The Houston Dynamo acquired Venezuelan forward Ronald Peña on a full transfer from Caracas F.C. pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P-1 Visa, the club announced today. The transfer was made using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) and will become official at the beginning of the Major League Soccer summer transfer window on July 10.
Peña, 21, comes to the Dynamo from Moreirense F.C. in Portugal’s Primeira Liga, where he played the 2017-18 season on loan from Caracas. The versatile attacker has represented his country at the Under-17 and Under-20 levels and already has 66 professional appearances and 21 goals to his credit since making his professional debut at age 16.
Peña helped lead the Venezuelan Under-20 national team to the final of the 2017 FIFA U20 World Cup last summer in South Korea, playing in all seven matches for La Vinotinto and scoring their first goal of the tournament in a 2-0 win over Germany.
“Ronaldo Peña is a young, talented and versatile attacker who at just 21 years old has played regularly in Portugal’s top league, and was a key contributor in Venezuela’s recent run to the U20 World Cup Final,” said Dynamo Senior Vice President and General Manager Matt Jordan. “We are confident that he has the work ethic as a professional to grow and develop with our club and that his qualities will add to our already talented group up front and further diversify our attack.”
This season with Moreirense, Peña scored three goals and added two assists in 25 appearances in the Portuguese first division while playing in matches against Benfica, FC Porto and Sporting Lisbon throughout the season. He scored on his debut for the club, netting the equalizer in a 1-1 draw with Vitória Setúbal FC on August 6, 2017, and scored the game-winning goal in Moreirense’s 2-1 victory over Rio Ave FC on April 22, 2018.
“Ronaldo is a young and talented forward who is very hungry. At his young age, he already has experience playing at the international level,” said Dynamo Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera. “It is important for us to create competition amongst our forwards, and he has a different type of talent than Romell (Quioto), Alberth (Elis), Mauro (Manotas), Arturo (Alvarez), or Memo (Rodriguez). Ronaldo is going to compete and help us to be more dangerous and to score more goals in order for us to be in playoff contention.”
Peña also helped lead Venezuela to a third-place finish in the 2017 South American U-20 Championship, starting all nine matches in the tournament and captaining the side against Bolivia and Uruguay. In 2013, he helped guide Venezuela’s Under-17 national team to a runner-up finish in the South American U-17 Championship, starting all nine matches in that tournament and scoring one goal.
Peña made his professional debut as a 16-year-old for Caracas B in 2013 and played in 12 games, scoring seven times, before earning a promotion to Caracas’ first team in 2014. He scored once in four appearances for Caracas in 2014 before being loaned to Portuguesa for the remainder of the 2014-15 season. He spent two years on loan to Las Palmas in Spain before joining Moreirense ahead of the 2017-18 season.
With the addition of Peña, the Dynamo now have 29 players on the active roster. Peña becomes the eighth international player on the roster, joining MF Juan David Cabezas (Colombia), FW Alberth Elis (Honduras), DF Alejandro Fuenmayor (Venezuela), DF Adam Lundkvist (Sweden), DF Adolfo Machado (Panama), MF Tomás Martínez (Argentina) and DF Philippe Senderos (Switzerland).
TRANSACTION: The Houston Dynamo sign forward Ronaldo Peña on a full transfer from Caracas F.C. using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM).