Below is Part Two of a two-part interview with Dynamo General Manager Matt Jordan. Part One is located HERE.
[EDITOR’S NOTE – This interview was conducted prior to the Galaxy match, but I wanted to include the information below related to John McGinn even though McGinn signed with Hibs last week per the BBC and Chandler Hoffman and Zach Steinberger have since been loaned out.]
Keeper Notes: How do you think the Academy is coming along now that you have some time under your belt to evaluate it more closely?
Jordan: The Academy is something we are working hard on to vertically integrate the Academy with the first team with our Academy Director coming with the first team staff once a week on the field. Our First Team staff working with the Academy kids once a month with each of the age groups. That’s something we are really committed to…We feel the partnership with the RGV group is going to be critical to help develop our guys. It addresses the huge gap in development between the U-18 and the first team level and our biggest thing is we want our guys to get real games and real competition where they have to perform under pressure so when they get the call to the MLS level it is not a shock to their system and they are ready to go.
KN: There are several young players on the cusp of making the first team but still in dire need of regular playing time like a Chandler Hoffman, how will the new agreement with RGV help players like him?
Jordan: It’s a constant balancing act that changes day to day and week to week. When you look at injuries, players form, international call-ups, potential transactions that are happening. Charleston’s been a good partner for us. Memo Rodriguez is down there right now and we’ve sent 3-4 guys down there to stay sharp which has been great. But to have total technical and coaching staff control and we choose all the players it gives us what we feel is a big advantage to implement our ideas.
KN: Was there a length of time on the RGV partnership?
Jordan: I can’t really touch on that right now, but it’s something that we are committed to. It’s been a lot of hard work in a short period of time. We feel we have a great mix on this roster…. Now we have Cubo coming in… Just made a trade for one of most experienced defenders in the league in Sheanon Williams. Getting our international guys back, we feel we are positioned to make a good push in the second half of the season. It has been a lot of hard work in a short period of time. We’ve implemented a sports science department. We’ve implemented a data analytics department and we feel we have positioned ourselves to be successful for the long term.
KN: We talked about foreign roster spots, your thoughts on the trialist you guys recently had in from Scotland John McGinn. Are Houston trying to sign him?
Jordan: John was in training with us and it was good to have him in training in our environment. He’s a player we do have an interest in. There are a lot of moving parts with restrictions and regulations with your roster and these different variables, but he is still somebody we’re evaluating his situation.
KN: Tell us your thoughts on moving Corey Ashe?
Jordan: It’s always hard to move a player that’s given so much to the club and been so dedicated. We have the utmost respect for him and his contributions to the club, but at the same an opportunity presented itself for him to jump start his career and we have Beasley here who is a very good left back as well. It was a positive for everyone and that is what I feel good about when we sat down and spoke about it and Corey agreed it was a challenge he was eager to take on.
KN: The team has stressed the importance of competing in the US Open Cup. Did the timing of that trade and Demarcus Beasley’s call-up leave you short-handed for the US Open Cup?
Jordan: Demarcus’ call-up caught us by surprise. He’s given so much to the national team we wanted to let that happen. It would not have been fair to us to not accommodate that situation with Corey just for a couple of games. That would not have shown good integrity on our behalf and unfortunately …obviously the timing it would have been great to have him for a couple of games, but we didn’t feel that was the right thing to do and we wanted to help get him to a new situation that he was excited about.
KN: Alex Lima was recently acquired from the Chicago Fire and your thoughts on acquiring him? How many years does he have left on his contract? Are they guaranteed?
Jordan: It was a good opportunity to bring in a player with a lot of quality… He can play a variety of positions – second striker – on the left or right. He can play in central midfield and can even pinch in at left back at times. We’re happy to have him on board and he is definitely in our plans for the future.
KN: When the Houston Dynamo released Oumar Ballo the press release cited new roster rules and regulations under the newly enacted CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) – what exactly were those new roster rules?
Jordan: The big element was at that time we were in the midst of a new CBA negotiation and the complexion of our rosters changed from a 30 man roster to a 28 man roster. Unfortunately for Omar, he was the player we had to make a decision with those new rules and we wanted to make an earlier decision to give him a chance to get on with a team somewhere else. Another element is that he [filled a foreign roster spot] and those are the hard decisions you have to make. But it was one we felt we needed to do.
KN: MLS just recently created new rules related to Targeted Allocation dollars, is the game plan to get a Fourth Designated Player in here to use those Targeted Allocation Dollars?
Jordan: We will use the Targeted Allocation Dollars, but we will be strategic and disciplined in our approach. We are constantly looking at options, but we don’t want to make a knee-jerk reaction. Something we have prided ourselves on is that we have a really good group and we want to bring in good people and good players. That’s important. When you bring in a foreign player, they have to have the right motivation to join MLS as its not easy for a foreign player to transition to this league.
KN: LA has brought in several big names like Keane, Gerrard, and now Giovanni Dos Santos, talk about the impact those big names have had on their team?
Jordan: They are great. They brought in a lot of great players. But that is what that market bears. Every market is different. We’re always looking to improve the team, but we have to be disciplined with our approach. We brought in Erik Cubo Torres and he is the premier rising star in this region. We’re happy to have him at just 22 years of age and the best thing with Erik is he knows the league and you get over that hurdle of adapting to the league, adapting to the physicality and the speed and travel. That’s the beauty with a guy like Erik and for us it’s a win-win to get him here and we’re happy to finally have him.
KN: When Giovanni Dos Santos goes to LA and you hear frustration from fans because the Houston Dynamo had made prior attempts to bring in Giovanni Dos Santos and he goes to LA — I don’t know if it’s justified, but does it make sense the fans frustration from the perspective of it being the same ownership in AEG?
Jordan: Our ownership has stepped up big time with the acquisition of Erick Cubo Torres. It’s a big one. It’s not an easy transaction to get done and we really appreciate our ownerships’ support on that. There are different markets and there are different factors to take into consideration. We feel with the acquisitions of Raul Rodriguez from La Liga, Erick Cubo Torres who is a top young talent. We are bringing in such a young talented player like Mauro Manotas who is one of the biggest talents coming out of Columbia right now and he’s already shown the qualities he has. You are starting to see Leonel Miranda is adapting to the league. We are really excited for the future. We really are.
Dwain Capodice is a freelance writer covering the Houston Dynamo and the US National Team for Keeper Notes and also serves as the Fan Blogger covering soccer at Chron.com. He can be reached on twitter @dcapodice or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.