Warren Creavalle and Ricardo Clark forming perfect partnership in Houston Dynamo midfield
HOUSTON – When the Houston Dynamo traded Adam Moffat to the Seattle Sounders last month, the immediate question was, 'Who will take his place in midfield?'
They both cover ground, both pride their game on being active and carrying the workload. Off the field, they’re roommates on the road and share many of the same mannerisms. Both even hail from Georgia. The only difference is age; Creavalle’s seven years younger than Clark.
Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear went to the pair to shore up the defense and win the midfield battle, and the early returns have done nothing to make him regret his decision.
“I think it’s working out fine,” Kinnear said. “Right now it seems to be doing pretty good, so I look at it that way.”
Against Chivas USA and New England, Houston have given up just two goals, both off turnovers. But in those two games, they've come out on top in duels won and they’ve held both opponents to less than 79 percent passing.
Not surprisingly, Creavalle and Clark are holding down the fort defensively. But is it enough offensively? Neither player is known for his attacking prowess, nor will either be looked upon to fit into a playmaking role.
“They have it, but I don’t think they’re [Federico] Higuaíns,” said center back Bobby Boswell, referring to Columbus’ playmaking forward. “I think in terms of ball winners, they’re probably two of the best in the league.”
While neither is a creator, there is a method to the current setup.
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”You have architects and bricklayers and you can’t get confused with what you are,” Boswell continued. “They can orchestrate in there and make some passes, but they’re definitely bricklayers on the defensive side of it.”
It's an apt analogy for the Dynamo's current midfield setup.
On the outside are the creative Boniek García and Brad Davis with Clark and Creavalle paired to win the midfield battle and contribute to the attack with their range and ability to connect the backline to the “architects.” The backbone of that dynamic is Creavalle and Clark doing their jobs and being opportunistic enough to kick in six goals combined this season.
“I think it’s a good situation,” said Clark. “[Creavalle] is a hungry player. He’s brought it every time on the field and I like having him in there with me.”
Although their similarities are not all good. Both players’ quiet demeanor can make for a mute midfield.
“They’re not necessarily the loudest or most vocal guys, so we’re working on them communicating with the guys around them to make their job easier,” Boswell said. “That’s the only knock on their game in my opinion. They’re such workhorses that they don’t mind doing the heavy lifting. If they can organize a little more and talk, it will help everybody around them.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.