The Houston Dynamo have their new head coach, with Tab Ramos officially hired on Friday morning to lead the team beginning in the 2020 season. The move was first reported by Kristian Dyer on Thursday afternoon.
Ramos will take the place of interim head coach Davy Arnaud, who took the reins from the departed Wilmer Cabrera in August and saw out the rest of Houston's 2019 campaign, which ended with a 12-18-4 record and a 10th-place finish in the Western Conference.
In Ramos, the Dynamo hope they've nabbed a mixture of experience and pedigree that can help get the club back on track after missing the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.
"We are very pleased to welcome Tab to the Houston Dynamo. He brings a wealth of coaching experience to our club, having led the U.S. U-20 National Team program to unprecedented success over the last eight years," SVP and GM Matt Jordan said in a statement. "As we went through the search process, we were impressed with how his approach to the game aligned with our club’s goals and objectives. We are confident that his experience, coaching philosophy, and ability to teach and relate to players make him the right coach to lead our team moving forward."
Ramos, 53, was the first-ever player to sign with MLS when he joined the New York/New Jersey MetroStars ahead of the league's inaugural 1996 season, making 121 appearances for the organization across seven seasons. Prior to his time in MLS, other professional stops included a stint in Spain's second division with Figueres and in Liga MX with Tigres. He also scored eight goals in 81 career senior caps for the US men's national team. Most notably, he featured in the 1990, 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cups, as well as the 1988 Olympics.
Since 2011, Ramos has been managing the U.S. U-20 national team and also served as an assistant under Jurgen Klinsmann for the USMNT during the 2014 World Cup. He led the U-20s to three consecutive quarterfinal appearances, with the US the only country to accomplish that feat.
Back in May, Ramos told MLSsoccer.com that he was interested in one day taking over an MLS team when he felt his time in US Soccer had run its course. Now, his next step is here.
“I’m excited to join the Houston Dynamo organization and I’m looking forward to the challenge of leading this group of players,” Ramos said. “This is a club that has winning in its DNA, a club with a clear vision for the future centered around development and a team-first mentality, and Houston is a city that has tremendous untapped potential as a soccer market, both on and off the field. This is a fantastic opportunity, and I can’t wait to get started.”
In the Dynamo, Ramos will have a challenge, but he will also inherit some building blocks with which to work. While the Dynamo cratered in 2019 after shooting out of the gate to a 6-1-1 start, they boast a talented attacking corps that includes Mauro Manotas, Alberth Elis and Tomas Martinez – a group that has shown they can function as a productive unit in MLS. The problem has been on the defensive side of the ball, where the Dynamo shipped 59 goals in 2019, many of them of the untimely variety that cost them results late in games. Shoring that up will certainly be a top priority.
Then, there's the issue of road form. The Dynamo boast one of the more challenging environments for opponents, especially in summer months in the Texas heat. But they haven't been able to get it together away from the friendly confines of BBVA Stadium. This year, the Dynamo were a dismal 2-15-0 away from home after going 2-10-5 in 2018 and 1-9-7 in 2017.
“I am incredibly excited that we were able to bring a coach with Tab’s resume and background in to lead our team,” said Dynamo controlling owner Gabriel Brener. “He has a deep understanding of the needs, wants, goals and challenges that our players face, having been an elite player himself; and he has a deep understanding of how to develop young players from his tenure with the Under-20 national team. Most importantly, we believe he will be a great fit within the club culture that we are working to create on and off the pitch.”