Houston Dash interim head coach Omar Morales continues transition after club goes in new direction


Omar Morales has lived in a state of transition since he arrived to Houston earlier this year as the first full-time assistant coach in franchise history. From commuting across the state to uprooting his family to work with Houston’s former head coach, Randy Waldrum, Morales is still adjusting to life in the National Women’s Soccer League.

“It’s definitely been a challenge. I’ve known Randy for a long time; I look up to him a lot, respect him. He’s a very, very honest, good person; a great, great soccer brain,” Morales said after his first training session today. “So yeah, I’m adapting as it goes. I think with my experience as a head coach before helps a lot, and at the end of the day - it’s soccer players playing soccer, and that’s the way I approach it. It’s nothing else than that and getting the work done and getting what I want out of the team in the next couple of days to get ready for Washington.”

The interim head coach is now tasked with guiding the team through its own transition as the club enters a new era. Morales was appointed the interim head coach on Monday and less than 24 hours later he was tasked with finding the spark that lifted Houston to an opening day victory over the Chicago Red Stars.

After seven weeks, Chicago is second in the NWSL table, while Houston finds itself riding a four-game losing skid but just six points from a playoff spot. Morales’ first test will take place on Saturday as Houston travels to Washington to seek its first win since April 29, coincidentally on the team’s last trip to the nation’s capital.

“The team has been positive. They came in and worked extremely hard today and we’ve got some stuff that we need to take care of going into this weekend in Washington,” Morales said.  “Yeah, the transition’s been good. Now, it’s only been 24 hours, so we’ll see how this progresses, but I think the team was very good today, worked hard, and it was an intense session.”

For Morales the challenge is not transitioning from one level to another, rather defining how the team will play the sport under his system.  Morales stressed passion and dedication to the team as the key to overcoming the rut; two attributes the interim head coach used to describe himself to local media earlier today.

“I love the game; I will do whatever we need to do to take care of what we need to take care of to be successful and win,” Morales said. “ I’m pretty active and enthusiastic and I like to motivate my players with the way that I help make the team better. I think the big word is passion.”

How Morales will approach the lineup on Saturday is still to be determined, but he asked his players to approach this game much like he is approaching his current role, as the same game they’ve played since they could kick a ball.

“At the end of the day I have to approach it that it’s the game of soccer; it’s the game that I’m passionate about and it’s the game that these players have played forever. The X’s and O’s is all the same, in my opinion, from the college game to the pro game,” Morales said. “Yeah, as pros, it’s a little quicker, but I think just managing players is the hardest part in comparison to the college game. That’s what we need to work on, and that’s what we’ll do moving forward, but the team’s been great with this transition the last 24 hours. But yeah, I’m ready; I’m prepared for the challenge. I’ve never bogged down on any challenge and I’m going to stand up to it and attack it as best as I can.”

As Morales’ approach shifts to Washington, he won’t focus on one or two players as he expects both teams to battle throughout the field, much like the first encounter. 

“I think one big change that I want the team to understand is that we worry more about what we do than what the opposition does,” Morales said. “They have great players, but every team in this league has great players. Other than having more people in the stands because it’s Mallory Pugh, we’re approaching it as we’re playing a very good Washington team, and they have pros and we have pros, and it’s going to be a battle that we expect, and that’s the approach we’re taking.”

Watch Morales make his debut on the Houston sideline at 6 p.m. on Saturday on the Go90 app and NWSLSoccer.com as Houston seeks its second road victory of the season. The Dash return to BBVA Compass Stadium on June 17 as Marta and the Orlando Pride visit Texas for their only trip of the year.