Dynamo's Coyle is up to new challenge in MLS

Owen Coyle will be the only head coach in MLS next season without any previous experience as a player or coach in the league, but that doesn't mean he is coming in blindly.

As manager at Burnley, Bolton Wanderers and then Wigan Athletic, he brought his teams to the United States each summer for six years, so he knows the landscape. They weren't Real Madrid or Chelsea he was managing so the games he was able to schedules weren't always big clubs. Many of them were NASL or USL clubs. At the end of his second tour with Bolton, it played its first big match in the United States: the Dynamo Charities Cup against the Houston Dynamo, the former club of Bolton's Stuart Holden, and Coyle said Bolton coaches and his players were struck by the reception they received at an open practice session.

"I was taken aback by the warmth of the fans," he said.

Three and a half years after that match at Robinson Stadium, Coyle is back as coach of the Dynamo, replacing Dominic Kinnear.

"He has tremendous respect for the game in this country, for MLS," said Dynamo president Chris Canetti in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday afternoon. "They were extremely important factors for us a club going forward and for what the club stands for."

Few head coaches have come into the league without previous playing or coaching experience in North America and succeeded. Even Englishman Gary Smith, who led the Colorado Rapids to the MLS Cup title in 2010, had been working in the Rapids' organization for half a year when he was hired, first as interim coach in 2008. Such well-known names as Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira, Portuguese Carlos Queiroz and Dutchman Ruud Gullit came here and had no impact in MLS.

MLS Coaching Imports:
COACH (COUNTRY), TEAM (YEARS)
Bobby Houghton (England), Colorado (1996)
Frank Stapleton (Ireland), New England (1996)
Carlos Queiroz (Portugal), New York (1996)
Carlos Alberto Parreira
(Brazil), New York (1997)
Ivo Wortman
(Brazil), Miami (1998-2000)
Ruud Gullit (Netherlands), LA Galaxy (2007)
John Carver (England), Toronto FC (2008-09)
Carlos de los Cobos (Mexico), Chicago (2010-11)
Hans Backe (Sweden), New York (2010-12)
Aron Winter (Netherlands), Toronto FC (2011-12)
Jose Luis Sanchez Sola (Mexico), Chivas USA (2013)
Marco Schaellibaum (Switzerland), Montreal (2013)
Owen Coyle (Scotland), Houston (2015)

How will Coyle be different? Canetti says it wasn't about simply hiring a new coach.

"We wanted to find the best coach for the team regardless of where he was from, " he said, "and we've got a tremendous and dynamic team we are building here on the technical side with [general manager] Matt Jordan and guys like [director of soccer operations] Nick Kobwa, [assistant coaches] Steve Ralston, Wade Barrett and Tim Hanley. Owen comes in very humble and with an appreciation and understanding of the league rules, not trying to work against them or use them as an excuse if success cannot be met. One difference now than from the past is we are not asking Owen to know the insides and outs of MLS. That is what the team around him can fill him in on, especially with [GM] Matt Jordan and the expertise he brings to the team. It wasn't about one person."

Coyle is happy to take up the challenge of showing what he can do.

“Regardless of what league or competition you’re in, if you can coach, you can coach,” he told reporters earlier in the day at an introductory press conference. “It’s a huge challenge. In many ways, I’m delighted people keep mentioning that. I’m here and if it’s to prove a point then it’s to prove a point.”

Just because of his background in England, he says he shouldn't be viewed as taking an English approach to the game.

“My teams aren’t direct,” Coyle said. “You only have to look back to my Burnley team. My Burnley team passed and moved the ball, and that’s the way I’ve played. My teams have always had that level of excitement. I went into Bolton Wanderers, who had played a direct style, and I changed that. Stuart Holden, Jack Wilshere and Daniel Sturridge, those boys didn’t play a direct style."

Asked whether the success of  MLS MVP Robbie Keane, an Irish international like him, meant he wanted to bring in British-based players, Coyle said he would first defer to Jordan on what was available in MLS.

"We will look to bring in the best players possible," he said, "given our structure and no matter where they are from worldwide."

Coyle's challenge is made even greater because the Dynamo, which did not make the playoffs in 2014, is moving to the Western Conference, where sixth-place Portland has quickly upgraded its team, and Sporting Kansas City, the 2013 MLS champion, also moves.

"We know how tough this conference is with the quality," he said. "Every club will be looking to add to their roster. That's the challenge we face, but we're excited by it. All we can affect is what we do."
4 comments about "Dynamo's Coyle is up to new challenge in MLS".
  1. Roger Faulkner, December 10, 2014 at 9:43 a.m.

    Somebody failed to tell Owen about Paul Gardner. Paul is a friend but his attitude to anything British or English is borderline psychotic.

  2. Albert Harris, December 10, 2014 at 9:48 a.m.

    Wish Coyle the best but have to agree with Ric. I think Ralston or Barrett would have been better choices. As the record above shows, imports without any MLS experience seem to have a pretty rotten record. Hope Cametti knows what he's doing. At least Coyle is saying the right things about his philosophy not just being "lumping it to the big man in the box". One can only hope.

  3. James Froehlich, December 10, 2014 at 11:38 a.m.

    I have no issue with the foreign origin of Mr. Coyle. My only concern with new coaches is whether they will bring a more attractive, attacking, possession-oriented style to MLS. Regarding that, he is certainly saying the right things. I only hope he is able to fill out his team with players able to execute his ideas. Unfortunately, they are few and far-between in the current MLS rosters. Good luck!

  4. Andrzej Kowalski, December 13, 2014 at 4:53 p.m.

    Owen Coyle will fail because he does not know players pool available in MLS. Iven if they would bring Morinio to MLS he would fail for the same reason. Not to mention the fact that only a few top EPL clubs coaches coach any offensive play making.The rest are coaching traditional British kick and run fast game. Steve Ralston former NE revolution offensive play maker who three consecutive times in years 2005,6,7 played in MLS cup under Poul Mariner,that team showed that thy know well how to do offensive play making or Poul Mariner Ralston coach would be even a better choice.It has to be some body who knows a lot about offensive playmaking and who knows well MLS.And what about former offensive play makers who played in MLS Argentinians Schaloto or Christian Gomez,I would also consider Peter Nowak.Rechie Williams has shown also a lot of coaching tallent.

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