With two vacancies on the backline, the Houston Dynamo may turn to two former midfielders for relief.
First-year Dynamo players Nathan Sturgis and Warren Creavalle are likely choices to fill in for internationals Andre Hainault (Canada), Geoff Cameron (US) and Jermaine Taylor (Jamaica) in the coming weeks, and replacing the trio — who have logged 101 combined starts in the last year and a half — will not be a cake walk.
The young duo of Sturgis and Creavalle are ready to use recent game action against the San Antonio Scorpions in the US Open Cup and Valencia in the BBVA Compass Dynamo Charities Cup to slot in seamlessly to a defense still finding its stride in MLS play.
“You always have to be ready and you try to prepare yourself every week to play so you don’t really change anything whether guys are here or not,” Sturgis told MLSsoccer.com. “It was really helpful … to get some game situations and get your fitness up a little bit.”
Creavalle benefitted as much as anyone from last week’s break from MLS play. The rookie put in full shifts in both matches and feels his performances proved that he’s on the “right path” after making his professional debut against the NASL Scorpions last week and getting a crash course on defending the wing against elite talent two days later when facing Valencia.
“A lot of good things came out for him last week,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said about Creavalle. “The kid defends well. He had a good game in San Antonio and defensively, he’s always in tune and doesn’t stop until the plays dead. He’s a good athlete, good in the air and is strong attacking.”
While they may not mirror the appearances in defense of the players they may be replacing, they do bring many of the same qualities. Both Creavalle and Sturgis bring an attacking element as former midfielders and if selected, they will be able to build out of the back much like Cameron, Taylor and Hainault do on a regular basis for Houston.
With confidence that the pair can hold up their end of the bargain, belief is high that if called into action the young converted midfielders can build on last week’s play, when Houston returns to MLS action against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday evening.
“Anytime you can get games together there’s nothing that can replace that,” defender Bobby Boswell said of playing alongside Creavalle and Sturgis last week. “If the level doesn’t drop off it just makes the team stronger and guys are better in the long run. At the end of the year, when you’re making a run, and to know you have guys available that are ready is an important thing.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.