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Dynamo Sign DF Aljaz Struna on Full Transfer from Palermo

December 24, 2018 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Houston Dynamo News Release

HOUSTON (Monday, December 24, 2018) - The Houston Dynamo acquired defender Aljaž "Kiki" Struna on a full transfer from US Palermo in the Italian Serie B utilizing Targeted Allocation Money, the club announced today. The transfer will be completed pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) and P-1 Visa along with a completed medical.

The 28-year-old has made more than 200 career professional appearances across all competitions and brings experience at the highest levels of the club game, including the Italian Serie A and in the UEFA Champions League. A vocal leader in the back, Struna has worn the captain's armband on multiple occasions for Palermo and with previous clubs.

"Our top priority this offseason was to strengthen our defense with a key signing at center back, and Aljaz Struna fits the profile we were looking for," said Dynamo Senior Vice President and General Manager Matt Jordan. "He joins our club at a prime age with the quality, experience and winning mentality that will improve our group right away."

Struna has earned 12 caps for the Slovenian national team, including six starts for his country during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying campaign. He first represented his country at the Under-21 level six times from 2009-11 before making his full international debut on March 23, 2016 against Macedonia. His most recent appearance at the international level came on Nov. 16 in a UEFA Nations League match against Norway where he started and played all 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw.

"We are excited to bring a player like Aljaž Struna, who has experience playing in Europe and is in the prime of his career, to our team. He is a top defender, not only in Italy, but for his Slovenian national team, and we believe he will bring leadership on and off the field," said Dynamo Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera. "He wants to win with the Houston Dynamo and he has accepted the challenge to play in MLS over other possibilities, and that shows his commitment to this league and to our club."

The Piran, Slovenia native began his professional career with FC Koper in the Slovenian PrvaLiga (first division) in 2009 and spent three years with the club before signing with Palermo in 2012. He represented Le Aquile in both the Italian Serie A (first division) and Serie B over the last six-plus seasons while also enjoying successful loan spells with Varese and Carpi.

A member of Palermo's Serie B-winning side in 2013-14, he joined Carpi on loan for the 2014-15 season. There, Struna started 34 league matches and helped I Biancorossi capture the league championship and earn promotion to Serie A for the first time in the club's 109-year history. With Struna leading the back line, Carpi conceded the fewest goals in Serie B, allowing just 28 in 42 matches.

He returned to Palermo for the 2015-16 Serie A campaign, starting in 22 league matches and scoring one goal. With Palermo last season, he saw action in 37 league matches, helping the club finish fourth in Serie B, just two points shy of earning promotion to Serie A. Once again, Struna led a stingy defensive group, as Palermo allowed 39 goals in 42 matches, the second-fewest in the league. This year, Struna has seen action in 23 league matches and scored one goal for a Palermo side that currently sits atop the Serie B table.

Struna made his professional debut three days shy of his 19th birthday, coming on as an 85th-minute substitute in a 2-1 win over Interblock on Aug. 1. He saw action in two UEFA Champions League matches for Koper against Dynamo Zagreb in 2010, and competed in the UEFA Cup the following year.

With the addition of Struna, the Dynamo now have 22 players under contract for the 2019 season. Struna will occupy an international roster slot, and with his addition the Dynamo now have eight international players under contract for 2019.

TRANSACTION: The Houston Dynamo sign DF Aljaž Struna on a full transfer from Palermo using Targeted Allocation Money, pending receipt of his ITC and P-1 Visa and a completed medical.

PLAYER PROFILE

FULL NAME: Aljaž Struna

PRONUNCIATION: Ahl-ee-AHSH STROO-nah

NICKNAME: Kiki

DATE OF BIRTH: August 4, 1990 (28 years old)

HEIGHT: 6'2"

WEIGHT: 185

BIRTHPLACE: Piran, Slovenia

HOMETOWN: Piran, Slovenia

PREVIOUS CLUB: US Palermo (ITA)

FIFA NATIONALITY: Slovenia

HOUSTON DYNAMO PLAYERS CURRENTLY UNDER CONTRACT (22)

GOALKEEPERS (4)

No. Player Pos. MLS Exp. Age Ht. Wt. FIFA Nationality

1 Tyler Deric GK 10 30 3-Jun 185 USA

18 Chris Seitz GK 12 31 3-Jun 236 USA

23 Joe Willis GK 8 30 5-Jun 200 USA

26 Michael Nelson GK 1 23 4-Jun 180 USA

DEFENDERS (7)

No. Player Pos. MLS Exp. Age Ht. Wt. FIFA Nationality

2 Alejandro Fuenmayor DF 1 22 1-Jun 170 Venezuela

14 Adam Lundkvist DF 1 24 9-May 145 Sweden

16 Kevin Garcia DF 2 27 Jun-00 185 USA

20 A.J. DeLaGarza DF 10 31 9-May 150 Guam

Erik McCue DF 0 17 3-Jun 185 USA / Sweden

Chris Duvall DF 5 27 10-May 160 USA

Aljaž Struna DF 0 28 2-Jun 185 Slovenia

MIDFIELDERS (7)

No. Player Pos. MLS Exp. Age Ht. Wt. FIFA Nationality

5 Juan David Cabezas MF 2 26 Jun-00 175 Colombia

8 Memo Rodriguez MF 2 22 8-May 145 USA

10 Tomás Martínez MF 2 23 9-May 145 Argentina

24 Darwin Cerén MF 5 28 10-May 165 El Salvador

25 Eric Bird MF 2 25 9-May 175 USA

27 Boniek García MF 7 34 9-May 150 Honduras

Matías Vera MF 0 23 7-May 155 Argentina

FORWARDS (4)

No. Player Pos. MLS Exp. Age Ht. Wt. FIFA Nationality

9 Mauro Manotas FW 4 23 Jun-00 155 Colombia

31 Romell Quioto FW 2 27 11-May 170 Honduras

17 Alberth Elis FW 2 22 Jun-00 165 Honduras

21 Ronaldo Peña FW 1 21 1-Jun 175 Venezuela


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