ORLANDO, Fla. – The Houston Dynamo’s right flank has never been the same since MLS stalwart Brian Mullan was traded to the Colorado Rapids just months before his contract expired in 2010.
But there is finally one player who looks closer to being a Mullan clone than anyone Dynamo fans have recently seen wearing the orange kit. His name is Brian Ownby and his characteristics make him a viable candidate for the vacant spot at right mid ahead of the club’s March 11 season opening visit at Chivas USA.
“I’ve been told this,” Ownby said to MLSsoccer.com after Houston’s 1-0 loss to Vancouver on Sunday in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic. “I just try to keep giving 100 percent every day and at every training session to hopefully get in there because I want to play as much as possible.”
The University of Virginia product is still considered a trialist by the Dynamo – on a “day-to-day basis,” as Ownby himself termed it. But Ownby’s 33 minutes against Vancouver on Sunday were further proof that he has the look of a Dominic Kinnear flank player: a speedy, hard worker on both sides of the ball, who is technically proficient enough to keep possession and beat defenders one-on-one.
“He did OK,” Kinnear told MLSsoccer.com about Ownby’s performance. “He came in and he’s been pretty positive. He really likes to get that little half-step and swing the ball in. I think he’s had a pretty good time with us.”
The Dynamo manager selected Ownby with the seventh overall pick of the 2012 Supplemental Draft despite a forgettable MLS Player Combine. The former US youth international – he became acquainted with current Dynamo players Alex Dixon and Will Bruin on those US national teams – was a goal-scoring forward coming out of Virginia, but didn’t look like one when he played the position at the Combine.
Now instead of scoring goals, he’s being counted on to turn provider in Houston, competing with Dixon, Je-Vaughn Watson and Mac Kandji on the Dynamo’s right flank.
“[Kinnear] likes what I’m doing right now but that maybe I can be better working on my crosses,” Ownby said. “So I stick around after practice every day working on my crosses because I wasn’t used to that in college and in [Kinnear’s] system I need to be able to do that a lot and put one in every time. Not a mediocre ball, but a great ball for our forwards to get a head on.”
What makes Ownby valuable is his ability to play on either left or right flank. But there’s no price you can place on the awareness of what it takes to play the Dynamo way.
“You have to give it 100 percent on every play. If you’re not, then you won’t be on the field,” Ownby said. “It’s the way Dom wants to play, so I just have to keep getting better and get in better shape to play a full 90.”