HOUSTON – Tyler Deric doesn’t get anxious before games. During games, however, it is something he had to tackle.
Early into his first full season as the Dynamo's undisputed starter in goal, Deric had work out a way to calm his nervous energy on the field. Twenty-nine games later, he’s settled in and started to fulfill his potential.
“I’ve calmed down a lot as a goalkeeper. I’m not so antsy to get things going,” Deric told MLSsoccer.com ahead of Houston's Texas Derby clash at FC Dallas on Sunday (5 pm ET, ESPN2). “I think it was about the fifth or sixth week I noticed a big difference with how I was acting with the ball and when I wasn’t with the ball, making calmer decisions. Watching my first game of the season and watching my last game I’m really happy with the way things have progressed.”
Working with new goalkeeping coach Paul Rogers, Deric has progressed through his first season as a number one goalkeeper and put together games that suggests he’s one of the best ‘keepers in MLS. While he’s finally shed the potential tag with a quality year under his belt, the question now is, just how far can Deric go?
“His natural ability is quality,” Rogers told MLSsoccer.com. “So working on the techniques with him I’ve seen a massive improvement with him over the year. If he becomes more consistent, I’ll be honest, he should probably get a look at the national team level. Can he be a foreign international? That I don’t know. That I can’t answer. Do I think he deserves a look at some point? Absolutely.”
For Rogers, Deric's next step is to level out his performances – jumping from “6 out of 10” good games games and making it eight or nine. While consistency is the goal, the national team possibility has been uttered by a number of people in Houston. But few have the type of expertise to make that call as Rogers.
The former US women’s national team coach worked with some of the best in the world in the women’s game and knows what it takes to be successful at that level. He sees that type of ceiling for Deric.
“He’s kept us in games and he’s made saves to help the backeline out and the team out and his distributions improved over the year,” Rogers told MLSsoccer.com. “Would I say there’s still more in him? Absolutely. For me there’s a whole other level. Will he get there in a year? Two years? Who knows.”
And just like Deric, Rogers himself is going through a new experience. Making the decision before the season to jump to the day-to-day grind of the men’s club game, the Dynamo job is a new challenge for Brighton, England native. Instead of seeing goalkeepers for camps and prepping for games, he’s been tasked with continuing to build Deric’s skillset.
“That was one of my reasons for getting into the men’s side, because I wanted to get into the goalkeeping day-in-and-day-out,” Rogers said. “International football’s fantastic and would I love a shot on the men’s side one day? Maybe, but I want to be on the park day-in-day-out where I can actually work with the goalkeepers instead of just coming in getting ready for games. Really I look at them more as my goalkeepers now.”
While the pace of the game is different from his time working with the likes of Hope Solo, Rogers hasn’t changed his approach to goalkeeping and has meshed well with Deric.
After being raised as a young goalkeeper by Tim Hanley, who is now with the San Jose Earthquakes joining former Dynamo head coach’s Dominic Kinnear’s staff, Deric feels he had a tremendous base from his work with his former coach. With a new set of eyes and tactics, Deric feels that he’s grown.
“I wouldn’t be here without Tim Hanley. He built an outstanding foundation for me … working with Paul I think it was the right progression for what I needed,” Deric said. “We do a lot of the new school stuff that goalkeepers are doing now. I think it was a great progression for my career.”
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Part of it is the new techniques that Rogers has used, namely getting cameras on the training pitch.
“I like to serve in training so you don’t get to see everything in training. When I’m serving I film because you can’t see the small bits when you’re serving,” Rogers said. “Would I say I’m a control freak with the coaching? Yeah, a little bit and I think the goalkeepers would tell you that as well. That’s so you can progress forward.”
Despite the occasional mistake, in part due to that nervous energy early in the season, all the work has paid off.
With his coaches behind him Deric’s continued to mature and work under Rogers guide. He’s entered the discussion as one of rising stars in goal in MLS.
“It’s always nice to have people put a high ceiling on your career,” Deric said. “I like where my career’s going and hopefully we can just keep raising the bar.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.