HOUSTON – It was a busy week for the Houston Dynamo.
Over the past five days, the club have been in the spotlight several times, signing US national team star DaMarcus Beasley and Honduran World Cup midfielder Luis Garrido, moving Warren Creavalle to Toronto FC and finally hosting EPL side Aston Villa in the Dynamo Charities Cup.
With Houston squarely in the focus, MLSsoccer.com spoke with club equity partner Gabriel Brener, who has a minority stake as part of the team's ownership group, in an exclusive interview after the Dynamo Charities Cup. Brener, who rarely grants interviews, spoke about the club's rough season, his confidence in the current staff, his outlook on Beasley, the approach to player signings and connecting with the Hispanic community.
MLSsoccer.com: From the owner’s perspective, how have you seen this season?
Brener: I don’t think there’s any secrets that we’ve had our ups at the beginning and our downs. We have to make sure we can turn this thing around, and we will. It’s a very long season, and we’re close to making it to the playoffs. We’re only four or five points behind, so we need a good stretch of winning three or four games in a row, and we will be there.
MLSsoccer.com: The club has come in for criticism this year, some of it directed at ownership. How do you respond to that?
Brener: When you have a winning team, everybody’s happy, and when you don’t have a winning team, everybody gets criticized, and we’re in the process of being criticized. I think the proof is in the pudding. We’ve been in Houston for eight years and had two championships, four finals and been in the playoffs every single year but one, so I don’t see that we’ve done that bad of a job.
MLSsoccer.com: MLS has become a star-driven league, do you believe the player you just signed, DaMarcus Beasley, falls into that category?
Brener: Absolutely, no question about it, and I think my opinion is shared by most people, because the response from the press has been unbelievable. We’ve never experienced anything like that.
MLSsoccer.com: Do you think this signing sets a precedent on the type of player you can bring to Houston from here on out?
Brener: Not sure. I think we will take it case by case and take every situation as it comes. I don’t think this should be seen as the shape of things to come. We will do what we need to do when we need to do it.
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MLSsoccer.com: Are you confident that you have the right things in place to get things on track this season and beyond?
Brener: I have confidence in the coaching staff, I have confidence in the managing staff and the players themselves. It’s been a little bit of the perfect storm against us. We had injuries at the beginning, we had a couple of red cards and then we got interrupted by the World Cup and we lost our two main stars. It’s been a rough season. It’s a long season, it’s not over, and we will show the results.
MLSsoccer.com: There’s a lot of talk about connecting to the Hispanic fan base here. How do you do that better, and does that play into maybe bringing in a Mexican national team player or another Hispanic player?
Brener: Having the Honduran players, that is a great connection. The new television contract the league signed with Univision, that’s going to help a lot. That will definitely make the connection of not only Houston, but the rest of MLS, to the Hispanic community here and in other cities.
MLSsoccer.com: Can you concentrate on one segment over the other?
Brener: I think it has to be a very careful and happy balance. If you see the fan base out there, it’s very much 50-50 with Anglos and Hispanics. You cannot get overly Hispanic-centric or Anglo-centric; you have to keep a balance.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.