On Tuesday, the Houston Dynamo announced to Major League Soccer that the team will exercise their right to offer a contract to Dynamo Academy product and former SMU midfielder Josue Soto. This move was made possible by the league's recently modified and expanded home grown rule.
By all accounts, the 22-year-old midfielder looked good in Major League Soccer's combine, which ended on Tuesday, and was set to participate in Thursday's SuperDraft. Soto was expected to be a solid second or third round pick for a team needing to bolster its midfield.
The former Dynamo Academy player still has to agree to a contract and will be signed as a homegrown player, meaning his salary will not count against the team's cap.
In a phone interview with the Houston Chronicle's Jesus Ortiz, Coach Kinnear discussed the process for acquiring Soto and what the scouts saw in the player.
"What we've done with Josue is approach the league to tell them that we will opt in on him. We talked to the league about having Josue sent a formal proposal," Kinnear said. "He's a left-footed midfielder who is smart off the ball. He's a smart player."
While the Houston Dynamo only have one pick in this year's draft (7th overall), exercising the rights to Soto gives the team the equivalent of a second round pick.
Soto's time in college was split between Campbell University and SMU where he scored a total of 23 goals and contributed 27 assists in 74 games. Seven of those goals and assists came during SMU's 2010 campaign, capping a solid year for the midfielder. Soto was a First Team All-Atlantic Sun Conference player in both of his seasons with Campbell University and was named to the Second Team All-Conference USA in 2009 and the All-Midwest Region Team in 2010.
If Soto agrees to a contract, he will add depth to the Dynamo midfield, which has struggled in the absence of Stuart Holden and Ricardo Clark. Though Soto will require some refining, Coach Dominic Kinnear should be able to groom Soto into another talented member of the Houston Dynamo team.