Turning around the fortunes of the Houston Dynamo was never going to be an easy task but general manager Pat Onstad is feeling the gravity of the situation now more than ever.
As we near the end of his first season at the club, Onstad has already dispensed with his first head coach as Paulo Nagamura departed the club in midweek.
A promising start under Nagamura soon collapsed and the 39-year-old leaves the Dynamo rock-bottom of the Western Conference and on a run of nine defeats and just two wins from their last 13 matches.
"I don’t regret hiring Paulo, I think he’s a very good coach," Onstad said of Nagamura during a midweek press conference. "If you look at Jesse Marsch and Gregg Berhalter, they struggled in their first year and both of them are fantastic coaches.”
Indeed, rather than laying too much blame on Nagamura, Onstad is shouldering the responsibility himself and will now work to make sure he doesn't end up in the same position any time soon.
“The decision lies with me," he said. "If we’re in the same position next year, it’s a big problem for me and it’s my fault. We want to get ahead of it and find the person to help us continue to grow.”
As mentioned, this was always going to be a difficult job for Onstad. The Dynamo have made the MLS Cup Playoffs just once (2017) in the last eight seasons, finishing eighth or lower in the West on seven occasions during that stretch.
Onstad is doing more than just signing players and hiring head coaches; he's also looking to root out a culture of failure that has settled in across years of underperformance.
“One thing I’ve learned in this seat is the years of being unsuccessful here have been more difficult to overcome than I expected," he admitted.
With Nagamura gone. it's all about the future - the next chapter in trying to get the two-time MLS Cup champions back on track.
Onstad, interim boss Kenny Bundy, the players, and everyone else associated with the Houston Dynamo must now come together across the final games of the season to prove they belong and can help make this club successful again.
“I’m holding my hand up with accountability on this; I’m sure there are things I could have done better," Onstad said. "These five games matter, that includes the players, staff, the executive group, myself – everyone. This isn’t Paulo’s record, this is our club’s record. We have to find a way to make it better.”
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