The Houston Dynamo have appeared in four of the last eight MLS Cup finals, and lifted the trophy on two of those occasions. The 2014 season, however, has provided a different script for The Men in Orange, as they currently sit in 8th in the Eastern Conference standings, with the second-lowest points total in the entire league. Prior to last weekend, the Dynamo had endured a streak of eight regular season games without a win and had surrendered 21 goals across that stretch. Badly in need of more reliable defending, the Dynamo recently acquired two new players to fill significant roles. USMNT player DaMarcus Beasley, fresh off his fourth World Cup, was added as a left back, while Honduran international Luis Garrido, also having appeared in Brazil for his country, arrived in Houston to play in front of the backline. The payoff against DC United on Sunday was immediately evident. While Beasley was expected to provide, and delivered, a massive boost to Houston’s defensive unit, Garrido’s play was equally notable. At 5’7”, the 23-year-old is small for a defensive center midfielder; yet, in his debut, the Honduran was outstanding in the role. Garrido impressed with his ability to maintain possession, and on the defensive side, lived up to the nickname earned in his home country: La Fiera (“The Beast”).
“I make my name off the work,” Garrido told reporters through a translator on Tuesday. “That’s what my job is, what my identity is…I’m always trying to do things on the ball…because I’m always trying to improve in that area. But my identity is the work.” Garrido’s teammate and Dynamo captain Brad Davis welcomed the contributions of the Honduran. “You need those types of enforcers, guys that look for those tackles, guys that look to be scrappy and look to break up plays,” said Davis. “Those are all parts of the puzzle that you have to have fit together.”
A player’s ability to fulfill his or her role on a team depends on the extent to which role clarity, role acceptance, and role performance are achieved. As a player, role clarity refers to your understanding of your specific role on the team, as well as the strengths of your game that allow you to have success. It involves knowing your responsibilities on the field, and the contributions your coach and teammates expect you to bring to each game. If, as a player, you are unsure of your role, it is important to talk with your coach and ask specific questions to improve your understanding. Once you are aware of the expectations surrounding your part on the team, role acceptance refers to your willingness as a player to fully embrace that role, and to bring your best effort to the field in whatever capacity you are expected to fulfill. Whether as the starting center midfielder or the last player off the bench, it is important to bring your highest level of focus and effort to the field whenever you perform. Depending on your team’s needs, there may certainly be times when you are unhappy with the position you are playing or the role you serve. Rather than complaining about these circumstances, make the most out of them through a positive attitude and a commitment to helping your team find success. Lastly, role performance involves how well you perform in a given role, and your willingness to evaluate your strengths and areas for improvement in that position through your own objective evaluation and talking with your coach. After reflecting, and receiving feedback, on your performance, develop specific adjustments or process goals that can help you become a more effective player in that role. While the Dynamo currently sit in 8th place, only five points separate them from a playoff berth. With 13 regular season games remaining to make up this gap, Houston will be looking to both Garrido and Beasley to fill much-needed roles, in the hopes that these two players are the missing pieces to the “puzzle”.
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