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Meet the New Guys: Zarek Valentin

Meet the new Houston Dynamo Defender Zarek Valentin

MLS: Portland Timbers at New York City FC Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Previous Club: Portland Timbers (MLS)

Acquired by: Selected by Nashville SC (MLS) in the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft and then traded to the Houston Dynamo with $75,000 in targeted allocation money for Joe Willis.

Position: Defender

The Houston Dynamo are clearly a team in transition looking to put the Wilmer Cabrera era – and most of the years since Dominic Kinnear to be honest – in the rear view mirror and the front office made a splash with the hiring of former USMNT assistant coach and USMNT U-20 head coach Tab Ramos.

The move was a dream hiring for many Dynamo fans and since Ramos came on board the Dynamo have made a lot of moves bringing players in and some seeing their way out. Romell Quioto, Joe Willis, DaMarcus Beasley, and A.J. DeLaGarza have moved on from the club with others that have had their options declined such as Tyler Deric and Juan David Cabezas. Coming in we’ve seen the attacking player Darwin Quintero come on board, along with goalkeeper Marco Maric, and defenders Victor Cabrera and Zarek Valentin.

Valentin was originally drafted by Chivas USA in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft fourth overall and then had stints with the Montreal Impact, Norwegian side FK Bodø/Glimt, and the Portland Timbers.

What does he bring to the Dynamo?

With the departures of two mainstays along the starting back line for the Dynamo, with Beasley retiring and DeLaGarza signing with Inter Miami, the need for fullbacks was high. Adam Lundqvist is the heir apparent to Beasley’s left back spot and José Bizama was brought in to play as a right back that can move forward, but it is important to challenge players for their positions and having depth is equally important. Valentin is a versatile and intelligent defender capable of playing across the back, but excels in the fullback positions, primarily on the right side.

Valentin has proven to be a good player distributing out of the back and bringing the ball up with his dribbling, though some concern has been attributed to his pace to get back. Still, he has been seen as a solid locker room guy that can lead and help players gel together. The guy doesn’t even have a designated number for his jersey and he’s tweeting support for a Dynamo Academy product following the tragic loss of his father.

Zarek really seems to be all in regardless of the club he’s at and that kind of quality that – regardless of any contributions on the pitch – can help push forward a fun and winning environment. He will have to compete for minutes either on his favored right side with Bizama or on the left with Lundqvist, but he should be given a shot. The new Dynamo Theory Managing Editor Dustyn Richardson tweeted on the DT twitter account (prior to the signing of Maric) a potential lineup to start the new season which included Valentin as the starting right back. Given the inconsistencies we’ve seen from Bizama and a new manager, Valentin could become a very important piece for the Dynamo in 2020.

Lastly, to solidify Valentin as a good locker room type and all-around nice person, here is a very good and adorable interview with him and Diego Valeri’s daughter Connie that is a must watch.

How do you think the Zarek Valentin signing will play out for the Dynamo? Will he be a crucial piece or a quality depth signing? Let us know in the comments below.