Five facts about new Houston Dynamo signing Raul Rodriguez

The Houston Dynamo have bolstered their defence ahead of the 2015 season by signing Spanish defender Raul Rodriguez from Liga BBVA side RCD Espanyol.

The 27-year-old cancelled the remaining six months of his contract with Espanyol yesterday so that a move to Houston could go through without the need for a transfer fee and he has expressed his delight at joining Owen Coyle at the Dynamo in MLS.

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“I’m very excited to join the Houston Dynamo,” Rodríguez told the club’s official website. “This move represents a great challenge for me in my career with the growth of MLS.

“The Dynamo are an ambitious club with a clear vision and I’m excited to be a part of this project. Houston is a great city with a lot of possibilities for me and my family. I can’t wait to join my teammates and coaches and get to work.”

Here are five facts about the Dynamo’s new signing:

1. Rodriguez has spent the last five seasons in Liga BBVA with RCD Espanyol

The versatile defender has been with Espanyol since 2010, and started off with the club’s B-side. He went on to make 80 first-team appearances without scoring a goal but only saw one minute of league action this season before terminating his contract with the club.

2. He was handed his Espanyol debut by now Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino

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Mauricio Pochettino signed Raul Rodriguez when he was the Espanyol coach in the summer of 2010 and then called him up to the senior squad for his debut in November that year, coming on in the last minute of a 3-2 away win at Atletico Madrid.

3. Rodriguez has represented the Catalonia National Team on one occasion

Although he has never appeared for the Spanish National Team, Rodriguez has one international cap to his name after playing for the Catalonia National Team in 2011, which was then managed by Dutch legend Johan Cruyff.

The team is not affiliated with either FIFA or UEFA but is the official football team of the Spanish community of Catalonia and some of Spain’s best players such as Gerard Pique, Xavi, Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Busquets all played for the team on the same day that Rodriguez made his sole appearance.

4. He man-marked Cristiano Ronaldo a year ago and kept him quiet

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Rodriguez was given the tough task of man marking Cristiano Ronaldo in a Copa Del Rey clash against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu last January, after being played at right-back, and he managed to keep the Portugal star quiet.

Ronaldo didn’t make an impact on the game, though Madrid still won 1-0 thanks to a Jese Rodriguez goal.

5. He helped Espanyol keep a clean sheet in both of his final two games for the club last month

Despite only seeing a minute of first-team action in the league this season, Rodriguez was played in both legs of the Copa Del Rey games against Deportivo Alaves in December. He played a full 90 minutes at centre-back in both legs and helped his side to 2-0 and 1-0 wins to advance.

He will now hope to have a similar impact in Houston as the Dynamo will look to Rodriguez to shore up their defence after they conceded 50 goals last year and kept just ten clean sheets.

The Dynamo have been moved to the Western Conference this season and that will ensure that Raul Rodriguez and the rest of the Houston defence are kept busy as Major League Soccer’s best attacking sides are in the Western Conference too.

Is Raul Rodriguez a good signing for the Houston Dynamo?

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Erick Torres heads back to Chivas before possible MLS switch in 6 months

Erick “Cubo” Torres has dominated most of the postseason transfer headlines as his stance has been unclear since Chivas USA were disbanded as a club, but his situation looks to be finally resolved… for now.

The 21-year-old Mexican striker has been in talks with Major League Soccer for some time, as the league looked to keep him in the US. And they may have succeeded, but for now he’s going back to parent club Chivas Guadalajara of Liga MX.

Chivas are in a real relegation scrap as they have won just one of their last ten, and have failed to score in three of their last four. Solution – bring back Torres.

He netted 15 goals in 29 games for a poor Chivas USA side last season and will now look to carry that form into Liga MX to keep Chivas in the top-tier of Mexican football.

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That does not mean a move to MLS is dead in the water though as ESPN soccer reporter Tom Marshall indicated on Twitter.

Torres is expected to still make a return to Major League Soccer and will reportedly join up with a new team at the midpoint of the 2015 season.

The next big question then is ‘who is that team going to be?’ Well it seemed like LA Galaxy were frontrunners for his signature for a long time, as Torres himself was keen on a move to the MLS Cup champions, but the Galaxy are not believed to be interested.

They are looking to replace Landon Donovan with a designated player, but are exploring other options. Another rumoured destination for Torres was the Seattle Sounders, but they too are not believed to be chasing the talented young Mexican at this point.

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Last night, it emerged that the Houston Dynamo were in pole position to bring Torres back to MLS as Ives Galarcep reported on Goal.com.

According to the report, the Dynamo were willing to meet a $7.5 million demand for Torres but by sending him back to Chivas for six months, that fee could be lowered significantly.

