The Houston Dynamo have signed Dynamo Academy product Francisco Navas Cobo to a developmental contract, making him the second Dynamo Academy player in team history to be signed to a first-team contract, it was announced today. Navas Cobo joins goalkeeper Tyler Deric, who signed with the Dynamo on February 27, 2009.
Houston native Navas Cobo, a midfielder, is the 11th player in Major League Soccer history to proceed directly from an academy program to the first team. Houston is the second team to sign multiple players directly from its academy, joining Chivas USA.
Navas Cobo, 18, returned to Houston in August 2009 after several years in Colombia and immediately joined the Dynamo Academy, hoping to take advantage of the unique opportunity available to players in the Dynamo youth system. Head coach Dominic Kinnear saw him play several times last fall and invited him on trial with the first team for the 2010 preseason.
Navas Cobo appeared for the first team in its first four preseason scrimmages and both games against MLS teams, playing 90 minutes against FC Dallas on February 27. He becomes the youngest contracted player in Dynamo history.
With the Dynamo Academy, presented by Statoil, Navas Cobo helped the U-18 team into first place in the Texas Division of the USSF Development Academy league at the break for the Texas high school season. Playing as a wing, he scored five goals in 13 games and set up several others. He was named USSF Player of the Week on November 26 for his performance in games against Internationals (Cleveland) and the Columbus Crew.
“To have a successful Academy, you need talent and opportunity,” Dynamo Director of Youth Development James Clarkson said. “In Francisco Navas Cobo, we have talent, and through Dominic Kinnear’s vision and support of the Dynamo Academy, we’ve been able to provide opportunity to Francisco and the other young men in our development system. This signing shows that the Dynamo Academy is working, and we look forward to the day when one of our Academy players makes his MLS debut.”
The Dynamo first team will kick off its MLS season on March 27, with its home opener at Robertson Stadium scheduled for April 1 against defending MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake. Tickets for Dynamo games and the 2010 MLS All-Star Game are available via Dynamo season ticket packages and mini plans at HoustonDynamo.com or by calling (713) 276-7500.