The Houston Dynamo may be known for the goalscoring exploits of forwards such as Alberth Elis, Mauro Manotas and Romell Quioto. But the story of last weekend for the club was around its Dynamo Academy alumni. These homegrown players spent their time developing in the Academy before they made their debut as professionals for the Dynamo First Team or with RGV FC.
There's no debate saying that midfielder Memo Rodriguez has become an important component in the Dynamo attack in recent weeks. When Rodriguez was 16 back in 2011, he was selected out of more than 400 players at a Dynamo ID camp to join the Dynamo Academy. After playing for the Academy for four years, he made his debut with the First Team in 2015 and signed at the sixth homegrown player in Dynamo history.
After this past weekend, Memo has played four games and has scored four goals, showing his continued growth and development within the team. When asked about his success and the success of his fellow homegrown teammates, Rodriguez gave credit to the Academy.
“It is a testament to how good our Academy is and it's getting even better,” the now-23-year-old said. “There will be more players coming up through the system.”
Defender Erik McCue (pictured, above), the most recent Academy alum to sign with the First Team, passed a major milestone this weekend, making his professional debut with RGV FC. Despite a relatively short tenure in the Academy, he quickly made his mark. He came to the club in 2017 and that year was named U-17 Player of the Year and Players' Player of the Year. He also earned the Ricardo Clark Leadership Award in his first year in Houston.
“It was a dream come true, honestly,” McCue said of his debut. “I think you build it up in your head for years and years. When you actually get out onto the field you have no idea what to expect, but I thought it was a really good experience playing with a really good group of guys. I wouldn’t want to have done it anywhere else.”
While McCue was making his debut, another recent Dynamo Academy alumnus, RGV forward Nico Lemoine, scored the first goal of his professional career against Tulsa Roughnecks FC this past weekend a week after his first pro appearance.
Like McCue, Lemoine’s tenure with the Dynamo Academy was brief, but impactful, and he credited the work of Academy Director Paul Holocher and his staff for helping prepare him for the moment.
“The Dynamo Academy helped me a lot. My coach was Paul Holocher and going throughout that process and being there working every day,” Lemoine said. “My coach Kenny Bundy helped me a lot too and all the coaching staff out there helped me throughout the process.”
It was a weekend to remember for each of the three Academy alumni, and for Dynamo fans, it’s a glimpse at what may lay in store for the club in coming years.