When training opens on Monday, the SuperDraft picks won't be the only new faces on the Dynamo training grounds at Houston Amateur Sports Park. The Houston Chroncile's Jesus Ortiz reported on Friday that former Dynamo defender Mike Chabala and Scottish forward Calum Elliot have been invited to Houston's preseason camp to earn a spot with the club.
Chabala was with Houston from 2006 until 2011 when he was shipped to the Portland Timbers as part of the package that brought Adam Moffat here. During his first few years in Houston, Chabala was a staple in the Reserve Team, but broke into the first team in 2009. By 2010, he was a full time starter at left back playing a career high 25 games (22 starts) and 2030 minutes.
Over the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Chabala put in 40 games (34 starts) with the Dynamo, netting a goal and seven assists. Since those two seasons, Chabala has struggled to find consistency in MLS. In 2012, he was shipped from Portland to D.C. United but only saw action in three games for the black and red.
With Corey Ashe as the only left back guaranteed to be on the roster opening day, Chabala has been given an opportunity to break back in to a team that could use all the depth they can get. Newly drafted Jimmy Nealis will be fighting for a spot as well and was touted as one of the best left back prospects in this year's draft.
At the forward position, Kinnear has invited Scottish forward Calum Elliot to camp to see if he'd be a good fit in orange. According to various reports, Elliot turned down an invitation to a Dynamo trial a year ago.
Elliot is an unknown prospect to MLS fans, but has seen the field for a number of clubs - Heart of Midlothian (Scottish Premier League), Motherwell F.C. (SPL), Livingston F.C. (Scottish First Division), Dundee F.C. (SPL), and most recently Zalgiris (Lithuania).
Elliot is only 25 years old and has a good deal of experience under his young belt. In Lithuania last season, he scored 16 goals in Zalgiris' 36 matches, finishing fourth in the A Lyga scoring race. He originally signed a two year agreement to stay with the Lithuanian club, but decided not to return next season.
Here are some highlights from Elliot's 2012 season with Zalgiris:
In Houston, he'll have an opportunity to impress one of MLS' best coaches and earn a spot with a consistent contender year after year.
Chabala could provide even more depth in the back line and has always been a fan favorite in Houston, while Elliot is a big, young, goalscorer with serious upside. The 2013 Houston Dynamo preseason is already turning out to be an exciting one, and it hasn't even officially started. Who's ready for Monday?