Until Tuesday night, Corey Ashe's career was in purgatory. After being displaced by the arrival of DaMarcus Beasley last year, Ashe struggled to break into the bench during the 2015 season and many were wondering when it all would change. Then, the news broke: Corey Ashe would be joining ex-Dynamo Tally Hall in Orlando City.
Dynamo fans are left with a bittersweet feeling. Ashe has delivered quite a bit for Houston but we all knew there wasn't room and it was a matter of time. Many fans have sent their congratulations and appreciations for the last several years of service and Dynamo Theory felt that a player like Ashe deserved a closer look at his accomplishments.
Selected 26th in the 2007 SuperDraft, Corey has been a mainstay for Houston ever since. Ashe originally began with the team as a "super sub", coming in as a midfielder before settling in as the team's starting left back in 2011. Now, he departs with over 14,000 minutes, 266 appearances (2nd overall), and 27 assists (4th overall).
First Assist - June 3rd, 2007
Ashe, after being subbed on, delivered his first assist in the 66th minute against rivals FC Dallas (video here). Corey takes the ball from the midfield and starts charging down the center of the pitch. When a Dallas defender steps in, Ashe slots the ball towards Ricardo Clark who redirects it into open space for Joseph Ngwenya to pounce. The goal would serve as the game-winner.
First Career Start - August 25th, 2007
Sitting on top of the West with FC Dallas trailing, head coach Dominic Kinnear finally gave Ashe his first well-earned start - against FC Dallas. This match, at Robertson Stadium, wasn't particularly enticing as both teams failed to find an attacking rhythm but Corey played a full ninety minutes and a Nate Jaqua goal in the last ten would give the Dynamo a draw - and maintain their Western dominance.
Dynamo 4, Real Salt Lake 3 - September 8th, 2007
In another start, just a few weeks later, Corey Ashe would tally three assists against a struggling Real Salt Lake side. Each of those assists were delivered to the towering Nate Jaqua to claim a hattrick. Ashe's four assists in MLS play during his rookie year remains a season-high throughout his career.
First (and only) MLS Goal - May 28th, 2008
The Dynamo used to have a fairly risky habit of starting the season on a lull before hitting the summer and going on a rally into the homestretch of the year. With the 2008 summer just around the corner, Corey Ashe found himself subbed on at halftime against FC Dallas. After about twenty minutes, Dwayne De Rosario would strike a long ball into the box for Brian Ching who laid it off for Ashe to slam into the side netting. It remains Corey Ashe's only MLS goal.
A New Left Back - April 2nd, 2011
|Corey Ashe defends New York Red Bulls winger Dane Richards (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)|
In 2011, Kinnear was bringing a Dynamo team into Red Bull Arena and there was a familiar face causing him problems. Dane Richards was the midfielder that torched Houston and kicked them out of the 2008 MLS Playoffs - and Kinnear needed an answer for him this time around. Ashe was moved out of the midfield to left back and it produced an exciting speed-on-speed matchup. Richards did snag a goal that match (Houston equalized three minutes later) but Ashe's overall performance would help to cement that position, opening up several opportunities.
All-Star Representation - 2011, 2013
Ashe's play at left back was so effective, that he was named to the MLS All-Star teams in 2011 and 2013. He played 29 minutes against Manchester United (MLS lost 4-0) and 66 minutes against Roma (MLS lost 3-1). His recognition and club performances would eventually earn a United States call-up under Jurgen Klinsmann for the 2013 Gold Cup (he would leave following a groin strain in training camp).
The Marco Di Vaio incident - October 31st, 2013
During the 2013 Wildcard round of the MLS Playoffs, Houston played host to Montreal Impact on Halloween night. In the 88th minute, Houston led 3-0 and Montreal were becoming increasingly frustrated.
As Kofi Sarkodie brought the ball to the corner, Impact defender Andres Romero lashed out with a poor tackle, bringing Sarkodie down. Not content with that, Romero reared back and kicked Sarkodie's legs while he remained down.
Through the chaos, you'll notice Corey Ashe charging to his teammates' defense and brushing aside Montreal's Marco Di Vaio. The two devolved into a screaming match and, as Omar Cummings held back Ashe, Di Vaio reached out to scratch Corey's neck. Ashe was sent into a frenzy and as he closed on Di Vaio again, the Italian clawed the left side of Ashe's face before Impact keeper Troy Perkins and Bobby Boswell were able to separate the two.
Both Romero and Di Vaio would see red cards but the incident spoke volumes to Corey Ashe's character. It harkened back to vintage Dynamo, when defenders like Eddie Robinson would routinely put themselves in the middle of chaos just to defend their team.
With that, we say "see you later" to a long-time Dynamo once again. For me, there are three things about Corey that will shape his legacy at Houston. I'll remember his bombing runs down the wing, cutting and chopping defenders to find space for his crosses. I won't forget every time (and there are many) that Corey stood chest-to-chest with absolutely anyone, refusing to back down. Above all, I'll remember Corey Ashe's professionalism.
The last twelve months haven't been easy on Corey Ashe. But, by all accounts, he continued to put in dedicated training sessions, performed very well the rare times he was called upon (whether due to injury, call-ups, or Open Cup), and went right back to the bench having done his job. That is a commendable trait and I think it speaks massively to his character.
So thank you, Corey Ashe. And good luck.