This is the smile that says "Playing Time. I'm about to get a bunch of playing time."
Houston Dynamo homegrown player Josue Soto got some classic good news, bad news last week. The bad news is that he won't be playing on the Dynamo first team anytime soon, but the good news is that he is about to get a whole lot of time on the ball. Darrell Lovell at MLSSoccer.com is reporting that Soto is now on loan to the NASL San Antonio Scorpions, and actually began training with the Hill Country club last weekend.
You can follow the link to the actual story, but apparently, despite the fact that it screws with my lead up there, the whole loan deal was Soto's idea, and he quickly received Dominic Kinnear's blessing.
"[Josue] issued his desire to go out on loan to get more playing time and I think it’s a great idea," Kinnear told the media after Tuesday’s training.
And then here is more Kinnear:
"The first place we talked about was San Antonio because the proximity and the fact that I know the coach and so far it’s worked out pretty good," Kinnear said. "He played with them on Saturday, and by all indications from the communication between myself and coach Tim Hankinson, they want to keep him around."
With the weekend going well, efforts to solidify the loan have begun and Kinnear said the loan will likely extend until the middle of May.
Lovell goes on to note that the team is trying to firm up Oscar Recio's contract status with Monterrey, and once that's done, he will be on roster.
My first thought is that I am thrilled for Soto on his loan deal to San Antonio. I have always maintained that if we are not going to have promotion and relegation in MLS (And we won't. Not now. Not ever.) then there needs to be a formal relationship between MLS and the second division (today the NASL. Tomorrow, who knows?) regarding player development. I have always been in favor of a sort of "farm team" model, where the bulk of NASL players are loanees from MLS clubs, if not NASL clubs being wholly-owned subsidiaries. That would have a series of three levels in US professional play, the first division (MLS) and the second division (NASL), with the MLS Reserve League sandwiched in between.
Furthermore, it is important to understand that Houston Dynamo and Fail Club Dallas should be seen as in a struggle for the hearts and minds of soccer fans in Central Texas. To be sure, this is somewhat down on the marketing priority list, but it is definitely a non-trivial marketplace. Dynamo are the only soccer champion in Texas, and this is likely to remain true for some time, but this only goes so far. Loaning out players to the Scorpions and the Austin Aztex, as well as setting up academies over there are key elements of securing an Orange foothold in the geographic heart of the Great State. And this is especially important to do right now while Frisco struggles to be relevant in their own home market.
It is an opportunity of which Dynamo seem to be taking advantage with both the Soto loan, setting up a relationship with the San Antonio supporters group the Crocketeers and the Aztex' Eberly's Army, and having a development academy in Austin (formerly run by current Aztex coach and former Dynamo Paul Dalglish). But I would like to see even more in the form of friendlies, possibly bringing the teams to BBVA Compass Stadium to do so, as well as numerous cross-marketing and promotion activities. The idea is to make Dynamo the first thought that comes to mind in the Central Texas market when it comes to MLS, and then, of yeah, there's a team up north, but they're not very good.
What do you think?