- U.S. National Team: Under-20 Men
- Position: Head Coach
- Date Of Birth: Oct. 31, 1956
- Hometown: Stuart, Fla.
Thomas Rongen is entering his fourth FIFA Under-20 World Cup cycle in 2011, having coached the U.S. team in UAE in 2003, Canada in 2007 and Egypt in 2009. Now he turns his attention toward the next world championship in this age group, Colombia 2011.
In Egypt, the U.S. struggled in its attempt to advance through a difficult group that also included Germany, Korea Republic and Cameroon, and fell just shy of the Round of 16. Two years prior, Rongen guided the team to a 3-1-1 record at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in 2007 in one of the most memorable performances of a U.S. team in recent history. On their way to the quarterfinals, Rongen’s team topped Poland by one of the largest margins in the tournament’s history, 6-1, and then beat Brazil to take the top spot in what was considered the U-20 World Cup’s most difficult group.
The U.S. advanced to the Round of 16, where they beat Uruguay in overtime before falling to Austria in the quarterfinals. The 2007 squad also tied the 2003 team for the most wins by any U.S. team in a FIFA Men’s World Championship (three), and set a record for goals scored in a FIFA Men’s World Championship with 12.
During his first tenure as U.S. Under-20 head coach from 2002-2004, Rongen led his team to the quarterfinals of the 2003 edition of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, coming within seconds of advancing to the final four when they fell to Argentina and finished in fifth place.
Before moving to the U-20s, Rongen was the winningest coach in MLS during his stints with the Tampa Bay Mutiny, New England Revolution and D.C. United from 1996 to 2001. That honor was part of an MLS coaching career that also saw him take home an MLS Coach of the Year Award, the 1999 MLS Cup and two regular season championships.
Rongen was named Coach of the Year in 1996 after leading Tampa Bay to a league-best 20-12 mark and the Eastern Conference regular season title. The high point of his MLS career came in 1999 in his first year as head coach of D.C. United. He guided United to a 23-9 mark during the regular season and topped the Los Angeles Galaxy for his first MLS crown. Rongen also had a stint with the expansion Chivas USA, serving as their first head coach in 2005.
Rongen moved to the United States in 1979 to play with the Los Angeles Aztecs after beginning his career with Dutch club Ajax and playing 25 matches with the Dutch Olympic Team. A defender and defensive midfielder, Rongen played with the Dutch legend Johan Cruyff at the Washington Diplomats in 1980 before moving to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers organization in 1981. Rongen stayed with the Strikers until 1994.
Rongen became an assistant coach with the Strikers in 1988 while still playing in the field for the team. The following year, Rongen was promoted to head coach of the Strikers, where he would serve as a player-coach until 1992, when he retired from playing. He stayed on to coach Ft. Lauderdale until 1994.
In 1988, Rongen was also named as an assistant at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. He later served as head coach at Nova from 1991-1995, compiling a 49-34-9 record.
Rongen was named one of 24 Ambassadors of Soccer in 1994, which was announced while he served as team liaison for the Dutch National Team during the 1994 World Cup. He was also named the 1983 Florida State Athlete of the Year for his contributions to the Special Olympics Program.
The holder of a U.S. Soccer Federation “A” license and a KNVB (Dutch) coaching license, Rongen also has an associate of arts degree in languages from Snellius Lyceum Higher General Continued Education in the Netherlands and master of arts degree in physical education and recreation from the Government’s Central Institute for the Training of Sportsleaders in the Netherlands.
Fluent in Dutch, German and English, Rongen married Gail Megaloudis a few hours before his MLS coaching debut on April 13, 1996.