Pine Grove grad returns from injury to join Dynamo

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David Horst had a work ethic instilled in him when he began his career in Pine Grove, on the soccer fields of Schuylkill County.

He worked hard. He grew tough. And he played physical.

Major League Soccer's Houston Dynamo aren't much different.

Over the last few years, Houston developed a reputation for tough, physical soccer - a perfect fit for the 6-foot-4, 210-pound defender who was traded to Houston from the Portland Timbers on Dec. 17.

"They're a very physical, intimidating team," Horst, a 2004 Pine Grove graduate, said of Houston in a Jan. 3 phone interview. "That's been their style for years now. Teams don't like to play against Houston because they know Houston will impose their will on teams.

"That's my kind of game - big, physical defender. It's not going to be pretty, but it'll get the job done."

Horst spent the last three seasons in the Portland organization. He played 16 games in 2011, often battling injuries. His most active year in the MLS was 2012, when he appeared in 21 games - starting in 20 - but injury problems returned in 2013 when he sustained a broken leg in the second game of the year.

Portland released Horst after the 2013 season, but still retained his rights if he wished to play elsewhere in the MLS. Houston acquired those rights in the Dec. 17 trade that gave Houston's 2014 fourth-round SuperDraft pick to Portland.

Among Horst's accomplishments in Portland was his first career MLS goal, a game-winner that he scored on a header against rival Seattle in the Cascadia Cup.

This won't be the first time Horst moves to a new club. He began his career with Real Salt Lake in 2008 after being selected 14th overall in the MLS SuperDraft. He was on loan to the Puerto Rico Islanders of the USSF Division-2 Pro League for much of 2010.

The jump to Houston is just another part of life as a professional athlete.

"It doesn't matter who you are or what you've done in the past," said Horst, who was still in Portland at

the time of the interview. "There are already guys there - Brad Davis, Will Bruin, Ricardo Clark, Tally Hall - veteran guys who don't really care what you've done in the past.

"You've got to put your head down and work hard no matter what and earn these guys' respect when you go into camp."

The camp begins Jan. 26, which will be the first time Horst will meet with members of the Dynamo in Houston. Then, he will have a physical examination and a fitness test before his role with the team can be established.

"You're not going to get anything easy from them," Horst said of the Dynamo's style of play. "They're going to kick you until the last minute of the game, and then probably kick you a couple more times.

"I'm excited to go to Houston for that reason, because it's so physical. They don't take anything from anybody. You know you played Houston after the game because you're going to leave with a few bumps and bruises."

Horst currently has a three-year contract with Houston, which he said can change after any season.

In four years at Pine Grove, Horst was named to the Regional All-American and Pennsylvania All-State teams, was tabbed Schuylkill League Player of the Year and helped the Cardinals win the District 11 Class A championship.

He then played four years for Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., where he helped guide the Monarchs to two straight Colonial Athletic Association championship games in 2004-05 and to back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances in the NCAA tournament in 2006-07.

Having missed a lot of action due to his broken leg last season, Horst knows getting back to a regular position on an MLS club won't be easy.

But he has two things going in his favor: his leg is "100 percent healed and feeling really good," and he has that very same work ethic he developed from his days in Pine Grove.

"It's a different culture around Pine Grove and Schuylkill County," Horst said. "Everybody is an extremely hard worker, they stand up for themselves and they never back down from anything.

"That was instilled in me growing up there and it's definitely helped me throughout my career. I fought back from quite a few serious injuries now and I'm still playing.

"To stand up to some of these guys who come from big cities and big teams, I learned all that growing up in Schuylkill County."

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