Written by Will Parchman

chels

File this one under “transfer rumors we didn’t see coming” in the Development Academy file cabinet.

The Houston Dynamo haven’t necessarily struggled to produce quality academy players. Names like Juan Flores and Christian Lucatero would’ve caught on most anywhere. The problem’s been in the professional translation. But even then, a Dynamo academy product getting looks from Europe? And Chelsea, at that? Someone appears to have some connections.

According to Tribal Football, Chelsea has its wide-sweeping purchasing lens on holding midfielder Kelechi Onyewuenyi, a Texas-born Nigerian-American who’s been in the Dynamo setup for a few years now. The Chelsea rumor mill quickly swept it to trumpet the news, and it’s now at a low thrum throughout the club’s underground internet transfer thresher. As if to add to the cacophony, All Nigeria Soccer called Onyewuenyi the “next Mikel,” and he’s reportedly on several other professional radars, including Rosenborg in Norway.

Perhaps the most interesting wrinkle in all this is how relatively unknown Onyewuenyi is on the broader national scene. Onyewuenyi seems to have spent the first two years of his latter youth career playing for Cinco Ranch High School before flipping to the Dynamo academy at the U16 age in 2015. His last act as a high school player may well have been a loss in the state title game nearly two years ago.

Of course the Dynamo are intimately familiar, and those coaches and players directly hooked into the DA system who’d played against Houston know his bonafides. But he’s hardly generated national buzz, and he’s only started three of the 13 games he’s played for the Dynamo U18s this season for one reason or another. The next Mikel? Maybe. But the Dynamo have certainly done a good job keeping him under wraps, if that’s the case.

In any event, Chelsea’s interest could be a passing thing, a small tidbit picked up by one of the internet’s voluminous echo chambers and shouted into existence from nothingness. Or it could augur the DA’s next big European jump. He turns 18 on March 15, so he can move unbidden by FIFA transfer rules imminently. Who knows.

From the Dynamo’s perspective, though, the heat just went from two to six. MLS doesn’t have a training compensation policy to funnel dollars back down to the organizations that developed its outbound players if they didn’t first sign a contract. That means if an academy player flies the coop without first signing a contract (like FCD’s Weston McKennie to Schalke, for instance) the parent club gets zilch. The result is that MLS clubs are (or should be) desperate to sign their promising prospects to deals as early as possible. At least they’ll garner a transfer fee in that case, if nothing else.

The result, though, is an uncomfortable squeeze on the player. Sign and be true to your club but subjected to the whims of MLS, or push aside a contract and leap for free, knowing your academy is being left holding only its hat in hand? Onyewuenyi may have come out of nowhere, but we could soon learn his answer.

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Written by Will Parchman

rgv

They just call it the valley.

The Rio Grande Valley isn’t a true valley, in the strictest sense of the world. It’s technically a floodplain, nearly 1,900 square miles of oxbow lakes and mangroves and Jerusalem thorns situated at the southernmost tip of Texas all spilling out of the coffee-and-cream Rio Grande. It is hot here, seemingly always, and the children play in the resacas and the meanders and ride across the bridges to the interconnected islands.

Two of the five most Hispanic cities in the United States by percentage are in the Rio Grande Valley, and a third is miles up the waterway toward El Paso. It is an uncommon place in these days of Trump, as life plays out in the hypothetical shadow of a wall. Some immigrants who passed over the nearby border into the valley wait and pray. Others stake Trump signs into their lawns.

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Written by Will Parchman

161027_wilmer_cabrera_russell_isabella-usa_today_sports

By the time J.R.R. Tolkien passed in 1973, most of his literary oeuvre had already been created, enumerated and disseminated for public consumption. By then, The Hobbit and the ensuing Lord of the Rings trilogy had already tipped the fantasy genre into the global zeitgeist, and most assumed Tolkien’s legend would simply ride forward on those wings alone.

Tolkien’s son, Christopher, had been one of his chief literary consultants since he was a boy. So when his father died, Christopher set to work compiling the unpublished parts of his father’s work and creating a singular piece of literary merit from its disparate pieces. What he ultimately produced was a heavy edited and robustly compiled compendium of Lord of the Rings mythology called The Silmarillion from his father’s notes, most of which were hand-written.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Sit with this for a moment — exactly who are the Houston Dynamo?

