“I think training already has been lifted, I think the spirit, the mood has been lifted,” said defender Kofi Sarkodie. “Beasley, Luis, guys that have played in the World Cup, top-class players, they’re only going to make our squad better. I think we’re looking forward to having a good match against D.C.”
The fresh recruits joined the Dynamo last week and both were active in training on Tuesday. They are in contention to make their Houston debuts in Sunday’s important Eastern Conference clash with high-flying D.C. United (7 p.m. CT; TICKETS).
As well as the on-field benefits of adding two proven internationals who represented their countries in this year’s World Cup, Sarkodie believes that their presence sends a signal that the Dynamo are serious about producing a strong second half of the season.
Beasley was the U.S. captain in last year’s Gold Cup and said last week that he enjoys using his immense experience to help teammates improve. After admiring and studying the 120-cap international’s play from afar, now Sarkodie is sharing the field with him. The 23-year-old is convinced that his game will benefit as a result.
“DaMarcus has been to four World Cups,” the outside back told reporters. “I hope that I can learn a lot from him and he can kind of be a mentor to me and I can continue to learn the position from a guy that’s playing at such a high level.”
Beasley grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, only about 120 miles from the Dayton, Ohio, suburb where Sarkodie was born. First as a winger, lately as a left back, Beasley earned a worldwide reputation and became one of American soccer’s best-ever exports by playing regularly for several leading European clubs.
When discussing the educational value of Beasley’s play, Sarkodie mentioned the 32-year-old in the same breath as some of the top outside backs in Europe over the past decade.
“Guys like, Ashley Cole, Dani Alves, Philipp Lahm—I’ve watched DaMarcus basically my whole life—guys that have played at a high level and have great talent, you try to pick up tips from them and understand a bit more how they play the position and understand where to be at different times and how to utilize my strengths in the game,” he said.
“He’s intelligent, he knows when to use his pace, knows how to use his pace; he knows where to take his touch. Because he’s played at such a high level for so long you can tell that he understands the game and knows where to be.”
Beasley previously played his club soccer with Puebla in Mexico. He is gradually working his way back to full fitness after a couple of weeks off following the end of the U.S. World Cup campaign. He is hopeful that process will not take long, especially since he’s training in the sauna-like heat and humidity of a Texas summer.
“I didn’t know if I was going to be coming into preseason or coming to play MLS—Europe and and MLS are different. So I’m doing a little extra after training to try and get myself as fit as possible as quickly as possible,” he said. “At the same time, I’m not 20; but I’m going to push myself like I’m 20. I’m going to push myself, but I’m smart, I know my body. I just want to get as fit as possible in this heat and hopefully I can play a part in the next 14 games.”
Garrido, a sharp and combative defensive midfielder, played for Honduras in the World Cup and has joined Houston on a long-term loan from C.D. Olimpia. He takes the Dynamo’s Honduran contingent up to three, along with fellow midfielders Boniek García and Alex López.
“We saw at the World Cup that we have quality players and now the fact that we have Alex and Luis coming in here and trying to make a mark speaks highly of the level of play that we have in Honduras,” García said through a translator.
“He’s a very aggressive player, a very powerful player, a player who’s constantly on his man and is very relentless on the field. A player who’s also very good offensively. Confidence is a big part of his personality, he’s very self-confident.”
Moving to a new country, let alone a new club, requires plenty of adjustments—some obvious, others less predictable. Garcia related an anecdote from training last week: “We were in a tight-space situation and we were just playing and we always have the custom of whistling when we’re on the field, to ask for the ball, or whatever,” he said.
“And it just so happened that Luis whistled twice and everybody around stopped playing because they thought it was [Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear]. We told him, ‘hey, don’t whistle like that!’” No longer whistling while he works, perhaps as soon as this weekend Garrido will have the chance to showcase his talent for bringing members of the other team to a halt.
Tom Dart is a contributing writer to HoustonDynamo.com and HoustonDashSoccer.com. Former editor and reporter for The Times of London and reporter for SI.com, Dart currently freelances for The Guardian.