As previously reported by VAVEL USA yesterday, the Houston Dash have named a new head coach in Vera Pauw. The Dash have been without a head coach since May when they parted ways with Randy Waldrum, who head coach for the club since its beginning in 2014. Omar Morales stepped in as interim coach for the remainder of the 2017 season.
With the hiring of Pauw, she becomes the third female head coach in the National Women's Soccer League. She joins the ranks of Laura Harvey, who after coaching the Seattle Reign for five seasons is now with the new club Real Salt Lake (named to be determined this week) and Denise Reddy, who has recently been hired as head coach for Sky Blue FC.
Pauw's most recent experience comes from being head coach of the South Africa National Team, where Dash defender Janine Van Wyk was first coached by Vera Pauw. After the 2016 Rio Olympics she resigned, but her coachign efforts were noticed and she was shortlisted for the FIFA Best Coach of the Year award in 2016.
Vera Pauw on all things Houston Dash
“I’m very excited because first of all this club is connected to Major League Soccer, to the (Houston) Dynamo, and this stadium is something, it’s just a dream come true isn’t it? To be able to be coach and play in facilities like these..." Pauw said about BBVA Compass Stadium, home of the Dash and Dynamo.
On the NWSL itself: "...the league is so competitive and I am so excited to have a team to always be at their best to get results, and there’s no other team in the league that can put less effort in to be able to win. So, it is a special league, it is organized by the association and I know there are also downsides to that, but especially the biggest advantage is that the teams are competitive. The association takes care of more or less the best level with the best players we can get and the opportunity to build on the quality and bring in the players that you miss. It is exciting, it is the league with the best players in the world divided over teams is something else than in Europe where few teams have all of the players and they play in leagues where they win 10-0 or 12-0 on a weekly basis. So those clubs are less attractive to me than the place of the future. U.S. and soccer, that goes together with a bright future and a background of not being the first sport but building on to it..."
Vera Pauw is very aware of the Houston Dash's history, and how they have not reached the postseason in their four years of existence. "Of course we need to go for the playoffs, after you get to the playoffs anything can happen," she explained. "The thing is you need to take it game by game and every game you have to go in to win. You have to set the strategy to win..."
On her coaching philosophy: "...one thing I would like to discuss is if you really take yourself seriously as a league you should allow the teams to have a long preparation because playing at the top level is about creating teamwork and creating teamwork takes time, so that will be something that I would like to add – the knowledge of building from where you are already, because you have the best players, you have the best opportunities, you have the best league and all of those little things I might be able to add."
The Houston Dash enter the 2018 NWSL College Draft with six picks. They will look to make a postseason run in 2018.
Quotes courtesy of the Houston Dash's press release of Vera Pauw's presser