There is no way to cushion the barbed fact that the Owen Coyle era in Houston was a twisted wreck of misshapen identity. It wasn’t that Coyle didn’t know the American game or the American player or even the system in which they inhabit. At the end, it didn’t look as though he cared to learn.

More than any other team in the league, Houston desperately needed its last shift in coaching paradigm to work. Forget for a moment that Coyle came from outside the league (where the success ratios drop precipitously compared to those with domestic experience) and focus instead on everything around him, on the shroud around the club itself. There is no more puzzling market in the country, and no club has failed to tap into its own city like Houston has failed. Coyle was the opening. Or so they thought.

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Written by Will Parchman

cubooo

MLS is full of cautionary tales so quiet and barely whispered that they dissipate before rising to an auditory decibel level. Who weeps for Omar Salgado? Or Danny Mwanga? In a league that struggles for abiding storylines, there is barely enough room for Michael Jordans, let alone Sam Bowies.

And yet even as the league’s narrative generator struggles to kick online, what has happened to Cubo Torres in MLS remains one of the saddest unfurling what-ifs in MLS history. And it is getting worse.

In Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, we’re introduced to a young, handsome socialite caught between two worlds: the hedonism of Lord Henry and the quiet, humble asceticism of Basil Hallward. If the latter represents a cautious, structured pathway through life’s burning hallways, Lord Henry advises Gray to throw his caution to the hurricane and simply be, whatever that would be.

Gray chooses Lord Henry’s beguiling unstructured world view and is undone by its relentless, overwrought bidding. With no guiderails he is undone and crumbles under his own weight. It is a tragedy, in the end, that Gray was unprepared to face. And it ended him.

There are acres of Dorian Gray in Cubo Torres.

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Written by Will Parchman

MESS

Argentina is currently training in Houston ahead of its friendly against Bolivia at BBVA Compass Stadium this week. After one of Argentina’s training sessions, a few Dynamo academy kids managed to flag down The Messi and got some dap-hugs (is that a thing, kids?) from the man himself. Never bathe again, gentlemen. Never bathe again.

The Dynamo academy also got to hop into training with Argentina, which, Holy Moses I’d tell my grandchildren about that.

The best part of this video is the goalkeeper twirling around the post like he was a 1940′s-era damsel who’d just gotten off the dance floor with Fred Astaire.

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Written by Will Parchman

Brian Ching and his merry band of (mostly old) gentlemen loaded his career onto a pyre, pushed it off into the Galveston Bay and lit it on fire. But they did it with a GoPro camera strapped around Brad Davis’ head. I want to insert an ear joke here, but I’m not feeling up to it so I’ll just conclude by saying that Brad Davis has big ears and that’s a funny thing to have on your body.

 

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Written by Will Parchman

nagbe

Globally, soccer is a buyer’s game. The escalating big money return-on-investment culture is increasingly rampant in places where moneyed owners buy clubs as status symbols in lieu of generating any substantive revenue stream. For Roman Abramovich, Chelsea is essentially a Rolex, adding some sparkle to his wrist but doing little to nothing to bolster his bank account. That’s what the under-the-table, ethically dubious Russian oil market is for.

If you’re OK with this culture of winner-buy-all, then perhaps this won’t matter much to you. And to be sure, there are pockets globally where it’s less pronounced. But if seeing the little guy repeatedly having his jaw rearranged by Gordon Gekko’s henchmen wears on you, the MLS playoffs are currently providing a fresh gust of wind in a relatively a stale upper atmosphere.

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Written by Travis Clark

It’s rivalry week in MLS, meaning that nearly every game this weekend pairs off some of the biggest rivals against each other. In Texas, this means a meeting of the Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas.

In advance of settling things on the field, the two sides have traded video barbs, with the Dynamo supplying the latest effort, a response to FCD’s video we posted earlier in the week.

 

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Written by Dill Pickle

This is how you trash talk. You don’t get emotional, or out of character; you get creative. You get subtle. You … make a fake infomercial about ‘Crushing the Orange’ a few days in advance of your match against the Houston Dynamo.

That’s precisely what FC Dallas did, and I absolutely love it. Stephen Keel and George John were dead on here as infomercial actors. They managed to be funny while getting their point across: they plan on crushing the orange.

Your move, Dynamo.

 

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