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Houston Dynamo signs U.S. Under-20 striker Felix Garcia


The Houston Dynamo didn't have a high pick in the 2009 MLS Draft but the Western Conference power still might boast one of the most exciting young players coming into MLS this season.

The Dynamo has completed the signing of U.S. Under-20 star Felix Garcia, acquiring his rights from the PDL Laredo Heat for an undisclosed fee, sources confirmed to SBI on Tuesday night. Houston is set to introduce the 18-year-old striker as its newest signing at a press conference on Thursday. Garcia will join the Dynamo as a member of the MLS Generation adidas program.

(UPDATE- Garcia was acquired by Houston through the MLS Allocation process. The Dynamo completed a trade with Toronto FC to move up from No. 10 to No. 3 in the allocation order, where it was able to land Garcia.)

Profiled last year in this story by colleague Justin Rodriguez, Garcia has emerged as one of the most exciting attacking prospects in the U.S. Under-20 national team pool. a 6-foot-1 striker with speed and gifted technical ability, Garcia is still a developing talent but he joins a Dynamo squad with the type of leaders to help him adapt.

Garcia should also benefit from the presence of U.S. Under-20 national teammate and fellow Generation adidas signing Danny Cruz, who the Dynamo selected in the third round of the MLS Draft.

So how did Garcia wind up with the Dynamo rather than in the 2009 MLS Draft? Garcia signed a pro contract with the Laredo Heat, which allowed him to be acquired outside of the draft despite being just 18. Garcia signed a contract with Major League Soccer as a Generation adidas player and was acquired via allocation. It remains unclear what compensation MLS gave Garcia's team, the PDL's Laredo Heat, but sources tell SBI that MLS did compensate Laredo in its acquisition of Garcia.

What do you think of the signing? Are you anxious to finally see the young talent so many scouts have been buzzing about? Think an 18-year-old striker can come in and produce for a top MLS team? Is the youth movement in Houston a bit of a surprise?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Good signing. It’s also nice to see mls spending money in the US for aquisitions, spreading cash around the us pyramid is always good. Rules are made to be broken or bent. While I think this should cost the dynamo their allocation, I have no problem with them getting Garcia. Houston is definatly the class organization of the league right now.

  2. Shrewd management by his agents to manipulate MLS rules to ensure the kid plays for the team of his choosing without weakening the team in anyway, other than some transfer money. I’d imagine MLS will either plug this “loophole” if they can, otherwise seems like others will try this to join the team of their choice.

    Maybe a guy like Carlos Bocanegra comes home after the 2010 world cup, signs with a PDL team so the Galaxy can buy him without having to go through the waiver process…

  3. Don’t worry about the allocation process; the kid wanted to stay in Texas and the Dynamo signed him. MLS needs to let these kids sign with whomever they want, just like they can do in any other league in the world. Otherwise, we’ll just keep losing these kids to Mexico and Europe.

    Dom Kinnear and Houston seems to be the best at developing young talent. It’s a win for Felix and the league…

  4. thanks lammetro, took the words out of my mouth. oh and josh ching and dero’s were already stars by the time houston were handed to them.

  5. “I have no problem as a Dynamo fan accepting any kind of preferential treatment from MLS or the GA program considering how MLS has bent the rules for many other teams and the fact that the Dynamo has gotten the short end of the allocation stick for the last few years by actually being successful, punishing them with no allocation dollars or preference on players coming into MLS because of that success.”

    Really JJ? I thought the whole team was allocated to Houston? 2 easy championships on top of that too.

  6. Whoever is talking about Dynamo scouting in regards to Garcia is ridiculous, because EVERYONE knew about this player.

    Just look at the title of the story! “US Under-20” The kid is a youth national team player, everyone knows about him, the only scouting involved here is the work that Thomas Rongen put in with the U-20s and the people that contacted Rongen about Garcia.

    Look, discovery claim or not, allocation fee or not, the reality is that this kid is a youth national team player and the process for getting those guys in the league is the allocation process. Because of extenuating circumstances, namely the fact that this 18-yr old has an infant child, it appears that this lottery was essentially “rigged” lottery after the kid expressed the desire to stay in TX. Whether or not there was an actual lottery.