The Dynamo therefore will be favourites for his signature after he is done on his rescue mission to Mexico.

Torres needs a home after a turbulent few months and a move to Houston would certainly be an intriguing move.

What do make of the Erick Torres situation? Would Houston Dynamo be a good destination?

DaMarcus Beasley: Left-sided legend retires from international duty

DaMarcus Beasley announced that he would no longer be available for the USA on Monday, signalling the end to a great international career in which he amassed over 100 appearances for his country. Here’s a recap of what he has achieved so far.

Naturally left-sided, Beasley has recently been deployed as a left-back as he has aged, but he started his career as a direct winger who was always a threat with his speed.

A product of the IMG Academy, Beasley starred for the USA at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 1999 and never looked back.

He signed with LA Galaxy in the same year but failed to make an appearance before joining the Chicago Fire the following season and spending four seasons in the windy city.

He spent the most part of his career travelling around Europe and playing for clubs such as Manchester City (England), Rangers (Scotland), PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands) and Hannover (Germany).

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He was the man who replaced Arjen Robben for PSV in 2004 after the Dutch winger left for Chelsea, so is a player who many respect greatly across the world.

He joined Club Tijuana in 2011 and spent three seasons in Mexico before finally returning to MLS with the Houston Dynamo this year where he is a designated player.

For the USMNT he has been a great servant down the left flank and has an incredible 121 caps (17 goals) for The Stars and Stripes. Playing as either a left-winger or most recently at left-back.

He is the only American to feature at four FIFA World Cup’s, having played in 2002, 2006, 2010 and this summer in Brazil where the USA reached the last sixteen.

His greatest achievement for the USMNT has to be captaining the side to his fourth Gold Cup win in 2013, which the USA will defend next July on home soil.

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Beasley has retired for the USA a legend of US soccer and replacing him will be a huge task for the young Greg Garza. And at the age of just 32, many will question Beasley’s decision to quit so soon.

He can now focus on club football with the Dynamo but his successful international career and work rate given to his country is something few will forget.

Has DaMarcus Beasley retired too soon?

Owen Coyle confirmed as new Houston Dynamo head coach

Owen Coyle has been confirmed as the new Houston Dynamo manager and insists he is ready to prove  point as a foreign coach in Major League Soccer.

The Scottish head coach is just the second Dynamo manager in the club’s history, following on from Dominic Kinnear who left to rejoin the San Jose Earthquakes at the end of the 2014 regular season.

Coyle has been out of work since leaving Wigan Athletic last December, but the former Burnley and Bolton manager has signed a three-year deal with the Dynamo and is looking forward to the challenge ahead.

“Regardless of what competition you are in, if you can coach, you can coach,” he told a Houston media conference upon his appointment.

“If I am here to prove a point, I will prove a point.

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“I don’t know everything about the league, but I know a lot of the teams and the players. I brought my teams to the US for pre-season for five or six seasons.

“This is the league that continues to grow more than any other in world football and I’m sure it will become one of the world’s top leagues.

“We are not the biggest club in MLS, but they have punched above their weight before and we can do it again,” the 48-year-old added.

Coyle’s first task will be to oversee the MLS Expansion Draft on Wednesday afternoon as he could lose a couple of players before he’s even had a chance to assess his squad.

The Dynamo ended the 2014 campaign in eighth place in the Eastern Conference but they will be playing in the Western Conference once again next season as the club can prepare for a totally fresh start under their new manager.

Watch: Owen Coyle’s unveiling as Houston Dynamo head coach (via Houston Dynamo on YouTube):

Will Owen Coyle be a success in Houston?

Trade crazy! All the MLS trades from a busy window on Monday

Major League Soccer clubs across the country have been busy acquiring players today. The half-day trade window gave MLS teams four hours to trade players for the first time this offseason. Clubs could also re-sign their own players.

11 players were on the move on Monday as 10 different clubs were involved with some form of trade in the final opportunity to reshuffle squad’s before Wednesday’s MLS Expansion Draft.

The Expansion Draft gets underway at 19:00 (UK time) on Wednesday and the offseason trade window will reopen after the draft ends.

Here are all today’s trades in what has been a busy day:

Michael Harrington: Portland Timbers – Colorado Rapids

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The Colorado Rapids acquired defender Michael Harrington from the Portland Timbers in exchange for allocation money. The 28-year-old made 25 appearances for the Timbers last season and should shore up a leaky Colorado defence that conceded more goals than anyone else in 2014.

Nat Borchers: Real Salt Lake – Portland Timbers

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The Timbers quickly replaced Harrington by bringing in Nat Borchers from Western Conference rivals Real Salt Lake for allocation money. The 33-year-old centre-back was with RSL since 2008 and started 32 games last season. Borchers was one of five players the Timbers signed on Monday.

