The decision for the Houston Dynamo to move on from head coach Wilmer Cabrera wasn't an easy one, nor was it something the club took lightly.
Cabrera led Houston to the playoffs in 2017 then hoisted the 2018 U.S. Open Cup, leaving expectations high for the 2019 season led by stars Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis. A fast start — 6-1-1 over their first eight games — did nothing but fan the flames.
The wheels fell off for Houston thereafter, though. The Dynamo have lost 10 of their last 12 in MLS play. For club senior VP and general manager Matt Jordan, the poor run of results is what ultimately led to Cabrera's demise, simple as that.
“We had our best start in club history this year, then we had a very challenging period," Jordan told reporters on a conference call Tuesday. "On the surface, international call-ups played a factor but we faced the same challenges every team faced in MLS. Looking over the last two months, past getting into too many specifics, there’s a general consensus that the results over the last two months isn’t a reflection of the quality of our roster.”
Houston are one of the league's lowest spenders in regards to the salary cap, but it's not something Jordan believes hinders the squad or should lessen expectations.
“This is the same team that had the best start in club history," Jordan said. "In the summer transfer window we were one of the most aggressive teams in MLS, trading for Christian Ramirez and Niko Hansen, and the transfer of Jose Bizama. We have a good team."
Now, the club turn to choosing their next full-time boss. Davy Arnaud will take over on an interim basis while the assistant coaches will remain intact. Arnaud will be a candidate for the full-time role, Jordan confirmed, as he laid out what the Dynamo will search for.
“As we work through this process, we’ll look for a strong leader, someone who understands our club structure and is aligned with the core values of our club. Someone is committed to building a culture of development," Jordan said. "Those are the characteristics we’re looking for in our next head coach.”
The club aren't interested in pursuing, or ruling out, potential candidates based on their experience or lack thereof.
“We’re open to evaluating candidates that have varying degrees of experience," Jordan said. "There have been several coaches to express interest in the position. ... The key to all of this is not necessarily about a big name, it’s about finding the right person that fits the club’s strategic plan. That’s the most important thing to consider.”
One more thing for the Dynamo to consider? How well candidates understand the city and culture, and in turn, the Dynamo roster, which features a number of Hispanic stars, like Manotas and Elis.
“It’s important for us to get a candidate who connects with the Houston community and soccer culture here," Jordan said. "That’s something we’re very committed to. Houston is the most diverse city in the United States, it’s something we’re very proud of as a club. If you look at our roster, it’s a reflection of our city.”