Houston Dynamo acquired Venezuelan forward Ronaldo Peña on a full transfer from Caracas FC. They are gearing him up as a game-changing playoff winner.
The Houston Dynamo have added another weapon to their playoff push. Ronaldo Pena, from Venezuela, has arrived in Texas with the intention to bolster an already dangerous attack, just as the season is reaching its pinnacle.
Houston have plans to develop Peña into an attacking forward. That puts him in competition with established contributors including Romell Quioto, Alberth Elis and Mauro Manotas.
Peña doesn’t lack any necessary talent or hunger to make a leading MLS forward, yet he has plenty of room for development into that top-flight attacker that Houston is looking for.
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Internationally, Peña’s appearances for Venezuela include playing in the FIFA U-20 World Cup. His team placed runner-up in 2017. He also played in the South American Youth Football Championship. His team won third place in 2017 in that one. He also represented Venezuela in the South American Under-17 Football Championship. The team made 2018 runner-up.
Domestically, he had 25 appearances in Portugal’s Primeira Liga and played his best game for Moreirense on April 22. Starting in their 4-2-3-1 formation, he played 90 minutes and scored the game-winner against Rio Ave. He added a tackle and nine passes. In passing — one of his most pressing areas to develop — he rated high, just under 90% for this game.
One thing that Pena has never struggled with, however, is tackling. As soon as Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera deems ready, Peña can aggressively penetrate defenses and won’t mind getting physical.
Houston pledged the patience necessary to let this 21-year-old hone his skills, that’s as long as he maintains the work ethic scouts have always recognized. And he’s got to stay hungry for competition.
They aren’t looking for a forward with great finesse. Dynamo Senior Vice President and General Manager Matt Jordan focused on Peña’s attacking skills in explaining the transfer. All team spokesmen agreed that Peña’s role will develop as a different attacking talent than their current forwards. The words they use: Versatile, more dangerous, more goals. And one more term: Playoff contention.
The Dynamo used Targeted Allocation Money to make Peña their 29th player, eighth international. He is not a cheap or insignificant investment. And there is good reason for that.
In the Dynamo’s toughest games, all their shots on goal have been aimed largely at the goalkeeper. Many of the others get blocked. If Peña develops quickly, his focused aggression and penetration skills will gain value through the remainder of this season. Should he make good on the talent scouts recognize, some of those shots will get past the goalkeeper and blockers.
That’s because once Peña breaks through the defense and gets off a successful pass or cross, Houston’s skilled forwards get the ball with an extra millisecond to place their shot.
That’s the game-winner every time. And that gets Peña his spot in Houston’s 4-3-3. Houston has a new weapon, and their plan to unleash for the playoff push could well come to the fore.