People that follow the Houston Dynamo have often wondered what type of relationship Dominic Kinnear had with the Houston Dynamo Academy. This question was more than warranted since it sometimes seemed like Kinnear was hesitant in using Academy products during first team matches. As was previously stated, I had the distinct honor of conducting an exclusive interview with Academy Director James Clarkson. People that have some knowledge of the type person I am know that I am not one to pull punches, so this interview was no different. The question of Dom’s relationship with the Academy was asked and this article will take some time to address the answers.
First of all, we need to address the type of communication that Dynamo Academy coaches (and more than likely MLS Academy coaches in general) have with their first teams. When the question of communication between the two entities was brought up, Clarkson was quite direct in his response, “[the senior team is] often sent footage and information on players we deem good enough. I do a weekly report for the coaching staff.” Quickly any doubts about a lack of communication between the first team and Academy was quickly taken away.
This direct response is more than proof that there’s great communication between all levels of the Houston Dynamo. Truth be told, the most I expected were monthly reports, but knowing that weekly reports were taking place is more than adequate. What were once doubts about the relationship between these two levels of the Houston Dynamo now became a longing for a continued close relationship with Dynamo’s new coach Owen Coyle. Even after receiving this answer, the opportunity to press the issue was not lost upon me, so a more direct question was asked.
Was Dominic Kinnear a constant fixture during Academy games, and does the Academy coaching staff feel that enough attention was paid to the development of players? Director Clarkson answered in the most genuine way possible, “Out of season, Dom did pay a large amount of attention to the academy but in season his job was about winning games.” When this answer is coupled with the weekly reports one, it is clear that Kinnear may have not utilized Academy products frequently during first team games but that was not due to misguided decisions. Kinnear knew who he had signed, the impact those players were capable of making, and had been players whose development he had followed closely. Which leaves us with a possible explanation to the underutilization of homegrown players. It is more than likely that the fault lay on the players themselves, because they did not stand out enough during practices or made enough impact during the few minutes they were given on the field.
There’s only one way to end an article about a past relationship, and that’s by addressing the future. Clarkson knows his role in the scope of things and is clear on one thing; the way Owen Coyle uses academy players during his tenure is dependent on Clarkson himself. James Clarkson states, “…the responsibility falls up on myself to make sure we’re producing players that can’t be ignored and will be looked at as a crucial part of the team.” In the end, Clarkson and the rest of the academy knows that the only way to makes themselves an important part of the organization is by becoming invaluable to it.
If you’re in the Houston area, you can catch the Dynamo Academy play at Houston Sports Park on the following dates in January and February:
1/24: Houston Dynamo U-18 vs Colorado Rapids U-18 at 2PM
1/31: Houston Dynamo U-18 vs Solar Chelsea SC U-18 at 10AM
2/21: Houston Dynamo U-18 vs Texans SC Houston U-18 at 2PM
2/28: Houston Dynamo U-18 vs Texas Rush U-18
The Dynamo Academy also announced during this exclusive interview that they will host the Generation Adidas Cup in February, so make sure to keep your ear to the ground for an announcement of dates.
(image courtesy of houstondynamo.com)