When Boniek García first came to the Houston Dynamo, one name was on his mind as a possible Honduran companion: Alexander López. Friday, 14 months after García’s arrival, the pair stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the Dynamo’s training ground.
After López obtained his visa Thursday morning to complete a reported $1 million transfer, the pair loosened up together, paired up in passing drills, and stuck close, all the time with a smile on their faces as the pair is reunited once again.
“I’ve always wanted to be here and Boniek being here is just icing on the cake,” López told the media through a translator. “It’s someone I look up to. For him to come here and do well here and to talk to him and tell me that about the level of play here was the final icing on the cake.”
López is being brought into Houston as a player who can help now. The 21-year-old will be counted on to bring the type of playmaking skills that brought him to the Dynamo’s attention.
“We didn’t just bring him to show him off to [the media] and then let him go away,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “He’s going to play some important minutes for us down the stretch. He’s a good player and I think we’ll see more of that as the days go on. He’s got to get more acclimated to the team and the weather.”
Helping him with that acclimation process is where having García, who counseled both the Dynamo and López on the move, by his side again will pay off. Their relationship resembles that of brothers. García took López under his wing while with Olimpia, helping the talented youngster work his way through the club’s system and into the Honduran national team, and the expectation is that he can do it again in MLS.
“[He’ll need] a lot of commitment,” García told reporters through a translator about what López needs to do to transition. "A lot of sacrifice and to be able to play at the same level as his teammates. ... I know the type of player he is. We’re going to need to help him to adjust, help to understand what Dom wants from him on the field and hopefully he’ll do great things.”
Interestingly, the reunion nearly didn’t happen. López nearly ended up in Norway, confirming Friday that a club there—reportedly Rosenborg—was in negotiations to take his career to Europe.
Fate, however, favored the Dynamo, as the talks with the Norwegian club fell through and Houston was the next team to table a serious offer for the young playmaker.
Now in Houston with a familiar and smiling face, López has a chance to take the next step in his career that he always wanted. As he does, García will again be there to help him along the way.
“That kind of relationship goes back to our days at Olimpia where I kind of mentored him and brought him under my wing,” García said. “Here at the Dynamo, the situation’s no different. Now the fun part begins. Now it’s time for him to come in and carry his weight and do good things for the club.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.