By CAITLIN MURRAY
The Houston Dynamo will join the National Women’s Soccer League in 2014 with a new team named the Houston Dash, the club announced Thursday.
“We are thrilled to have our very own NWSL franchise here in Houston,” Houston Dynamo president Chris Canetti said during a formal announcement at BBVA Compass Stadium that was streamed live on Dynamo’s website. “It is an important addition to our sports landscape and will bring added value to our community.”
The Dash become the first expansion team and ninth franchise in the year-old NWSL. They will also be the second Major League Soccer franchise to join the NWSL with the Portland Thorns as sister club to the MLS’ Timbers.
The Dash will play 12 home games during a 24-game season at BBVA Compass Stadium in downtown Houston, which will be scaled back to accommodate seating for about 7,000. Capacity for the venue is just more than 22,000.
The Dynamo front office will run the Dash but a dedicated staff with women’s soccer experience will be brought into to handle technical operations, Canetti said. Uniforms will also be unveiled in coming weeks.
The Dynamo couldn’t give their women’s club the same name due to trademark conflicts with MLS and NWSL having different uniform sponsors.
A head coach should be named by Christmas, with “a couple” people expressing interest in the job who are “credible names” in soccer, Canetti said.
Details of upcoming drafts to fill Dash’s roster have yet to be announced, but sources have exclusively told SBI how the drafts are expected to go, including that Houston will pick fifth in the first round of the 2014 NWSL Draft, but pick first in the second and fourth rounds.
In a conference call Thursday, NWSL Executive Director Cheryl Bailey confirmed SBI’s reports that rosters are frozen, saying they would be locked for the eight founding franchises until national team players are allocated. Bailey said that could happen as late as Jan. 2, but a knowledgeable source told SBI the expected date is Dec. 22.
The Dash are not subject to the freeze and can start signing up to four discovery players immediately, Bailey added.
An expansion draft will happen after allocations are set, with sources telling SBI the rules will depend on how many players are allocated. Bailey said national team coaches from the U.S., Canada and Mexico will submit their list of subsidized allocated players to the league in the next 7-10 days.
The U.S. Soccer Federation, which owns the league, had worked with Dynamo directly for months before finalizing the expansion this week, sources have told SBI.
“We share the vision for this league and look forward to playing our part in making it a great success,” Canetti said. “Part of our responsibility is to grow the game of soccer, and this new team will play a significant role in that effort.”
The NWSL 2014 season will begin in the second week of April.
What do you think of the name Dash? Do you see this being a success for the Dynamo club? If you’re in Houston, would you attend their games?
Share your thoughts below.