A soccer rant

Can Dynamo gain more relevance in Houston?

Houston Dynamo hosted Columbus Crew SC in the first "End Cancer Night" at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Glenn Davis is the host of Soccer Matters on ESPN 97.5 FM every Tuesday 7-9 p.m. (podcasts) and a play-by-play announcer for ESPN, FOX Sports and local Houston Dynamo broadcasts. Davis was a professional soccer defender for the United Soccer League's Houston Dynamos in the 1980s and a youth coach for several years.

I am climbing up on the soapbox after seeing the attendance at both the Dynamo and Dash games this weekend in a city of 6.5 million people. This is a very general post that does not go in to details.

As a play-by-play commentator, I want to be calling games with a sold-out BBVA Compass Stadium showcased on TV. Why don't we believe we can be like Sporting Kansas City or Portland and sell out every match? Yes I want what Atlanta, Minnesota, Seattle and other markets have: pressure, fans, discussion, desire to make it all better and a esprit de corps with like minded individuals in larger numbers yet I feel we have become content.

Houston is a great soccer city but it is being judged in many cases for the attendance that we have had over the years in MLS, which has created a fatigue. We have many that pander to the MLS product instead of treating it professionally and talking pros and cons.

Every weekend bars are packed with fans of Real Madrid, Manchester United, Barcelona, Tigres and so on. Stop this nonsense that this is not a "potentially" great MLS city.

Stop believing that media will cover our sport outside of the big international matches. Relationships must be created with media and this will take time and effort to bring the Dynamo into the consciousness of our sports media landscape.

We are not entitled to coverage and it is time to change hearts and minds about our game.

So what is it WE can do IF this means something to you?

Support those that cover the sport, demand more from those that don't cover the sport. Support those that sponsor the sport. Attend games. Grow the soccer culture.

Why can't our supporters groups grow and swell to larger proportions? I want to see passionate groups like El Batallón and Texian Army extend and grow the game further!

You can also hold us all accountable including your two professional teams. Speak out, call my radio show Soccer Matters on ESPN 97.5 FM, I have a platform for you!

Healthy criticism means you have arrived! Above all, have fun.

Call other radio shows, talk with your friends, debate. I run in to people all the time that want to talk soccer and Dynamo to me.

The current Dynamo squad is arguably the most excited that we have had with pace, youth, a high-tempo game and yes they are getting results. Games are exciting at BBVA but don't think just winning will bring fans to a stadium - it simply is a component.

You are allowed to be critical and you are allowed to look at the team "through orange glasses," this is your choice and this is the beauty of supporting your team and being a fan.

Lets end the excuses. Excuses mean you do not have answers or solutions.

Remarkably, I heard someone say to me the other day that the Dynamo should be moved to St. Louis. I was stunned. I have heard those supposedly involved in our sport tell me "Houston is not a good soccer market."

You can be a part of making MLS more relevant in this market if you believe in the product! If you don't, I want to know why and the Houston Dynamo need to hear you.

We have a lot to be fortunate for in this city with two professional teams, regular stops for huge international matches and an amazing youth and adult soccer community. The ceiling is high with so much potential on all fronts.

Credit: Wilf Thorne/Houston Dynamo

Houston Dynamo Senior Vice President/General Manager Matt Jordan addressed questions from fans during the first hour of Soccer Matters with Glenn Davis on Tuesday night. Among the topics of conversation were potential player signings, concerns with player development and club operations.

The following are excerpts from the Q&A with callers to the program:

Potential Transfers

On why the Dynamo has not gone after a big name player that can fill BBVA Stadium

We're very open and we have had discussion with "big name players" ... For us, it's about getting the right players and I truly believe, through my experiences, you also have stars that grow within the league. We've seen that with our team with Alberth Elis, with Mauro Manotas - from my time in Montreal, we saw that with Ignacio Piatti. These weren't "big name stars" but they became "big name stars" so we look at all of it. We look at making our own stars, we look at some players that have been on the biggest stages and maybe a bit older but, for us, it's analyzing what's the right fit.

On the suggestion of a player like Mexico National Team Captain Andres Guardado

A lot of fans will say, "bring a big name, a Messi or Ronaldo" and that's not always realistic in the world of soccer but those are the types of profiles we do continue to look at along with making our own stars as well, which I think we've done a good job of with the two players I mentioned, who are stars in the city of Houston now.

On the reports of Cruz Azul's interest in Dynamo forward Mauro Manotas

We're getting interest in a lot of our young talented players. The two players that everyone talks about is Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis, there's also a handful of other players that we get inquiries of from abroad. A lot of the teams in the Mexican league follow our teams very closely and Cruz Azul did express interest in Mauro... [a potential transfer] has to make sense for the player, it has to make sense for the club

Player Development

On the investment in the Houston Dynamo Academy

With the support of our ownership group, over the last 18 months, have made significant investments in the academy. We hired a new academy director in Paul Holocher, we brought on what I believe are some of the brightest young coaches in the Unites States. We've really worked very hard to strengthen our partnerships and our strategic alliances here within the city of Houston, which I believe has really been a downfall of ours in the past.

On the possibility of having a locally-based USL team

We have. One thing I can tell you, we have our USL players, our academy players, our U23 players in and out with the first team all the time. With the Open Cup, we brought up several of our USL players. You'll see a couple of our USL players come up for our League's Cup game as well... of course, it's more ideal to have it next to our first team field but we're very proud of the partnership in the [Rio Grande] Valley.

Club Policies

On the Dynamo's scouting system for recruiting players for the first team...

We do have a scout in Europe that's paid by us, we have a scout in South America that's paid by us and I also have a full-time scout and analyst, here, that is in Houston working with us in our recruitment department.

What we do is we go through the annual scouting calendar, we prioritize what events we need to hit. Generally speaking, I only travel when we get to the point - myself or [Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera] or both of us together, a lot of time we'll travel together in the offseason. We only really travel when we get to [final stages of a transfer].

We use our regional contacts...What I really focus on is having one key contact in each country and, a lot of times, we go after the player, it's not that the player is presented to us by the agent. [Recent signing Jose Bizama] is a prime example, we went after Bizama and we approached the club through our process. Now, there's times where a player is presented to us as well, but more often then not we utilize those regional contacts in each country. There's a lot of times, with many of our players, we've identified them or we've gone after them when they're, maybe, not for sale and that's when the grinding starts to take place for the negotiation.

On the club hosting a town hall meeting with supporters

In this moment, I can't speak for ownership but I have no problem being in any setting and fielding questions about the team for the fans.

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The entire conversation is available on the July 16, 2019 episode of the podcast, which can be heard on iTunes, Google Podcasts and www.podcastarena.com/soccermatters/

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