The Houston Dynamo have made several player personnel moves during this offseason, but the biggest change will likely be felt for years to come.
In December, a group led by former minority investor Gabriel Brener purchased AEG's ownership shares in the Dynamo, the NWSL's Houston Dash, and BBVA Compass Stadium in December. With Brener now majority owner and former champion boxer Oscar de la Hoya remaining as a minority owner, the group will now have an opportunity to put their full imprint on the clubs.
Brener and de la Hoya spoke to reporters on Monday as the Dynamo held their first preseason training session, and discussed a new level of engagement with the Dynamo.
“We’re taking baby steps," Brener said. "We have a good organization and a good group in place, but definitely there is room to improve in many ways, and we have very good plans for the future."
One goal is to energize the fans, reaching out to all of the residents of Houston.
"We want to engage the fan base more, we want to have people coming to the stadium from the first minute and supporting the team all the way, because that means a lot to the players,” Brener said.
“We try to reach into every single facet of the community, and as you know, Houston is a very diverse community, so we are planning to have a diverse team with nationalities so that everybody feels that they are coming to see a player from their own city, from their own country, and identify with them,” he added.
The Dynamo currently have players from the US, Brazil, England, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Spain and Nigeria on the roster. And Houston is one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the country.
De la Hoya noted that the owners would prove a more visible presence around the team.
“I believe the way we are going to impact this is by being here, by showing the players that we are owners that really support the team," he said. "Like you can see today, Gabriel [Brener] and I are here and we’re supporting 100 percent. We’re going to try to make it to every single game and show the players that we really care and show Houston that we really care about this team."
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Both owners were bullish on the Dynamo's chances for contending in MLS during this second season under head coach Owen Coyle. The ever-confident de la Hoya went so far as to say, "This year will be the best year."
But climbing up the standings won't be easy in what is expected to once again be a competitive Western Conference. Still, Brener explained that the new ownership structure would help the organization "be a lot more agile" in decision-making, and that his expanded role with the club should help the Dynamo connect with the local community.
“There won’t be a corporation running the team but a person, which will resonate with the fans.”