    That’s fine in my book, because MLS needed to take special action to make sure this kid stays in our league rather than potentially goes to Mexico or anywhere else. I’m presuming here, but the kid is a very promising US U-20, why couldn’t he get a contract with one of the few Mexican 1st Div teams south of the border near Laredo? MLS did the right thing to keep him here and within the US framework.

    However, in keeping with how US national or youth national team players were distributed in the past, Houston should be forced to use their allocation spot on him (currently in the middle of the pack) and have to drop down to the end of the allocation order. Just like, I believe, when Colorado won Bruno Guarda in the lottery last year, they dropped in the allocation order. Somebody please correct me if I’m wrong in that case.

  7. Good for the Dynamo, bad for the rest of the MLS teams.

    Their scouting has been unbelievable if this kid pans out to be a good player. Holden, Ching, DeRosario, Ngwenya, now this kid (if I’m missing any good sleepers add them)?

  8. I love all of this speculation about how the “MLS rules are screwy” and all.

    I could understand it if we knew all the facts. But we don’t.

    And frankly I don’t think the MLS really owes it to fans to explain all of their acquisition rules.

  9. I wouldn’t worry about Cruz. MLS makes it near impossible for a team to cut a GA player during his initial contract, especially during the first couple of years. I’d bet at least the first year of Cruz’s contract is guaranteed. I’m not sure it’s an official rule, but Cruz is about as uncuttable as anyone in MLS this year.

    Look at RSL holding on to Nik Besagno for 5 years. With 10 DEV spots it really didn’t cost them much and it delayed the inevitable embarassment of a #1 pick flopping. The quickest GA exits I can recall (since 2004’s signings) are Arvizu & Simms leaving after 2 seasons and Watson after 3. Reduced roster spaces will force some teams hand this year (like Ciaran O’Brien now trialing with NY) but it’s yet to be proven a team can waive a GA player during their first year and maybe their 2nd (though I’d guess some GA contracts are more guaranteed than others).

  10. Boy I don’t know how Houston pulled that off, but things do not seem equitable in MLS. Where are the Galaxy, what are they going to do once they lose Beckham and Donovan. It seems like some teams scout and jump at opportunites when they find good players and other teams are asleep at the wheel.

  11. This is awesome!!! I’ve never heard of this kid, but its freakin’ awesome to see somebody from The Valley with star potential (supposed). I wonder what city he’s from. SOUTH TEXAS REPRESENT!

  12. How many forwards will the Dynamo carry next year? Currently, Ching, Kamara, Wondolowski, Garcia, and Cruz are forwards. There are also rumors that the Dynamo are looking to re-acquire Joseph Ngwenya. Am I right here?

  13. I have no problem as a Dynamo fan accepting any kind of preferential treatment from MLS or the GA program considering how MLS has bent the rules for many other teams and the fact that the Dynamo has gotten the short end of the allocation stick for the last few years by actually being successful, punishing them with no allocation dollars or preference on players coming into MLS because of that success.

  14. Aljarov:

    PDL teams are allowed to have a certain number of professional players on their rosters. The majority of players are amateurs, but not all.

    GA players do not have to come from the draft or lottery; that is nowhere in the official rules regarding the original program, as far as I am aware.

    I think we are ruling out the possibility that other MLS clubs passed on spending allocation money on an 18-year-old striker who has had character issues in the past.

  15. OKay – thought PDL was an amateur league – how do they sign a pro player?

    #2 How do Houston get him? Discovery presumably?

    #3 Now Houston getting him I can understand, but how does he become a GA without being in either the draft or draft lottery? Are Houston claiming him as a academy player?

    Sounds like this has been a huge loophole, but I’m more confused about the GA side. That, as far as I can recall, is unpresidented, in that he went direct to a team of his choice without being allocated, drafted or in the draft lottery.

    Some answers would be good Ives!

  16. “Garcia should have been available to all teams, regardless of where he wanted to play.”

    Why? Houston placed a discovery claim and paid a transfer fee.

  17. I saw this kid play in the PDL finals 2 years ago when Laredo won , he can play !!
    and he was way better than any other player out on hat field. thank god for FSC and my soccer addiction.

  18. Great singing for Houston!

    This league is BS, sometimes.

    Garcia should have been available to all teams, regardless of where he wanted to play. Generation Adidas, too? Nonsense.

    Jorge Flores says nothing but good things about him. Too bad they couldn’t be teammates for Chivas USA.

