Change at the Top

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So this post sprung out of a comment I made in another string on this site. After hitting the post button and silently cursing myself for all the spelling errors and typos in my comment I took a moment and thought about what I wrote and it made some sense to me. A lot of times on fan sites our comments are driven more by emotion and passion rather than thought in reason. All we know is "I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore" or "This is the greatest team ever no matter what you say". So it can shock you when a rational thought comes out of the comment section.

As I was lamenting on all the things wrong with the current state of the Dynamo a common theme struck me mid-rant that I wanted to expand on. It’s the fact that it has become very clear that there is an intense lack of leadership running this organization. I think we have all heard the phrase "Too many cooks in the Kitchen" another way to put it is when you have too many leaders you have none. I think one of the biggest problems facing this organization is the lack of a clear defined leader running the ship. Cannetti has said it himself "they make collective decisions as equals". Here is the problem with that company’s, especially pro sport franchises, are not democracies. You have to have someone at the top whose job is to create the vision and direction for the organization and make sure it stays on that path. There is no one leading this ship and as such there is a lack of direction, it takes them forever to make decisions and we are all left wondering who is going to figure out how to get them out of this mess. I want to be clear this isn't about bashing the front office, though I believe they have made plenty of mistakes. This about a fundamental flaw in the way this club is organized and what not having a strong leader and defined chain of command is doing to it.

I compare the Dynamo a lot with the Philadelphia Union because in many ways Philly was in the same place as the Dynamo are now just last year. Now the union are a definitive playoff team and in my opinion have one of the better constructed rosters in MLS. So what sparked the turn around?

It was ownership going out and hiring someone to take control of the organization. They brought in Ernie Stewart but he didn’t just come in to be a cog in the mechanism. He took total control from the top down of the entire organization and he had one clear vision that he started implementing immediately. He revamped the academy, coaching staff and roster pulling off moves and trades like no one has seen in MLS. He turned over the majority of the roster, something I have heard many fans lament or outright criticize the idea of doing here, and he got value for them. Instead of writing off the draft like most MLS teams do, he maneuvered to get three picks in the top 10 (one is an every day starter and potential rookie of the year, one is a regular contributor off the bench and the other made several appearances before going on loan). Then he proceeded to work the transfer market like you wouldn’t believe bringing in DPs and non DP contributors from other leagues and then bringing in proven MLS veterans (vs Journeyman/MLS retreads) to round out the roster. In the less than one season he has taken what was a doormat of the league and turned them in to a playoff team and laid a foundation for long term success.

Now Full Disclosure I have developed a bit of a man crush on Ernie since he came over but that is driven by what he has been able to do in a very short period of time. Now some will point out that there aren’t a lot of Ernie’s out there and that is true but I offer you this. Look at some of the moves Carlos Bocanegra is pulling off in Atlanta and tell me you wouldn’t welcome those players in Houston, not to mention the other infrastructure moves they have put in place. And there are execs both established and up and coming in the world football market that could make an significant impact. Where MLS has proven time and time again that foreign coaches do not typically succeed here I would say that the same cannot be said for Technical Directors and GMs. Darren Eales has had a lot of success here and Ernie never held a Front Office role in MLS before coming to Philly. The argument against them is understanding a salary cap and MLS’s multitude of rules around player acquisition but a sharp Exec will either pick that up or hire someone to advise him/her on those matters. While I do feel like the coach needs to have some exposure to MLS or soccer in North America just to understand the travel and its impact on players and the game, I do not think it is as important when it comes to your front office exec roles. I also do think there is something to having someone come in from more established organizations and bringing in an understanding of what a major professional organization looks like and a better understanding of the international transfer market. But I don’t want to get side tracked saying that they need to hire someone from overseas to manage the club, I only want to point it out as a viable option.

More than anything, though, I want to point out what having a strong leader does for an organization. I want to show that while we have been focusing on who the next head coach will be and what types of players they need to bring in, to me there is a bigger need that should be addressed. This club needs an executive that will take the entirety of this club on their shoulders and give it a direction and a leader they can get behind. Canetti is not that person and neither is Jordan. This type of move will have to come from Brenner and Co. but I feel like all these other issues we talk about with coaches, players, etc. addressing them is like putting a band aid on a gaping wound. They may improve the issue for a little while but until you address the root of the problem it is never going to get better.

Please Brenner open your eyes to the source of the issue and make a change.

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