For the first time since 2007 the Houston Dynamo started preseason without two of their vocal leaders. With Bobby Boswell in D.C. and legend Brian Ching helping build the Houston Dash, the Dynamo are without two of their most prominent locker room and practice field voices.
While team captain Brad Davis—who will join the club in Tucson, Ariz., Friday after being away with the U.S. men’s national team—and original Ricardo Clark remain as veteran leaders there is a void to fill, and Corey Ashe feels he’s at the head of the next group to fill it.
“I spoke with Brian and he said ‘Hey, you’re one of the older guys, you need to be a leader,’” Ashe said. “[Head coach Dominic Kinnear] told me that and it’s true. This is my eighth year here and it’s my job to lead on and off the field along with Tally [Hall], Brad and some of the other guys.
“It becomes a big thing, showing the younger guys the ropes like the Craig Waibel’s and Brian Mullan’s did for me.”
Waibel and Mullan are two of the franchise’s best; both players’ likeness is featured on pillars at BBVA Compass Stadium. What they taught Ashe was the work ethic that goes into being a Dynamo.
If Ashe is going to return the favor and become one of the club’s vocal leaders, it would require the left back to step out of his comfort zone. The feisty defender has never provided his message vocally, rather he has let his play to do the talking in his eight years in Houston. That play has earned him a good deal of respect, and a brief call-up to the USMNT for the Gold Cup last summer.
Now he knows that it is time to step into a new role.
“It was kind of funny [the first day of preseason] that Corey’s the one that’s been here the longest and he’s going to be the leader that everybody looks to along with Brad and Tally,” said forward Will Bruin who is entering his fourth year in Houston.
Bruin knows that being an outspoken leader is not what is normally expected of Ashe, mainly because he falls in the same boat. While he would also prefer his play to do his talking, he is another tenured player that understands the changing dynamics of the club.
“I think with Bobby and Ching leaving that’s a lot of leadership,” he said. “I think I’m ready to take on more of a leadership role that I have in the past. I’m not going to be the one that takes charge of everything but I can be more of a leader than in years past.”
While they are at different stages of their careers Ashe and Bruin show that Houston has leadership in the fold. With two prominent voices out of the mix, Ashe and company know their time to step in has come.
“The role that Brian played obviously speaks for itself; he’s the face of the Dynamo. Bobby was the vocal leader, organizing guys left and right and had a presence on the field,” Ashe said. “Now other guys have to step in and fill those voids. It’s not going to be an easy task, but, we have enough guys to get the job done.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.