HOUSTON – Last week, Houston Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said the real lineup challenge for his team would come when Boniek Garcia left for World Cup duty.
A strained hamstring to the Honduran may have provided a glimpse into the solution to that issue.
When Garcia went down in the 18th minute of Saturday's 1-0 win over the LA Galaxy, forward Omar Cummings got the call. The speedy forward took the opportunity to roam the right flank and helped the club to a win over their familiar adversaries from postseasons past.
Garcia officially left for World Cup duty on Monday, and with that right-side spot now open, Saturday’s substitute appearance could be the jumping-off point for Cummings to make a temporary move to the right.
“He did some good things,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said of Cummings' relief effort on the right. “His effort created a little bit of panic for them late in the second half, and he got off a couple of good shots when he came on the field. Obviously he’s a forward by position and by our thoughts, but when he stepped on the field, I thought he was a good attacking option for us.”
True to form, Kinnear did not tip his hand as to which player will start on short rest Wednesday against D.C. United. When asked, he pointed to Cummings – along with natural right midfielder Brian Ownby and central midfielders Warren Creavalle and Alex Lopez – as players who have either played the position or shown the ability to do it.
All three have a case to be made for their inclusion. However, Cummings has the most recent experience, and if he does get the call, it will be one with which he has some first-hand experience from his international days.
“I played it many times for the [Jamaican] national team, and it’s a position I like but haven’t played for a while,” Cummings said. “So it’s just getting that role in mind and what you have to do.”
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With Jamaica, his role on the right is as an attacker, which suits the speed merchant just fine, as he brings both sprinter's speed and a proven nose for goal. But the work on the other side of the ball will be the change.
“I think defensive responsibility is the difference, and you have to be keyed in when you have to do that,” Cummings said when asked what he will need to do if he is in the starting lineup. “You have to talk to [the] right back and your midfielders and let them know where you are and where they need to position you.”
Right back Kofi Sarkodie sounded comfortable with the converted striker on his flank.
“We haven’t had much time really -- we played a couple of matches together last year -- but I know Omar and know how he plays,” said Sarkodie. “I think we have a pretty good relationship, and we just have to make sure we’re in tune and doing what’s best.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.