I’ve seen the tweets. I’ve seen the Facebook comments. I know the overall commentary on newly picked General Manager and Houston Dynamo legend Pat Onstad’s choice for Head Coach hasn’t gone over glowingly. My initial reaction was somewhat mixed to be completely honest. But that reaction would be far more negative if they were with a previous majority owner and former general manager in Gabriel Brener and Matt Jordan.
Owner Ted Segal and General Manager Pat Onstad decided – after an apparently crushing interview – to bring in Paulo Nagamura as the newest addition to the Dynamo as Head Coach. Nagamura doesn’t bring significant coaching experience to the table which seems to be the largest push back by fans. That’s totally understandable. The purpose of this article is to calm qualms at least to some degree because the rollercoaster that has been as a Dynamo fan – at least lately - has us set firmly with our arms up on the decline and I’m personally hoping we’re headed back up.
Let’s get this started with the basics:
Different Majority Owner and General Manager
This is maybe the biggest reason to at least give Nagamura a shot. He’s not coming from the same group of thinkers that got us to where we are now. The Dynamo have had such a history of success that it largely spoiled us. They came to Houston hot, won two championships and appeared in two more finals a few years later. We then kicked the LA Galaxy co-owners out and spiraled downwards. I think we owe it to Ted Segal and Onstad to see this through a little before being overly critical. We can be uneasy, tentative even, but Nagamura deserves a chance to prove himself as either the right hire or the wrong hire.
Arguably the best quality that Paulo Nagamura brings to the Dynamo is a familiarity with the league. He’s been a player in the league from 2005-2016 and has been an assistant to varying extents under one of the best coaches in MLS history in Peter Vermes. Granted his actual coaching experience is lacking – especially lacking success I’ll admit – but success in the USL level, especially for teams associated with MLS clubs is also lacking.
MLS owned USL teams and their finish in the 2021 season:— Dynamo Theory (@dynamotheory) January 5, 2022
Atlanta United 2: 13th in east
LA Galaxy II: 11th in west
Loudoun United: 16th in east
New York Red Bulls 2: 14th in east
Real Monarchs: 14th in west
Sporting Kansas City II: 15th in east
Tacoma Defiance: 12th in west
Sporting Kansas City has done an exceptional job developing talent and moving them into the first team. If the minimum effect of Nagamura is developing MLS talent while the club is finding its feet, that is still a good thing.
Other Options Weren’t Great
The elephant in the room is that it seems like everyone on social media wanted Jaime Lozano. I even did briefly. But the reality is, he’s not a great coach at the larger level. He had a less than 30% win percentage with Querétaro. It’s not as bad as Tab Ramos with the Dynamo, but it’s not great either. If Nagamura’s biggest criticism is his lack of experience, Lozano only has a 3rd place U-23 national team victory at the 2019 Toulon Tournament to go along with an Olympic Bronze medal, and a poor showing at the club level which brings back even more comparisons to Ramos with Houston.
The Bottom Line
We all want the club to succeed – for me, that’s a lot more fun to write about. But we’ve been spoiled by our early success and the change of owners, which we wanted at the time, wasn’t what we thought it would lead to. We have a new group we hope works out or to brutally criticize if they deserve it down the line, but for now they deserve a chance. Whether or not your line of a “chance” is 5 games in, 10 games in, or a full season, that’s up to you. Give them some room to find their footing. Or don’t and let’s keep conversing about the issues because we’re all forever orange.