Nico Lemoine made his way to Houston Sports Park before the ink dried on his first contract with the Houston Dynamo. The winger is no stranger to the facility after his time with the Dynamo Academy and he credits the Dynamo Academy staff with paving a path to the professional ranks for the 20-year-old.
“It was a short stint in the Academy playing under Kenny Bundy and Jason Grubb with Paul Holocher helping out. It was great having them,” Lemoine said. “I learned a lot under their coaching. It was great playing there. I got good matches in and it gave me the opportunity to go to RGV. Then, RGV gave me the opportunity to come here.”
Lemoine made the jump to the professional game with Rio Grande Valley FC, the Dynamo’s USL Championship hybrid affiliate, in 2019. The winger adjusted quickly as he scored his first professional goal in just his second appearance for the South Texas club. Lemoine finished with two goals and an assist in his rookie year with the Toros as a 19-year-old.
“My time in RGV was unique. I spent a season down there. It gave me a platform to play professional games and play against faster and stronger players,” Lemoine said. “I think that propelled my career and allowed me to come here.”
RGV FC head coach Gerson Echeverry is in his third season with the club and this is the first year where he works side-by-side with his former NY/NJ MetroStars teammate, Tab Ramos. Both coaches have spent the last eight months collaborating and mapping a path for future prospects like Lemoine, the fourth player signed from RGV on the active roster. The winger joins Kyle Adams, Memo Rodriguez and Michael Salazar as RGV FC alumni now on the Dynamo First Team.
Lemoine’s path to the Dynamo continued in February when he joined the team for preseason and tallied an assist in the first scrimmage of the year, a 2-0 victory over Houston Baptist University at HSP. It was the first scrimmage organized by Ramos, and for him, Lemoine’s skills and aggressiveness stand out as he looks to the remainder of the MLS regular season.
“I’m very excited to have Nico on board because Nico is a very skillful player,” Ramos said. “I think attacking-wise, he can do some things that are a little bit different than other guys. I think he is very direct going to goal and obviously a young player. We’re hoping this is the start for one of the guys we bring along into the future.”
With the MLS is Back Tournament looming on the horizon and, if the league is able to fulfill its goal of playing regular-season matches in teams’ home markets this fall, it’s a strong bet that every club’s depth will be tested more than ever this year. For Lemoine and other youngsters on the Dynamo roster, that means that the future Ramos speaks of may be here before they know it.