Tonight the Houston Dynamo announced that Luis Angel Landin has been released.
His signing was a move that everyone really wanted to work. He was supposed to be a great signing, Luis Angel Landin, Houston's first Designated Player, a one-time Mexican international, striker in the Primera Division, hopeful star for the Dynamo. But, alas, the reality, just like Landin in the box, fell short.
Landin was signed by the Houston Dynamo almost one year ago on August 20, 2009. He was Houston's first Designated Player, a rule in Major League Soccer that allows each team to sign star players and pay them outside of the salary cap. Other Designated Players have included David Beckham, Cuauhtemoc Blanco, and Luciano Emilio, so expectations for Landin were high.
The former Mexican-international came from the Primera Division de Mexico where he spent time with Pachuca, Monarcas Morelia, and Cruz Azul, where he was best known to most Dynamo fans for his gol escorpion, a fantastic goal nominated for FIFA's 2009 Goal Of The Year. With a resume that included a few acrobatic goals, Houston fans expected a forward that could immediately secure a spot in the starting XI and would help the Dynamo secure a third MLS Cup.
The Dynamo front office also pinned great expectations on Landin; he was supposed to be the striker who would bring new fans to MLS and would make fans of the Mexican game pay attention soccer in the United States.
Instead, the Dynamo coaching staff and fans were greeted with an overweight, sweaty striker who had trouble with the pace and physicality of Major League Soccer. Viewers immediately had doubts about the signing and many questioned what happened to the player they had seen on YouTube and Galavision.
Landin went into the 2009-2010 off-season with significant question marks around his status with the club. Many fans wondered how their first DP signing could fail so badly and if he would redeem himself in the 2010 season. Unfortunately for everyone, Landin came back to training camp worse off than he left. The striker appeared to have gained weight and picked up a quick injury in pre-season training (many blamed his weight as the cause of the injury). In an interview with ESPN Soccernet, Head Coach Dominic Kinnear was quick to point out his disappointment with the forward and his lack of significant progress. Already, it seemed, Landin's move to Houston was going to be deemed a failure.
Out of Houston's 16 games in the 2010 season, Landin only participated in 9, logging a mediocre 436 total minutes of play. Repeated injuries and a lack of confidence from the coaching staff relegated him to the bench, at best, and the training table at worst. It seemed only to be a matter of time before Houston released Landin and looked at other options. With the announcement on Tuesday night, the Landin era was over.
‘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.'
And, in the end, it was a failure. Landin was unable to make any significant impact on the team and only managed to contribute two goals and three assists in the 11 months he spent in Houston. His lack of fitness kept him off the field and left him susceptible to injuries. He was unable to adapt his game to the physical style of play in Major League Soccer and may be best suited to return to Mexico where he once thrived.
Ultimately, Landin's career in Houston was described best by Dynamo COO Chris Canetti: "We are sorry things didn't work out with Luis Landín. 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.'