With the sale of the Columbus Crew leaving only AEG as the sole remaining multi-team owners in Major League Soccer, a segment of the Houston Dynamo fan base have been relatively vocal via social media about their desire to see that change. There are a few fans who would like to see AEG sell their 50% stake in the club, leaving them to their wills with the LA Galaxy and allowing the team to finally become its own entity.
Over the last few days since the story was published encouraging AEG to sell I have had the opportunity to take a step back and look at it from the larger picture, and I think we as fans we need to take a few moments to think about what such a sale might mean for the Front Office, for the players and coaches, and the fans.
As fans we need to take a moment to reflect upon what the current ownership structure has accomplished, whether by their own volition or others'.
We should keep in mind the club would not be where they are today without the support of AEG in the early years, and more recently Gabriel Brenner and Oscar de la Hoya. We can discuss until we are blue in the face about whether more support would have yielded better results, but the fact remains the club as it currently is structured is consistently successful both domestically and financially.
If the club had been handled differently by AEG from the start, we might not still have Chris Canetti or Dominic Kinnear. After all, it was only three short seasons ago when the club suffered one of the worst seasons since their inauguration into MLS. Had AEG fired Canetti, would we still have Kinnear? Would we still be successful? Would we still have the last two MLS Cup runs to brag about?
Dynamics of Ownership
Once AEG sold 50% of their stake in the club, the dynamics of the ownership and decision making changed, or at least we have to assume they did. It wouldn't be far-fetched to assume Chris Canetti had to switch from answering a single ownership entity to instead answering to a triumvirate of owners. Still, it appears from the outside looking in much of the structure and direction of the club did not change which leads me to believe perhaps Gabriel Brenner and Oscar de la Hoya may have done their homework in advance of purchasing their stakes in the club.
Engaged and Active Ownership
Does their satisfaction with how the club was run prior to their arrival mean they didn't need to be more engaged with the community and fans?
This is a point I think I personally want to strive to push the club about. It is wonderful to see the players, coaches and Front Office so intimately engaged with the community and fans, but where are Gabriel Brenner and Oscar de la Hoya? I wonder if there isn't somewhat of a fear about putting themselves into the spotlight when the organization is clearly moving in the right direction. Perhaps they really are just owners and content to be only owners.
A lot of what the club has done pins the success of the club upon Chris Canetti and Dominic Kinnear, not to mention the countless personnel employed by the Houston Dynamo as well. Does that mean we, as fans, shouldn't give some of the credit to the owners for not trying to change the way the organization operates? I think we owe AEG, and to some degree Gabriel Brenner and Oscar de la Hoya a bit of gratitude for what they haven't done more than what they have done.
By not stepping in and trying to change the way the club has operated, it has allowed the organization to do things they might not otherwise have been able. Maybe Canetti wouldn't be able to be the face of the Front Office, instead the owners would want to be that face (like a Merritt Paulson, for instance). Maybe Kinnear wouldn't have been free to make personnel decisions on who to target in the transfer windows.
Perhaps we end up with more Designated Player failures like Luis Angel Landin. Perhaps we end up with a Rafa Marquez as our marquee failure. Perhaps we end up like New York Red Bulls, and struggle to keep the ship pointed in the right direction every season and yet spend ourselves into oblivion.
Les Alexander and What Could Have Been
Which leads me into my last thought looking back. What if the club had been sold to Leslie Alexander, current owner of the Houston Rockets? Many decried the idea of Les owning the Dynamo, and the more I consider it the more I dislike the idea. Would he keep Canetti? What about Dom? Would he cherish the value we have in Brian Ching and Brad Davis as players and cornerstones to the franchise? Would the good will the team has built up with current players be destroyed if one of those two was shown the door?
These are the questions I find myself asking, and before we can prepare ourselves, as fans, to move from the way things are we have to be able to answer these questions truthfully.