The deal bolsters Houston’s need on the wings for the long-term, as last year’s loanee from Scottish club Hearts returns to the Dynamo on a multi-year deal with club options.
But bringing Driver back was something that looked improbable as recently as two weeks ago when he chose to explore other potential opportunities following the Dynamo's decision not to pick up his contract option.
“Once we declined his option he became a free agent with the opportunity to play anywhere in the world, but from day one we told him we’d like to have him back,” Dynamo president Chris Canetti told MLSsoccer.com in a phone interview. “There’s always a process you go through in these situations. The process played out and it came back around to where we were able to find a middle ground and a solution that works for all parties.”
What brought the two back together? According to Canetti, it was Driver’s affinity for Houston. After looking over his options, which, according to reports included interest from his former club Hearts, it was Driver re-engaging the Dynamo that prompted his return to MLS.
“[Andrew] came back and after going through the process said that Houston’s the place he’d like to be,” Canetti said. “I think he had good friends here and enjoyed the culture. You could see him really taking advantage of the city and going to Rockets games, Astros games and Texans games.
“I think he clearly wants to be here and he believes in the league,” Canetti continued. “I think he believes this is a place for him to grow his career and at the end of the day it all lined up for him to return.”
Canetti said Driver is on his way back to Houston and the club hopes he will be present for the start of preseason Monday.
His return gives Houston a quartet of quality players on the wings as Driver joins the recently-acquired Cascio and incumbents Brad Davis and Boniek García. However, things were not always positive for Driver in his first season in orange.
The Scottish winger got off to a blazing start, scoring three goals in his first nine games and collecting a significant number of starts (20 in 26 appearances). But a midseason bout with right Achilles tendonitis derailed that progress and Driver struggled to rekindle his early-season form. Still, his body of work in 2013 was enough to convince the Dynamo to bring him back.
With Driver on the books, Houston looks to have addressed their final major roster need. According to Canetti, that does not mean the club is done trying to bolster the squad.
“I think we have one more move we’re looking very closely at that, ideally, we’d like to have done before camp opens,” Canetti said. “I don’t know if it’s going to happen, but we’re trying to squeeze one more move in if we can.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.