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Houston Dynamo interim coach Davy Arnaud tackles playoff challenge

Although he doesn’t have previous head coaching experience, Arnaud has been an assistant coach with the Dynamo and D.C. United and had an extensive playing career in MLS.

After serving as a Houston Dynamo assistant coach for nearly three years, Davy Arnaud is the interim head coach after the club parted ways with Wilmer Cabrera Tuesday. (Courtesy Houston Dynamo)

HOUSTON, Tx. — Houston Dynamo interim coach Davy Arnaud has a difficult challenge on his hands and plans on making some “changes here and there,” but will not be altering everything with the “ultimate goal” to make the playoffs.

“It might be tough, we are not in the situation where we have a six-week pre-season to completely change everything that we are doing and implement a new style and a system,” Arnaud said at a press conference Wednesday, a day after the club parted ways with head coach Wilmer Cabrera.

Arnaud added his focus is on returning the team to its form from early in the season when the Dynamo were a true playoff contender.

“For me right now, it’s more about maybe refining some things that we do, making some tweaks here and there where we feel like we can get better as opposed to completely changing what we do, because at the end of the day we have a good group of players who had success early in the year and the last months have been a struggle,” he said. “So we are going to try and get back pointed in the right direction and make some small adjustments.”

Although Arnaud has no previous head coaching experience, he holds a USSF ‘A’ coaching license and has been around MLS for years, first as a player and then as an assistant coach. 

The Nederland, Texas native has served as an assistant coach for the Dynamo the last three seasons. Before coming to Houston in 2017, he served as an assistant coach for D.C. United in 2016. Along the way he said he’s learned from several successful MLS coaches, including Bob Gansler and Peter Vermes in Kansas City, Jesse Marsch with Montreal and Ben Olsen at D.C. United.

While he’s hoping to help push the Dynamo above the playoff line in the West — they’re currently six points adrift of seventh-place FC Dallas with nine games to play — the short-term goal is ending a four-match losing streak and getting points against the Colorado Rapids Saturday at home.

“We are a group that is committed to each other, we are a group that believes in each other and we want to put these guys in an environment where they are confident to go out and play to the best of their ability,” Arnaud said. “Because I think we are lacking a little confidence so that’s the first thing we need to instill in the team.”

Also at the press conference Wednesday, Houston general manager Matt  Jordan thanked Cabrera for his time with the Dynamo, but said it was necessary to make the change to “give the team a fresh perspective.”

“I think there’s no doubt we have been in a challenging moment in the last couple months and the last few weeks have been very, very challenging for us,” Jordan said. “We hoped that the team would work its way out of it and really coming off this last road trip, in communications as a club with our ownership group and the board, we felt that it was collectively the correct time to make this decision to give the team a fresh perspective.”

Although Jordan didn’t go into detail about how the coaching change came about, he believes the Dynamo still have an opportunity to make the playoffs. He emphasized its largely the same team that had the best start in club history, going 6-1-1 to begin the 2019 campaign, and they just need to find that elusive win to get back on track.

“The guys up to this point have been putting a lot into it and look, the results have been challenging for us,” Jordan said. “But we believe in this group, we believe in this group of players and in no shape or form do we think that our results in the last couple of months are a reflection of the quality of this group.”

Jordan said Arnaud would get a shot to stay on, but those in charge are going to take their time in choosing the next head coach. 

“Right now, the focus needs to be that we provide our full support to Davy Arnaud,” Jordan said. “Davy is a coach that has the respect of all the players, all the staff as well. He is a very hard-working, committed coach, he has a growth mindset.

“So, I think that is very important, that in the process he will be considered for the full-time position while we continue to conduct an extensive search as well. In saying that, we are not feeling pressured to make any knee-jerk reactions or decisions. We are going to take our time and do our due diligence. We feel we have an infrastructure in place, we feel we have a good staff in place that can lead this group.”

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