Entering their first full season together as a coaching staff, Wade Barrett and Steve Ralston are looking to provide the Houston Dynamo with a fresh perspective. The two former players also hope to gain valuable experience on the bench, and the return of the Reserve League is a welcomed opportunity. It’s an avenue for young coaches to make decisions in a match-day environment while honing their craft.
“The Reserve League is not just for the players. It’s good for the coaches too,” Barrett said. “It’s a way for the assistants to get more time coaching a game that matters.”
Both players have had enormous success on the field. They played in a combined seven MLS Cup finals – including twice against each other in 2006 and '07 – and were considered team leaders throughout their careers. With such experience, it was an easy decision for Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear to bring the former players onto his staff.
“I’ve known both Steve and Wade for a long time and have nothing but respect for them,” Kinnear said. “They know the game, they’re very selfless, and they always have the best interests of the team in mind, which is very important.”
Ralston was an MLS original and remains the league's all-time career leader in assists (135). He joined the Dynamo coaching staff last July. Barrett was a Dynamo original, moving with the team from San Jose in 2006 and captaining the team to two championships. He retired prior to the 2010 season and immediately transitioned into a coaching role.
The pair is now working together with a mix of veterans and young players that includes former teammates, respected former foes and personal friends. [inline_node:331660]Working in a position of authority can be a challenge, but the level of professionalism with which the pair works — and the respect the players have for both coaches — has made the transition painless.
Though serving as a coach to friends and former teammates provides a unique challenge, Barrett and Ralston understand what the players are going through and can provide instruction from a familiar perspective.
“I’m fresh out of the game, so I can relate to what these guys are going through," Ralston said. "I think that helps when we’re working together.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. You can follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.