In an exciting day for Dynamo fans, the long awaited hire of a coach was made official when General Manager Pat Onstad introduced Paulo Nagamura as the head coach of the Houston Dynamo.
Onstad explained his plans for the club, telling the press, “We’re pushing hard. We’re making decisions based on that and trying to find a way here to turn this club around and bring it up,” also explaining his wish to make the team have a “defined style of play.”
For those excited for the Nagamura hire, Onstad reinforced many of the beliefs held regarding his potential success. Onstad repeatedly mentioned the knowledge Nagamura holds in both soccer, as well as the MLS specifically. Onstad mentioned both Nagamura’s success as a player in the MLS, as well as the time spent developing players in Kansas City.
From the very start of Nagamura’s speech, the emphasis on a new system was a foundation for any plans he had for the club, at one point stating that he was “looking forward to rescuing the identity of this club.” He also stated that he will “embrace that challenge with all my might, heart, and will.”
The culture and missing identity Nagamura mentioned in his opening statements is a shared sentiment among both fans and the front office. After a last place finish in the Western Conference, the Dynamo front office promised changes, seemingly starting with the firing of coach Tab Ramos. Discussing the coaching search, Onstad mentioned, “We’re looking for high-potential people, people that want to get better in our organization on a constant basis. That includes myself, Asher (Mendelsohn), Nick. Surrounding myself with people that want to get better, and I know that’s what Paulo (Nagamura) believes in, that’s what he’s trying to do. So, it was a pretty easy decision.”
As the process for a new culture and identity for a downtrodden Dynamo team begins, it’s clear that all aspects of the management and coaching staff are in line with their expectations for this season – Nagamura mentioned “The new ownership, the new club leadership, all of that were factors in my decision to come to Houston.”
The Dynamo have made other moves in building a staff they feel will come to define the team, however, with Nagamura’s hire being so new, he said he stated he has not “had much time yet, today is my first day. So, hopefully I can be in touch with those players.” In answering that same question, Nagamura hinted at offseason moves, saying he hopes to connect with those “who will be players soon.”
The hint at offseason moves comes as a relief to many fans, after what many feel to have been a quiet offseason, despite promises of a turnaround by the front office. Previous reports had mentioned that the desires of the club were for everyone to agree on hires. Reflecting this idea, Onstad admitted, “We’re well on our way and well on our path to try and sign these players.”
Finishing his first press conference as head coach of the Dynamo, Nagamura looked to the future of the club. “[This is] A place where I was an insider for 10 years, so I bring that level of experience and that level of knowledge to Houston, I think is going to be huge… Preseason starts in two weeks and we will assess that and we are going to establish the standards and the expectations for all of them and it’s going to be a fresh start for everyone. I’m excited, I think they should be as well, it’s a new start for the club and hopefully, we can turn this ship around.”