23-year-old has bided his time and learned his craft as an understudy to both Pat Onstad and Tally Hall since becoming the club’s first homegrown signing in 2009.
And while he’s only started two MLS games – both wins at the end of 2010 – that work has the Dynamo staff convinced Deric can get the job done.
“I think early on goalkeepers like to fly around and do the spectacular,” Dynamo goalkeepers coach Tim Hanley said. “Now I think Tyler’s at a point where he’s more interested in management and saving the balls that need to be saved and less interested in flying around. He works really hard and it’s paid off, and we’re happy about his progress.”
While Deric has made a lot of progress on the field, he suffered an off-the-field setback earlier this month when he was arrested following an altercation outside a nightclub in Houston. Despite the legal issues, the club has remained supportive of its young goalkeeper. Both the team and the player declined comment on the issue, beyond Deric expressing his gratitude that the Dynamo have remained steadfast in their support.
“It really adds confidence to know the coaches have faith in me,” Deric said. “So I try and return that favor to them by working hard so I can play well for them.”
To do that Deric focuses on working as if he was the starting goalkeeper. That work means preparing both during the week and on gameday as if he was going to start for the club.
Working to be ready is his current job, but Deric admits that being the starting goalkeeper remains his main goal. Unseating incumbent Tally Hall will be a tall order, but Deric's ambition has not manifested itself into any jealousy-laden issues.
“Our personalities mesh pretty well and we get along and make it a fun working environment, because we know if we’re having a terrible time we’ll be terrible players,” Deric said. “We have good attitudes and always try and push each other.”
Entering a contract year, Deric will get his chance to shine as he will likely take over goalkeeping duties in CONCACAF Champions League and U.S. Open Cup play. But he knows the MLS Cup is priority No. 1 and feels he can duplicate Saunders’ success if called upon.
“Whenever you see a Josh Saunders out there, who’s stepped up, it’s reassuring and I feel I can do the same if called upon and help out these guys,” Deric said. “Mostly I just want to help this team be winners and win championships.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at Darrell.A.Lovell@gmail.com