Josh Williams: Columbus Crew – New York City FC

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New York City have bulked up their defence with the addition of Josh Williams from Columbus Crew in exchange for allocations funds. Williams, 26, made 14 appearances for the Crew this season.

Andrew Driver – Joe Willis/Samuel Inkoom: Houston Dynamo – DC United

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English winger Andrew Driver joined Eastern Conference winners DC United from Houston Dynamo in exchange for Joe Willis and Samuel Inkoom. The Dynamo have bolstered their defence by bringing in goalkeeper Willis and right-back Inkoom while DC have added another attacking option in Driver.

Amobi Okugo:  Philadelphia Union – Orlando City SC

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Orlando City brought in three players on Monday. Amobi Okugo was the first as the 23-year-old holding midfielder joined from Philadelphia Union in exchange for allocation money and a 2016 2nd Round SuperDraft pick. Okugo made 32 appearances for the Union in 2014, scoring and assisting two goals.

Aurelien Collin: Sporting Kansas City – Orlando City SC

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Orlando’s second pick-up was Aurelien Collin. The dominant centre-back will undoubtedly give the Lions a solid defensive leader. He joins Orlando in exchange for allocation money and future considerations. Collin, MLS Cup MVP from 2013, made 26 appearances for Sporting Kansas City in 2014, scoring twice.

Tally Hall: Houston Dynamo – Orlando City SC

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The third acquisition Orlando made was goalkeeper Tally Hall who joins from Houston in exchange for allocation money and an international roster spot. Hall and Collin will need to keep the Lions defence solid in their inaugural season in MLS next season.

C.J. Sapong: Sporting Kansas City – Philadelphia Union

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Philadelphia bolstered their attack with the addition of C.J. Sapong from Sporting Kansas City in exchange for the Union’s highest first-round pick in the upcoming SuperDraft. Sapong scored twice in 20 appearances for SKC in 2014.

Bernardo Anor: Columbus Crew – Sporting Kansas City

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After seeing Collin and Sapong leave, Sporting Kansas City brought in someone in the form of midfielder Bernardo Anor from Columbus Crew. Anor joined SKC in exchange for allocation money after scoring six goals with one assist in 27 games this year.

Omar Salgado: Vancouver Whitecaps – New York City FC

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New York City also made a move to improve their attacking options ahead of their debut season by bringing in Omar Salgado from the Vancouver Whitecaps in a swap for Future Considerations. The 21-year-old only played eight times for the Whitecaps in 2014.

Joe Nasco – Dimitry Imbongo/Geoffrey Castillion: Colorado Rapids – New England Revolution

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MLS Cup Final losers New England Revolution also made a move in the short trade window by bringing in Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Joe Nasco and a third round pick in the upcoming SuperDraft. In exchange the Revs sent forwards Dimitry Imbongo and Geoffrey Castillion as well as a second round SuperDraft pick.

Expansion franchises New York City and Orlando City also picked up international roster slots for the 2015 and 2016 seasons from DC United. Both clubs will now be looking ahead to Wednesday’s highly-anticipated Expansion Draft.

What did you make of Monday’s busy day of trading in MLS?

Owen Coyle set to take Houston Dynamo job – report

Houston Dynamo‘s search for a new manager finally looks to be over as Owen Coyle is expected to be announced as the new manager over the weekend.

The Dynamo have been searching for a new man to lead the team since Dominic Kinnear left to return to the San Jose Earthquakes at the end of the regular season in October.

Coyle looks to be that man. The Scottish head coach has been out of work since leaving Wigan Athletic 12 months ago and is now ready for a new challenge in MLS.

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The appointment is expected to be confirmed over the weekend, after Coyle lands in the Texas city and has a chance to finalise details with the club.

The 48-year-old managed Burnley and Bolton in the Premier League before taking over at Wigan in 2013.

Houston will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing season. They finished eighth in the Eastern Conference, ten points off the playoffs, and will expecting for better things when they start the 2015 season in the Western Conference.

With the new season still a few months away, Coyle will have plenty of time to get used to his surroundings and playing personnel.

Will Owen Coyle be a good appointment for the Houston Dynamo?

2014 MLS Season Review: Houston Dynamo

Eastern Conference Final Position: 8th

Review

They started the season with a flyer, beating New England 4-0 at home but struggled without Brad Davis during the World Cup and never challenged for a playoff spot.

Best Moment

Signing DaMarcus Beasley – World Cup star Beasley joining Houston was a signal that the Dynamo can still attract marquee signings.