  19. George, GA’s are not decided at the draft. Last year alone, there were two players signed during the season (Guarda at FCD and Bowen with the Gals)that were GA’s.

  20. In point of fact, there is now a 3rd professional soccer option in Texas: the USL-1 expansion side Austin Aztex. The organization started last year in the PDL with the Aztex U23s, who will continue alongside the USL-1 team this year.

    The U23s played against Garcia’s Heat — losing the Southern Conference final to them, in fact. The fans knew how good he was, and wouldn’t have minded at all having him join the first-division team this year.

    He was also up in Dallas last October:

    Either Dallas or Austin would have been better than being sentenced to Houston. I wonder when he’ll be eligible for parole.

  21. The rich just keep getting richer. He could get some playing time quickly, with the Dynamo being light in the forward dept. and Ching going away for international duty for extended periods of time. In the worst case scenario, he trains most of the time, gets a few garbage minutes here and there in between the U-20 qualifying and hopefully World Cup. Looks like a winning situation for fan, player, club, MLS and country.

  22. Hmmm, what are the odds that the transfer fee came out of the allocation the Dynamo got in the DeRo trade?

    I think that’s how transfer fees are done in MLS. Usually they shy away from any fees unless a team can cover it with allocation $.

  23. Its odd that you can pay a transfer fee and still get a player signed to GA. Doesnt really make sense. If he signed a pro contract, what exactly is he getting GA for? College reimbursement? Doesn’t make sense.

  24. Nice pickup for the Dynamo. I seen him play a couple of times on TV, very good speed and a good shot with either foot. Yes he is raw

  25. I never knew that a PDL player could both sign a player to a pro contract, and receive a transfer fee for a player. Does someone know the answer to this?

  26. So what stops every player from bi-passing the draft by signing for some USL2 or PDL team so he could sign with the team he wanted to go to?

  27. This is really a special situation, so I’m not too perturbed about the “allocation process” given that Garcia wanted to stay in TX. Houston should be dropped to the end of the allocation order though after this signing, that would only be fair.

  28. As far as the process to get Garcia goes, if Houston was the only team to put in a discovery claim on him then it’s pretty straightforward how he wound up on the Dynamo. As for Houston getting the added benefit of the Generation adidas designation, I’m not sure if that is the case.

    The best example of something like this was Danny Szetela, who was a Generation adidas player who didn’t come in through the regular draft. Columbus won the draw and got a cap-exempt player.

  29. NICE! Excellent outcome! I was worrying that one day I’d read in the news that he signed for a Mexican 1st division side near Laredo.

    @Tim, Felix has a newborn child, so I’m guessing his request to stay in TX was likely based on wanting to stay close to family and have family support. Now Felix likely signed for a decent salary and Houston was the closest MLS market to Laredo. Really a kind of special situation.

    I want to see what this kid looks like going up against MLS-level competition. Based on what little I’ve seen of him, the fact that he’s got pace and size and is 18 (so he could still be growing), and the production he’s had with the U-20s (vs. the top U-20 American talent in the country), I wouldn’t be surprised if this kid turns into the next Jozy Altidore.

    I’m happy he’s going to develop under Dom Kinnear’s tutelage and playing alongside US national team players, especially Brian Ching.

    Apparently Garcia plays some ‘street’ ball, but Buzz also previously wrote that he was ‘raw’ based on watching him at Dallas practices. I’m curious to see what Garcia’s skill set looks like.

  30. Well, it’s sure an end-around to the MLS draft. But the kid kept saying he was only going to sign for a team in Texas, and the Dynamo have been perusing him for a while. He is over 18, so he had European options he could have pursued. MLS saw a chance to get him, and took it.

    Good news for the Dynamo, hopefully this will not turn MLS player acquisition policy into a quagmire.

  31. I also want to know how he gets to be a GA? I thought ALL GA’s were apportioned through the draft. I have no problem in his being signed by a MLS team via the discovery process but the signing team should not get the fiscal benefit of him being a GA and Cap exempt.

  32. i understand why it narrowed the field to FCD or Houston, but what did it cost Houston to have this kid basically handed to them on a platter?

  33. How does he get to be part of the MLS Generation adidas program? When was this decided?

    Can players sign with the Westchester Flames and then later seek to join MLS and thenn state that they’ll only play for the Red Bulls?


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