When the Houston Dynamo look back at the 2012 calendar year, they look back with their heads held high.
Yes, head coach Dominic Kinnear and company are still reeling from the disappointment of falling short a second straight year at MLS Cup. But as a franchise, they make the argument that it was one of the most successful years to date for the seven-year-old club.
The biggest accomplishment for the Dynamo this year was one that has been in the works since they arrived in their U-Hauls from San Jose: the opening of BBVA Compass Stadium. Kinnear described Houston's monument to professional soccer as "awesome."
"Driving up here even today and looking at this building gives you a sense of pride," he said. "It makes you feel good about being with the Houston Dynamo."
The Orange also opened up their training facility this year at the Houston Amateur Sports Plex. For Kinnear's men, it meant they no longer had to deal with student athletes or marching bands practicing in the same complex. It meant they finally had a home suitable for a perennial championship contender.
"Our training facility meant that we no longer needed to rely on the University of Houston, and all the great treatment we received there over the years," Kinnear said. "I said that sarcastically."
With the facilities in place, the Dynamo went on a home undefeated streak that took them to the 2012 MLS Cup last weekend in Los Angeles. What had the entire club in awe was the fact that 2,000 Dynamo supporters made the trek to southern California to support them.
"Both [goalkeeper coach Tim Hanley and I] have been involved in MLS since day one," Dynamo President Chris Canetti said. "The first thing I said to him, I looked and said, 'Soccer in America has come such a long way.'"
Dynamo look to start fast in 2013
Losing in the championship game is never an easy pill to swallow, but the Dynamo don't have the luxury of time to dwell on the situation. On Monday, they acquired defender Eric Brunner from the Portland Timbers. The move, as Dynamo president and COO Chris Canetti stated, was about adding depth that will be tested in 2013.
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"I think one of the keys to our success this year was the depth on the team," Canetti said.
The 2013 season will feature CONCACAF Champions League Knockout Rounds in early March, as well as the group stage of the 2013-2014 CCL. Add those matches with the league regular season, US Open Cup and playoff matches, and they'll play in 50 games next year.
The 11 guys that were in Kinnear's starting lineup are all under contract with the Dynamo through next year. From there, the team will look to acquire more talent either through the MLS SuperDraft, waiver wires or the FIFA winter transfer window.
They don't have much time, though; training camp starts in seven weeks. The main object: to be in shape for their March date against Mexican club C.D. Laguna Santos.