HOUSTON – For the third year in a row, the Houston Dynamo have dipped into the Honduran pipeline.
This time, it’s for one of the country’s bright young stars, as the club announced Wednesday that it has finalized a move for midfielder Alexander Lopez from Honduran club Olimpia.
Lopez has been a target of the Dynamo for a year now. After a week of serious negotiations, the club landed a young playmaker that could make a difference in both the present and for years to come.
“I think it’s a good move overall for the team,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “We felt it was a good to have a young guy with experience. He’s played in a handful of games for Honduras, especially in the last Gold Cup. You have an eye for the future, but you can never predict the future so you plan for the present, and I think he can help us now.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, per league and club policy, but the club confirmed Wednesday that Lopez will join the Dynamo as a young Designated Player. As a young DP in the 21 to 23 age bracket, league rules state that he will count $150,000 against the salary cap and not the usual $368,750 as a second DP. It jumps to $200,000 next season.
Houston have operated very close to the salary cap this season. Before they could make the move, the club had to free up some room under the cap, starting with releasing Luiz Camargo earlier this summer to free up an international roster spot and cap space.
“We were severely strapped against the salary cap most of the season,” Dynamo president Chris Canetti said. “Behind the scenes the last few weeks we’ve been able to restructure some things within the league’s guidelines to set up the necessary cap room to make the deal work.”
With wiggle room under the cap, the move was to get the playmaker they wanted and on the field Lopez fits the bill. He’ll bring class on the ball in a midfield stacked with established players, including the likes of Lopez's fellow Honduran international Boniek Garcia and Brad Davis. Kinnear believes that his experience at the club and international levels, along with his ability to play both centrally and wide, makes this a move that will make his team better right away.
“He’s got a nice first touch, passes the ball well and he’s not afraid to want the ball and receive the ball in tight spaces,” Kinnear said. “He’s played in big games before in Honduras and Olimpia, so we know he won’t be overawed with anything that comes our way.”
Lopez is expected to head to the US as his visa and international transfer certificate processes are completed. Until those documents are obtained, he cannot appear for the team.
According to Canetti, the Dynamo aim to have Lopez in uniform Aug. 17 against the Seattle Sounders.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.