Earlier this week Top Drawer Soccer hit out at Major League Soccer and their lack of player personalities. To summarize they basically insinuated most MLS players have an overabundance of humility due to how much harder they had to work to get where they are compared to professional in the other top sports in the United States. If you read the article, you'll definitely understand their point.
So I started to think about the Houston Dynamo and the personalities on the team.
Outside of Brad Davis and Tally Hall, how many players from the Houston Dynamo would an average fan of Major League Soccer be able to name? How many would they be able to recognize if they met them out and about?
The answers to both are not exactly the most assuring for a league, and a team, trying to establish itself as a mainstream sport in the fourth largest city in the country. There are certainly personalities on the team, such as Giles Barnes, David Horst and Corey Ashe, but outside of their sphere of influence within the Houston Dynamo fanbase do they really register a blip on the radar?
Major League Soccer players for the most part can wander about any city in the US and go virtually unnoticed, save for a small selection of diehard league fans. Does it make sense?
Top Drawer Soccer explained it as being due to the hard work players have to put in to be moderately financially successful compared to other top sports in the country, such as football or basketball. In both of those sports, if you are talented as a young player, you are given certain luxuries and leeways athletes in other sports aren't afforded. Soccer players don't exactly have alumni knocking down their doors to "chat".
Still, I can look at Giles Barnes and have hope the league is beginning to shift mentality. I still think he has far more personality on and off the pitch then he is given the leeway to show, but it is a start.
On the flip side, I see players like Will Bruin and Kofi Sarkodie who are both fantastic individuals supporting great causes as rather dull on and off the pitch. Perhaps it is public perception. Perhaps it is because they don't have media feasting on their every day non-sports activities. Either way, it is a bit disheartening to see.
Do the Houston Dynamo need players with personality? If you look around the league at the player climate a few years ago you had very few personalities in the league, let alone on individual teams. Dominic Oduro comes to mind, as does David Beckham, but outside those two there weren't many others. The league's mentality is changing, the game is changing in this country.
Sure, the team could use more goals and a proven goal-scorer, but I wonder if the Dancing Bear hadn't gone into hibernating if a happier Will Bruin might not be that goal-scorer. The Dancing Bear was a part of his personality on the pitch, and once it was gone he kind of faded from the spotlight. Has anyone else noticed that?
I'd love to see more personality on the team, and it doesn't have to come at the expense of more goals or better defense. We just need to know the Houston Dynamo aren't a team of drones, but are a team of individuals who love to express themselves. Maybe, just maybe, the responsibility to find those personalities falls as much on the media (even us as Dynamo Theory) as it does on the players themselves.
What do you think?