Just under three months since becoming majority owner of Houston Dynamo FC, Ted Segal held a virtual town hall with the club’s supporters Tuesday evening, outlining his plans to vault the 2006 and 2007 MLS Cup champions back into the league’s upper tier.
Of the many topics discussed, Segal provided an update on their general manager search after the club parted ways with Matt Jordan on August 30. It’s the third such opening around MLS, with FC Cincinnati and the San Jose Earthquakes also looking to hire a chief soccer officer to meet their ambitions.
While Segal didn’t identify anyone by name, he provided a framework for the boxes they’re looking to check. He plans on making a hire by mid-Fall to tackle the offseason full boar, leaving Houston well-positioned to improve in the 2022 campaign.
“We're clearly looking for someone who has demonstrated success in the past and demonstrating success, again, has a number of constituent parts,” Segal said. “One is being part of helping grow winning organizations that have succeeded in the past in terms of playoff appearances or championships, depending on the league that they're in.
“In addition, success is a proven track record of developing the youth system, both from a perspective of channeling those players into the first team and potentially cultivating players that can perform for you or that you can sell on as well. So those are a few metrics.
“As I've stated before, I think that it is helpful if an individual has familiarity with navigating the specific nuances and intricacies of Major League Soccer, which is distinct in a lot of ways both in terms of its rules and its play from other leagues. And so those are a few of the high-level criteria, but certainly that's not all-encompassing.”
Another key area Segal addressed is resources and investment in the Dynamo’s roster. They’re currently one of the Western Conference’s bottom sides and barring a late-season surge could miss the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the fourth straight year.
Signing better players, naturally, requires more spending. And Segal seems intent on putting his money where his mouth is.
“I think we all recognize that our current spend is at or near the bottom of the league,” Segal said. “That's just not where it should be for a city as large as we have in Houston and our aspirations for what this club can be. And so without getting into specifics, it will be materially higher and soon that will be a metric that will be open and obvious to everybody to judge us by.”
The resource allocation parlays into infrastructure, Segal said. They’re planning to improve the fan experience at BBVA Stadium and enhance their training complex at Houston Sports Park, with Segal noting he’s consulting other MLS ownership groups about best practices. He noted plans to boost their academy, an arm of the club that has room to grow.
It’s all geared toward reinvigorating the Dynamo, and Segal pulled from the NFL Oakland Raiders’ motto of “Commitment to Excellence.” Acknowledging the cliche, he feels it frames his intentions to turbo-charge a one-time MLS powerhouse.
“Our commitment is to building a winning club that succeeds on and off the pitch,” Segal said. “That's winning games, that's a force for good in our commitment, that has a first-class training ground for our clubs. Commitment to excellence is oft-used, but I think still an important phrase that we can apply here.”