Photo credit: Christian Inoferio

A look at the Houston Dynamo-RGVFC affiliation rumors

In the summer of 2015, Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo announced they were creating a hybrid-affiliate in the United Soccer League. That affiliate would become the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros, who played their first season back in 2016. The relationship would be that Houston controls all of the soccer operations while the Toros would deal with everything else like gameday operations, sales, etc.

Today, Glenn Davis sent out the tweet below, suggesting that this will be the final year of that affiliation. Glenn is a respected member of the media and I find it hard to believe he would go public with this without major confidence in his source.

RGVFC CEO Rene Borrego provided me the following statement: “Matt Jordan, Nick Kowba, Alonzo Cantu, Hondo Candelaria, and I had a face-to-face meeting in McAllen this weekend to discuss plans for the upcoming season. We had very positive meetings and both sides are working hard to prepare for the upcoming season and expressed appreciation for one another.”

That statement doesn’t slam the door on a potential change, but it does show that there’s still some goodwill between the sides and doesn’t indicate there’s a split on the horizon. Without having any personal confirmation to validate Glenn’s rumor or completely disprove it, we can just look at it from a perspective angle. If the change does come to fruition, it would be a potentially massive shift for soccer in South Texas and there are some layers that need to be looked at. Anyone that tells you this change would be perfect for either side is oversimplifying things.

Let’s start with the Toros. A lot of people tied to the club, fans, reporters, and everyone in between, have been critical of the player management between the two clubs and some even wanted them to be independent. I would be careful what you wish for. In that hypothetical, RGVFC would be on the hook for a lot of new costs like player salaries and paying the technical staff. They would also be responsible for player acquisition and would not have the selling point of being a direct affiliate to an MLS side. A lot of independent clubs fail and there’s absolutely a chance that the Toros would struggle without Houston to help out.

For the Dynamo, you gain closer proximity to your affiliate which can help with scouting, player movement, and just to build a bond. But, the main thing they are losing is the competition at the second division level.

I was able to catch up with a major figure in this relationship from 2016-18 to also hear his thoughts, former RGVFC president Bert Garcia. I asked him if when the affiliation started that he thought there would be a day that it ended. Garcia responded, “Well, not necessarily not be affiliated, but definitely assess the relationship at the end of every contract. I believe when Chris Canetti and I started the relationship, it was for 3 years at a time. At the end of the day, we need to see what’s best for both teams.”

“On the business end, wins usually translate to ticket sales and sponsorship and there have not been enough wins. For the Dynamo, player development is key, so how many players from RGV have been able to help the first team? Soccer operations expense translating to ROI (return of investment) on the field. “With these two issues, and there may be more, but just looking at these two issues, I think a new model has to be taken into consideration. I still believe the partnership is very beneficial for both groups.”

Talking about if the affiliation were to end, he added, “Very drastic changes for RGV! I mean you’re going from not having to make decisions, to make and pay for every soccer decision for your club now. Sorry, I always bring up the finances behind it, but in the end, this is a business. You’re going to give up something to make what in return? ”

“So many details that the “independent” club would be responsible. Don’t get me wrong, they have Mr. Cantu and Rene that are more than proven to put the organizations in a position to succeed, but this would definitely be a challenge. I am a big believer that you take a set back and make it into a setup, and this can well be the case.”

This will be an interesting situation to watch for fans of both clubs because the impact would be massive if a change comes to fruition. The Toros will kick off their fifth season in March.

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