One of the best things about writing for SB Nation is the access to folks who follow every team just as closely as we follow the Union. I reached out to the managing editor of Dynamo Theory Alicia Tolar and staff writer for Waking The Red James Grossi to tell us about Warren Creavalle - the player they've combined to cover over the past four seasons.
Alicia Tolar) Warren Creavalle has a lot of talent and is versatile, but has a hard time harnessing it and turning in consistent performances. Mostly a central midfielder, he did play on the right for the Houston Dynamo on occasion and even on defense when times got desperate. One of the biggest negatives for Creavalle when he was with Houston was his ability on counter-attacks. He was too slow to react and would get started too far behind the play. He had three goals as well as two assists in his 54 games with the team.
Creavalle is a top notch guy, which was the hard part about seeing him leave Houston. The day that he was traded back in 2014 he was set to host a charity event through Dynamo Charities. Despite being traded that evening Creavalle still hosted the event and gave it 100% which to me isn't something every play would do when a team has just traded them.
James Grossi) Warren Creavalle's time in Toronto was both short and full of criticism, but it was not entirely his fault.
Creavalle was acquired in a trade with Houston midway through last season - July 23rd, to be exact - with the top allocation spot and that old MLS deal-lubricant, allocation money, headed to Texas - the Dynamo would use that top spot in order to sign DaMarcus Beasley shortly thereafter.
A mid-season transition, especially for a young professional - it was his first move after all, Houston having drafted him in 2012 - is always difficult, but Creavalle came in to Toronto and was solid, if unspectacular, providing some utility play in the midfield - on either flank, more often the right, or as a defensive mid - even popping up with a nifty goal against Montreal in October.
He would make the occasional appearance at right-back, doing well enough, but it was a move that would herald disaster the following season.
With TFC desperate, due to the long-term injury to Mark Bloom, Creavalle was more often than not forced into that problem position. Consider this: of his eight starts this season, Toronto won the two matches in which he was deployed in midfield and lost four of those where he started at full-back. The two other matches, where Toronto won with him starting on the back-line, were against Canadian rivals - results in derbies should be thrown out the window.
Not exactly scientific, but instructive.
Furthermore, Creavalle became a scapegoat for Toronto's defensive woes.
It was largely unjustified - he was plugging a hole rather than playing in his preferred position - but he did not help himself, sent off for a pair of bookings against Chicago - his second yellow was a silly foul and resulted in Chicago's game-winner from the ensuing free-kick - and it was his rash challenge that gifted LA the opener after just nine minutes in their 4-0 hammering of TFC.
The problem that Creavalle had out wide is that he is not a one-on-one defender, and MLS right-backs have to deal with a lot of attacking talent coming at them down that side. Added to that, Toronto did not make it easy, their team defense has been unhelpful this year, so Creavalle was often not just isolated, but exposed.
Despite those challenges, Creavalle would score another goal - note: when playing out of the midfield - against San Jose, finding himself perfectly positioned to to put the game-winner past David Bingham.
For Philadelphia, the best advice would be to use him properly: as a midfielder who provides energy and tenacity, and not as a defender. He got a raw deal here in Toronto, perhaps a necessary learning experience; hopefully the next leg of his career proves more kind.