Houston Dynamo fire coach Paulo Nagamura with team in last place

One week after he was selected as the MLS coach of the week, Paulo Nagamura was fired Monday as head coach of the Houston Dynamo FC.

Houston is 8-16-5 in MLS play this season and sits in last place in the Western Conference. The campaign is its first under Nagamura, a 39-year-old Brazilian who spent 11 years as an MLS player and four years as head coach of Sporting KC II.

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Dynamo 2 head coach Kenny Bundy was appointed as interim head coach. While goalkeeper coach Zack Thornton will remain on staff, two other assistants -- Chris Martinez and Jimmy Nielsen -- also "departed," the club announced.

"Ultimately, it was my decision to hire him, it was my decision to let him go," Houston general manager Pat Onstad told ESPN on Tuesday. "So the accountability starts with me.

"Clearly, it didn't work out; certainly not from a lack of effort on his behalf. I think he certainly put everything into it with him and his group. They're good people. They had the locker room. I don't think they necessarily lost the locker room. But we still felt with our group, we should be farther up the standings. And I think for us, the bigger one was, we didn't feel that there was any momentum moving forward, just to try to prepare us going into next year."

Bundy, 41, has been with the organization since 2016 in various coaching capacities.

Nagamura's Dynamo endured a six-game winless streak (0-5-1) that dropped them to the bottom of the Western Conference before they rallied last week to knock off conference-leading LAFC, 2-1.

Sunday, the Dynamo led the Seattle Sounders 1-0 before giving up two second-half goals in a 2-1 defeat. They were outshot 20-4. It was the ninth 2-1 defeat for Houston this season.

"Do I think it's a top four roster? No. But I don't I think that's what he was being judged on," Onstad added of the decision to part ways with Nagamura.

"He's not being judged on you have to make the playoffs. Yes, we stated we wanted to make the playoffs and, he wanted to make the playoffs we all wanted to make the playoffs. But they didn't make the playoffs. But we are moving forward."

After a 6-16-12 season in 2021, Houston parted ways with head coach Tab Ramos two days after his second season ended. The Dynamo have made the MLS playoffs just once since 2014.

Houston becomes the fifth MLS team to change coaches this season, following D.C. United, San Jose Earthquakes, Charlotte FC, and NYCFC (when Ronny Deila left for Belgian club Standard Liege).

In seeking a new head coach, Onstad said that specific knowledge of MLS would be a key consideration for any candidate.

"In a perfect world, we'd love to have somebody that comes in, who has MLS experience, understands a league, and has a history of being successful in the league," he said.

"[The manager also] has a belief in how they want to play, and you go from there, but those guys are difficult to come by. So are we open to talking to coaches from outside League? Absolutely. But I think the biggest one for us, a big piece is going to be a knowledge of MLS, and it doesn't necessarily have to be coaching, but a knowledge of it is certainly important. And I think for us, believing in the same kind of ideology that we believe in, what we want to represent us."