Houston Dynamo and Dash President Chris Canetti has announced his resignation from the club today after 13 seasons. Canetti will remain with the team through the end of his contract, which expires December 31, 2018, and assist in the transition of leadership.
Canetti will move on to become the President of the Houston World Cup Bid Committee, which will be run by the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority. The Houston World Cup Bid Committee has been formed as part of an effort to bring the 2026 World Cup to Houston. Canetti will begin his new role in January of 2019, and work under the leadership of Janis Burke, the Sports Authority’s CEO.
“Today, I am filled with mixed emotions. I love this club, cherish my time here, and feel sadness about it coming to an end,” Canetti said, “but I am confident that is the right time to move on to the next challenge. And with this next challenge comes the opportunity to work on something vitally important to the game of soccer and our community, and that’s ensuring that Houston secures World Cup matches in 2026.”
Canetti has been with the Dynamo since the club’s inaugural season in 2006 and has been the President since 2010. He is currently the longest-tenured MLS team president. Under his leadership, the Dynamo team has been part of seven trophy runs, including four MLS Conference titles, two MLS Cup titles and one US Open Cup title. In 2014, he led the effort to bring professional women’s soccer to Houston with the addition of the Houston Dash to the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) as the league’s first expansion franchise.
Gabriel Brener, majority owner of the Houston Dynamo and Dash, said, “Chris has been a great asset to the team and will certainly be missed. We would like to thank him for his years of dedicated service and for all of the success of the organization during his tenure. We wish Chris all of the best in his new position and look forward to supporting him and partnering with him as he spearheads Houston’s run at securing a spot to host matches in the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which has been awarded to USA/Mexico/Canada.”
Canetti oversaw the development and opening of BBVA Compass Stadium, the club’s 22,000-seat venue. Since its opening in 2012, BBVA Compass Stadium has hosted more soccer events than any other venue in North America, and has served as the new home for the Texas Southern University football program. He led the efforts for the development of the Houston Sports Park (HSP) in partnership with the City of Houston. HSP is the training home of the Dynamo and Dash first teams and youth academies, as well as a public resource used by multiple amateur organizations.
J. Kent Friedman, Chairman of the Board of the Sports Authority, said, “The Sports Authority has great relationships with every Houston pro sports team, and the Dynamo are a fantastic example. They have been terrific partners and wonderful community ambassadors. It’s because of their hard work over the many years that the popularity of soccer has grown in the region. We are thrilled to have Chris joining our team while also assisting the Dynamo/Dash organization through their transition. It’s a win-win situation.”
Canetti played a lead role in securing Manchester United to play in the 2010 MLS All-Star Game, which was played in front of a sellout crowd at Reliant Stadium (now NRG), and was the fifth-largest All-Star game attendance in the United States at the time.
Janis Burke, CEO of the Sports Authority, said, “Chris has great experience in this space and will be instrumental in our World Cup bid efforts. Although our region won a spot on the final bid submission that was sent in to FIFA, there is still much work ahead of us to guarantee that we make the cut from the 17 U. S. cities currently listed down to ten. That decision will be made in approximately two years.”
Among Canetti’s many accomplishments during his tenure, he forged the club’s partnership with Rio Grande Valley FC, the Dynamo’s United Soccer League affiliate; and he created the Dynamo/Dash Youth Club, which begin in 2017 and has grown to include more than 6,600 youth players of all ages and skill levels.
Canetti serves on multiple non-profit boards, including Dynamo Charities, the Greater Houston Boys & Girls Clubs, Central Houston, and the East End Chamber of Commerce. Over the years, he has led several community initiatives in and around Houston, helping the Dynamo establish its positive reputation for community service.
Canetti’s top honors include the Sports Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award, and MLS Doug Hamilton Executive of the Year Award. Over the years, the club has earned a number of awards and recognitions, including the 2017 JD Power Award for Best Sports Experience in Houston.