The Houston Dash have appointed James Clarkson as the third head coach in franchise history, the club announced today.
Clarkson, 46, joins the Dash after more than a decade with the Houston Dynamo Academy, most recently he served as the director of youth development. Clarkson oversaw the creation of the Dynamo Academy program in 2007; and since its inception, 10 players have signed professionally with the First Team, including current First Team players Tyler Deric, Erik McCue and Memo Rodriguez.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity and to start working with this team in March. I think we have a fantastic core of players and we really have a strong squad,” Clarkson said. “We will look to add to the current squad in order to really give us a chance to build on the foundation from last season and push forward in 2019.”
In addition to his role with the Dynamo Academy, Clarkson helped launch Brazos Valley Cavalry FC, Houston’s Premier Development League (PDL) affiliate, serving as the head coach of from 2017-2018. Under Clarkson’s leadership, the Cavalry won the PDL Mid-South Division Championship this summer and reached the PDL Southern Conference semifinals in just their second year of existence.
Clarkson and Dash Managing Director Brian Ching have already begun the process of filling out his technical staff, which will include an increased number of full-time assistants and a full-time goalkeeping coach. The full Dash technical staff is expected to be announced in the coming days.
“The club is very excited to welcome James as we look to build on everything we accomplished last season,” Ching said. “James has been involved with the club in different ways over the years and he was one of our top candidates when this process began in September. We look forward to a fantastic season with him and his entire technical staff.”
The Wisbech, England native has worked closely with the Dash since the team’s inception in 2014 through his prior role with the Dynamo Academy. Several Dynamo Academy coaches helped train the team in previous seasons; and Clarkson extended his international connections to the Dash earlier this year to secure the first NWSL-Liga MX Femenil scrimmage between the Dash and Rayadas de Monterrey on July 3.
Clarkson has also coordinated scrimmages between Dynamo Academy teams and the Dash over the years in order to assist the team maintain its fitness during international breaks.
Prior to joining the Dynamo, Clarkson was the director of coaching for the South Texas Youth Soccer Association for five years. Clarkson holds the UEFA A License, USC Advanced National Diploma, USSF 'A' and National Youth and Academy Director License. He has also served as a national instructor for US Soccer and US Youth Soccer.
In 1997, Clarkson joined the Eclipse Soccer Club in Houston where he served as the Boys Director of Training. Clarkson played professionally with Manawatu AFC in New Zealand during the 1995 season before returning to Wisbech in 1996 to begin his coaching career with Wisbech Town Football Club.
Clarkson has lived in Houston for more than 20 years with his wife, Lizz, and obtained his U.S. citizenship on May 5, 2013. He and his wife have two sons, Jack and William.