Houston Dynamo won’t keep interim coach Wade Barrett, and it’s likely the right call

Erich Schlegel/Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Dynamo are looking for a new coach. The Dynamo have told interim coach Wade Barrett he will not be offered the full-time position, according to the Houston Chronicle.

For a Dynamo organization that has seemed to make at least a few wrong calls recently, this looks like it might be the right one to steer the club back on track. Bringing in Owen Coyle never made much sense and didn’t work out, and although Barrett stepped in with an interim role and did what he could, a fresh start could do the organization some good.

It’s not an easy decision for the Dynamo to make as there are reasons that Barrett looked to be building a case to stick around. He switched the Dynamo from Coyle’s 4-2-3-1 to a 4-1-4-1 mostly that allowed the Dynamo to better use its depth at the midfield and defend more stoutly. They started conceding fewer goals and the defense looked more organized. On top of it, Barrett did it with fewer resources — after Coyle’s exit in May, Barrett took over with less staff in place because Coyle’s assistant, Sandy Stewart, also left and the Dynamo never replaced him.

But for all the things Barrett managed to do right, the Dynamo still don’t have definitive proof that Barrett can put together an attacking team that consistently scores goals. It’s not all his fault — the roster he inherited was a messy one — but that doesn’t make keeping him around any less risky. Even as the team’s defense improved, the attack continued to feel stuck and lacked identity. Forwards struggled to score goals and Barrett never found a tactical way to address the attack’s shortcomings.

Then again, Barrett has been with the Dynamo for seven years and they may have simply decided they do know what he brings to the table and they just don’t want it. As teams like New York City FC have found success with a big name like former Arsenal player Patrick Vieira and Atlanta United upped the ante by hiring former Argentina coach Tata Martino, the Dynamo may look for a coach more in that vein to keep up. The Dynamo finished the regular season with average attendance down 8 percent from last year, and it would make sense if the Dynamo organization wants to do something splashier to win back fans.

But there is also the matter of rebuilding their roster. Without the name cachet or the budget of some of the league’s top teams, the Dynamo would probably be best looking for a head coach who has the experience, contacts and credibility to help discover and persuade top talent to come to Houston. Barrett, who has been an assistant coach for the Dynamo since retiring as a player in 2009, just doesn’t have that. But there’s no doubt that 2017 will have to be a rebuilding year and the Dynamo will look at some serious roster turnover. If Barrett were in charge of spearheading that, there would be some legitimate questions about how he’d manage.

The Dynamo went 4-7-11 under Barrett, who eked out just one more win that Coyle, who went 3-7-2 this season, despite coaching 10 more games than Coyle had. Draws became something of the norm under the Dynamo, and the club announcing their intention to go in another direction suggests ambitions for a better brand of soccer. It’s hard to blame the club for feeling that way after finishing in last place, and unfortunately for Barrett it means his stint as a head coach was only a temporary one.

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