Owen Coyle

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Familiar names: Monk, Coyle, Di Matteo take over Championship sides

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Three very different journeys have taken former Premier League managers back to English football, as Garry Monk, Roberto Di Matteo, and Owen Coyle are headed to Championship clubs.

After quitting Houston Dynamo last week, Coyle has found a home at Blackburn Rovers. It’s the 49-year-old’s third stop since his firing from Bolton in 2012.

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Di Matteo won a Champions League-FA Cup double for Chelsea before spending time at Schalke. He’ll take the reigns at Aston Villa as owner Tony Xia looks to boost the Midlands club directly back to the Premier League.

A surprise hiring at Swansea City following the firing of Michael Laudrup, Monk had a strong start to his career as a manager before being fired early this year. The 37-year-old Monk is the latest hire at Leeds United, a club that had seen 7 men at the helm since April 2013.

The Championship will be some story to follow next year, with that well-known trio joining Rafa Benitez, Alex Neil, Chris Hughton and Steven Caldwell as second-tier bosses. Promotion is not a certainty for any club.

Cellar dwelling Houston Dynamo, Owen Coyle decide to part ways

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A week ago, Owen Coyle was whispered as possibly leaving the Houston Dynamo to lead Celtic.

With that opening filled by Brendan Rodgers, the Dynamo and Coyle cut ties anyway.

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Coyle struggled to pick up the pieces left behind by Dominic Kinnear in Houston, and the Dynamo are dead last in Major League Soccer after a quarter of the season.

On Wednesday night, the Dynamo announced that Coyle wanted to be closer to his family in England and would be leaving the club immediately.

From HoustonDynamo.com:

“I asked Chris (Canetti) if I could speak with him today and I explained to him the challenge of being away from my family and how we all want the best for Houston Dynamo,” Coyle said. “I want to wish all members of the staff, from owner Gabriel Brener to president Chris Canetti to general manager Matt Jordan, everyone has been such a source of support, along with the players and the technical staff. I’d like to thank the Dynamo supporters, who have been outstanding. We have a brilliant club, and I have no doubt success is just around the corner.”

The Dynamo went 14W-21L-11T during his reign, but have also been severely lacking in talent. The long delay from acquiring Cubo Torres to getting him on the pitch was one of the many things that frustrated progress in Houston.

Coyle is best known for his time with Bolton Wanderers, though that ended early in a Championship season following relegation. Houston is 3W-7L-2T this season, and has Vancouver up next.

Wade Barrett and a pair of Dynamo assistants will lead the club in the interim.

Houston’s Coyle among the latest to be caught off-guard by MLS rigors

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Houston Dynamo coach Owen Coyle is the latest European to find himself shocked by the level of travel in Major League Soccer.

Somehow, folks are still caught off-guard by the sheer size of the United States and Canada, and former Bolton manager Coyle equated the travel in MLS to “playing a European game every second week”.

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It’s mandatory to note that we often read about the Premier League home field advantage associated with the “long” trips from North England to South England.

Yet the six-hour drive from Newcastle to Bournemouth is shorter than all but one of the Dynamo’s MLS commutes — if by land.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“There’s no buses, you’ve got to fly everywhere because of the size of the country and we’re changing time zones all the time, we change altitude. I’ve got to say the first season has been so much of a learning curve, but within that we’ve done very well at different things.”

We saw this a few weeks back with Steven Gerrard, who “was not aware” of the same issues. It’s not that these guys don’t realize how gigantic our country is, or that there will be new experiences, but that it’s going to be so much different.

They are coming from clubs that compete across Europe, and thinking, “How much difference can it be from a midweek trip from Liverpool to Budapest?”

Apparently, the answer is “much”.

Texas derby brings “a bit of extra spice” with both sides now in Western Conference

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FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo now share a conference, and Major League Soccer would surely like to see the rivalry ignite on its way to a new level come Friday’s match down in Houston.

It’s a 3 1/2 hour drive separating the two sides, and just four points between them in the Western Conference standings. FC Dallas is 4-2-2 compared to Houston’s 2-2-4 mark, but don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it throw the record books out when it comes to the first Texas Derby of the year.

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Both teams are coming off draws, and either would relish a rivalry win as a potential jump-off for their summers.

Here’s two folks from the British Isles, Houston’s Giles Barnes and Owen Coyle, talking about Texas, from MLSSoccer.com:

“Playing against Dallas is always a good one; there’s always a bit of extra spice in it, a bit of extra tension, obviously, coming from the same state,” Barnes said. “Even though you’re 200 miles from each other, you still know that when you turn up for that game, it’s a local derby. It’s probably the closest thing you get to a rivalry like Nottingham Forest and Derby County. It’s local pride.”

That spice exists in a number of ways between the cities of Houston and Dallas. It’s a rivalry of proximity and tradition that manifests itself traditionally in all sports, most recently on the soccer field.

“I’m fully aware the rivalries … I feel I know about the rivalry, and with Dallas it’s the same thing,” said head coach Owen Coyle. “We know it’s a tough game. We know we can stand toe-to-toe. Of course it adds a little extra incentive and a little bit of spice to the game.”

Looking for a prediction? Alright, then. First off, I expect goals from both sides, but I think FC Dallas will have the edge until Cubo Torres arrives in Houston. Let’s speak again later this year, but tonight goes 3-2 to the visitors.

Houston Dynamo massive winners in the Erick “Cubo” Torres sweepstakes

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Now that it’s all said and done, you have to admit the pieces really fall into place.

Erick “Cubo” Torres is an explosive young talent, proven in Major League Soccer but lacking a team after Chivas USA disintegrated. The Houston Dynamo are a stable franchise that needed to inject some life into a strike force that leaned a bit too heavily on Will Bruin and Giles Barnes.

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New manager Owen Coyle is promising exciting football in Houston, a city that is 40-plus percent Hispanic. MLS pays $7.5 million for Torres who, after a six-month loan stint to Guadalajara, stays extremely marketable for the league.

No wonder Dynamo president Chris Canetti says signing Torres “checks all the boxes”.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“I’m extremely excited to be joining the Houston Dynamo. It’s one of the premier clubs in MLS and a place where I really wanted to sign,” Torres said in a club statement. “I can’t wait to join my teammates in Houston and continue their success on the field.”

Torres will join the Dynamo after a six-month loan to Chivas Guadalajara that was negotiated as part of the transfer deal. The loan will see Torres spend “up to six months” in Liga MX, according to the team release.

Houston missed the playoffs by 10 points in the Eastern Conference, and certainly needed to make amends for a woeful attack unit that scored the fourth-fewest goals in Major League Soccer.

Consider:

— Torres scored 15 goals in 29 games this season, while Houston forwards Will Bruin (10), Omar Cummings (3) and Mark Sherrod (2) combined for 15 (Barnes had a team-high 11).

— Torres took 95 shots last season, a pace that would’ve put him in a race with Barnes to lead the Dynamo.

— Torres turns 22 on Jan. 19.

Houston could be sneaky good next year, even in a new, tougher West.