It's become the defining image of this postseason for the Houston Dynamo. With the Dynamo on the ropes in stoppage time in the first leg against New York, Bobby Boswell redirected a Brad Davis corner towards Luis Robles. Robles made the save, but the rebound fell right to Omar Cummings, who pounced on it and tapped it in for an equalizer. The Dynamo had tied the first leg, and would go on to win the second leg (and the tie) in similar circumstances - with a Kofi Sarkodie cross, Cam Weaver redirection and another tap-in for Cummings.
Cummings started neither match - in fact, he's only started twice in fifteen appearance across both the regular season and the playoffs. The reasoning behind this is easy to understand, as his injuries and limited role meant that he never found the groove required of a starting striker. Indeed, the times he did play during the regular season, he was remarkably unremarkable. Indeed, by the en of the season, many Dynamo fans were ready to see him out the door - after all, a season of injuries and mediocre performance in your first year with a club doesn't exactly endear you to the fanbase.
All of the sudden, however, many people are singing a different tune. While I rarely wavered in my belief that Cummings would come through and prove at least part of his worth, even I was surprised by how he did it. His goals weren't really highlight reel material - they're classic poacher goals. But poacher goals were something the Dynamo needed, and Cummings was lucky enough to snatch two over the course of four days. His speed and his savvy helped create plenty of opportunities off the pitch, and his results have been enough to get people thinking about his opportunities off of it.
Even during his run of lackluster regular season performances, you saw flashes of the reasons why the front office traded for him: speed and veteran wiles. It's true he couldn't score, but think about it - there were large stretches of this season where no Dynamo striker scored. Cummings' bad luck was thus partly a continuation of the whole. He was unfortunate in suffering an injury just days into training camp, and he suffered several more injuries while trying to come back to help this team.
So would Cummings be a good fit with the Dynamo next year? I think he could be - at a reduced price. His $225,000 base salary is more than all but Davis and Ricardo Clark. I think Cummings has earned another chance with the squad, but I also think that should the front office decide to bring him back, they would be right to insist on a lower salary. There are many roles that need to be filled in the offseason. Cummings could help with this, and a lower salary in his case could help the Dynamo fill other holes.
Without his goals, the Dynamo would be nowhere near the Eastern Conference Finals. Granted, those goals were probably at least as much due to luck as they were to skill. Yet luck has thrust Cummings into the pantheon of Houston postseason performances. For better or worse, I think he's earned a shot at another chance with the Dynamo. I think a full season in which he stays healthy will end up proving why he was brought here in the first place.
But that's just me. What do you guys think?