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Dynamo's Kinnear on lookout for gems at Combine

Houston head coach Dom Kinnear

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It is safe to say that Houston Dynamo center back Geoff Cameron is a household name in MLS circles. But rewind the clock to January 2008, and it would be hard to find many people who were familiar with University of Rhode Island product.

“To be honest, we didn’t know who Geoff Cameron was before the Combine,” Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear admitted to MLSsoccer.com in a phone conversation on Thursday. “He did a couple things at the Combine that caught our eye and we picked him with the last pick in the third round. We took a chance on him based on the things we saw at the Combine.”

Cameron is joined by Corey Ashe (a second-round SuperDraft pick in 2007) and Danny Cruz (third-round pick in 2009), who both impressed the staff during their workouts, as Dynamo success stories to emerge from the Combine.

On Friday, Kinnear and his staff will leave for Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., fully prepared for this year’s Combine, where they will be looking to duplicate their past successes. With six games in three days, Kinnear & Co. are preparing to get a whirlwind look at approximately 66 players, many of whom the club would otherwise not see due to logistical concerns.

“You’re seeing these guys against good competition, or the best of the best if you look at it that way,” Kinnear said. “I’m sure teams do a fair amount of scouting, but you can’t be everywhere. At the Combine, a player may stick out, or a player you’re not sure of you can see in this type of format and get a better look at him.”

However, there are some downsides to such a public tryout, specifically that it’ll put on display some of the talent that teams hope will fly under the radar, players that clubs unearth during scouting trips or that play at lower levels in college and are hoping to pick up in the SuperDraft without much trouble.

That, coupled with the down time between the end of the college season and Combine, were the only downsides Kinnear saw in what he termed a “great” process.

“There are players out there in those late rounds that you may find at the Combine that you take and become good soccer players,” Kinnear said. “If you look at it, over the years, there are a lot of young players who’ve come in and made an impact, so it’s an important weekend for everyone.”

Dynamo strike TV deal

On Friday, the Dynamo announced a deal to put the club on local network TV six times in 2012. Local NBC affiliate KPRC-TV will broadcast three away matches and three home matches throughout the season in high-definition along with pre- and postgame shows and a weekly segment dedicated to the team.

“Having our games broadcast on a major local network is a very positive development for our organization and our fans,” Dynamo president Chris Canetti said in a release. “It is another sure sign of our on-going growth. I appreciate KPRC’s vision and look forward to a great partnership.”

The move adds to the 12 nationally televised games the club announced with Thursday’s release of the MLS schedule.

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.