December 1, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham (23) defends against Houston Dynamo midfielder Corey Ashe (26) during the second half of the 2012 MLS Cup at the Home Depot Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Dynamo’s Ownership Saga: Spending Money


*This is the second part of my series on “Houston Dynamo’s Ownership Saga”. You can read the first one by clicking here.*

Even though the Houston Dynamo are now only partly owned by AEG, fifty-percent to be exact, the Dynamo fanbase loves to bring up a possible conflict of interest that’s inherent with AEG also owning the L.A. Galaxy. We often refer to ourselves as, “The Red-Headed Stepchild”. Many fans in Houston believe it is impossible for an ownership group to own two teams in the same league without choosing favorites.

Often times, this is the main argument used when bringing up our lack of “big stars”. When compared to L.A., Houston has had DPs like Oscar Boniek Garcia and Luis Angel Landin, while the Galaxy can tout Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan, and David Beckham.

There is a clear difference between those stars. Beckham is considered a legend of the sport worldwide, Keane is one of the best Irish players of all-time. Donovan can be considered in the running for not only the best American player of all time, but one of the best players CONCACAF has produced in general.

Luis Angel Landin was a complete bust, and while Boniek may be a great talent. He does not have the same name recognition of any of the Galaxy players named above.

Can this really be blamed on AEG, though? In order to sign a Designated Player it takes three “yes” votes to get him approved. One from AEG, one from Oscar de la Hoya/Golden Boy Productions, and another from Gabriel Brenner.

The Galaxy only need one “yes” vote and that’s from AEG. It is obviously easier to get one vote of agreement, than trying to get three different people to agree on whether they should spend money a certain player.

We have proof that AEG is willing to spend on their teams, just look at the Galaxy, we don’t have proof that Golden Boy Productions is willing to shell out Beckham or Donovan money. That means that AEG should probably not be getting blamed for our lack of big money players.

However, I’m not saying that we should even blame Golden Boy for not spending enough. Every owner has shown a willingness to spend money on the Dynamo.Oscar Boniek Garcia came with a transfer fee, and he was an unknown commodity.

When we first signed Boniek, there were many disappointed Dynamo fans. It wasn’t the Designated Player signing that they expected. Boniek quickly proved everybody wrong. He’s had better seasons than almost any other designated player in Major League Soccer. It is apparent that without him the Houston Dynamo are a completely different team.

Luis Angel Landin also commanded a big payday. Mexican players are usually overvalued in the CONCACAF transfer market. Yet, we still managed to sign him.

Credit: Nigel Brooks

Credit: Nigel Brooks

Even our newest designated player, Alex Lopez, required a hefty transfer fee. All of these fees are coming directly from our ownership’s pockets. They are not required to make these signings, however, they have taken risks. In all honesty, it takes some serious dedication to agree to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a player like Oscar Boniek Garcia.

Regular fans are able to just turn on their television and watch him play for Olimpia of Honduras. AEG, Golden Boy, and Brenner, however, have so much faith in the Houston Dynamo front office that they took their word and signed a check. They knew they probably would not make that money back. Unlike Beckham and Donovan who are names that sell jerseys and boost ticket sales, Boniek’s name would not boost jersey sales enough to make signing worthwhile. Ticket sales are not going to increase if Boniek is advertised as playing.

The ownership group decided that they had complete faith in Kinnear’s belief that Boniek would add some major talent to the team, and he has been proven correct. The truth is, I honestly do not believe Kinnear wants to sign “big name” players. He loves to keep some balance in the locker room. For anybody who read, “The Beckham Experiment”, it becomes apparent that Beckham caused friction in the locker room. This is something Kinnear has always tried to avoid.

Dominic Kinnear has shipped off players once they became a nuisance in the locker room. There is a reason Kei Kamara was sent away. There’s a theory I’ve always had, and that is that I truly believe Dom likes to keep player salaries kind of balanced. He does not want one player making considerably more money than others.

Any player on the Dynamo can look at Brad Davis’ salary and see that he is not a millionaire. He plays like a superstar but he is not making that much money. This alone can inspire others.

If Brad Davis goes out and plays 90 minutes of aggressive football for a 6 figure salary, then why shouldn’t they? That type of salary also makes it seem attainable to every player on the roster. Player’s like Sarkodie can look at Davis’ salary and say that’s an attainable goal. This limits friction on a team, nobody can honestly feel smug about their paycheck because no player is making truckloads of money.

This marks the end of the second part of our series on Houston Dynamo’s Ownership Saga. The third part will deal with the argument involving competitive conflict of interest. Please make sure to comment with some thoughts or tweet us! Thanks for reading!

 

Tags: AEG Houston Dynamo Oscar De La Hoya Ownership

  • Hydro

    Leo. Nice articles and thanks for writing about the Dynamo.

    Your analysis may oversimplify the issue. Just because “We have proof that AEG is willing to spend on their teams, just look at the Galaxy,” this by no means indicates that AEG would be willing to spend their cash in Houston. You seem to blame it all on De La Hoya.

    Referring to ourselves as the red-headed stepchild suggests that some of us strongly believe that AEG is willing to give money to the Galaxy, but not to the Dynamo. AEG likely sees the Dynamo as a cheaper investment and want to minimize their investment risks.

    Here are some points you could have considered:
    a) Houston doesn’t have the appeal that LA has, so it may take a LOT more cash to convince a soccer DP to move to Houston. Or perhaps a big soccer star simply won’t want to come to Houston.
    b) The Dynamo front office was given a chance to prove that they can sign big stars, and they blew it. As you pointed out, Landin was a bust. While somebody should have been FIRED over the signing, the owners simply decided to reduce their allocation to Houston. And then the Dynamo organization displayed their ineptitud again spending the owners’ cash signing Alex Lopez (another bust). If it was my money, I would be asking the Dynamo organization to sell their kidneys in order to pay me back for screwing up.
    c) It may be intentional, as they may want the Galaxy to represent US Soccer. The Dynamo is designed to be a low-cost, low-investment-risk potential. The owners are investing as little as possible, so they can devote their energy and resources to building a world-wide brand in the LA Galaxy. Reinforcing a once-powerful Dynamo team may take attention away from their glamorous preferred team the Galaxy. The Galaxy may be destined for worldwide glory. The Dynamo may be destined to play a lesser role, at least according to the owners minds.
    d) Chicken-and-the-egg: Owners want to see a full stadium and more season-ticket-holders before they open their wallets. Unfortunately, the stadium will continue to be half-full if a big star doesn’t come to Houston.
    e) etc etc

    PS Eat more pupusas.