When he arrived in Houston, new Dynamo head coach Owen Coyle told media that he has a soft spot for wide midfielders who can push the pace of a game.
He may have found one such player on Thursday, when the Dynamo announced that they have added 21-year-old midfielder Leonel Miranda on a season-long loan from Argentine Primera club Independiente.
The Dynamo, who have an option to make the move permanent after the 2015 season, believe Miranda’s youth and willingness to pressure opponents fits the mold of what they’re looking for.
“I love wide players as you know and he’s a lad that can play the wide area. He’s pleasing to the eye, he’s young and we think he’s only going to be better coming from a perfect pedigree from the club he’s at,” Coyle told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “He works to get at people, he loves to take people on the way he gets shots and crosses in. He checks every box in that respect of being an exciting young player [that] can grow with the Dynamo.”
Miranda signed for Independiente in October 2012, making 34 appearances and scoring two goals since debuting for the seven-time Copa Libertadores champs in March 2013. He’s known for his pace and ability to run at defenders, two qualities the Dynamo were looking to add this offseason.
“He has the ability to put defenses on their heels,” said Houston general manager Matt Jordan, who spotted Miranda while scouting in Argentina late last year. “I think this is a guy that we’re looking forward to seeing him grow within our group.”
Houston’s had success with players who aren’t afraid to challenge defenders. Designated Player Boniek García filled that role when he first arrived in 2012, and former Dynamo attackers Calen Carr and Mac Kandji had significant success running at opponents out wide during their stints with the club.
Coyle prefers midfielders that will push the ball and get up the field. Garcia, when he’s on his game, fits that mold, as does Giles Barnes when deployed in the middle. Miranda, who can play on the wing or centrally as a second striker, adds a young name to that list.
“He’s an exciting player and he’s one we think we can help develop,” Coyle said. “We mentioned we want to bring young exciting players into the club and Miranda is that.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.