HOUSTON – Tyler Deric has seen spells in the spotlight before.
Since signing with the Houston Dynamo in 2009 as the club’s first Homegrown player, the 26-year-old goalkeeper has studied behind two All-Star caliber starters, Pat Onstad and Tally Hall, while getting chances in tournament play and spot duty.
Now, due to a season-ending ACL injury suffered by Hall in Friday’s away victory over Sporting KC, the final nine games belong to Deric. And it’s a long-awaited extended chance to show what he can do.
“I’m going to embrace it, and I’m not taking anything for granted,” Deric told the media Thursday ahead of Saturday’s home matchup with the Montreal Impact (8:30 pm ET; MLS Live, TSN). “I’m really looking forward to getting the next run of games. [I’m] really focused on getting the three points and pushing for a playoff spot.”
While he’s stepping into a pressure situation, there’s no doubt from his teammates that he can do the job.
“It doesn’t really change anything for us,” said team captain Brad Davis. “I feel he can be a starter on a lot of other teams in this league. We have full confidence in what he can do, and it doesn’t change what we’re trying to do in front of him.”
Deric, who has started four MLS games in his career plus 11 in tournament play – has been highly regarded since signing with the club. His athleticism and ability to get to and stop shots has been something goalkeeper coach Tim Hanley has seen grow over the years.
“He’s very fast,” Hanley said. “Tally gets in the way of things and Tally’s clever in getting his body in the way where Tyler flies around a lot. He’s a little bit more dynamic sometimes and some might say it’s flashier.
“What you try and do is pull the flash out of Tally and push the flash down in Tyler in a way.”
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That willingness to get around the box can sometimes cause him to be overzealous, exemplified in a US Open Cup match earlier this season against the Laredo Heat when he received a red card for handling the ball outside his area.
Channeling and balancing those nerves will be important for him as he steps into a role on a team fighting for their playoff lives. Currently five points out of the final playoff spot, Houston have little margin for error.
“He came in the last 10 minutes [against Sporting Kansas City] there when we were under pressure and handled the situation pretty well, and I don’t see why it should be any different Saturday,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “He’s good and we know it.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.