Houston Dynamo FC has named Paulo Nagamura as the fifth head coach in Dynamo history, the Club announced today. He will be formally introduced to the Houston-area media at a press conference on January 4 at PNC Stadium.
“This is a magnificent opportunity. Ownership and club leadership are committed to building a team that will truly make our fans proud. I am thankful that Ted Segal, Lyle Ayes, John Walker and Pat Onstad entrusted me with this role at a turning point for the Club,” Nagamura said. “As a player, I watched Pat and previous Dynamo teams lift MLS Cups, win conference championships and I understand the responsibility that comes with this role. That is the bar, and I will work tirelessly to help the Dynamo return to the top tier of MLS.”
The 38-year-old is the youngest head coach in Club history and joins the Dynamo after five years as a coach with the Sporting Kansas City organization. Upon retiring from professional soccer in 2017, Nagamura joined the Sporting Kansas City II staff as an assistant coach for the USL Championship side and helped the team win its second consecutive Western Conference title. He took the helm as head coach in 2018 and led Sporting KC II to the conference semifinals.
“I am proud to welcome Paulo Nagamura to the Houston Dynamo Football Club,” said the Club’s majority owner Ted Segal. “Paulo was known as a fierce competitor during his playing days and that competitiveness has carried over into his coaching career. He is a talented, high-potential coach who we believe will relate well to our players and help instill the type of culture we are working to create.”
Sporting transitioned its USL Championship affiliate to a youth development model in 2019 and Nagamura would go on to coach 15 Sporting Kansas City Homegrown Players and field an additional 23 Sporting KC Academy products in the USL Championship.
Several key players for Sporting Kansas City began their professional journey under Nagamura, including 2021 MLS MVP finalist Dániel Sallói, U.S. youth international Jaylin Lindsey and current U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Gianluca Busio, who made his professional debut as a 15-year-old for the USL Championship side in 2018.
"Paulo is a coach with a lot of potential who embodies the qualities that we were looking for in a new head coach for our club,” Dynamo general manager Pat Onstad said. “Paulo's emphasis on playing proactive soccer combined with his history of winning in MLS and his experience developing young players set him apart during our global search of up-and-coming coaches. These qualities combined with his willingness to learn, his collaborative nature and his intense competitiveness make him a great fit for our club. We are excited to welcome Paulo and his family to Houston."
As a player, Nagamura retired in 2016 after a 12-year MLS career where he finished with 252 regular season appearances, three Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles and two MLS Cups. He is a product of the São Paulo FC academy in his native Brazil and finished his youth career in England with Arsenal Football Club.
The former midfielder began his professional career in 2005 with the LA Galaxy where he won the U.S. Open Cup and MLS Cup in his rookie season. Nagamura began the 2007 season with Toronto FC and joined Chivas USA in the spring to lead the team to the best record in the Western Conference. He would remain in Los Angeles through 2009 before spending the 2010 Clausura season in Mexico with Tigres UANL.
Nagamura’s second stint in MLS began with Chivas USA in 2010 and he went on to spend his final five seasons with Sporting Kansas City from 2012-2016 prior to retiring. Nagamura’s tenure with Sporting coincided with the club’s emergence as a consistent contender in Major League Soccer. The club won the U.S. Open Cup in 2012 and captured the MLS Cup in 2013 before winning the Open Cup again in 2015.
Nagamura becomes the fifth full-time head coach in club history, following Dominic Kinnear (2006-14), Owen Coyle (2015-16), Wilmer Cabrera (2017-19) and Tab Ramos (2020-2021). He becomes the third Brazilian-born coach in Major League Soccer history and will be the second-youngest among active MLS head coaches.
Nagamura and the Dynamo will open preseason training for the 2022 MLS campaign on Tuesday, January 18. The regular season begins on Sunday, February 27 when Houston hosts Real Salt Lake at PNC Stadium at 6 p.m. CST.