HOUSTON – Houston Dynamo president Chris Canetti was an onlooker Tuesday as members of the club’s academy and first-team reserves got on the field for some much needed match time in a scrimmage with NASL club San Antonio Scorpions.
Next season, Canetti will have to head to the Rio Grande Valley to watch that type of development – or so he hopes.
Canetti is currently working on a partnership with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Development League to create a USL franchise for the 2016 season. The intent is for Houston to control soccer operations while the McAllen-based basketball organization handles the business side.
Speaking to MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday, Canetti said he is encouraged by the progress going on in South Texas.
“They’re working very hard down there with USL in terms of pressing forward and trying to gain a franchise, and they’re also making a lot of strides in terms of the facility with the city,” Canetti told MLSsoccer.com. “Its progress, and they’re moving ahead.
“We’re going to go forward with a USL franchise in 2016. The plan hasn’t changed. We’re working very closely with the people in the Rio Grande Valley to see how that part comes together.”
The next major step is to secure plans for a soccer-specific stadium that meets the USL’s standards for entry into the league. Talks between the organization and the city of McAllen have been ongoing since late last year and are still moving toward a permanent solution.
While those talks are positive, timeliness is still an issue to get a stadium up and running by the start of next season. However, Canetti said there is a backup plan in place to move forward regardless.
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“There’s a contingency either in the Valley or here in Houston that would give us the opportunity to play games if they don’t have a stadium in time,” Canetti said. “There’s a timeline that gives them an opportunity to have a stadium built in time to start next season. As long as they stick to that timeline then I think it’s very feasible there could be a brand new stadium built in time for 2016.”
The optimal conclusion is for the McAllen-based group to hammer out a deal, hesaid, which could come at any time. But the bottom line for Canetti is that in 2016, whether in Houston or the valley, the Dynamo will have a farm club to develop emerging talent.
“Everything’s moving in the right direction. I think it’s a really quality group down there, and they’ve got their act together,” Canetti said. “These things take time; and even though these things take time, they’re progressing at a very fast rate.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.