Running Off to Cascadia
Having now had time to digest the news Kris Boyd rejected an offer from Houston Dynamo that Dom Kinnear and the front office worked on diligently only to later accept a reportedly hastily-assembled one from Portland Timbers, it's time to flesh out possible reasons why. Granted, there's still a bit of acid reflux felt by some fans of the Naranja, but at least getting a first round draft pick out of Portland soothes the situation like Pepto Bismol.
In his recent interview with Glenn Davis, all Kinnear would say is that the former Rangers forward turned down the Orange for "personal reasons." Whether those personal reasons came down to Boyd having a closer relationship with Timbers manager John Spencer, not wanting to play in the heat of a Texas summer, gridlock traffic, cowboy boots, a bad burrito experience, or whatever might make the city of Houston a hard sell to overseas players, we likely will not for certain know. Instead, then, let's examine what we do know about the team that a potential designated player like Boyd found unappealing.
Veteran players of Boyd's ilk are likely most comfortable coming into a system with which they are most familiar. Having spent most of their careers playing in a particular formation or tactical philosophy, these types of more established DP-caliber players would probably be looking for a side to already be playing in a similar style as a selling point to them joining the club. Perhaps here might have been a specific reason where Kris Boyd found Houston to be an ill fit for his services. Over his years with Rangers, Boyd was accustomed to play starting from the back with GK Allan McGregor, a keeper who hasn't yet found a ball he didn't want to hoof up the field after collecting. A midfielder would latch onto the ball around midfield, make a short run, then look to find Boyd, who had been hanging somewhere about the penalty area just about the entire game waiting for service.
Now, finding service for Boyd in Houston's set-up would not have been incredibly difficult with a healthy Brad Davis about, but upon reviewing a selection of his goals there might have been an issue here. Boyd looked on many of his runs--if he wasn't just standing in the middle of the box--to begin from the left side of the field while looking for the cross from the right. Knowing that Davis plays on the left and aware that would be where most of his crosses would be arriving might have made the Scotsman question how he was going to score his goals. With how he approached goal, Davis or possibly an advancing Corey Ashe would be forever at his back. This is not to say Davis and Boyd aren't talented enough to have worked around this potential snag, nor that Kinnear and the coaches could not have worked with Boyd to adjust where he began looking for the ball on the break; instead, this is to suggest that Boyd might have chosen it was not worth the effort personally.
Returning to the hoofballing for a moment, this would have been another adjustment for Boyd had he signed with Houston Dynamo. As Kinnear looks to be shaping up the squad again heading into this season, he will look to keep the ball on the floor, with Tally Hall likely inclined to spread the ball around via outlet passes rather than punting it high into the sky. Houston's players would be comfortable bringing the ball up on either side, but most probably through the middle with the likes of Luiz Camargo, about, before further passing moves were made out to the wings before final balls into the box.
Where would Boyd have been positioned this entire time while the play through all phases of the field developed? He likely would be getting frustrated, standing in the penalty area and concerned he might be expected to play a bit deeper to receive the ball and actually dribble his way back to goal. During his time with Rangers, the philosophy was much less about possession and more so about long kicks or passes leading to a lightning-quick strike from his foot. He might have been apprised of how Kinnear approaches the game and decided a different style would neither benefit him at this stage of his career nor make it particularly easy for him to have the kind of conversion rate he enjoyed in Glasgow as he would have had to work harder to get the ball for each attempt on goal.
Goal poachers don't really like to run more than they have to, eh?
Another reason Boyd might have walked away from Dynamo's offer could have come down to the club's other player moves. In the past two SuperDrafts, Naranja have selected forwards first, and while the club were actively seeking out someone like Boyd to be the proven goal scorer they need while Will Bruin and Colin Rolfe continue their development, the Scotsman might have seen it differently. Quite simply, Dynamo's choices of both Bruin and Rolfe as their top draft picks indicate Kinnear and his staff are expecting them to contribute and will give them the minutes on the field with which to produce. While we might have appreciated a veteran presence on the front line showing the young guns how it's done, that veteran might have viewed it as a competition for playing time he wasn't bargaining for. Or he might not have relished the additional duties of being a mentor to young players when he could working on his own game instead.
One of the qualities of any good forward is a certain selfishness, wanting to be the player that takes the shot to score that winning goal. To expect a forward such as Boyd, one who has no compunction about cracking one on target anytime he's near the goal, sharing that chance with guys like Bruin, Rolfe, or the veterans Calen Carr and Cam Weaver, might have been hoping for too much. In coming to Houston, Boyd would have played a large part but possibly thought he would not be in the starring role in any success Dynamo had in the coming years. The investment the club is continuing to make in Bruin, along with the one it has now begun with Rolfe could have indicated to Boyd he would have to share any limelight with one or both of the young strikers over the length of a two year contract and opted not to accept that role.
So, while Boyd chose to turn down Houston Dynamo, he still found this league attractive enough to sign with Portland. Kinnear put a positive spin on it all in that Glenn Davis interview by intimating Houston's involvement in bringing him to Major League Soccer has opened the eyes of potential designated players that would now look to Space City as a destination when in the past they would have followed the loop out of town. Even if this isn't necessarily the case--for we don't know how Houston's role in the Boyd deal looks to them--the fact that Chris Canetti & Co. actively pursued the matter should be encouraging to the supporters preparing to fill that new home stadium in a few months. If a possible impact player is identified, the club will go after him with all they've got, and even if they don't get their man they are saavy enough to get something else out of it. Considering Boyd could have been an ill fit with the system after all, perhaps on this occasion the club was spared making a bad investment. Thankfully, it was personal, not business.