Often a young player can look back to a marquee moment that aided their development and made coaches and teammates realize their potential.
Homegrown midfielder Alex Dixon had his moment last August, when he buried Real Salt Lake at the death to give the Houston Dynamo a crucial 3-2 win. Less than a year later, the Dynamo are starting to see that moment of brilliance blossom as the 2012 version of Dixon is a year wiser and showing everyone what he can do on a consistent basis.
“I think he’s without a doubt got the skill and speed to play at this level,” midfielder Brad Davis said about his 22-year-old protégé. “No one forgets the goal he scored for us against Salt Lake. Having those little moments for a young guy helps out a lot and I think this year he’s been better and is going to continue to grow.
“I think confidence was a big thing [for him] last year,” Davis continued. “I think he’s fit in much better this year. His confidence has shown and that’s shown on the field.”
GOAL: Dixon nets late winner
That confidence was on full display in Houston’s 3-0 reserve win over Sporting Kansas City, when Dixon notched a goal and two assists.
His performance was proof that he is a far cry from the Alex Dixon who last year routinely found himself on the opposite end of teaching moments in training sessions.
“I think I’ve matured a lot,” Dixon said. “I look at this as a job now and not that I just get to play soccer. You have to come to work every day and keep trying to improve.”
Now Dixon is less concerned with being a professional and more concerned with the finer details of his craft. He has made the transition from forward to midfielder – where he can play all four positions – and is focused more on learning the tricks of the trade defensively than attacking, where he has spent most of his playing career.
All that hard work could pay off soon with an opportunity for playing time potentially presenting itself in the near future. With that in mind, Dixon has a chance to show the staff over the next week-and-a-half that he is ready to step up and contribute if his number is called.
“I’ll talk to Brian [Ching] and Brad and they tell me, ‘Keep your head up and work hard because you’re a good player,'” Dixon said. “I try and keep that in mind so when I do get my chance I can make the most of it.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com and he can be reached at Darrell.A.Lovell@gmail.com.