Worst Moment

Mark Sherrod’s injury – Just twelve minutes into the D.C United game, Sherrod went down and the forward’s season was over. We’re hoping to see him fully fit in 2015.

Player of the Year

Brad Davis was the main man and the leader of the pack. They missed his influence massively while he was at the World Cup in Brazil.

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Biggest Win

Houston Dynamo 4-0 New England Revolution (March 9 2014)

Biggest Defeat

New York Red Bulls 4-0 Houston Dynamo (April 23 2014)

What to improve for the 2015 season…

Houston needs to strengthen defensively; possibly another midfielder in the draft, someone who can learn from Brad Davis so they can form a core to build around.

Preview: Houston Dynamo vs New England Revolution

The BBVA Compass Stadium will play host to the New England Revolution on Thursday night, as the Houston Dynamo will look to restore some pride after missing out on a playoff berth.

The Revolution are in second place in the Eastern Conference, tied with Sporting Kansas City on points, and will be looking to put some distance between themselves, SKC and the New York Red Bulls as they look to put pressure on DC United, who are six points better off with just two games to go.

New England come into the game having only lost one of their last ten in MLS. Whereas, Houston were on the wrong end of a 3-1 result as they lost at home to DC United for the first time, ending their playoff hopes for 2014.

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The Dynamo will be looking for a performance for the fans more than anything, knowing this will be the last home game this season, and so we’re hoping to see a fine show of character from Houston on Thursday night.

They will have to contain one of Major League Soccer’s newest stars and USMNT World Cup sensation, Jermaine Jones, though, though he is set to play in both the USA game on Tuesday as well as this clash on Thursday night, and may be fatigued with two games in such a short space of time.

Houston opened the season at home to the Revs, winning 4-0 on that occasion, and they would love to finish in similar style despite the disappointment at missing out on a place in the playoffs.

Key Player: Lee Nguyen – Nguyen is the Rev’s top scorer with 15 and that’s from midfield! Expect him to have a huge impact once more on the result on Thursday.

Key Stat: Houston has eleven wins this season and eight of them have come at home. Could their last home game be number 9?

Houston’s last five: D/W/L/W/L

New England’s last five: W/L/W/W/D

Prediction: Houston Dynamo 0 – 2 New England Revolution

Real Salt Lake punish Houston

By Jamie Ives

Real Salt Lake netted five times on Saturday night against Houston to win 5-2 in an eventful game, in which Javier Morales grabbed a hat-trick.

The Dynamo, who were coming off the back of a clean sheet were below par defensively all night, and this was seen from the first whistle, as Javier Morales chipped Tally Hall with only fifteen seconds on the clock.

The Cantona-esque effort was nothing short of sublime, as Hall could do nothing but admire the skillful attempt.

The lead was doubled in the seventeenth minute, as Morales got on the scoresheet for the second time, tapping in from six yards from a corner which had been headed back into the box.

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(Photo: Javier Morales was excellent, and ended the night with a hat-trick)

Rookie, Mark Sherrod, opened his MLS account to bring the Dynamo back into the game after he slotted in from a Brad Davis corner.

However, disaster struck in the twenty-seventh minute as Servando Carrasco was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Morales.

With Houston having to play two thirds of the match with ten men, Salt Lake took the advantage and stretched their lead just five minutes after the dismissal.

Englishman Luke Mulholland delivered a peach of a cross into the near post, and Alvaro Saborio guided his header perfectly across goal and into the bottom corner.

Two minutes after that Houston had a penalty, and another chance to get back into the game, after Aaron Maund brought down David Horst in the box.

Ex-Derby County midfielder Giles Barnes stepped up to take it, but the penalty was very poor and Nick Rimando saved with ease, meaning Salt Lake went in at halftime with a 3-1 lead.

Houston came out looking for a goal to get them back in the match, and Mark Sherrod doubled his tally in the fifty-sixth minute to bring Houston to within a goal.

Sherrod’s powerful finish was the result of hard work by Giles Barnes to secure the ball, and the rookie smashed the ball past the outstretched Rimando.

Salt Lake survived a Dynamo charge and their fourth came in the seventy-eighth minute, when Mulholland rounded Tally Hall and slotted into an empty net from a tight angle, after a intricate pass from Morales opened up the Dynamo defence.

With the game out of reach and dying down, Salt Lake had one more chance to score when Tally Hall pulled down Devon Sandoval to give the visitors a penalty.

Morales stepped up and ended his wonderful night with a hat-trick as he buried the spot-kick past Hall.

Houston need to regroup fast as they face the LA Galaxy on Saturday, while the dangerous Real Salt Lake host the Colorado Rapids.

Highlights via the MLS YouTube channel: