Thomas Rongen (born 31 October 1956) is a Dutch-American football coach who has spent the majority of his playing and coaching career in the United States. In December 2016, he was named Chief Scout of the United States Men's National Team. Rongen won the MLS Coach of the Year award in MLS's inaugural season in 1996, leading the Tampa Bay Mutiny to the best regular-season record.
Rongen in 2012
|Full name||Thomas Rongen|
|Date of birth||31 October 1956|
|Place of birth||Amsterdam, Netherlands|
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Playing position||Midfielder, Forward|
|1979–1980||Los Angeles Aztecs||40||(6)|
|1979–1980||Los Angeles Aztecs (indoor)||12||(3)|
|1981–1983||Fort Lauderdale Strikers||83||(4)|
|1984–1985||Minnesota Strikers (indoor)||18||(0)|
|1985||South Florida Sun|
|1985–1986||Chicago Sting (indoor)||14||(1)|
|1988–1993||Fort Lauderdale Strikers|
|1984–1988||Pope John Paul II High School|
|1987–1990||Nova Southeastern University (assistant)|
|1988||Fort Lauderdale Strikers (assistant)|
|1988||South Plantation High School|
|1989–1994||Fort Lauderdale Strikers|
|1991–1995||Nova Southeastern University|
|1996||Tampa Bay Mutiny|
|1997–1998||New England Revolution|
|2001–2005||United States U20|
|2006–2011||United States U20|
|2012–2014||Toronto FC (academy director)|
|2014–2015||Tampa Bay Rowdies|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
In 1979, Rongen moved to the United States, joining the Los Angeles Aztecs of the North American Soccer League. Rongen spent the entire 1979 season with the Aztecs. He then began the 1980 season in Los Angeles. On 12 July 1980, the Aztecs sold his contract to the Washington Diplomats. The team folded at the end of the season and Rongen moved to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers where he would remain for the next three seasons. In 1984, Joe Robbie, owner of the Strikers, moved the team to Minneapolis, Minnesota where it was renamed the Minnesota Strikers. Rongen moved with the team and spent the 1984 outdoor season there. The league collapsed at the end of the season.
The Strikers moved to the Major Indoor Soccer League for the 1984–1985 season. On 22 May 1985, Rongen joined the South Florida Sun of the United Soccer League. The league lasted six games, then collapsed. In October 1985, Rongen signed as a free agent with the Chicago Sting of MISL. At the end of the season, he moved to Florida to coach youth and high school soccer. In 1987, he played for the Houston Dynamos of the Lone Star Soccer Alliance. On 8 January 1988, he became the first player to sign with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the newly established American Soccer League. He continued to play for the Strikers until 1993.
Rongen began his coaching career as an assistant with the Pope John Paul II High School boys' team in 1984. On 27 June 1986, he was named as head coach. During his tenure coaching PJPII, he took the team to a 32–6–5 record and he was a two time Sun-Sentinel Coach of the Year. He resigned from his position on 16 May 1988. He also coached with the Plantation Eagles Soccer Club. This led to his selection as coach of the Florida U-23 soccer team which defeated the United States men's national soccer team with goals from Zen Luzniak and Henry Gutierrez in a 8 March 1987 scrimmage. Rongen also served as an assistant with the Nova Southeastern University men's soccer team. In August 1988, he was hired to coach the South Plantation High School boys' team.
On 8 February 2004 he replaced Wim Suurbier as head coach of the Strikers. He took the Strikers to the 1989 ASL title and then skippered the team to a victory over the San Diego Nomads in the national championship game. He was the 1990 APSL Coach of the Year. In August 1994, he resigned as head coach. In November 1990, he replaced Hal Henderson as head coach of Nova Southeastern University. He coached the team for five seasons, compiling a 50–35–8 record.
Major League Soccer
Rongen was one of the inaugural coaches in MLS, coaching the Tampa Bay Mutiny in their first season in 1996, with whom he won the MLS regular season, and also won MLS Coach of the Year Award. After a year with the Mutiny, Rongen moved to the New England Revolution, which he would coach in 1997 and 1998. After the Revolution, Rongen succeeded Bruce Arena as the head coach of D.C. United, which he would lead to an MLS Cup in 1999. However, Rongen lost his job with United in 2001, and was replaced with Ray Hudson.
