Jonathan Kaplan / HoustonDynamo.com

Dynamo welcome Academy player at training

The Houston Dynamo had a new face at training this week. Dynamo Academy forward Tamay Sanchez participated in two training sessions with the first team, attempting to catch the eye of the Dynamo coaching staff. Although Sanchez's small frame makes him vulnerable to larger opponents, his skill is undeniable.

"He is a young kid," assistant coach Steve Ralston said. "Technically he is pretty good, but physically, he is a young kid and has some room to grow. If he works hard enough, obviously he has the talent."

The 17-year-old from Monterrey, Mexico, has been a welcome addition to the Academy since joining this past summer when he was still 16. In July's SUM U-17 Cup, Sanchez impressed coaches and scouts by scoring four goals in four games, including a hat trick against New England in the group stage of the tournament. The four goals were enough to earn Sanchez the Golden Boot award. Sanchez understands, though, that playing against 16-year-olds on other Academy squads is different than going toe-to-toe with Brian Ching and Brad Davis.

"It’s a big difference," he said. "We are not used to working with as much intensity as they do here, and physically it's tough to compete."

Although the striker has made a name for himself scoring goals, head coach Dominic Kinnear used Sanchez in a defensive role while focusing on the starters and had Sanchez marking Brad Davis at one point. Sanchez, however, was just happy for the opportunity to train against Houston's best.

"I am happy for the opportunity to play with these players," he said. "I felt like I played well and was calm with the ball. I did many things well, and I am just happy for the opportunity."

"He’s trying to do his best and work hard," noted Davis. "He can get a bit frantic at times, but I think it’s a good experience for him to be able to see what it’s like. I think it’s good for him and some of the other Academy players we have had in. It’s a good experience and hopefully one he learns from."

Because he is likely to return to Monterrey for much of the year, Sanchez is not eligible to play for the Dynamo Academy in league play. He is eligible, however, to remain in the Dynamo system as an out-of-territory player, as long as he meets training requirements with the squad. One of the Dynamo Academy's current top prospects, SMU senior Josue Soto, also hails from Monterrey but qualifies as a home-grown player via regular training sessions in Houston.

The Dynamo Academy squads kicked off their season last weekend against Lonestar SC, with the U-16s winning 2-1 and the U-18s falling 3-1. The teams will host a doubleheader tomorrow at the Carl Lewis Track & Field Complex against the Dallas Texas. The U-18s kick off at 2 p.m., with the U-16s to follow.