Former Canadian goalkeeper Pat Onstad returns to Houston Dynamo as general manager

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Canadian Pat Onstad, who helped Houston win two MLS championships as a player, has returned to the Dynamo as general manager.

The 53-year-old from Vancouver comes from Columbus Crew, where he spent the last eight years — most recently as technical director and vice-president of soccer operations.

Onstad previously served as chief scout and manager of football partnerships for Toronto FC. He was also an assistant coach with both Columbus and D.C. United.

“As we went through the search process, Pat clearly showed himself to be the best person for the job based on his experience in a number of leadership roles, his track record of success at every stop and his understanding of our league, our club and our community,” Houston majority owner Ted Segal said in a statement Monday.

“His preparation and attention to detail during the interview process illustrated the qualities that I believe will make him successful as our general manager. I look forward to working with him to build the Dynamo into championship contenders once again.”

The franchise has been looking for a GM since Matt Jordan, GM and senior vice-president, left in late August with the club mired in a 15-game winless streak. Houston, which has been eliminated from playoff contention, currently stands 12th in the 13-team Western Conference with a 6-15-12 record.

Onstad retired in 2010 after a 25-year playing career as an elite goalkeeper, joining D.C. United's coaching staff the next year when he made a brief comeback as a player before returning to the sideline

He claimed three MLS Cup titles as a player, also winning the championship with the San Jose Earthquakes in 2003, and was named MLS goalkeeper of the year in 2003 and 2005. He also captured the 1999 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with the Rochester Rhinos.

On the international scene, he won 60 caps for Canada, posting 24 shutouts.

“I am honoured and humbled to have the opportunity to lead the Dynamo as general manager,” Onstad said. “My family and I loved our time in Houston when I played for the club, and it has been a goal of mine since I retired to return one day and help this club compete for championships again. I’m looking forward to the challenge and I can’t wait to get to work.”

Onstad left D.C. United to join TFC in January 2013 as chief scout and manager of football partnerships. He departed Toronto a year later when Tim Leiweke, then president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, cleaned out the front office.

Onstad joined the Crew in 2014 as an assistant coach on Gregg Berhalter’s staff and was promoted to technical director and vice president of soccer operations prior to the 2019 season after serving as interim GM after Berhalter left to coach the U.S. team.

“I am immensely proud of Pat as he has earned this opportunity and elevated role within MLS,” Columbus president and GM Tim Bezbatchenko, a former top Toronto FC executive, said in a statement. “Having had the pleasure of working with Pat over the past three seasons, I know that his knowledge of the league and dedication to the role will help him to excel as a general manager."

Onstad was named Canadian player of the year in 2003 and was twice named to the MLS Best XI (2003, 2005).

He played for teams in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton before finding a home with Rochester where he played from 1998 to 2002, with a brief stint with Scotland's Dundee United in the middle.

He came to MLS in 2003 and went on to play 282 regular-season and playoff games with San Jose, Houston and D.C. United.

Onstad is a member of the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame, Soccer Hall of Fame of British Columbia, United Soccer Leagues Hall of Fame and UBC Sports Hall of Fame.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 1, 2021.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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