Looking at the midfield depth in preseason there was not much credence given to Warren Creavalle. With a star-studded midfield - that included three players who have featured for their respective national teams - the second-year midfielder’s name got lost in the shuffle. Through seven games, however, Creavalle has shown the reason to continue reading a little further down the depth chart.
On Saturday, when the Houston Dynamo desperately needed a play to go their way, it was Creavalle that was the unlikely hero. Shielding the goalkeeper on a set piece, he reacted quickly to an Andrew Driver corner kick headed on goal by Ricardo Clark, just getting his head to the ball to give Houston a 1-1 draw and a valuable point on the road in a game where there were few positives for Houston in the game's first 93 minutes.
It was a big play early in the season for a team looking for a spark on the road. Also, it was Creavalle’s second goal of the season, which puts him even with Will Bruin, Brad Davis and Giles Barnes atop the team's scoring charts. The success is reward for a player that’s a prime example of how working hard during the week can pay off on the weekend.
WATCH: Creavalle scores in reserve match
“He isn’t the loudest guy in the locker room, but everyone likes him and we know he’s going to give everything he’s got,” goalkeeper Tally Hall told MLSsoccer.com after the game. “To have a guy like him that you can turn to at certain times, it's critical.”
The first 93 minutes saw the Dynamo lose two starting midfielders to injury and starting center back Jermaine Taylor to a red card.
“We were unlucky to go down a man but the team really showed our character,” Creavalle told reporters after the match.
The second-year utility man from the University of Central Florida was a symbol of that character Saturday. He was the first player off the bench, entering the game in the 41st minute when Adam Moffat was forced out of the game with a hamstring injury. When Davis did not come out of the dressing room at the start of the second half due to a groin injury, Creavalle slid over to cover the right side while the Dynamo reshuffled their lineup and was later part of group that battled for more than 30 minutes with only 10 men.
That versatility coupled with his work ethic has helped him make his way on the field. Saturday it all paid off for the Dynamo and is the reason he’ll continue to get opportunities.
“When he steps on the field he’s always trying to play well and make an impact,” head coach Dominic Kinnear told MLSsoccer.com after Saturday’s match. “Obviously, scoring goals and game-tying goals is a good way to make sure you’re back in the team.
“I’m happy for him because he works hard every day when he steps into training,” Kinnear continued. “He deserves to play and he’s rewarding himself and the team with his play.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DarrellLovell.