The Houston Dynamo and Major League Soccer are amid an almost 3-week long international break (Sporting KC and Austin FC played this past Saturday). The Dynamo’s most recent match was played on May 29th, a tough loss in Kansas City. The pause in fixtures should provide the team with a much needed rest before they find themselves back into a grueling schedule for the remainder of the 2021 season. Houston resumes their MLS schedule on June 19th away versus Carlos Vela and LAFC. For five of the club’s players, they haven’t had much of a break as they have seen action with their countries. Let’s take a look at those on international duty.
Darwin Ceren (El Salvador)
Playing in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification in CONCACAF, Darwin Ceren was a vital part of the midfield that helped La Selecta beat U.S. Virgin Islands (7-0) and Antigua and Barbuda (3-0) to place first in Group A. This earned El Salvador a spot in the next round, where thru will face Saint Kitts and Nevis. El Salvador won the first leg in Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis 4-0 and the 2nd leg will be played on June 15th in the Estadio Cuscatlán in San Salvador. The winner of this match up will move on to third round in hopes of making the FIFA World Cup in Qatar next year.
Maynor Figueroa & Boniek García (Honduras)
Honduras was one of the final 4 teams in the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League Finals. Los Catrachos placed 3rd after losing the semi-final against USMNT and beating Costa Rica in penalties. Maynor Figueroa played all 180 minutes and more due to extra time. Boniek Garcia only had 15 minutes of action. Boniek come on in the 74th minute against the USA to play the now so familiar center back role he has played with Houston. Honduras drew 0-0 with Mexico in a friendly in Atlanta on June 12th. These two veterans did not seem to be able to get a much-deserved rest, yet surely, they will rather continue to wear their nations jerseys in search of another World Cup appearance before ending their playing careers.
Ari Lassiter (Costa Rica)
Costa Rica was another nation playing in the 2021 CONCACAF Nations League Finals. Wearing the number 2 on his back, Ari came on to the field in the 62nd minute during the semi-final against Mexico. Even with Lassiter scoring in the penalty shoot-out, it was not enough, and Costa Rica failed to make the final match. Again, during the third-place match against Honduras, Ari was subbed in early in the second half. This match also went to a penalty shoot-out and this time Lassiter’s shot was saved and Los Ticos finished in fourth place. Ari saw more playing time when Costa Rica faced the United States on June 9th. Lassiter played the entire second half in the match that the Yanks ended up victorious by a 4 to zero goal margin.
Zarek Valentin (Puerto Rico)
Houston’s defender made his official debut with the Puerto Rican national team in a 7-0 victory over the Bahamas on June 2nd. Valentin also saw action again against Guyana where Puerto Rico won 2-0. Valentin played in every minute of both FIFA World Cup qualifiers but it was not enough, and Puerto Rico’s quest of making it to Qatar ended in the first round of CONCACAF qualification phase. El Huracan Azul finished third in Group F, behind surprising group winners Saint Kitts and Nevis and runner up Trinidad and Tobago.
It is quiet refreshing to see so many Houston Dynamo players represent their country. Hopefully, others can continue to improve and eventually earn themselves a call up. With the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July and more World Cup Qualifiers to come, there will be plenty more opportunities.