Thomas Rongen

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Thomas Rongen
Thomas Rongen photo by Djuradj Vujcic.jpg
Rongen in 2012
Personal information
Full name Thomas Eddy Rongen
Date of birth (1956-10-31) 31 October 1956 (age 66)
Place of birth Amsterdam, Netherlands
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Position(s) Midfielder, Forward
Youth career
1971–1975 AFC
Senior career*
1973–1979 AFC
1979–1980 Los Angeles Aztecs 40 (6)
1979–1980 Los Angeles Aztecs (indoor) 12 (3)
1980 Washington Diplomats 10 (0)
1981–1983 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 83 (4)
1984 Minnesota Strikers 5 (0)
1984–1985 Minnesota Strikers (indoor) 18 (0)
1985 South Florida Sun
1985–1986 Chicago Sting (indoor) 14 (1)
1987 Houston Dynamos
1988–1993 Fort Lauderdale Strikers
Managerial career
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
1999–2001 D.C. United
2001–2005 United States U20
2005 Chivas USA
2006–2011 United States U20
2011 American Samoa
2012–2014 Toronto FC (academy director)
2014–2015 Tampa Bay Rowdies
Medal record
Representing Flag of the United States.svg  United States (as head coach)
Runner-up CONCACAF U-20 Championship 2009
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Thomas Eddy 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. [1] In December 2016, he was named Chief Scout of the United States men's national soccer 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. His stint managing the American Samoa national team was covered in the 2014 documentary Next Goal Wins, and the 2023 biographical comedy-drama also called Next Goal Wins.



Rongen began his playing career with Amsterdamsche FC, with whom he played as defensive midfielder and defender from 1973 to 1979. [2] [3]

In 1979, Rongen moved to the United States, joining the Los Angeles Aztecs of the North American Soccer League. [4] 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. [5] 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. [6] 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. [7] The league lasted six games, then collapsed. [8] 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. [9] 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. [10] 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. [11] He also coached with the Plantation Eagles Soccer Club. [12] 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 an 8 March 1987 scrimmage. [13] Rongen also served as an assistant with the Nova Southeastern University men's soccer team. [14] In August 1988, he was hired to coach the South Plantation High School boys' team. [15]

On 8 February 1989 he replaced Wim Suurbier as head coach of the Strikers. [16] 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. [17] He was the 1990 APSL Coach of the Year. [18] In August 1994, he resigned as head coach. [19] In November 1990, he replaced Hal Henderson as head coach of Nova Southeastern University. [20] 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 coached in 1997 and 1998. After the Revolution, Rongen succeeded Bruce Arena as the head coach of D.C. United, which he led to an MLS Cup in 1999. However, Rongen lost his job with United in 2001, and was replaced with Ray Hudson.

National teams

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 the team failed to qualify for the World Cup. [21] [22]

American Samoa rebirth

In 2011, Rongen became the head coach of American Samoa. With Rongen at the helm, and after three weeks training them both physical and inspirational, American Samoa registered its second ever victory on 22 November 2011, against Tonga, in the 2014 World Cup qualification. Under Rongen, American Samoa reached 173rd in the FIFA World Rankings. His work with the American Samoa team is at the center of the 2014 British documentary, Next Goal Wins [23] and the upcoming film of the same name, starring Michael Fassbender as Rongen.


Rongen became director of TFC Academy prior to the 2012 season, joining countrymen Aron Winter and Bob de Klerk at Toronto FC. [24]

He was named head coach of the Tampa Bay Rowdies in December 2014. [25] Rongen was fired along with General Manager/President, Farrukh Quraishi on 21 August 2015. [26]

In late 2016, Rongen was hired by Bruce Arena as the head international scout for the United States national team program.

Personal life

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 .

See also

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  2. "Ledenlist". Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
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  5. Dips Buy Aztecs' Rongen Washington Post, The (DC) – Saturday, 12 July 1980
  6. "The Year in American Soccer - 1984". Archived from the original on 13 July 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  7. EX-STRIKER RONGEN SIGNS WITH SUN Miami Herald, The (FL) – Thursday, 23 May 1985
  8. "The Year in American Soccer - 1985". Archived from the original on 26 September 2018. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  9. STRIKERS GET UNIFORMS, SCHEDULE—AND A PLAYER Sun-Sentinel – Wednesday, 20 January 1988
  11. RONGEN STEPS DOWN AS PJP II SOCCER COACH Sun-Sentinel – Tuesday, 17 May 1988
  12. FORMER STRIKER FINDS CALLING COACHING YOUTH Sun-Sentinel – Sunday, 7 December 1986
  13. FLORIDA UNDER-23 SURPRISES U.S. NATIONALS Sun-Sentinel – Monday, 9 March 1987
  14. SOCCER COACH QUITS AT NOVA Miami Herald, The (FL) – Tuesday, 1 March 1988
  16. STRIKERS PICK RONGEN AS COACH Miami Herald, The (FL) – Wednesday, 8 February 1989
  17. "The Year in American Soccer - 1989". Archived from the original on 9 February 2012. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  18. "The Year in American Soccer, 1990". Archived from the original on 13 July 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  19. STRIKERS COACH QUITS BECAUSE OF BURNOUT Miami Herald, The (FL) – Wednesday, 17 August 1994
  20. RONGEN TO BE NOVA 'S COACH Sun-Sentinel – Saturday, 3 November 1990
  21. Alex Labidou (5 May 2011). "United States Under-20 coach Thomas Rongen's contract will not be renewed". Goal. Archived from the original on 5 July 2022. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  22. "United States Under-20 coach Thomas Rongen has been fired". GH Ghana News. 5 May 2011. Archived from the original on 27 April 2023. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  23. Kev Geoghegan (6 May 2014). "Next Goal Wins for 'world's worst football team'". BBC News. Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  24. "Toronto FC hires former U.S. U-20 coach". CBC News. 6 January 2012. Archived from the original on 8 January 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  25. "Tampa Bay Rowdies". Archived from the original on March 16, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  26. "Tampa Bay Rowdies fire president/GM Farrukh Quraishi and head coach Thomas Rongen after team's 'disappointing' performance - Tampa Bay Business Journal". Archived from the original on 3 August 2017. Retrieved 28 June 2016.