In the 2022 player preview series, we are going to 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 leading up to the start of the season.
Position – Left back, center back, left winger
2021 MLS Stats – 22 appearances, 18 starts, 0 goals, 1 assist
Sam Junqua first arrived in Houston following the 2019 MLS SuperDraft going 8th in the first round after playing collegiate soccer at the University of California, Berkeley. Junqua struggled very early at first to pick up minutes and was frequently loaned down to the Houston Dynamo’s affiliate, Rio Grande Valley FC. However, waiting patiently and under the tutelage of new Dynamo Head Coach Tab Ramos, he would begin to increase his time and look like a more realized MLS defender and winger by 2021.
Tab Ramos, who did not live up to the early expectations by Dynamo fans, was able to practice his specialty of developing young talent. For Junqua he had become more confident with his touch and his defending which allowed him to start just over half the regular season games for the Dynamo. While he frequently filled in for Adam Lundkvist at left back, he was also utilized higher up the field in a winger role to allow him to stretch back lines. Another game that he developed under Tab was his ability to get on set pieces on both sides of the ball. While his offensive production was far from where it needs to be, his growth from where he started is noticeably improved.
Sam Junqua cross field assist to Tyler Pasher
With a new Head Coach in Paulo Nagamura and new General Manager in Pat Onstad nailing down exactly where Junqua fits is one of the more difficult predictions to make. With some of the new signings, room for Junqua – if used as a winger – will likely be as a substitute or a backup in some capacity. His real competition will be for his more natural left back with Adam Lundkvist and the newly signed full back Zeca pushing Junqua for their own minutes. Junqua will likely lead the way as a reserve player unless he can earn Nagamura’s trust for the first team. However, given the lineups we’ve seen in the later preseason matches, it will likely be Lundkvist starting at left back for now. However, should he be needed, he’s proven he can be reliable to fill in and hopefully we see him continue to grow over the 2022 season.
What are your thoughts on Sam Junqua going into the new season? Let us know in the comments below.