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Alberth Elis transferred to Portugal: What the Dynamo will miss

With Elis off to Europe, what will the Dynamo be missing and is a replacement already on the way to Houston?

MLS: FC Dallas at Houston Dynamo Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Dynamo have announced the transfer of Honduran winger Alberth Elis to Boavista FC in Portugal. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. This move is Boavista’s second purchase from Major League Soccer this summer, also recently acquiring FC Dallas defender Reggie Cannon.

“All of us at the Club would like to wish Alberth nothing but the best as he takes on this next step in his career to pursue his dream of playing in Europe. We are very proud to have brought Alberth here as a young player and helped him develop and grow to take on this next challenge,” said Dynamo Senior Vice President and General Manager Matt Jordan. “Alberth has earned this opportunity through his commitment and performances on the field, having helped the club reach a Western Conference Final and win an U.S. Open Cup along the way. He will go down as one of the best players in the history of our club and we wish him well as he joins Boavista.”

Earlier this summer, Elis confirmed that he had received an offer for a contract extension from the Dynamo, but no agreement was reached between the two parties. Elis’ contract ends at the conclusion of this MLS season and without an extension Houston face the options of either selling him this summer and receiving a transfer fee in return, or allowing him to leave at the end of the year as a free agent. By receiving a transfer fee for Elis, the Dynamo do give up the right of first refusal, should the Honduran decide to return to Major League Soccer.

Elis finishes his MLS career with 34 goals and 27 assists in 88 MLS appearances, including four goals and three assists over six games in Tab Ramos’ first year. The Honduran was the first player in franchise history to record double-digit assists and goals in the same season after he scored 11 goals and tallied 10 assists in 2018. His 21 combined goals and assists that year broke Brad Davis’ club record of 20 in 2011 (4 goals, 16 assists) and 2012 (8 goals, 12 assists). The forward also represented Houston at the 2018 MLS All-Star Game against Juventus in Atlanta.

To say Elis has been great this season would be an understatement. According to American Soccer Analysis, Elis has been the third best player in MLS this season. ASA’s g+ measures all components of a player’s game, similar to WAR in baseball. Elis had a 1.93 g+ this season, only bettered by LA Galaxy’s Cristian Pavon and Seattle’s Jordan Morris.

Elis was flourishing this season under Ramos and his move to Europe will leave the Dynamo without their best player from 2020. You can see from the chart above that Elis, in substantially fewer minutes than the other top players, was one of, if not the most dangerous player in Major League Soccer. This kind of impact can’t simply be replaced. Dribbling, passing, receiving, shooting, the Honduran was truly doing it all this season.

“First, I want to thank the fans for their support at every game over these last four years. You made this feel like home and I will always carry that with me. We have celebrated a lot of goals, winning the Open Cup, and you made those moments special,” Elis said. “To the staff, you played a large role in preparing me for the next chapter of my career and I am eternally grateful for your confidence in me. This is a dream come true and I wouldn’t be here today without the Dynamo. Hopefully, I can come back in the future. I’m excited to see what this team will accomplish under Tab and his staff. Again, thank you Houston.”

With Elis moving on the Dynamo now have an open Designated Player spot, and the team looks to be moving fast. According to reports, Argentine forward Mateo Bajamich is on his way to Houston for a fee of $1.2 million.

Bajamich currently plays in Argentina’s second division for Instituto. The 21 year old has 10 goals in 28 appearances for his club. Elis leaves a big hole in the attack but with the signings of Ariel Lassiter and possibly Bajamich, to go along with Mauro Manotas, Christian Ramirez, Niko Hansen, and Darwin Quintero, the Dynamo offense should be able to still be formidable.

We will provide more updates on Bajamich if and when his signing becomes official.