Defensive help was on most Dynamo fans’ wish list this offseason. With the team’s signing of Slovenian international defender Aljaz Struna on a full transfer from Palermo, announced Monday, those fans should consider it a Merry Christmas.
Struna — a 28-year-old centerback with more than 200 professional appearances since debuting in 2009, will provide an immediate boost to a back line in need of reinforcements following the post-season departures of Philippe Senderos and Andrew Wenger. In addition to his club experience, including 37 appearances with Palermo last season and 23 appearances in the current 2018-19 season, Struna has made 12 international appearances for Slovenia, including six starts in his home nation’s 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, and a full 90 against Norway last month in a UEFA Nations League match.
Struna has played the majority of his professional career in Serie B, Italy’s second division, though he has made starts when the storied club recently ascended to Serie A before being relegated back to Serie B.
“Our top priority this offseason was to strengthen our defense with a key signing at centerback, 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.”
Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera also welcomes Struna’s arrival, noting, “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. 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 acquisition was made with Targeted Allocation Money, according to the club, and Struna will occupy an international slot on the roster. The transfer will be completed pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) and P-1 Visa along with a completed medical.
Struna will join Argentine midfielder Matias Vera, signed this past Friday on a transfer from San Lorenzo, in what is becoming a busy off-season for the Dynamo front office.