For the first time in his career Andrew Driver sat at home on Christmas Day not knowing what his future held.
The Scottish winger was enjoying time with his family on a holiday break for the first time since becoming a professional, but his career was in flux as negotiations with the Houston Dynamo had stalled and he did not know where 2014 would take him.
The lack of consistency and feeling of not knowing what lied ahead was tough to deal with. What Driver did not know was that a month after his holiday of uncertainty he would be back where he preferred: in Houston donning Dynamo orange.
“That’s the first time I’ve been a free agent and I hated it,” Driver told MLSsoccer.com. “You have to negotiate with deals and you don’t know how things are going to turn out. That’s a part of football I really don’t like, the not knowing. There’s obviously games in deals and you play the games, but I’m delighted to come back.”
The “games” had things looking like a return was bleak, but the near three month process ended on a happy note and now Driver will have contininuity. His multi-year deal looks to keep him in Houston for the foreseeable future.
As Driver’s gained consistency in his career, his immediate goal is working towards creating it on the field. In 2013 Driver got off to a blazing start but hit a physical barrier, including an Achilles injury, that slowed his summer and fell to a pace below what the active winger is used too.
“When I first came here I was fresh and it was all new and I was buzzing, so now I’ve got to get back to that and maintain it for a whole year,” Driver said. “I think I performed to [my best] in little sparks last year, but I have to be more consistent.”
Added head coach Dominic Kinnear; “I think he ran into a physical wall. He scored a couple of goals for us early on and I thought his work rate was fantastic. I think when a guy has a good year you obviously want him to be better the next year.”
Driver is certainly aiming for better and he is building on his comfort level. He is no longer the new guy trying to fit in. Driver’s next trick is to turn that comfort off the field into the type of year he knows he is capable of on it, in a place he really wants to be.
“Football’s football and it’s a great thing to do, but if you’re enjoying yourself I don’t see why you’d be in a rush to try and change it,” Driver said. “I think we’ve seen sparks [of what I can do], but I think, hopefully with hard work, get to another level and try and help my team a lot.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.