In a battle of the reserves of the MLS Eastern Division's top two teams, the winner came up all Orange today. The Dynamo Reserves beat the Plastic Sporks in KC 3-0 at the Sporting Club Training Center in Swope Park, and the hero of the day was none other than that guy to the left right there, Alex Dixon. (For a full recap and box, click here, and for the video, just scroll on down.)
The Atascocita Assassin had two assists (one to Cam Weaver and a second to Colin Rolfe) sandwiched around a goal of his own to make a serious claim for a first team slot, and it can't come at a better time. With Colin Clark potentially heading for a suspension of however long, and Luiz Camargo still on the path to full fitness after his offseason car accident, Dixon's sudden surge is more than a little dose of Johnny On the Spot. It's no stretch to say that Je-Vaughn Watson has been something less than stellar in the CAM role over the first three games with flashes of brilliance being quickly followed (or preceded) by simple boneheadedness. Meanwhile, Clark has not really been setting the world on fire over on the right, which just allows teams to pack the left and neutralize Brad Davis.
With the back line and goalkeeper the strength of the Orange so far this season, it's time to put the focus on the offense over this extended layoff. Playtherapy mentioned that very soon we will truly learn exactly what we get from Camargo in the CAM role. He was promising there in his 10 games last year, but no more than that as his No. 1 contribution was giving the team the chance to put Geoff Cameron back in central defense where he belonged all along. (Though there were some of us <cough, cough> who argued vehemently that Cameron should have been in central defense regardless of who we had to play CAM.) Now we get to see if Camargo will have a solid contribution to make on his own terms.
The CAM role is supposed to be the guy who makes everything happen, scoring and assisting. For Dynamo, that guy is Davis, but as we have seen in previous years, Mr. MVP is only comfortable coming to the middle from the left, and not starting in the middle and going both directions. Camargo showed last year he can do this, but now we get to see if he will at a high level consistently.
Which brings us back to Alex Dixon. Let's take a look at today's action:
(My first thought: "Trees?? There are trees in Kansas?" But then I remembered that, oh yeah, this is Missouri.)
Dixon's first assist comes about 3:05 into the video and it's a beauty. Also, take a look at Dixon's free kick after the third goal. It's saved, but check out that bend. That verve is something that has been sorely lacking in the Dynamo attack over the first three games in which the entire offense has been a stoppage time equalizer from a defender and a PK. Michael_D may have said it first, but let me repeat, Dixon is the future of the Houston Dynamo.
Two other pieces of good midfield news come up today as well. First, in this video, you will see more than a little good play from Josue Soto, who assisted on Dixon's goal. He should have had a goal on his own a few minutes before that as well, or at least another assist. His finish there speaks to the need for more seasoning, but the young man has some solid promise.
And the second piece of bittersweet news is that after last night, Kofi Sarkodie's planned trip to London for the Olympics has now been canceled. (I have no desire to go into my feelings about the U-23's meltdown against Canada and El Salvador, and the fact that I pin the blame partially on Caleb Porter, but mostly on Bill Hamid. Sean Johnson let in that howler late against El Salvador, but it was Hamid's complete and total inability to boss his line and command his area that made the US so vulnerable in the first place. And don't tell me it was because he got hurt. He was crapping up the box well before that. Is that what Pat Onstad has taught you in DC, Bill? And don't say yes because I know for a fact that if you played like that for Onstad, he'd have your head on a freaking platter. And not only that, but....
BREATHE...BREATHE....BREATHE... Blood pressure meds in, uh, this pocket...some water... ahhhhh.
OK, where was I? Oh yeah, Kofi Sarkodie. His Royal Highness may find the minutes difficult to come by on defense until CONCACAF World Cup qualifying begins (in which we stand to lose Andre Hainault, Geoff Cameron and Jermaine Taylor. Chew on that for a minute.), so a push up onto the right wing might be a solid move. He could be to the right what Corey Ashe is to the left. Just something to think about.
It's still 26 whole days until Dynamo play again, facing Johnson, the Cunning Spider and the Fire in Chicago. (Speaking of Dominic Oduro, check out this pic here of him helping Section 8 paint a tifo. This guy is seriously trying to get me to stop hating him, and it's working.) And the reserves, meanwhile, don't play again until April 10 in Frisco, so there's a lot of time now to get Camargo to full fitness, Clark's situation to become clear and/or Dixon integrated into the attack. One thing's for certain, if the lineup remains unchanged from the last few games, no one will be more surprised than me.