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Dynamo set to add English forward
by Ridge Mahoney, March 31st, 2009 7AM
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[MLS] Two days after the normally stingy Houston defense surrendered three goals in a 3-2 loss at San Jose came official word of a signing to bolster the team's attack. Ade Akinbiyi, 34, who has played for numerous clubs in several divisions of English soccer, visited Houston last weekend to take a physical and finalize contractual details. He was introduced to local media at a press conference Monday, then flew back to England to formally sever his ties to Burnley of the League Championship (second division) with a buyout.

"Our search for a forward has been very public since the offseason," said chief operating officer Chris Canetti of attempts to replace Nate Jaqua, claimed by Seattle in the expansion draft. "Finally we have settled on a player who we think will come here and bring great results. We are very happy to have him join us."

Playing for Norwich City, Bristol City, Wolverhampton, Leicester City, Crystal Palace, Stoke City and Sheffield United as well as Burnley, Akinbiyi has scored 136 goals in 429 English League appearances, and another 15 goals in domestic cup competitions since starting his pro career with Norwich in 1993 when the Canaries were a Premier League club. Since leaving in 1997 he's played in the lower tiers.

He won't come for free, as Burnley paid 750,000 English pounds (approximately $1.5 million) to buy him during the January transfer window in 2007, yet will let him buy out his contract after he scored 10 goals for the club in 70 league matches.

"But looking at his resume and taking a look at what he has been able to do the last couple of years, he could be a very important part of our team," said Kinnear, who hopes the deal can be done in time for Akinbiyi to face D.C. United this weekend. "You can tell just by looking at him, and his size (6-foot-1, 175 pounds), the thing that he will be able to bring to us is pace, power and strength."

Against San Jose, with Brian Ching on national team duty and Kei Kamara suspended, Kinnear used Chris Wondolowski up top and paired him with midfielder Brian Mullan, who played forward for the Galaxy at the start of his pro career and has occasionally deputized there for Kinnear.

Wondolowski started a Houston comeback from a 2-0 deficit by heading home a cross from Stuart Holden, and the Dynamo tied the match three minutes later when Brad Davis lined up a deflected pass from Wondolowski and drilled it over former teammate Joe Cannon into the top corner.

After conceding two goals in three minutes to fall behind and then scoring just as quickly to get back even, Houston surrendered a third goal just before halftime and never got the scores all-square again.

"I thought at halftime there'd be another goal in the game, and I thought we created more than enough opportunities to get that goal, and we couldn't find the target," Kinnear said. "We're 0-1-1, and if you're happy with that, you're in the wrong business."



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