This offseason should be the busiest one to date for the Houston Dynamo. Off the field, the team will work on breaking ground on its new stadium and completing its training facility. On the player side, the Dynamo will be making extensive changes to their roster, including preparing for an eventual designated player. Here is a checklist of several items to keep an eye on in this winter.
Finalize stadium deal and break ground
With the stadium deal approved by both the City of Houston and Harris County, the final step in the process is to iron out the lease agreement between the Dynamo and the Houston-Harris County Sports Authority. Once that is complete, the Dynamo should be breaking ground soon on their new stadium. Couple that with the team hoping to open its new training facility next year, and new president Chris Canetti has his hands full.
Make tough decisions and roster changes
Houston has player options for most of the team in 2011. As a result, the easiest way for head coach Dominic Kinnear to affect change would be to decline options on some current players, and several sources have reported that the team did decline a number of options. The risk with such a veteran squad will be that many of those players are now covered by the league’s re-entry draft, meaning Houston could lose several players without getting anything in return.
[inline_node:310009]Re-sign Ashe and Oduro?
The team’s two "free agents," Corey Ashe and Dominic Oduro, both performed well at times in their 19 league starts each in 2010. However, there is likely a fine line between each player’s value to the team and what they may want in salary demands. It will be interesting to see if one or both re-sign with Houston or ply their trade elsewhere in 2010.
Progress on DP front
It doesn't seem likely a Designated Player will arrive in Houston before next summer's transfer window. However, there's still plenty of time between now and then for the Dynamo to narrow down their choices and begin extensive discussions with those players and their clubs, if necessary. The team’s interest in Giovani dos Santos is a an example of the perfect DP target. So much so that it seems almost too good to be true that the young Mexican star would come to MLS – but the same was said about David Beckham and Rafa Márquez, too.
Target Home-Grown Players and young talent
With the return of the reserve league and Houston having a high first-round SuperDraft pick, signing good young talent will be at a premium for every MLS side. SMU senior midfielder Josue Soto practiced with the first team this summer, and all indications are that he would be an ideal target for the Dynamo. Junior forward Alex Dixon (North Carolina) and freshman defender Sebastien Ibeagha (Duke) are two other players Houston may consider trying to tempt away from college early.
Academy players Fernando Piña and Bryan Celis have both caught Kinnear’s eye in the past, and it would not be a bad investment to consider adding one or both, especially with Piña likely to be on display at the U-17 World Cup next summer for the US.
Dwain Capodice is a contributor to MLSsoccer.com. Questions or Comments can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.