The Houston Dynamo made their first acquisition of the offseason on Wednesday, acquiring midfielder/defender Nathan Sturgis from Toronto FC for a conditional pick in the 2014 SuperDraft.
Although Houston becomes the fifth stop on the young, but well-traveled career for Sturgis, the move has a familiar feel for the Dynamo. With Houston looking to build on their 2011 success, head coach Dominic Kinnear made a move consistent with those he made over the past year by bringing in a young player who has experience and, most importantly, fits his system.
Most specifically, the acquisition of the 24-year-old Sturgis is similar to the trade Houston made just five months ago for midfielder Adam Moffat. After being selected in the 2010 Expansion Draft following a successful stint with the Columbus Crew, the Scotsman languished in Portland before his resurgence as a Houston starter.
Like the 25-year-old Moffat, Sturgis was plucked from a burgeoning position as a starter for the Seattle Sounders in last year's Expansion Draft by the Vancouver Whitecaps and traded the next day to Toronto FC. At his new home, he found a new boss, Aron Winter, and struggled to duplicate his Seattle success.
Just as Moffat found success in Houston, former US youth international Sturgis will get the chance to do the same under Kinnear’s tutelage.
“Dom knows in his mind what he likes,” Canetti told MLSsoccer, “... and when he really likes a guy he envisions, far more than anyone else, how that guy will fit into the club and into his scheme. That was certainly the case with Adam Moffat and hopefully it will be the same situation where Dom sees Sturgis in a certain role with our club and he finds success.”
While Sturgis offers depth and versatility – he can play both in the midfield and defense – he also pays dividends when it comes to the club’s cap and roster situation. With limited cap space and just five roster slots open (only two of which are earmarked for internationals), the Dynamo get a young, domestic player who has valuable experience as both a starter and reserve to bolster their roster.
“I think that’s a positive to get a young player with good experience that’s been around a couple of different organizations,” Canetti said. “He’s a professional and knows how to approach things and brings some youth to the squad. From all perspectives, this is a nice deal for us and it’s one of the pieces we have to put together and, hopefully, it’s the start of things to come.”
Sturgis has also suited up for Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy, who drafted him with the No. 12 pick in the 2006 SuperDraft. He made 14 appearances for Toronto FC in 2011 and began the season as a starter, but fell down the depth chart as Winter remade his squad on the fly.
A native of Northeast Florida, Sturgis also has been capped 40 times at various levels of the US national team setup. He is a veteran of both the 2005 and 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cups and was a member of the 2008 Olympic squad in Beijing.