Houston Dash hires James Clarkson as their new head coach
The Houston Dash will have a new coach when they convene training camp on March 4th. | Earchphoto

Houston Dash hires James Clarkson as their new head coach

The Houston Dash will have a new head coach for the second consecutive season as they try to make the playoffs for the first time.

aaron_bellamy
Aaron Bellamy

James Clarkson will take over as head coach for the Houston Dash for the 2019 season. He is being elevated from his role as director of youth development with the Houston Dynamo Academy.

The Dash are going into the 2019 season with their third coach in three years. Randy Waldrum acted as the head coach from Houston's inaugural 2014 season through week 7 of the 2017 season when he stepped down. Vera Pauw, former head coach of the South African women's national team, was hired ahead of the 2018 season. The Dash finished with their best record in team history under Pauw, but her conflicts with members of the team led to her firing after the season had concluded. Clarkson will have a tough job with the 2019 Women's World Cup set to complicate the roster.

Clarkson has been a member of the Houston Dynamo organization for over a decade. He helped launch the Dynamo Academy in 2007, and he also worked with Houston's Professional Development League affiliate team. Clarkson has been working in the Houston area with various coaching and youth development organizations, but he doesn't have any direct experience coaching women's teams. It is an interesting change in course after Pauw's hiring last year. 

Australian forward Kyah Simon is one of the many Dash players that were brought in by Pauw. Simon will miss most of the 2019 season due to the World Cup. | Earchphoto
Australian forward Kyah Simon is one of the many Dash players that were brought in by Pauw. Simon will miss most of the 2019 season due to the World Cup. | Earchphoto

Clarkson is inheriting a team in transition. Through a series of trades, signings, and positional changes, Pauw remade the team in her vision. During the 2018 NWSL College Draft, Pauw traded Carli Lloyd to Sky Blue FC and received Christen Press from the Chicago Red Stars in return. Unfortunately, Press refused to play for Houston and went to Sweden instead. Pauw took this setback in stride, and eventually got Sofia Huerta and Taylor Comeau from Chicago in a three-team trade that sent Press to Utah Royals FC. Pauw was also able to secure Kyah Simon and Clare Polkinghorne who play for Australia women's national team, and South African nationals Linda Motlhalo and Thembi Kgatlana. Clarkson will have a little under a month before the 2019 NWSL College Draft on January 10th to decide what direction he wants to take the team. 

The National Women's Soccer League preseason will start in March, and the first round of regular season games will take place on the weekend of April 13-14. The Dash are the longest-running NWSL team that has not yet made the postseason, and Clarkson will have an uphill battle in 2019 as he faces a season full of difficult roster decisions thanks to the World Cup. 

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