Over the past two soccer seasons, there was only one player I covered for the Charleston Battery, and the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros. That player was Jose “Memo” Rodriguez. As I began my career here at Dynamo Theory, as the USL beat writer, the Homegrown signing was heading out on loan to the Charleston Battery, Houston’s one year affiliate.
The Battery are a historic club in the United Soccer League, and they have a tight knit family atmosphere. In 2015, they also had a very deep, and talented roster. Playing time was incredibly hard to come by for Memo, but no matter what, when I talked to him, he had the right mindset. He was frustrated not having a chance to help his team on match day, but he trained hard and was always ready to be called upon.
His frame, as a rookie, was that of a teenager, and his biggest weakness was the strength to hold off defenders from quickly dispossessing him. Pressuring the ball nonstop as a late substitute was his most common assignment. He finished his rookie season with one goal, and some valuable lessons learned.
Unfortunately, he would not return to the Houston Dynamo first team. In the offseason, he was waived, and signed to a contract with the brand new, USL affiliate RGVFC. Unlike his stint with Charleston, Memo was a featured player for the Toros. He showcased the skills that led Houston to sign him originally.
He finished the 2016 regular season with six goals and seven assists. Memo played in every one of the club’s matches. He repeatedly told me, just as he had his rookie year, that he knew he could be an MLS level player. I would be lying if I said I was as sure as he was, but his confidence showed to me that he truly believed that. They weren’t just empty words, he worked to improve all season. He started to look more like a man, than the slight framed teenager I met playing for the Battery.
Check out one of his six goals below. He said this match against #1 at the time Vancouver was his favorite of the season.
We decided last year, my second covering him, was “The Memo and Carson Show Part 2”, and honestly, I am glad there won’t be a third edition. He has worked so hard to get back to the Dynamo first team, and he’s made it. Obviously, he won’t be starting each match right away, and will likely spend some time back in RGV on match loans. But, being under contract with the Dynamo again is a big step for skillful midfielder. Houston has brought one of its Homegrown sons back, and it’s up to Memo to make it count.