HOUSTON – The signing of Owen Coyle as head coach was a coup for the Houston Dynamo: an experienced and tested English Premier League veteran, with a resume few in the league’s history can match, leading an MLS club.
His success in moving the club forward, however, will hinge on those around him, as he learns the ins and outs of his new league.
In light of that, the Dynamo are looking to surround their new foreign boss with as much MLS expertise as possible. Part of that equation is keeping familiar faces around in assistant coaches Steve Ralston and Wade Barrett (pictured above), along with goalkeepers coach Tim Hanley.
All three are under contract for next season and have been offered the chance to return, and Coyle said in Tuesday’s press conference that all three will stick around, potentially comprising a complete staff that can help lead the club through the next phase.
“I’m very fortunate with the staff we have in place,” Coyle said Tuesday. “They’ve got a real quality and feel for the club, which will help me. I’m very fortunate those key pieces of the jigsaw are in place. That’s something we’ve sat extensively and chatted [about], and we all have the same vision moving forward.”
The assistant-coach holdovers will likely be given new or expanded roles to aide in achieving that new vision, which is yet to be fully defined.
Part of their jobs, along with general manager Matt Jordan and director of soccer operations Nick Kowba, will be working Coyle through the quirks of MLS, where bringing in a quick roster fix is more complicated than simply sealing a transfer agreement.
“There’s a lot that’s new to me,” Coyle said. “It’s different from back home. At any given time, you’ve got X amount and you can use that to go get a player. That’s something where Matt is huge, and that’s something he’s comfortable with and can use that knowledge.
“The other thing we have to understand is that we’re not the biggest club in MLS, but what we can do is be the best within our structure if everybody has the same agenda,” Coyle continued. “As a player and a coach, I’ve always punched above my weight, and it’s something I look forward to, and as I said before, have huge excitement to do it.”
That could give a hint as to how the club will acquire players moving forward: While the club are not likely to splash big cash in the transfer market, there are specific holes to address.
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The new Houston boss pointed to bringing in dynamic wingers and pace, along with adding a goalscorer to the mix, as well as reinforcing the center-back position for a team that leaked 58 goals a season ago. Finding those players will likely fall to Jordan, who has already taken multiple scouting trips, and Kowba.
“Building a dynamic staff is building a group that’s committed to working with one another and for one another to better the club,” Jordan said. “We feel very good about the staff we have in place. These are hard-working and very talented coaches and staff members, and that’s a key factor for us moving forward.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.