The Houston Dynamo made a midnight trade prior to the MLS Superdraft as the Dynamo sent $100,000 in General Allocation Money and $75,000 in Targeted Allocation Money to the San Jose Earthquakes in exchange for Darwin Ceren with additional considerations dependent on player performance. Ceren, 28, hails from El Salvador but currently holds a green card so he will not occupy an international roster slot.
Primarily a defensive midfielder, but with the skills necessary to be a box-to-box player, Ceren will provide depth with Juan David Cabezas in central defensive midfield, but also could provide a tough as nails partnership which could allow Tomas Martinez to track back less much in the same way that Cabezas and Ricardo Clark/Eric Alexander allowed Alex fewer defensive responsibilities last season.
With Cabezas, Ceren, and Alexander all on the roster, this could spell the end of Ricardo Clark in orange. While Clark was the de facto starter next to Cabezas for most of the 2017 season, it was clear that by the end of the year Eric Alexander was Wilmer Cabrera’s preferred option. It’s still possible to bring back the Dynamo legend and current free agent, but if he does return his role is likely to be more limited.
In the Dynamo’s announcement of Ceren they cited his 76.64 tackle success rate being the sixth highest in MLS over the last four seasons (among players with at least 200 tackles) and his 85.78% pass completion being among the top 10 in players with at least 5,000 minutes played. This is very consistent with how Cabezas plays and the two can make a formidable duo in the midfield, but Ceren would also be a like-for-like plug should Cabezas get injured.
Houston knew its offseason priorities and is addressing them one at a time. Ceren and the recent signing of Venezuelan center back Alejandro Fuenmayor shows the club is looking to shore things up on the defensive side of the ball as its offense in 2017 was in the top 5 in MLS and remains largely unchanged going into the upcoming season.
It’s hard not to wonder about this club’s potential in 2018 after reaching the Conference Finals last season. It should be exciting so welcome to Houston Darwin Ceren!