The Houston Dynamo are clearly building for a better 2011, swinging a deal on Wednesday with the Colorado Rapids, who are gunning for a deep postseason run in 2010.
The two Western Conference foes swapped wingers on the last day before the MLS roster freeze on Wednesday, with the Rapids picking up veteran midfielder Brian Mullan and the Dynamo landing 26-year-old Colin Clark and allocation money in the deal. Colorado also gets a fourth-round pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft.
The trade was the second acquisition in little more than 24 hours for Colorado, who traded away midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy for New York Red Bulls forward Macoumba Kandji on Tuesday. Kandji is expected to play either in the midfield or in an attacking role with the Rapids, who on Wednesday occupied the sixth place spot in the chase for the MLS playoffs.
Colorado and Houston do not face each other again this year.
Mullan, 32, will be returning to his native Colorado after an MLS career which has seen him feature for Los Angeles, San Jose, and for the last five seasons with the Dynamo. In Mullan, the Rapids get a tireless worker who has typically roamed the right flank for the Dynamo. Along with an unrivaled work rate, the 10-year MLS veteran also brings speed and durability, playing no fewer than 25 games every year since 2003.
Mullan and Kandji are sure to provide an upgrade in service for the Rapids’ deadly strike force of Conor Casey and Omar Cummings, and both of the new arrivals can play on the wings, a position where Colorado has been hurting since Clark's season was cut short due to injury yet again.
Clark suffered a torn ACL for a second consecutive year earlier this season, this time during a matchup on Aug. 7 against the Earthquakes. The Dynamo are currently 10 points out of the postseason race with seven matches to play, and the acquisition of Clark appears geared toward a revival next season.
“The way he plays when healthy speaks for itself,” Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear said. “He’s a dynamic one-on-one player who can provide service out wide on the right or left. He is a good young player who I have always enjoyed watching. With our training staff, we did our follow-up with the doctors and trainers to see how his progress is going and find out all we can about him. They came back with all positive news.”
Since Clark played primarily on the left side of midfield for Colorado, Houston seems to have a glut of left-sided options with Clark, Brad Davis, and Corey Ashe. Kinnear said he was sad to trade away a player like Mullan, who won MLS Cups with the Dynamo in both 2006 and 2007.
“That’s the tough part, as I’ve been around Brian for a number of years,” said Kinnear. “When speaking about him, two words always come to mind: fierce competitor. He is a great teammate, great player to coach, unselfish, has a great attitude, was a hard worker, and was fun to watch.”