Houston we have points!
The Houston Dash tied 1-1 against the Washington Spirit Thursday night. Once again when the final whistle blew the Dash had left everything on the field. This team reminds me of what had first attracted me to the Dynamo. The players on the field are fighting for the person next to them. They give 1,000% and while they may not win and it may not be pretty there is no question in you mind that they wanted to win. They are a team off the field too. If you follow the women on Twitter you see them hanging out in their free time and constantly bantering back and forth.
While the Houston Dynamo had the lead twice against Toronto FC they were unable to keep it thanks to more defensive miscues that allowed two goals in to match the Dynamos two goals. When the final whistle blew some of the players, Brad Davis and Giles Barnes, had left everything on the field. Unfortunately, not everyone did and the final score was a reflection of that.
I have a hard time recognizing the Dynamo as the team that I fell in love with several years ago. They don't feel like a team anymore and they don't feel like the family that they were when I started watching. Anyone remember how much fun it was to watch the guys interact on Twitter? Where the hell did that go? Where is the Twitter banter? How often do you see the players posting about hanging out? Now just because it's not on Twitter doesn't mean that it isn't happening, but given the complete lack of connection on the field I don't feel like it is too far of a leap to say it's not happening. Now, I know what you are going to say that we don't have the players who were all about Twitter banter anymore-no more Stuart Holden, Bobby Boswell, etc. But that's really my point in all of this. The make up this team has changed, we don't have the locker room that we used to. A locker room that was tight enough that it could overcome not being the most talented on the field. Where I see it now is on the Houston Dash side of the ball. Can the Dynamo get back to being the tight group of players that they once were? Of course but it won't be with this group of players. This off-season won't be just about bringing in better players on the field but getting back the locker room that made the Dynamo so special.
If you have a SEC team looking to you for ideas on growing their fan base you are doing something right in life. Three SEC school have visited Sporting Kansas City to look at their fan retention and growth. SKC works with Sporting Innovation technologies to keep profiles on everyone who buys game tickets. Now up to 250,000 fan profiles, SKC is using the information to create a better experience for fans. The average season ticket holder for SKC is 29.7 years old information that the team uses to continue to grow sales. The team organizes events for young professionals and helps fans to travel to away games. In a similar move to appeal to fans the Portland Timbers have bike racks outside of their stadium for fans. Many of the stadiums also have upgrades over the usual hot dog and cheap beer at concession giving fans the opportunity to buy nicer foods and craft beer.
Gone are the days when throwing up a billboard to advertise a game is the best use of your money. Social media has become key for growing soccer in America. But what do you do when your fan base is less techy? If you compare say Seattle Sounders fans to Houston Dynamo fans there is a big difference in their use of social media. While the Dynamo and Dash (and if we are frank Twitter was key in creating the Dash) have increased their social media presence they still need to bridge the gap that will put fans in the stands. It would be interesting to see the results of a Dynamo data mining expedition in comparison to that of Sporting Kansas City or the Sounders. The Seattle's and Kansas City's have made it cool for young professionals in their late 20's to be soccer fans who never miss a home game.
It feels like Houston is still trying to find its marketing way. Where do they want to take their fan base from? A successful marketing campaign towards a specific group of people can bring in a whole new wave of fans to BBVA on game day. As the SEC has sat up and taken notice of how MLS teams are filling their stadiums Houston needs to do the same. Yes, attendance dwindles when the product on the field isn't good, but the team isn't so terrible that it can't be overcome at this point.
They put a bird on it
The MLS All-Star jersey's have been released and they put a bird on them. No really, the bird is on the inside of the jersey underneath the crest. The black jersey's have embossed chevrons that run off center pointing to the crest. As Portland is the host for this year's All-Star game green and yellow provide the accent color to the black kits. The solid kit is an improvement over last year's light to dark blue fade in my opinion. I like the look of the jerseys this year and can't wait to see how they look on the field. Unfortunately, a kit that looks great on a mannequin doesn't always look great on the field or on tv, but these look like they may be able to cross that line.
If you missed the roster that was released earlier you can check it out here, but you won't find any Dynamo players on it and for once it's hard to argue with that. Outside of Brad Davis there hasn't been a shining star in Houston and they tout the record to prove it. The full 32-man roster will be announced the day of the game.
The All-Star's are taking on Bayern Munich on August 6 in Portland, Ore.