Tough decisions lie ahead for the Houston Dynamo in the next month. Perhaps none will be more difficult than the fate of Alexander López.
The Honduran came to Houston in 2013 on a reported seven-figure transfer. A young Designated Player, López was seen as an infusion of youth, talent and creativity in the central midfield. But a year-and-a-half into his time in MLS, everyone – including López himself – is still waiting to see that come to fruition.
López has played mostly mop-up minutes and started just one game since arriving, which leaves the team with a decision to make as they ponder a club-controlled option. With a new technical staff in the fold, López is hoping that option is exercised – and that he finally gets to show what he can do with heavy minutes.
“My first thought is always going to be with Houston. I want to stay here,” López told MLSsoccer.com through a translator. “Ever since I left Honduras my line of thinking was to come to Houston and make the most of this opportunity and take full advantage of it.
“I didn’t get the chance to make an impact like I wanted. I would come in when the team was already down one- or two-nothing. Talking to some of my teammates, they agree that if I’m given the opportunity to participate in three or four consecutive games I can really get into a groove and show what it is I’m capable of.”
López was signed by former head coach Dominic Kinnear after strong play with Honduran powerhouse Olimpia and a good run in the 2013 Gold Cup with los Catrachos. Upon his arrival, López was seen as a technical player that could add a dash of creativity to the club’s midfield.
But López admits he came to the club out of shape and ill-prepared to fit into an up-tempo, two-way style. Kinnear pointed to his need to get fit and play both sides of the ball to both the media and López himself.
López feels he made strides in those areas but was buried in a logjam in Houston’s big-name midfield. Still, the lack of use for a DP didn’t go unnoticed and begs the question on López’s future – especially with Kinnear’s departure to San Jose.
“Alex is a young player that has a lot of potential and talent,” Dynamo president Chris Canetti told MLSsoccer.com. “We’ve obviously made a big investment in him and paid a transfer fee. So perhaps the new technical staff will put together a very comprehensive plan to try and develop him and get him to the next level. That would be pleasing to me and the ownership to see that investment come to fruition.”
Canetti will be joined in that process by new general manager Matt Jordan, who has said he wants to work toward playing more attacking soccer, and a yet to be named head coach. If the club is looking to move in a more attacking direction it could fit more into López’ skill-set.
The Dynamo, of course, could also choose to cut ties with the player.
Of a certainty, however, is this: López wants a chance to show his worth in orange.
“I think the door’s still open for me to show what it is I can do,” López said. “I do think this is a good opportunity and a fresh start for me to show what I can do and grasp and capture that starting role that I’ve desired over the last year-and-a-half.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.