The Houston Dynamo have acquired Colombian midfielder Juan David Cabezas on a full transfer from Deportivo Cali, the club announced today. Cabezas joined the Dynamo last year on a year-long loan with an option for a full transfer, and the club negotiated terms to obtain his player rights from the Colombian side.
The Cali, Colombia native was a consistent piece in the Houston Dynamo midfield this season, with 27 appearances and 26 starts during the regular season. The 26-year-old led the team with 1,052 passes attempted and his 86.4 pass completion percentage was the second-highest among regular starters.
“Juan was one of our steadiest performers this year and acquiring him on a full transfer from Deportivo Cali was one of our priorities this offseason,” said Dynamo Vice President and General Manager Matt Jordan. “He has transitioned well to Major League Soccer and his quality as a player on the field, along with his professional attitude off the field will be important for our club moving forward.”
A true two-way midfielder, Cabezas averaged 4.11 tackles per 90 minutes, the most among all players in Major League Soccer with at least 1,800 minutes played this year. His 102 total tackles and 77 tackles won both led the team, as did his 52 interceptions, while his 46 clearances were fifth-most on the team.
“Juan David impacted the Houston Dynamo with his presence on the field throughout the season. He was a top player in the midfield for us and is a natural ball winner,” said Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera. “This year he showed his discipline, that he can tackle the ball, win the ball and strike the ball. He was very solid and an important element for the team to be successful this season.”
Cabezas played every minute of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs, helping lead the Dynamo to their seventh appearance in the Conference Championship. Cabezas led the Dynamo during postseason with 15 interceptions and played a key role to stop the attack of League Most Valuable Player Diego Valeri during Houston’s Western Conference Semifinals series win over the top-seeded Portland Timbers.
The midfielder’s lone goal of the season came on July 29 in a 2-2 draw against Portland to preserve the club’s unbeaten record at BBVA Compass Stadium. In the 81st minute, Dynamo midfielder Memo Rodriguez whipped a free kick from 30 yards out near the right touchline in a cross to the back post. Cabezas eluded his defender and leapt high above the Portland back line, heading the ball into the turf where it bounced past the goalkeeper and into the net.
Cabezas represented his country at the Under-20 level at the South American U-20 Championship in 2011, where he appeared in six of Colombia’s nine matches, and at the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup which was played in Colombia. At the U-20 World Cup, Cabezas started all five of Colombia’s matches en route to a Quarterfinal appearance.
Playing in a defensive midfield role in that tournament, Cabezas helped the host nation post a pair of clean sheets. Other stars of that team included Bayern Munich forward James Rodriguez, Inter Milan defender Jeison Murillo, Sampdoria striker Luis Muriel and former FC Dallas winger Fabian Castillo.
Cabezas played on loan with Cúcuta Deportivo in 2010; La Equidad from 2011-12; Once Caldas from 2013-14; and Independiente Medellín in 2016 before joining the Dynamo.
With the addition of Cabezas, the Houston Dynamo now have 15 players under contract for the 2018 season. The Colombian will occupy an international roster spot for the Dynamo.
TRANSACTION: Houston Dynamo executed the full transfer option to acquire midfielder Juan David Cabezas from Deportivo Cali.