It was a promising move that was supposed to reward the Houston Hispanic fan base.
Instead, Luis Angel Landín was holding back a franchise that, since its relocation from San Jose, experienced instant success and two MLS Cup Championships.
The United States is a results-driven country, and the Forward position in Soccer is the most criticized because it’s judged based on the statistics of goals scored. Nonetheless, a player receiving a salary in the six figures only to produce just two goals and three assists in almost one year's time is unacceptable.
It was expected that the Houston Dynamo would not pick up Landín’s contract option after the loan expired in December, but his early dismissal proves the Dynamo are ready to win now and won’t stand for setbacks.
Houston Dynamo announced the signing of Luis Angel Landín as the club’s first Designated Player on August 20, 2009. Landín joined La Naranja on loan from Mexican First Division team Cruz Azul until December 2010. Landín had already been registered in the 2009-10 CONCACAF Champions League with Cruz Azul, meaning the Houston Dynamo would be unable to use his services for that competition.
The Designated Player slot in MLS is commonly used by teams to bring a player of proven talent, although some also past their prime, to improve their squad. A Designated Player is also marketable and usually also brought for revenue through their merchandise. Houston decided to take a different approach and instead bring a player that was unproven, but young enough that they hoped would evolve into something greater. Landín never did.
When Houston acquired Landín, they were expecting the MLS style of play would suit him. Landín showed signs of promise but never really stood out in the Mexican First Division besides his YouTube sensation scorpion kick goal. Many expected that the more physical Major League Soccer would be the perfect opportunity to develop Landín’s talents.
When he arrived, Dynamo Head Coach Dominic Kinnear had this to say:
"I am looking forward to getting Luis involved with the team. He is a player that will fit nicely into our system. I think we improved our team with an exciting, young, attacking player. We'll get him training as soon as possible and get him ready to play in this physically demanding league."
As mentioned, during his tenure at Houston Dynamo, Landín only managed to score two goals and provide three assists.
When he arrived, he was criticized for being overweight, even though he managed to improve fitness over the offseason.
He also arrived injury prone, and just when he showed glimpses of what could’ve been, he hit the sidelines and took a long time to recover.
His inability to learn the English language quickly may have also hindered his performance. It was notable that there was a communication barrier between the Dynamo organization and the Mexican Forward.
Landín was simply not producing, and even more vital for a player of his importance to the team’s payroll, he could never solidify a starting spot in a team that always rotated the second forward position next to team Captain Brian Ching. Something had to give, and on Tuesday, the team announced his departure.
"A lot of factors came into play, where it just wasn't the right fit," Coach Dominic Kinnear said . "I feel sad because I like him and I don't like it when players come in and they leave soon after. You don't bring players in to have them leave. It's unfortunate that this has come to."
“We are sorry things didn’t work out with Luis Landín,” Dynamo chief operating officer Chris Canetti said in a statement . “Our hopes and expectations for this signing were never met. We believe it is the right time for the club and Luis to move forward. We wish him well in the future.”
Just like that ends a roadblock in the Houston Dynamo history books. Landín will return to Mexico for Cruz Azul just in time for the start of the Apertura 2010 season.
Meanwhile in Houston, the Dynamo await the opening of the transfer season on Thursday, and many fans will wonder who will be the next signing that will hopefully move them back towards dominance. Houston will host the MLS All-Star Game on July 28, 2010 at Reliant Stadium.