How can Texas become MLS’ model state? Tab Ramos joined executives from fellow MLS clubs across the Lone Star State to tackle the question and reflect on the current state of the sport in Texas.
Ramos enters his second season with the Dynamo, but he is no stranger to the Lone Star State. Ramos visited North Texas as a youth player to compete in the Dallas Cup and often scouted players from the state to represent the country internationally at the youth level for nearly a decade.
"I feel that Texas has been on the U.S. (Soccer) map for a long, long time. I feel like we keep making it stronger and stronger,” Ramos said. “The rest of the country has seen Texas be a big player in soccer for many decades.”
The professional game has also grown rapidly as MLS celebrates its 26th season in 2021 and the Lone Star State welcomes its third professional team. Austin FC will debut later this year and offer a new wrinkle to the Texas Derby.
For Ramos, the growth of the sport and the relevance of the three MLS clubs will depend on the success each team achieves on the field. For Houston, that means finding the formula that took the club to back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007.
“We can help Texas by being the best Houston we can be. Always being amicable to the other cities, I think Austin is going to be awesome, really looking forward to that. I think Dallas is already awesome, I think they are doing a great job and I think Houston can also do that,” the Dynamo head coach said. “By the way, we are a champion club. We've won the league twice already, so, there's that tradition there that we have to bring back.”
Houston will look to return to the postseason for a shot at its first trophy since the Dynamo claimed the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. That journey begins on March 8 when the team returns to Houston Sports Park for the first time since early November. Houston kept busy during the unusually-long offseason by recruiting and signing players across each line to add depth.
Those signings include veteran defender Tim Parker and midfielder Joe Corona who have competed for titles across North America. The Dynamo also added younger pieces like Tyler Pasher and Ethan Bartlow who provide speed and depth at both ends of the field.
Ramos aims to help the Dynamo build on its foundation and open new doors for the club. Ramos expects the recent additions and the veterans to continue to sell the game and grow the sport not only in Houston, but across the Lone Star State.
“For us, maybe we do it a little bit different, but at the end of the day we also have to win championships. That's what keeps fans coming along. I think that for me, from a coaching standpoint, otherwise I talk about things that don't fall under what I do, I think we just have to win games.” Ramos said. “There is more obligation to that. Fortunately for me, I have grown up in this country and I have always had the obligation to sell the game. I want the players to also feel that responsibility, because we are not there yet.”
The Striker Texas hosted the panel as part of their Texas Soccer Summit and the full panel is available here.