All I can say is thank whatever deity you like that the Houston Dynamo have just gotten deeper than they were, say at this time a couple of weeks ago. Check out this injury list for Saturday's clash with the Chicago Fire:
HOUSTON DYNAMO -- OUT: FW Calen Carr (concussion); FW Brian Ching (L rib separation); DF Jermaine Taylor (R foot sprain); MF Francisco Navas Cobo (R hamstring strain); MF Danny Cruz (R knee hyperextension); MF Lovel Palmer (L lower leg tendinitis)
Now Carr, Ching, Cobo and Taylor are unchanged, but adding Danny Cruz and Lovel Palmer to the list creates an interesting hole on the right side of midfield. That being said, I think this is going to be the XI we'll see at Toyota Park (Sorry, my technical abilities fail here, so I can't make the neat-o line-up cards Zach posted last week):
SUBS: Deric, Robinson, Sarkodie, Garey, Chabala, Dixon, Soto
If Je-Vaughn Watson's visa had not gotten done this week (and thank goodness it was), then Dixon might just have gotten a start and been replaced on the bench by Jordan Graye. Dixon played well in Seattle against an offensive onslaught that is unlikely to be seen coming from Chicago, and for that reason I think might just be the first guy off the bench Saturday. But let's not kid ourselves, he's still a raw Academy graduate with great upside. Speaking of players who shown in Seattle, I am still hoping to get a good look at Kofi Sarkodie one fo these days. Maybe Saturday if Clark can't go the full 90.
I wonder if Sergio Koke (finally I got a pronunciation from A Podcast Orange and Glenn Davis' show earlier this week. It's KOH-kay for those of you who haven't heard those by the way.) will be in Chicago. My guess is no, instead using the time to get settled in before joining the team for full training on Monday (P1 visa gods permitting). Either one is good. A relaxed and ready Koke might just be Bill Hamid's worst nightmare April 29th.
On the Koke signing I have to admit to trying to control my level of excitement. Every year I hear of these signings all over the league, so-an-so coming in that I have never heard of. Most go the way of the dodo pretty fast, but a few (Fredy Montero, Alvaro Saborio, Darren Huckerby to name but three) provide something quite meaningful and can alter the course of a team. I honestly think Koke will be that type of player and by August we'll be wondering how we ever got along without him. I know that by writing this I probably have jinxed the guy beyond repair, but that's just the way it is.
On his interview on Glenn's program earlier this week (and if you haven't heard it, do yourself a favor and check it out here), Koke said two things I thought were significant. First, he mentioned that Aris plays in a 4-4-2 and that is the system in which he is most comfortable. That is extraordinarily good news as under Dom Kinnear, that is the system he'll be seeing about 90 percent of the time. The facts that he is not only already comfortable and prefers a 4-4-2 and that he captained a team in that formation mean that he already understands what to do where and when. Compare that to Luis Angel Landin, who was always a problem child at his previous stops anyway, and whose teams couldn't wait to get rid of him.
The other takeaway I heard in the interview was that Koke says he's not really a No. 9, but sees himself as more of a No. 10, a playmaker who distributes. Though he also loves playing up top on the attack. He said that makes him "kind of a nine-and-a-half" both distributing and finishing. A versatile attacking player. Hmmm, who does that make me think of?