On Tuesday morning, the Houston Dynamo announced Ted Segal as the new majority owner of the franchise. On Tuesday afternoon, Segal’s first order of business should be to get head coach Tab Ramos the assets needed to compete.
Because, let’s be completely honest and open here: The Houston Dynamo have fallen behind the times in an ever-expanding MLS.
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That, through nine games played, Ramos has the Dynamo above the red line is a minor miracle, given the lack of spending and investment in players over the last five transfer windows. The Dynamo a well-coached, cohesive team – is one that has a shot to make the playoffs because of the coaching job and eye for talent of Ramos and sporting director Matt Jordan.
But it is a team that, truth be told, will struggle to compete in a top-heavy Western Conference unless there is a dramatic uptick in talent. And getting more talent, means spending more money. Something the Dynamo simply haven’t done in recent years.
Row upon row of empty orange seats pay testament to a team that has struggled to compete in recent years and doesn’t have a real draw.
In the near-term, the Houston Dynamo need to add one of not two marquee players to their roster to give Ramos some firepower. The roster is solid and Ramos has proven over the past year that he is capable of coaching up this group. But difference makers are lacking.
The playoff drought may well end for the Dynamo this year but if they can’t win a game or two, what difference does it mean?
This is a team that, over a decade-and-a-half ago, was the standard bearer in MLS. Games at their then home of Robertson Stadium were rocking and the team had a tremendous mix of young talent and proven MLS veterans.
In a press release on Tuesday, Segal talked about a passion for the game. He referred to the MLS club as an “opportunity to invest in professional soccer in Houston.” What the new Houston Dynamo majority didn’t mention was competing for MLS Cup or upgrading the sporting side.
This isn’t a real state investment or a tax write off. This is an opportunity to bring back a once glorious franchise, one that has two MLS Cups among their hardware. But the team simply hasn’t kept up with the direction of the league in recent years. The formula for winning in MLS is relatively simple; there are really only two options.
Either stack a team with high-end, often expensive talent and follow the philosophy of the LA Galaxy or the Seattle Sounders. Or have a deep and vibrant academy that can feed players into the first team. Just look in-state at FC Dallas or at the New York Red Bulls.
The Dynamo, it is harsh to say, have done neither.
That is where Segal must step in. The Dynamo have an elite coach in Ramos, a former United States international who was a trailblazer in MLS. They should have a fertile academy given the high concentration of youth soccer in the area. And there is the potential for this team to be a draw and sell-out their stadium if they can produce a winning team that people want to see.
Enter Segal, who should make this his top priority as the new majority owner of the Houston Dynamo. Resources must be given to the sporting side to bring in better talent to this roster. And this academy has to take the next step and start feeding consistent talent to the senior team.
Given Ramos’ background as a youth national team head coach, he can and should make the most of young talent on the roster if the academy can start to get caught up with the likes of FC Dallas and the Philadelphia Union, the two best academies in MLS. And if a difference maker or two can be brought in, then Ramos can build a winner now.
For a once proud franchise, one that has shown over the years that it can win MLS Cups and be a big draw, the time is now to make the Houston Dynamo elite.