Eager to make an impression: Alexander López gets first Houston Dynamo training under his belt
Garcia lines up alongside Houston's new Young Designated Player for the Honduras national side and they were team-mates at C.D. Olimpia, the powerhouse club from the country's capital, Tegucigalpa.
The winger believes that Lopez can quickly become a valuable contributor for the Dynamo, who face the Seattle Sounders on Saturday night (8 p.m. CT; CSN Plus) at a sold-out BBVA Compass Stadium.
"I think so—I think that's the reason why he was brought on board. I know the kind of player he is, what he can do on the field, now it's up to him to go out and do it," said Garcia through a translator.
Whether head coach Dominic Kinnear will throw Lopez in at the deep end by naming the 21-year-old to the matchday squad for Clint Dempsey's Texas homecoming remains to be seen, but if not there are plenty of games ahead in a short space of time. The Dynamo have sixteen fixtures in MLS and the CONCACAF Champions League between now and the end of the season, averaging out at a match every 4.5 days.
Dynamo matches against Seattle tend to be hard-fought battles. Sigi Schmid's team may be just outside the play-off places in the Western Conference, but they have games in hand. So many, in fact, that their points-per-game total is the third-best in MLS.
Seattle have won their past three: against Chivas USA, FC Dallas and Toronto FC. But they are without U.S. national team forward Eddie Johnson, who is suspended. And in nine meetings between the clubs all-time, the road team is yet to record a victory.
Kinnear is excited by Lopez's potential. "He's going to be playing some important minutes for us here down the stretch, he's a good player and I think we're going to see more of that as the days go on. He's obviously got to get acclimated to the team and to the weather but I think it's a good signing for the club," he said.
The slender attacking midfielder arrives from Olimpia with a reputation for being a creative spark with the capacity to score spectacular goals. Allied to captain Brad Davis's pinpoint passes, Andrew Driver's pace and Garcia's flair, Lopez promises to give the Dynamo an extra dose of midfield invention, whether he is used centrally or out wide, off the bench or as a starter.
As Garcia suggested, he's the type of player who should be fun to watch. And from talking to him on a sweltering afternoon at the training ground it was clear he is a grounded character who is eager to try hard and impress.
"I obviously have some work to do to adapt, especially to the heat, but I'm looking forward to doing great things here in Houston," Lopez said through a translator. He only flew in on Thursday evening after receiving his visa but has previously played at BBVA Compass Stadium with Honduras and Olimpia, so the arena and the city are not completely new to him.
"It's very motivating to come here and play for a club like the Dynamo and one of the best coaches in the league," he said. "MLS is an up-and-coming league, we've always known that, the level is constantly improving, it's a very good league, probably one of the best on the American continent right now.
"I'm here to learn, to do the same things as Boniek has done, hopefully play well and be recognized as one of the top Hispanic players in the league and hopefully do as well as he has … I can score goals and I hope to be able to get assists and help out on the field a lot."
It's helpful to see a familiar face in a new environment, and Lopez said that Garcia, who is 28, is a sort of big brother to him. A source of friendship and advice as he makes the transition to MLS, as well as someone to emulate, given how well he has played since joining the Dynamo last year.
"He's definitely someone that I look up to so for him to come here and do well here and for me to talk to him and tell me the level of play in the league, it was like the icing on the cake," said Lopez.
"That kind of relationship goes back to our days in Olimpia where I kind of mentored him," said Garcia. "Here at the Dynamo the situation's no different, we're going to need to help him adjust, help him to understand what it is that Dom wants from him on the field, and hopefully he'll do great things."