Ok, this one’s pretty easy to break down: The Houston Dynamo needed a direct replacement for Calen Carr, who’s going to miss a fair chunk of 2013 rehabbing an ACL tear. In Omar Cummings they got not only a replacement, but quite probably an upgrade. Cummings does the same things that Carr does, but better.
And the funny thing is, about a week ago when I started making a list of MLS trades that make sense (a favorite hobby of mine, along with being very, very lonely), “Cummings to Houston” was at the top.
What Carr did for Houston was create space by flaring to the sidelines, then either outrace a guy 1-v-1 and have a go at goal himself (MLS Cup is a good example), cut a pullback to a supporting midfielder, or cross on the run for center forward Will Bruin (Bruin’s second goal vs. Sporting KC in the playoffs is the one you’re thinking of here).
As I said, Cummings already does a lot of that stuff, and just two years ago did it at an All-Star level (14 goals, eight assists) while running off a true center forward in Conor Casey. Bruin and Casey are different players, but the principle’s the same: Cummings is the speed guy who pins defenses and spends as much time – or more – creating plays as finishing them, while Bruin gets himself into the box to finish.
It’s pretty simple, direct stuff that can be made beautiful by the midfield behind it. It also made the 4-4-2 that Dom Kinnear trotted out at the end of the season a whole lot more versatile than the one Houston had played earlier in the year, which featured both Bruin and Brian Ching. That wasn’t the most mobile pair.
Cummings can also play a bit in the 4-3-3 for when Kinnear decides to take that club out of the bag. In either formation, though, the point is that the Dynamo get another finisher on the field. Not a great one – Cummings only had six goals last season – but, 1) that’s still better than Carr’s career-high four in 2012, and 2) there’s a school of thought that says Cummings struggled over the last two years because Casey was in and out of the lineup with injuries.
He needs that true center forward to play off of, in other words. In Bruin, he’s got it. And in the words of Greg Lalas, "He'll thrive in Houston, I bet."
Added bonus, by the way: Jamaica crashed out of the Caribbean Cup in somewhat spectacular fashion earlier this month, meaning Cummings won’t have a mid-summer trip to the Gold Cup to worry about.
Colorado’s play here was even easier: they’re rebuilding, they need to clear cap space for guys who fit Pareja’s 4-3-3 more than just “a bit”, and with Edson Buddle now on board, Cummings really didn’t have a spot in the starting lineup.
Getting him off the books in return for allocation money and Nathan Sturgis, a useful, versatile defensive utility man, makes a whole bunch of sense.
I’d guess that Houston are close to done making offseason moves, by the way. Maybe they’ll pick up another central defender off the scrap heap, but that’ll be about it.
With the Rapids? Surely more to come.