Dynamo sign defender Aljaž Struna on full transfer from Palermo

The Houston Dynamo acquired defender Aljaž “Kiki” Struna on a full transfer from US Palermo in the Italian Serie B utilizing Targeted Allocation Money, the club announced today. The transfer will be completed pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) and P-1 Visa along with a completed medical.

The 28-year-old has made more than 200 career professional appearances across all competitions and brings experience at the highest levels of the club game, including the Italian Serie A and in the UEFA Champions League. A vocal leader in the back, Struna has worn the captain’s armband on multiple occasions for Palermo and with previous clubs.

“Our top priority this offseason was to strengthen our defense with a key signing at center back, and Aljaz Struna fits the profile we were looking for,” said Dynamo Senior Vice President and General Manager Matt Jordan. “He joins our club at a prime age with the quality, experience and winning mentality that will improve our group right away.”

Struna has earned 12 caps for the Slovenian national team, including six starts for his country during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying campaign. He first represented his country at the Under-21 level six times from 2009-11 before making his full international debut on March 23, 2016 against Macedonia. His most recent appearance at the international level came on Nov. 16 in a UEFA Nations League match against Norway where he started and played all 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw.

“We are excited to bring a player like Aljaž Struna, who has experience playing in Europe and is in the prime of his career, to our team. He is a top defender, not only in Italy, but for his Slovenian national team, and we believe he will bring leadership on and off the field,” said Dynamo Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera. “He wants to win with the Houston Dynamo and he has accepted the challenge to play in MLS over other possibilities, and that shows his commitment to this league and to our club.”

The Piran, Slovenia native began his professional career with FC Koper in the Slovenian PrvaLiga (first division) in 2009 and spent three years with the club before signing with Palermo in 2012. He represented Le Aquile in both the Italian Serie A (first division) and Serie B over the last six-plus seasons while also enjoying successful loan spells with Varese and Carpi.

A member of Palermo’s Serie B-winning side in 2013-14, he joined Carpi on loan for the 2014-15 season. There, Struna started 34 league matches and helped I Biancorossi capture the league championship and earn promotion to Serie A for the first time in the club’s 109-year history. With Struna leading the back line, Carpi conceded the fewest goals in Serie B, allowing just 28 in 42 matches.

He returned to Palermo for the 2015-16 Serie A campaign, starting in 22 league matches and scoring one goal. With Palermo last season, he saw action in 37 league matches, helping the club finish fourth in Serie B, just two points shy of earning promotion to Serie A. Once again, Struna led a stingy defensive group, as Palermo allowed 39 goals in 42 matches, the second-fewest in the league. This year, Struna has seen action in 23 league matches and scored one goal for a Palermo side that currently sits atop the Serie B table.

Struna made his professional debut three days shy of his 19th birthday, coming on as an 85th-minute substitute in a 2-1 win over Interblock on Aug. 1. He saw action in two UEFA Champions League matches for Koper against Dynamo Zagreb in 2010, and competed in the UEFA Cup the following year.

With the addition of Struna, the Dynamo now have 22 players under contract for the 2019 season. Struna will occupy an international roster slot, and with his addition the Dynamo now have eight international players under contract for 2019.

TRANSACTION: The Houston Dynamo sign DF Aljaž Struna on a full transfer from Palermo using Targeted Allocation Money, pending receipt of his ITC and P-1 Visa and a completed medical.

PLAYER PROFILE

FULL NAME: Aljaž Struna
PRONUNCIATION: Ahl-ee-AHSH STROO-nah
NICKNAME: Kiki
DATE OF BIRTH: August 4, 1990 (28 years old)
HEIGHT: 6’2”
WEIGHT: 185
BIRTHPLACE: Piran, Slovenia
HOMETOWN: Piran, Slovenia
PREVIOUS CLUB: US Palermo (ITA)
FIFA NATIONALITY: Slovenia

HOUSTON DYNAMO PLAYERS CURRENTLY UNDER CONTRACT

GOALKEEPERS (4)
No. Name Pos. MLS Exp. Age Ht. Wt. FIFA Nationality
1 Tyler Deric GK 10 30 6-3 185 USA
18 Chris Seitz GK 11 31 6-3 236 USA
23 Joe Willis GK 8 30 6-5 200 USA
26 Michael Nelson GK 1 23 6-4 180 USA
DEFENDERS (7)
No. Name Pos. MLS Exp. Age Ht. Wt. FIFA Nationality
Alejandro Fuenmayor DF 1 22 6-1 170 Venezuela
14 Adam Lundkvist DF 1 24 5-9 145 Sweden
16 Kevin Garcia DF 2 27 6-0 185 USA
20 A.J. DeLaGarza DF 10 31 5-9 150 Guam
  Erik McCue DF 0 17 6-3 185 USA/Sweden
  Chris Duvall DF 5 27 5-10 165 USA
  Kiki Struna DF 0 28 6-2 185 Slovenia
MIDFIELDERS (7)
No. Name Pos. MLS Exp. Age Ht. Wt. FIFA Nationality
5 Juan David Cabezas MF 2 26 6-0 175 Colombia
8 Memo Rodriguez MF 2 22 5-8 145 USA
10 Tomás Martínez MF 2 23 5-9 145 Argentina
24 Darwin Cerén MF 5 28 5-10 165 El Salvador
25 Eric Bird MF 2 25 5-9 175 USA
27 Boniek García MF 7 34 5-9 150 Honduras
  Matías Vera MF 0 23 5-7 155 Argentina
FORWARDS (4)
No. Name Pos. MLS Exp. Age Ht. Wt. FIFA Nationality
9 Mauro Manotas FW 4 23 6-0 155 Colombia
17 Alberth Elis FW 2 22 6-0 165 Honduras
21 Ronaldo Peña FW 1 21 6-1 175 Venezuela
31 Romell Quioto FW 2 27 5-11 170 Honduras