HOUSTON – After just a few weeks Andrew Driver is proving to be a quick study – the former Hearts winger has adapted quickly since his move from Scotland to Houston and is adjusting to the Dynamo culture seamlessly.
Driver has made three substitute appearances, twice against Santos Laguna in CONCACAF Champions League play and in his MLS debut against FC Dallas last weekend. With a few run-outs under his belt, Driver has shown that his straight-line, no-nonsense approach can add an extra element to the Dynamo mix.
With Houston’s starting wingers Brad Davis and Boniek García away on international duty, Driver could see the next stage in his quick progression in Houston as a likely candidate to take up the post on the left side of the Dynamo formation on Saturday against the Vancouver Whitecaps (8:30 pm ET, MLS Live).
“Everyone can see he’s a good player,” said Giles Barnes. “He’s an out-and-out winger. He’s got great feet and good pace and, for me, he’s a great deliverer of the ball as well.”When you’re missing Brad and Boniek he’s a natural replacement. I think he’s here to prove a point and he’s started out pretty good.”
The winger came to Houston fit and in shape, a hurdle that has delayed plenty of newcomers in the past. With no fitness work to be done, Driver was able to focus on picking up the system and showing his skill, similar to García's seamless arrival last season. His readiness led to a quick debut less than a week after joining the club against Santos.
“That’s massive that the manager has a belief in me to do that,” Driver said. “Football’s all about confidence and if the people around you have confidence in you, you thrive off that.”
That confidence showed Sunday when he made a big splash, notching an MLS Goal of the Week candidate to spark a would-be comeback in the Texas Derby.
“He’s a little bit different than what we’ve had,” said Scottish-born Adam Moffat, who made a journey similar to Driver's, coming to the US from the SPL’s Ross County. “He’s a little more direct like an old-fashioned winger. He gets the ball down and looks to run at guys and it’s always good to have someone like that.”
It is that straight-ahead soccer that has brought attention to Driver’s play. “Coming from Scotland that’s what the football’s like, 100 miles per hour. I don’t want to change anything about it,” he said.
And Driver's approach has people excited about his ability to affect the game in a positive manner. With a spot open this weekend against Vancouver, Driver could be in line to show that he can make the same effect from the opening kick.
“He took a gamble and a risk in coming here,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “Anytime he steps on the field he’s shows something positive. I think his play does the talking. I don’t think there’s too much of a difference between MLS and the [Scottish Premier League] and he’s fit in pretty nice.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.