Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Changes at Houston Dynamo, So Long Spencer & Landin, Hello Obodai

CARSON, CA - APRIL 19:  (L-R) Head Coach Dominic Kinnear and Assistant Coach John Spencer of the Houston Dynamo look on prior to their team's MLS game against the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Home Depot Center on April 19, 2008 in Carson, California. The Dynamo and Galaxy played to a 2-2 draw.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

During tonight's broadcast of The Orange Slice on 1560 The Game, news about changes at the Houston Dynamo started filtering out. Most importantly, the Dynamo announced the departure of long term assistant coach John Spencer, secondly, the Dynamo had released their designated player, Luis Angel Landin, and finally, the Dynamo had signed midfielder Anthony Obodai.

The 39 year old John Spencer started his soccer playing career when he signed for Glasgow Rangers in 1985, where he saw his first playing time in 1987. After loan stints at Greenock Morton F.C. and Lai Sun (Hong Kong), Spencer found himself at Chelsea in 1992, where he remained until 1996 when he was loaned to Queens Park Rangers. The QPR loan turned permanent in 1997. After subsequent stints at Motherwell and Everton, in 2001 Spencer found himself in the United States playing for the Colorado Rapids. Spencer retired from playing football after the Rapids' 2004 season. Spencer has served as the assistant coach for the Houston Dynamo since the Dynamo came to Houston, prior to the 2006 MLS season.

On tonight's show, we spoke to Chris Canetti, COO of the Houston Dynamo, who told us that last week Spencer informed the team he would be leaving to pursue another opportunity. The split was amicable and Canetti indicated that it was not the Dynamo's place to make an announcement about Spencer's future. Since last fall, news that the Portland Timbers, who will be joining MLS for the 2011 season, were interested in hiring John Spencer as their coach had been circulating. In fact, if memory serves, some of the stories indicated that Spencer would likely stay with Houston until July 2010 before joining the Timbers organization. While John Spencer will be missed here in Houston, I'm sure Dynamo fans wish him good luck at Portland, except when Portland plays the Dynamo of course.

Last summer the Houston Dynamo brought Luis Angel Landin in as a designated player. Landin, who caught the eye of the Dynamo during the past couple years when they played Pachuca, was considered the kind of physical Mexican player who could probably handle playing in MLS. Unfortunately, Landin joined the Dynamo shortly after the league break in Mexico and during a period when he wasn't seeing much playing time in Mexico. In other words, Landin wasn't match fit when he joined the Dynamo. While he looked to be in better shape at the start of the 2010 MLS season, he still wasn't in the physical shape he needed to be in for a long MLS season, plus, during the 2010 season, he has succumbed to too many injuries. In the end, the Dynamo gave Landin a shot, but when they decided it wasn't a salvageable situation the Dynamo did what they normally do, they released him.

While fans say goodbye to Spencer and Landin, they'll soon be saying hello to Ghanaian Anthony Obodai. Obodai, a midfielder, comes to the Dynamo from the Dutch club RKC Waalwijk, where he has played since 2007. Previously, Obodai has played at Sparta Rotterdam and Ajax. Tonight, Canetti stated that Obodai's visa has been approved and that they expect no problems in obtaining an international transfer certificate from The Netherlands.

During our interview with Canetti, he did indicate that the Dynamo are looking at several players to round out the Dynamo roster, but he was not willing to go into any details on the identities of these players. One thing Canetti did make clear is that while the experience with Landin has not soured the Dynamo on the designated player issue, at this time the club is not in a financial position to consider a designated player signing.