Few teams have had a busier offseason than the Houston Dynamo, making them one of the most intriguing clubs in MLS heading into the 2011 season.
Ahead of the home opener against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night, MLSsoccer.com sat down with Dynamo president of business operations Chris Canetti, who spoke about the club's DP prospects and its player acquisition strategy.
MLSsoccer.com: How does it feel to finally be getting the guys on the field and seeing how things are going to go?
Canetti: One of the great things about working in sports is that it’s about the game. Game day is when all the work comes together. I’m really excited to see the finished product on the field; although, it’s not really the finished product because we’re planning to add with the open roster spots. With that said, I really like what we’ve put together, and when you hear Dom [Kinnear] and the players talk, it's clear the atmosphere is good. It feels like this team is ready.
MLSsoccer.com: Going into the offseason, what skills were you looking for in players?
Canetti: It was a clear objective: We needed to get younger, quicker, and more athletic. Sometimes it was a challenge last year for us to keep up with other teams athletically, and watching the games so far, it’s the other way around. There’s a good mix of young guys and veterans, and if you’re a fan of the Dynamo you have to be curious about what you’re going to see.
MLSsoccer.com: Will you be adding a Designated Player?
Canetti: The way we look at it is, we have a roster of 25 guys that we feel we can win with. Winning has always been our objective, and that remains the top priority. The Designated Player will not make us a champion on its own. We have roster space set aside to sign a Designated Player, and we are looking for one, but it’s a move that we can make only if it is the right fit for us on all levels.
We’ve said from Day One that the most important thing is being a champion, and that’s our main focus.
MLSsoccer.com: Speaking of the roster, is there a player you’re looking forward to seeing this year?
Canetti: Something I feel has been underreported is how Colin Clark’s going to do this year. We had a good preseason without him, and now when you add him it’s going make things better.
I’m anxious to see him, and I know he’s anxious to get back out there. He’s kind of a forgotten X-factor. While people are pointing out the obvious things about the team, in a short period of time they’re going to be talking about a guy who was good enough to be called into the U.S. men’s national team camp before he got injured.
MLSsoccer.com: What would you tell the fans ahead of season?
Canetti: I’d tell fans that I hope they’re excited and curious about the new-look Dynamo. They’ll see a team that always works hard and never quits. That’s been our brand since Day One, and that’s always been Dom’s style.
Last year, we were struggling across the board, and this team could have shut it down, but we kept going and finished 3-1-1 in the final five games. That’s a tribute to Dom and the coaches and how they prepare the team. This year you’ll see a younger, athletic team with more pace.
Win, lose or draw, it’s going to be a team fans can be proud of.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.