Upon leaving United, Rongen was appointed head coach of the United States U-20 men's national soccer team, which he coached from 2001 to his appointment as head coach of Chivas USA for the team's inaugural season in 2005. However, ten games into the season, with the team's record standing at one win, one tie, and eight losses, he was let go of his head coaching duties.
Rongen was appointed head coach of the Under-20 United States men's national team again in 2006 and led the team to the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup and 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup. He was fired from that position in May 2011 after a series of major gaffes, the most striking being in 2007 when Rongen lost the U.S. national team a future star defender Neven Subotić, a Serbian-American who has since won the Bundesliga and reached the Champions League final, by publicly criticizing him and subsequently leaving Subotić off the U.S. U-20 World Cup roster.
In 2011, Rongen became the head coach of American Samoa. With Rongen at the helm, American Samoa registered its first ever victory on 22 November 2011, against Tonga, in the 2014 World Cup qualification. Under Rongen, American Samoa reached 173rd in the world, its highest ever ranking. His work with the American Samoa team is at the center of the 2014 British documentary, Next Goal Wins.
MLS and NASL
Rongen married Gail Megaloudis in 1996. He is stepfather to Gail's children with Nicky Megaloudis, Nicole and Chris. In 2004, Nicole died in a single car accident on I-64 West in Goochland County, Virginia, aged 19. Rongen wore his stepdaughter's baseball cap during American Samoa's win over Tonga, as shown in Next Goal Wins.
- Vujcic, Djuradj (30 May 2012). "Inside the MLS: Thomas Rongen". Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- "Ledenlist". afc.nl. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
- "AFC'er Thomas Rongen naar Amerikaans-Samoa". afc.nl. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
- "Rongen naar Aztecs". De Telegraaf. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
- Dips Buy Aztecs' Rongen Washington Post, The (DC) – Saturday, 12 July 1980
- "The Year in American Soccer - 1984". sover.net. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
- EX-STRIKER RONGEN SIGNS WITH SUN Miami Herald, The (FL) – Thursday, 23 May 1985
- "The Year in American Soccer - 1985". sover.net. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
- STRIKERS GET UNIFORMS, SCHEDULE—AND A PLAYER Sun-Sentinel – Wednesday, 20 January 1988
- BEAN LEADS CANADIAN OPEN BY 1; AINGE WOULD SUPPORT DRUG TESTING Sun-Sentinel – Saturday, 28 June 1986
- RONGEN STEPS DOWN AS PJP II SOCCER COACH Sun-Sentinel – Tuesday, 17 May 1988
- FORMER STRIKER FINDS CALLING COACHING YOUTH Sun-Sentinel – Sunday, 7 December 1986
- FLORIDA UNDER-23 SURPRISES U.S. NATIONALS Sun-Sentinel – Monday, 9 March 1987
- SOCCER COACH QUITS AT NOVA Miami Herald, The (FL) – Tuesday, 1 March 1988
- RONGEN , DOOLEY NAMED AS SOUTH PLANTATION SOCCER COACHES Sun-Sentinel – Tuesday, 30 August 1988
- STRIKERS PICK RONGEN AS COACH Miami Herald, The (FL) – Wednesday, 8 February 1989
- "The Year in American Soccer - 1989". sover.net. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
- "The Year in American Soccer, 1990". sover.net. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
- STRIKERS COACH QUITS BECAUSE OF BURNOUT Miami Herald, The (FL) – Wednesday, 17 August 1994
- RONGEN TO BE NOVA 'S COACH Sun-Sentinel – Saturday, 3 November 1990
- Kev Geoghegan (6 May 2014). "Next Goal Wins for 'world's worst football team'". BBC News. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
- "Toronto FC hires former U.S. U-20 coach". CBC News. 6 January 2012.
- "Tampa Bay Rowdies". rowdiessoccer.com. Archived from the original on March 16, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
- "Tampa Bay Rowdies fire president/GM Farrukh Quraishi and head coach Thomas Rongen after team's 'disappointing' performance - Tampa Bay Business Journal". bizjournals.com. Retrieved 28 June 2016.