Venezuelan defender and recent Houston Dynamo acquisition Alejandro Fuenmayor is about to start his first season in MLS and the Orange have Fuenmayor's compatriot and Atlanta United FC forward Josef Martinez to thank for that.
“Since Josef arrived, I started following the league more,” Fuenmayor said in a phone interview with MLSsoccer.com. “I consider it the league of the future. It’s a league that promises a lot and I like how they run things.”
And much like Martinez did in his first season in MLS, where the forward scored 19 goals in only 1,528 minutes of action, Fuenmayor hopes to make an impact with Houston.
“First, I want to win a starting position with the team and then play as many minutes as possible,” Fuenmayor said on his expectations in 2018. “And parlay that into playing with the Venezuelan national team and winning the championship with the Houston Dynamo.”
While Martinez gets a tip of the hat, the Dynamo had plenty to do as well in landing the 21-year-old.
Dynamo GM and vice president Matt Jordan told MLSsoccer.com in a phone interview that Houston had been tracking Fuenmayor “for quite some time” and worked through the winter holidays to acquire him.
What was it about Fuenmayor's game that prompted Houston to sign him?
“What we like is that Alejandro is clean with his distribution,” Jordan said. “He has good pace and he enjoys to defend. And he’s a very good team guy.”
When asked to describe his game and style of play, Fuenmayor echoed Jordan’s words.
“I’m a fast player who likes to play the ball from the back,” Fuenmayor said. “I like to distribute the ball and take risks to try things.”
Aside from his skills on the ball, Jordan added that Houston was enamored with the idea of adding a player like Fuenmayor who “at just 21-years-old has played over 70 professional games and played in some big matches.”
Before joining the Dynamo, Fuenmayor — who made his professional debut in 2013 — made 72 appearances with Carabobo FC. In his last two years there, he helped lead Carabobo FC to the top of Venezuela’s Primera Division. His stellar play last season earned him a place in the Venezuelan Primera Division Best XI.
Now, as Fuenmayor jockeys for playing time in the Dynamo defense, he says his vast professional experience at a young age will help him compete with Houston’s center backs for playing time. That said, while Fuenmayor may want to get on the field as soon as possible, both Jordan and Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera preached a patient approach with the newcomer.
“I hope he can grow into the league and he can adapt really quick because he has a lot of talent but he’s really young,” Cabrera said in a phone interview with MLSsoccer.com.
“We have great expectations with him but we’re going to take care of him. We’re not going to expose him. We’re not going to throw him in just to fail. We’re going to help him and make sure that when he’s on the field, he grows day by day like we have done it with most of our players.”