Alexander López arrived in Houston from his native Honduras on Thursday afternoon. On Saturday, he suited up for his first game in Dynamo orange but didn’t play. On Sunday, he was off to Trinidad and Tobago and on Tuesday, he’s in line for his first minutes with his new club.
That’s a full week, especially for a 21-year-old who's going through the first big transition of his career. But as the Dynamo prepare to embark on their 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League journey against W Connection on Tuesday night (8 pm ET, Fox Sports 1), their newest Designated Player’s introduction to the club will be a baptism by fire for a young player looking to make a good first impression.
Those high hopes of a good first impression are accompanied by some barriers that come from having just two full training sessions under his belt and issues surrounding language and team chemistry.
“It’ll be mostly through trial and error,” López told MLSsoccer.com by phone through a translator. “There may be plays on the field that I like to play a certain way, but my teammates don’t know me that well and it could be counterproductive. I’m going to try and make an effort, as much as possible even if it’s with signs, to communicate on the field.
“I’m very happy about the confidence [head coach Dominic Kinnear] has shown in me to put me on the field. Now it’s up to me to show why he has that confidence in me.”
López will be part of a Dynamo group that is likely to rely on a crop of players that are not regulars in MLS play. But while those players have been around all season, López is battling some big hurdles heading into his first minutes.
While he’ll face some issues, one thing López is unlikely to have is stage fright. He has been involved in CONCACAF competition at both the club and international level before and it’s a stage that fits him just fine.
“We knew when we were looking to get him that it was better that he’s played in champions league before,” Kinnear said by phone. “It helps when you go through something once and so when it comes around again it’s not a surprise. This is a different team, the team speaks a different language, but I think he’s fine.”
Playing catch-up will be part of López’s duty for some time, but that doesn’t stop excitement about what his talent can bring to the club. Something everyone is likely to get a look at come Tuesday night.
“I think Alex is a player that brings that unpredictability that [Boniek García] does,” veteran forward Brian Ching told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Monday. “He doesn’t always play the expected pass, or the obvious pass, and I think our team’s lacked that in the past.
"Hopefully he brings the total package. He’s a good player, a young player and we definitely look forward to him contributing to our team.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.