That fans cheer for their players is a given. But on every team, there are players who tug at the heartstrings of their supporters a little more than their peers. Their adversity makes it easy for fans to root for them, and those same fans latch on in the hope that, one day soon, the player will get his shot.
Enter Houston Dynamo striker Calen Carr, whose battle with post-concussion syndrome has limited him to just five games this season.
Carr came to Houston in March in a trade that sent Dominic Oduro to the Chicago Fire. Oduro has flourished in the Windy City with 10 goals on the year. With his return to action in August, the speedy Carr has worked hard to make sure that he can be valuable as well.
“I’m just happy to be back playing and help the team,” Carr said after training Tuesday. “Honestly, I’m just motivated that they brought me here and to show that I can help the team.”
So far, so good.
Since being cleared to play, Carr has mostly filled the role of a late-game sub that comes on to provide speed and pressure the defense. Last week, with the Dynamo slated to play three games in eight days, Carr got a chance to play a bigger role.
The 28-year-old came on late to score the tying goal in a 2-2 draw against the Columbus Crew and followed that up with a strong 70 minutes against the San Jose Earthquakes last Saturday when he made his first start in Dynamo orange.
“It was a frustrating time for him the previous six months or so, but I think he showed on Saturday why we traded for him,” Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “He makes some good, smart runs behind the defense and can be a threat. … I think he will be an important player for us down the stretch.”
With Kinnear showing confidence in the slender forward’s ability, all that is left is for Carr to make good on the faith shown in him. His performance last week goes a long way to doing that, as well as changing the story of his season from one of frustration to one of production.
“That’s what I’ve been working to try and do, and hopefully it’s showing,” Carr said. “I was able to get a goal last week, and I thought the whole team played well Saturday, so, it’s a good time to be coming into the team. We’ve got a short window, but I’m trying to make the most of it.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.