As the Houston Dynamo enter the 2014 season, they are working behind the scenes to lock up two players for the future.
The Generation adidas products were selected in the first round of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft and have been a vital part of Houston’s recent success, winning consecutive Eastern Conference titles and reaching the conference final again last year. With the duo entering the final year of their respective contracts, the Dynamo are working to keep them in Houston.
“Our goal and intention is to see if we can finalize new deals with them and keep them in Houston for a long time,” Canetti told MLSsoccer.com. “We see both Will and Kofi as key players to our future. We’re in the process of trying to renegotiate contracts with each of them that will have them locked up for long-term extensions.”
When Houston were trying to rebuild in 2011 after missing the playoffs for the only time in club history, both players – their Generation adidas contracts (that initially prevented them from counting toward the salary budget) a crucial consideration – were selected in the first round of that year’s draft.
Since then, the 24-year-old Bruin has become entrenched at forward, using a 2012 season that saw him notch 16 total goals (including playoffs) to produce 31 goals in his first three seasons. That total includes six playoff tallies, already second in club history, two behind legend Brian Ching.
Bruin, who appeared in two friendlies for the US national team last year and was named to the roster for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, said staying in Houston has strong appeal.
“The city’s grown on me, big-time,” Bruin, a St. Louis native, told MLSsoccer.com. “I think we’ve got a great team, a great staff and I’m happy. It’s a good situation, it’s a good place and the facilities are good. [Staying is] something I’m not opposed to.”
Sarkodie, who will turn 23 in March, made seven starts in his first season in Houston before turning a late-season chance and strong playoff performances in 2012 into a regular gig. He started 38 of 39 MLS games during a strong junior campaign, becoming a rising star in the league at right back. With the Dynamo trying to lock down the two regular starters for several years, the future is on Sarkodie’s mind as well.
“You can’t put it out of your mind, because that’s your future,” Sarkodie told MLSsoccer.com. “You just hope that you make the right decision and everything, hopefully, pans out the way it’s supposed too. … I’ve grown with the team, grown with [head coach Dominic Kinnear] and created a good relationship. I’ve been here and tried to win a championship and that’s something I’m trying to do.”
With the regular season just three weeks away, Canetti said he would prefer to conclude negotiations sooner, rather than later.
“I think ideally you’d like to get these things done as soon as possible,” he said. “You don’t want to drag them into the season if you don’t have too. You’d like to get them done.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.