Houston Dynamo defy expectations with latest Designated Player signing

HOUSTON – All summer transfer talk surrounding the Houston Dynamo centered on adding to their forward corps. So on Wednesday, the club defied expectations by signing a playmaking midfielder.

Honduran international Alexander Lopez is 21 years old, and the Dynamo had to take some pretty high salary cap hurdles to land him. And it’s all about making sure the team’s attack is moving forward – literally.

“It was not just [adding] an attacking midfielder. It’s a midfielder that likes to attack from wide or in the middle,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said of the Lopez acquisition. “We have three guys that are natural wide guys with Boniek [Garcia], Andrew [Driver] and Brad [Davis]. At times we’ve only had one of those guys available.”

While those players are firmly part of the plan going forward, there was a need to add to a group that has missed significant time due to international call-ups and injuries. When the opportunity to add Lopez, a versatile young player with international experience of his own came up, Kinnear jumped.

“A lot of people have said, ‘Oh, you have a lot of midfielders,’ but you look at the attacking part of it and three main attackers are those three guys,” Kinnear explained. “To have another guy in that mold, that’s looking to go forward with his movement, is an important one for us.”

From those statements it’s safe to assume that adding skill to the midfield was clearly the goal. But where Lopez will bring that creativity is another question.

Lopez is considered a central midfielder and he can certainly operate there for Houston. But Kinnear declined to designate him as a wide player or central player, noting the youngster’s skills apply to both the center and wide areas of the pitch.

“He’s 21, but he’s not a young man. He’s played some good internationals and he’s just on the fringe of making that senior team for World Cup qualifying,” Kinnear said. “I knew that [Gold Cup] team was going to be a young one and I wanted to see his leadership was and I thought he was very good for them.”

Most of the questions will be answered once Lopez arrives, which Kinnear said, pending paperwork, could be the middle of next week.

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.

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