When Adam Lundkvist asked to be traded and was sent down I-35 to Austin FC, the Houston Dynamo were left with a big hole at left back. Brad Smith was signed as a free agent recently but the Australian is still recovering from an ACL injury and won’t be ready for the early part of the MLS season. So, the big question on peoples’s minds is, who starts the season at left back? Let’s go over a few options.
LeFlore is currently with Dynamo 2, joining them last season after spending time overseas with Braga in Portugal. LeFlore just turned 20 last month. He can play at the front as a winger and also played as a left back for Dos, with the ability to get forward in the attack. But, do you want to throw LeFlore straight to the wolves in MLS? Is he ready to make that big of a leap to a starting spot in MLS? I think those concerns are very valid.
Free Agent Options
Ambrose is a Texas native, albeit from the opposite side of the state in El Paso, and was in the FC Dallas academy. The 29-year-old is out of contract after spending last season with Atlanta United and their USL team. Ambrose has MLS experience and would be a cheap option, he made just over $85K in salary last season.
The former reality TV star has had a successful career in MLS. After winning Sueno MLS in 2007, a reality show for a try-out in the league, Villafana was signed by Chivas USA. He later spent time with the Portland Timbers, where we won MLS Cup and then moved to Mexico with Santos Laguna and won the 2018 Clausura. Villafana returned to MLS with Portland in 2018 and spent the last two seasons with the LA Galaxy. He did not appear in any games for the Galaxy in 2022 after undergoing knee surgery last March, and had his option declined at the end of the season. Villafana is 33 but if he is healthy, he could bring a veteran presence to the roster and is someone you would not be afraid to start multiple games in MLS until Smith is healthy. The one potential drawback, outside of the injury, he made nearly half a million in salary last season.
I know, Junqua left the Dynamo after the season and was extended a bona fide offer with no news of an answer. He is still out there in wherever MLS players without teams hang out, looking for a job. At this point, it might be worth bringing him back if he would be open to it. You may not be thrilled with the idea of Junqua returning, but he did rank in the 99th percentile of MLS fullbacks last season in clearances and the 94th percentile in aerials won.
Why not replace a Swedish left back with a Swedish left back? McVey started 34 matches for Inter Miami last season and is penciled in to be their starter in 2023. Miami also has 18-year-old homegrown Noah Allen on the roster and he showed promise in some time with the first team last season. Does the emergence of Allen make McVey expendable? McVey has a similar profile to Lundkvist in that he is more defensive-minded and could be a good compliment to Smith when both are healthy.
Washington is another veteran, he turns 30 this year, who is currently with Nashville SC. Nashville currently has Daniel Lovitz as their starter at left back, and selected Joey Skinner, another left back, in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft. Washington made just $107K in salary last season and he has some good defensive numbers in his 600 minutes played last season. With two left backs on the roster, this could be a player that Nashville would be willing to trade for relatively cheap.