Owen Coyle Out: Houston We Have A Problem

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The Houston Dynamo announced today that manager Owen Coyle is leaving the team with immediate effect. The Scottish manager only completed one full season and leaves the team currently at the bottom of the Western Conference. Despite a strong start in the first few games of the 2016 campaign, including an emphatic 5-0 win over rival FC Dallas in March, the Dynamo have struggled to consistently score goals and establish any defensive structure.

The squad’s issues were especially highlighted this past weekend by losing 1-0 to the lowly Chicago Fire. The mutual end to Coyle’s contract will now leave assistant coaches Paul Caffrey, Wade Barrett and Paul Rogers in charge as the Dynamo prepare for the Vancouver Whitecaps this weekend.

In a statement to the club, Coyle highlights the challenge of being away from his family as the main reason for his departure. While that certainly can be a difficult situation, the problems in Houston were not helping matters. Coyle seemed to have difficulty finding the best starting XI with the players he had available, often tinkering with the lineup and formation.

He also seemed lost with finding the right role for Mexican forward Erick “Cubo” Torres, who has been unable to find the goal scoring touch that he had for Chivas USA two seasons ago. The end of Owen Coyle’s time comes as a disappointment, as his hiring looked to be a great bit of business on both sides.

A manager bringing Premier League experience to a former MLS Cup champion with whom he has a friendly relationship established, thanks to the Stuart Holden/Bolton transfer in 2010. However, Coyle never seemed to be fully comfortable in his role and was unable to make the playoffs in his first season. Coupled with a terrible start to the current campaign and Houston is on the coaching search again.

Coyle’s departure highlights the difficulties that many foreign managers have had in the league.

Not since Englishman Gary Smith leading the Colorado Rapids to their only MLS Cup in 2010 has a foreign manager found great success, and that championship came from a squad that was not expected to make it out of the first round of the playoffs. The unique structure of MLS in the world game can make the adjustment for first year coaches an uneasy transition.

Allocation money, salary cap, the college draft, international slots, discovery rights, targeted allocation money, designated players and the summer schedule can all make the learning curve extremely steep. French legend Patrick Veira is finding the transition difficult himself in his first year at the helm of NYCFC.

Experience in the league as a player or assistant, such as Carl Robinson (Wales) of Vancouver for example, can help in grasping the unique concepts of roster building and tactics, allowing a manager a much greater chance of finding success early in their tenure. With only a little over a year under his belt and his team unable to find consistency, Owen Coyle felt it was time to move on.

He may soon take a job in the UK or he may spend some time away from the game also. He is a good manager who is capable of building a successful squad, but MLS can be a completely different battleground for that type of success.


By Roy Emanuel, TFN MLS Correspondent on 26/05/2016 at 22:38

Follow Roy on Twitter @roy13a

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