Just hours ahead of the opening of the 2023 pre-season camp, the Houston Dynamo announced the loan of Club Libertad attacker Ivan Franco pending receipt of his ITC and P-1 Visa. Franco comes to Houston as another young player with potential.
The loan of the Paraguyan International continues a trend of creating a pipeline of Central and South American players to the Houston Dynamo. Dynamo GM Pat Onstad said, “Iván is an exciting young attacking talent who we hope can flourish in our environment in Houston. At 22-years old, he has already won three trophies for Libertad and gained valuable experience in Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana. At his best, Iván is a difference maker who can play across the front three attacking positions, and we can’t wait to work with him in Houston.”
The 22 year old has scored just 10 goals as a forward in 116 appearances for Club Libertad across all competitions since making his debut in 2017. In 2022, he had just six starts in his 22 appearances averaging 35 minutes with 0 goals and 4 assists. His playing time took a hit in 2022 compared to 2021 where he started 15 of 32 appearances with a goal and four assists averaging nearly 47 minutes a game. Just looking at the last two seasons, he has found the back of the net once in 54 features. If one examines his stats from his first full season in 2018, there is a disturbing trend. HIs time on the pitch has diminished every season going from 2500 plus minutes and 38 starts across all competitions to less than a thousand in 2022 through 22 games. He is scoreless in his last 33 games. His last goal against any competition came on August 15, 2021.
SImply based on scoring or assists, two things by which forwards are assessed makes him more of another project then a difference maker. This move is quite similar to Argentinian winger Mateo Bajamich. He came to Houston after scoring nine goals in 21 games in a COVID shortened season and 10 in his 28 match career before arriving to star with the Dynamo. Since his announced signing on October 5, 2020, Bajamich appeared in nine games with one start and no goals. One point two million dollars later, he is no longer a part of the organization.
According to transfermarket.us, Franco's value has been trending down not up and he is currently ranked the 4,655 best player in the world. This is not a difference maker. This is another project that Houston hopes will turn out like Mauro Manotas one of the few players born south of the U.S. border. Hopefully, it does.