In the player preview series, we are going to take a look at the current players on the Houston Dynamo roster, how they performed last season, and what we might expect from them in 2022. Here is the next in our series and stay tuned for more to come in the weeks leading up to the start of the season.
Position – Midfielder
2021 MLS Stats – 25 appearances, 13 starts, 2 assists
Darwin Ceren went into the 2021 season looking to win a starting spot in Tab Ramos’ lineup after having quite a productive year in 2020. However, many fans will probably only remember Ceren’s season in 2021 for that quick sending off in the first match ever against Austin FC. That game started the end of the “Tie-namo” and began an ugly losing streak. It’s easy to see why Darwin’s red card was so memorable.
On the field, Ceren seems all over the place. This is note necessarily meaning a box-to-box midfielder, but literally the man seems flustered. The Salvadoran international has such a high motor and creates a lot of pressure for the opposition, yet the motor is still kicking at full gear when the ball is at his feet and he tends to make the wrong decision and skip the simple pass. At the end of the day, finesse is not what characterize Ceren’s game. Darwin is best suited to constrict the opposition and basically breathe down the neck of the players he is facing when the ball is not in Houston’s possession.
Those high work rate traits is what makes him the captain of his national team and a fan favorite. Houston is a place for the resilient and Darwin is just that, the man has a great ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change on the field.
Darwin Ceren had his 2022 contract option picked up by Houston back in November. Like the rest of the players whose contracts got extended before Paulo Nagamura was named head coach, general manager Pat Onstad saw enough productivity in Ceren to keep him in the squad. Which, again, it makes a lot of sense to keep guy that brings professionalism to the locker room and creates that competition within the club.
The expectations will be for Ceren to come in when needed this season. If Nagamura goes with 3 players in the midfield, it is difficult to see Darwin surpassing players like Matias Vera, Adalberto Carrasquilla, and Memo Rodriguez, if all are fit to play. Plus, Paulo is still in search of picking up another midfielder to add to the rotation. It is hardto point out anything that Ceren excels in and or distinguishes him from the rest of the group. Ceren’s numbers have him comparable with players like Victor Ulloa, Russell Teibert, and Dax McCarty in similarity. Here are Darwin’s stats from fbref.com:
Darwin will have a ton of personal goals to meet on his vision board in 2022, especially since El Salvador is still alive in their run to make the World Cup in Qatar at the end of the year. He might find his most impactful matches this year playing with La Selecta rather than with Houston, at least for the beginning of the season. Either way, Ceren’s work ethic will help promote the proactive mentality that the new regime is trying to rebuild in Houston after it losing its winning identity during the last decade.