With most of MLS off due to the international break the Houston Dynamo are hoping to get a glimpse into some of their future.
Houston will welcome Liga MX champion Santos Laguna as a make-up opponent for the Dynamo Charities Cup on Saturday (7 p.m. CT, TICKETS). The match was originally slated to be against Manchester City in May but a record flood wiped the game out.
Five months later Houston is looking to capitalize on the late season friendly and get a look at several young players that could factor into the club’s future.
“I think the timing of this game is perfect. It’s obviously an opportunity for some guys to get some minutes against a good level of competition,” general manager Matt Jordan said. “I think the coaches have done a very good job with the young players this year. I think it’s a great opportunity for our young guys to go in and play against a great opponent.”
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While Houston has gotten younger this season the majority of their main contributors are veterans or holdovers from years past. The likes of Will Bruin, Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis, Giles Barnes, DaMarcus Beasley have helped carry the load for Houston this season when healthy and available.
As the overall age of the club has dropped, those veterans have gotten the lion’s share of the minutes. That has started to change over the last three weeks. Loanee Leonel Miranda has finally gotten a good run of games and found a flow. Midseason signing Rasheed Olabiyi has paired with Clark in the midfield.
Olabiyi will be in Houston beyond this year, but getting another look at Miranda against the Mexican champs will help any evaluation as his season-long loan gets closer to an end.
“When you sign young players at the level we do … these are not ready-made players, they’re young players with potential,” said head coach Owen Coyle. “I think Leonel’s grasping what the game’s about. He didn’t have his best game on Sunday but he worked his socks off. We’ve got high hopes for Leonel.”
Jordan declined to speak on Miranda’s potential future in Houston after this season, citing club policy, but the winger told the club website that he hopes to stay with the club after the season.
Another player the club wants to get a close look at is forward Mauro Manotas. Touted as an exciting young player, the Colombian has not seen many minutes behind Bruin and Erick Torres at times. With a high ceiling, the 20-year-old Manotas is potentially exiciting prospect for the club moving forward. Getting him on the field and seeing how he’s matured with a run against Santos will be important.
“We love Mauro Manotas and we think he’s going to develop into a fantastic player,” Coyle said. “Of course we’d have love to have gotten him a lot more game time but Will’s been doing very well in that position. He’s looked lively when he’s come into games. He’s going to be a wonderful player and games like Saturday will certainly help in his development.”
Regardless of how the late season friendly is viewed, Saturday’s game will be a chance for the club and its fans to get a look at some potential.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.