With MLS First Kick just a week away, the Houston Dynamo have just a few questions left to answer. One of them has a familiar ring: Who will man the right side of the midfield March 11 vs. Chivas USA?
It is a question the Dynamo have attempted to answer since Brian Mullan was shipped to Colorado before the 2010 season. Heading into 2012, locking down a starter at the position will put the finishing touches on what should be a strong midfield.
“Being in a battle for that spot, it’s something that’s great for the team,” Colin Clark told MLSsoccer.com by phone this week. “Anytime there’s position battles you know you’re a part of something that’s pretty special. You know you have depth and its going to bring out the best in somebody. I think for [head coach Dominic Kinnear], that’s all he can ask for.”
The 27-year-old Clark is one of the frontrunners for the position heading into the season. The naturally left-footed midfielder was brought to Houston in 2010 to be the long-term answer on the right side. After rehabbing an ACL injury, 2011 was an up and down season at his new position.
“When Dom first brought me in, I wasn’t too sure how I was going to react to playing on that side,” Clark said. “I think there was an adjustment period there. Prior to last year, I didn’t use my right foot a lot and it’s something I needed to do more of. Once I got comfortable over there, it was about taking more touches with the right, playing more with the right foot. It’s something I felt comfortable with and every day it was an improvement.”
While Clark was adjusting to playing a new position, his main competition heading into 2012 was adjusting to a new home. Je-Vaughn Watson came to the Dynamo as an April transfer from Jamacian side Sporting Central Academy.
The Jamaican international showed flashes of brilliance on the ball but, like Clark, could not nail down the regular starting spot on the right. This preseason, the 28-year-old Watson has split his time between the Dynamo and the Reggae Boyz.
Despite being away, Watson is very much in the mix of players that the club will look to for production on the right side.
“I have full confidence in both those guys,” said left midfielder Brad Davis. “They’ve both shown they can play with this team. Ultimately, it comes down to a competitive situation where you have guys pushing each other. I have full confidence in both of those guys. If one or the others on the field, I know they can get the job done.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached for comment at Darrell.A.Lovell@gmail.com