Q&A: Houston Dynamo COO Chris Canetti

No regrets over trading Wondolowski, Kamara, De Rosario

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Populous

With the departure of former president Oliver Luck, Houston Dynamo COO Chris Canetti has added to his role as the person in charge of the business operations of the club. While working on finalizing a lease for a new stadium with the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, Canetti and Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear are likely to embark on the team’s busiest off-season ever.

Canetti talked exclusively with MLSSoccer.com about the current season and future plans for the club. 

MLSsoccer.com: Obviously, the team is having a disappointing season. What are your thoughts on the year?

Canetti: I don’t think that we are as bad as our record. If you look at every game, there is a unique set of circumstances that has led to a result. That said, we know we need to make changes, and we know we can’t go back and say, “We’re all set.” Change needs to be made, and where it comes from and how much change we make, that is still to be determined, but it is all done in an effort to get better.

MLSsoccer.com: What are your thoughts on the team’s performance last week?

Canetti: Everyone’s spirits were low after the Toronto game, and we thought we hit rock bottom. To come out in Kansas City and get a 3-1 lead ... the team was showing that they were still playing for their coach and still playing for their pride. To see those circumstances in the second half, with [goalkeeper Pat Onstad] falling down, and it’s just like, “My goodness, things are totally going against us this year.” We thought we hit rock bottom against Toronto, but we hit something lower against Kansas City.

MLSsoccer.com: The team bounced back well against D.C. United though.

Canetti: For the team to come back and get a victory against D.C. says a lot about the character and what the players are all about. On the road after two defeats in stoppage time back-to-back, they could have just packed it in, so I am proud of the guys. 

MLSsoccer.com: What does the team need to do from here to end the year successfully?

Canetti: We just have to finish strong. We know we are not going to the playoffs, and we know changes are ahead and necessary. For me, it’s not a matter of where we finish in the standings. I could care less if we are ninth or 16th, as there is no moral victory for any of it. What is more important is how we finish.

MLSSoccer.com: With the success Dwayne De Rosario, Chris Wondolowski, and Kei Kamara are having this year, any regrets with those trades?

Canetti: You can’t [have any regrests]. Each one of those trades when we made them made great rational sense. Hats off to Wondo for the year he is having. He’s a great person, and we’re glad for him. He had opportunities to have that success here, but for whatever reason, it didn’t happen. So hopefully he is just in the right spot for him, the right place, and the right environment. I still think Cam [Weaver]’s a good player, and he’s had some struggles with injuries and has never really gotten on track, but we can still give that trade more time to analyze. The other trades had their logic behind them, and at the time the logic made sense. Hard to look back and say we regret them. 

MLSsoccer.com: Entering this offseason, which players are out of contract and what attempts have been made to re-sign any current players?

Canetti: There are two players out of contract: Corey Ashe and Dominic Oduro. We have decisions to make on those two guys, and my expectation is that we will try to re-sign both of those players. We are currently having discussions to extend Geoff Cameron’s contract, as he is under contract next year. 

MLSsoccer.com: Does the team need to clear the cap space for a Designated Player, and is that one of the goals the team has to accomplish this offseason?

Canetti: The one great thing about this offseason is we will have a significant amount of cap space. So we’ll have a lot of flexibility to do what we want to do, whether that is sign new players, a Designated Player, multiple Designated Players, or trade for players with big cap numbers. We haven’t had that cap flexibility at all in the last three years, and that’s one of the reasons we traded Dwayne De Rosario, because we were over the cap and we had to figure out how we keep the team afloat and below the cap. So we are in a position we haven’t been in since we’ve been in Houston. Now the trick is deciding on the personnel.

MLSsoccer.com: Where does the cap space come from other than players not coming back next year?

Canetti: There are two guys on the cap that won’t be on it, with [Luis] Landín and [Craig] Waibel. We will get a bigger chunk of allocation money as a non-playoff contender. We acquired allocation in the Colin Clark deal. We have some allocation that will be carrying over to next year. We may get some expansion allocation. We intend to make a deal or two to bring some more allocation our way. Then we will naturally clear some cap room by some contracts moving on.

We have a general idea of what that cap space could be, but we will be able to use that cap space on current players, new players, Designated Players, you name it. It will be the most challenging offseason, because we will have more work to do.

Dwain Capodice is a contributor to MLSsoccer.com.  Questions or Comments can be sent via email to dwaincapodice@gmail.com.