The Houston Dynamo are moving in a new direction, and for the first time in club history, Dominic Kinnear will not be at the helm.
Reports Tuesday evening confirmed the long-rumored news that Kinnear is set to leave Houston to take over as head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes, Kinnear's hometown team for which he played (1997) and coached, both as an assistant (2001-03) and head coach (2004-05).
The move means that the journey to build a new Dynamo will be without the club's most familiar face.
"For a very long time, we’ve known of Dom’s hopes and desires to return to San Jose,” Dynamo president Chris Canetti told MLSsoccer.com. “After nine years and all he’s given to us, we didn’t feel it was appropriate to block him from this opportunity. In the interest of doing the right thing for Dominic and his family, we granted permission to let him go and turn the page to the next chapter of Dynamo history.”
Kinnear was responsible for leading the club to playoff success, including two MLS Cup championships and four conference titles. Until now it had been too tough for the Dynamo to let him go.
“There have been requests for Dominic before, and all those requests have been denied,” Canetti said. “You have to weigh multiple balances and factors. Probably the most important thing of all is timing, and the timing of this one seemed to be appropriate for all parties.”
In exchange for letting Kinnear out of his contract, the Dynamo will receive compensation from the Earthquakes, but specifics have yet to be disclosed. Before Kinnear and his family relocate, the club will give a deserved parting nod to their legendary coach at Houston's final home game of the season on Thursday against the New England Revolution (7 p.m. CT, TICKETS).
"We’ll use [Thursday] night’s home game as a way to bid farewell to him and pay tribute to all the things he’s done and represented for the club the last nine years,” Canetti said. “This should be a nice celebration of his time with the Dynamo.”
After the match, the Dynamo will turn their sights toward hiring the next Dynamo head coach, who will be named by Canetti and the club's vice president of technical staff, a newly created position for which the Dynamo are currently hiring.
"There’s lots of things to look for in a coach, but one of the primary things for me is that whoever comes in here as a coach understands this is not a rebuilding process,” Canetti said. “We’re not far away, in our opinion, from being a championship-caliber team.”
The new boss will inherit a talented roster that features a blend of youth, experience and flexibility. It includes World Cup veterans at all four midfield positions – Brad Davis, Boniek Garcia, Luis Garrido and Ricardo Clark – as well as left back DaMarcus Beasley. Several other players are entering contract option years: Will Bruin, Kofi Sarkodie and Giles Barnes among others.
With the main architect of the roster gone, Canetti will need to find someone who can put the pieces together.
“We feel like we need to fill some gaps and repair some issues, and when we do, we’ll be right back on track,” the Dynamo president said. “It’s important to have a coach that understands that and buys into the environment and the talent we have as a base and we'll build from there.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.