HOUSTON – Call it Steve Ralston’s fantastic voyage.
Last week, the just-retired MLS original became the newest member of the Houston Dynamo coaching staff. And he traveled long and far to make it to his new gig.
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The former Revolution icon packed up his Ford pickup and left his home in Foxborough, Mass., last Friday morning and made the 14-hour drive to Columbus, where the Dynamo faced the Crew on Saturday.
He then spent all day Sunday in the car, spending the night in Texarkana before driving to Nacogdoches, Texas, where he dropped in on the parents of former Revs teammate Clint Dempsey.
Finally, on Monday, Ralston arrived here in the Bayou City, where he’s also participating as an assistant to Bruce Arena and Dominic Kinnear with the MLS All-Star team coaching staff. All told, it was a more than 2,000-mile haul – or, Ralston estimates, about 30 hours of driving time.
“When we were done with practice, Dom said, ‘Can you give me a ride back home?’” Ralston laughed at Tuesday’s All-Star training session. “I’m like, ‘Dude, I’ve been in a car for three days.’”
Ralston is looking forward to his new challenge as a coach and said Houston head coach Kinnear – his former teammate with the Tampa Bay Mutiny in MLS’ early days – isn’t expecting him to pick it all up immediately. Ralston’s brief time with the Dynamo in Columbus last weekend was more to let him observe the team and get accustomed to Kinnear’s coaching style.
For now, Ralston said, he’s just trying to learn all he can. And he’s glad he’s still around MLS after retiring earlier this month following a 15-year career that included four MLS Cup final appearances, a US Open Cup title and MLS records for assists, appearances and minutes played.
“I think it’ll be easier for me,” he said of his new role. “The transition’s been so quick I haven’t really had time to think about it. My body’s been thrown under the bus the last few years, so it was time [to retire].”
Ralston views being a part of the All-Star coaching staff as a fun bonus and sees it as an opportunity to have a good time around his former teammates and opponents. But suiting up for Houston – the team that beat his Revs in the MLS Cup final two years in a row – will take some getting used to.
“Shalrie [Joseph] walked up to me yesterday,” Ralston laughed, “and said, ‘Man, you look awful in orange.’”