If you asked the Houston Dynamo for an ideal forward to augment their current stable of strikers, only a handful in MLS would fit the mold.
Enter Omar Cummings.
With Sunday’s announced acquisition of the Jamaican international from the Colorado Rapids for Nathan Sturgis and allocation money, the Dynamo got a holiday present that meets the speed and established-scoring qualities the club coveted.
“When you look at our objectives coming into the offseason, it was to find attacking players and he’s been a guy we’ve always coveted,” Dynamo president Chris Canetti told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s a guy who can open up the field and he was exactly the type of player we were looking for.”
Cummings has a track record of punishing opposing MLS defenses with his speed and ability to make runs off other forwards, most notably his work with former US international Conor Casey. Those skills have Houston thinking they have landed the ideal forward to play as a speedy foil to up-and-coming striker Will Bruin.
“Everybody knows what kind of player Will is and what his abilities are," Canetti said. "I think, ideally, [head coach Dominic Kinnear] would like to have a guy that can play off of those abilities and can bring a different dimension and that’s what we have here with Omar."
While Bruin isn't strictly a target man, pairing the two together should help open up space in the channels and provide opportunities for both players as the new striker adds speed to Houston’s attack.
Cummings, however, is more than just a match for Bruin’s skill-set. He has 28 caps for the Jamaican national team, scoring seven goals for his country, and enjoyed his best season as a big part of the Rapids 2010 championship winning squad. He led the team with 14 goals in 29 games after scoring eight goals to go with 12 assists in 2008. It was the type of season that had him a work permit away from a loan with the EPL’s Aston Villa.
“I have always liked Omar," Kinnear said. "He is a good player with good pace. He is someone who knows the league well. We were in an unfortunate situation with Calen Carr's injury, but Omar is a player who can come in and help us stretch the field.”
Along the injury lines, Cummings’ arrival provides some much needed reinforcements to a forward corps in flux.
In addition to Carr’s left ACL injury, which will likely keep him out for a significant amount of time, Mac Kandji and Cam Weaver - who has an offer on the table - are both free agents. Couple those situations with the fact that Brian Ching has yet to confirm his intentions for 2013, and Cummings’ arrival comes at the perfect time as the club looks to assemble a strong group up top.
“He’s been in the league a while, won a title and played with his national team and he has a great statistical record,” Canetti remarked. “When you bring those qualities together it makes for a very strong asset and piece to the puzzle."
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.