Pride is a word that goes along way in the city of Houston.
Pride is a word that also goes a long way when talking about our youth soccer community.
Now identified as one of the top youth markets in the country, the Houston area has produced a number of talents performing in Major League Soccer.
Pick a weekend in MLS and you are sure to see a Houston area product on the field.
In fact, the ranks of Houston area players grew this year with MLS's signing of University of Cincinnati 21-year-old midfielder Josh Gardner who signed project 40 as a junior.
Gardner, selected by the L.A. Galaxy 13th overall is now living and learning the life of a professional soccer player on one of MLS's marquee teams.
He is expected to get playing time in the near future against Tecos from Mexico and Iran's national team in front of large crowds.
But more have come before Gardner in the MLS ranks and more will come after him from our soccer rich community.
Names like Imad Baba(retired) and Johnny Torres(currently in the "A" League) come to mind as players who have paved the way for current Houston area MLS players.
Both Baba and Torres through their achievments helped draw attention to the level of play in Texas.
Houston Pride in MLS currently? You bet!Just up the road on I-45 playing for the Dallas Burn is Chris Gbandi and Eric Quill.
Gbandi, who was the league's overall number one draft choice in 2002, is coming off ankle surgery and looking to break into the starting lineup in the near future.
Quill, acquired in the off season from Kansas City Wizards looks to bring his skill and awareness to the left side of the Burn midfield. In fact, it was last July when Quill then as a member of the Wizards came to Reliant Stadium in a winning way in a match against Santos during the Texas International Soccer series.
Along with Gardner in Los Angeles is defender Ricky Lewis who is looking to break a talented starting lineup as a defender and recently was a member of the U.S. under 23 squad.
Also competing in the Western Conference is talented young 18 year old Arturo Alvarez of the San Jose Earthquakes.
You recently could have caught his act on ABC when he was a late substitute for the Earthquakes in an opening day loss to D.C. United. A game which also included the debut of 14 year old Freddy Adu.
And by the way, Alvarez was the youngest member of last year's MLS Cup Champions. Yes, he has a ring, and at only 18 years of age.
Over in the Eastern Conference lies a defender named Rusty Pierce who has become a fixture for coach Steve Nicol and the New England Revolution. Pierce is hoping to get the Revolution back to the MLS Cup Final where they were defeated by the Galaxy in 2002. As a top marking back in MLS, Pierce has put the handcuffs on many a great MLS forward.
Up in Columbus with the Crew is former Strake Jesuit High School star Nelson
Akwari who has represented the United States at various international levels. Akwari , started for the Crew on opening day and enters his third MLS season.
In Kansas City with the Wizards is striker Davey Arnaud from Nederland, TX who is now paired up front with U.S. international Josh Wolff.
Arnaud will try to help fill an attacking void left when last years league MVP Preki broke his leg in pre-season.
Eight players in a league that only boasts around 220 jobs.
Eight young men with eight different stories.
Stories that developed and played out on Houston area soccer fields playing with youth clubs like the Hurricanes, Texans, Dynamos, and Texas Premier.
Players that developed with local youth clubs like the Hurricanes, Texans, Dynamos, and Texas Premier.
But even more positive comes out of this as these young MLS players from Houston are living , breathing examples of players that have ascended to the highest level of professional soccer here in the United States.
Every youth player in Houston can take inspiration from the successes of all our area players that have made it in MLS.
Pride in Houston youth soccer. You bet!
In the Box with Glenn Davis will be appearing twice monthly. You can reach him at *firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions, opinions, and thoughts. Click here to sign up for Inside the Box.*
Davis is a nationally recognized broadcaster for HDNET where he partners up with former U.S. National Team defender Marcelo Balboa. He was one of the lead voices for ESPN during the 2002 World Cup and has called major international soccer matches for the Fox Network as well. He is a weekly columnist for the Houston Chronicle and hosts the "Soccer Hour with Glenn Davis" radio show on 90.1KPFT FM Radio every Sunday from 5-6 pm. Davis played soccer professionally for the Houston Dynamos where he was a league all star selection and team captain.