With the 2nd division expanding and the 3rd division (USL2) retracting, what, if anything, has this done to the talent level that you expect to face on the pitch?
I expect that this summer will be the best talent across the board that we have seen in the USL-2 in years! Great time to start your coaching career…when we win the Championship this year that will look favorably on the entire Riverhounds Organization.
Being in a division which features four teams who've had recent success in the USL, what are your expectations for the Hounds in 2010?
I expect us to compete in every game this summer. I will demand that the players come to every training session and improve their game. I expect us to win the USL-2 Championship!
Many MLS teams place a priority on league play over the US Open Cup, often fielding reserve players in the early rounds. With the Cup being a potential pathway to the CONCACAF Champion's League, how much of a priority will the US Open Cup be for the Hounds?
It is massive…as I told the players on the team in our first ever meeting, I don’t want players who want to stay and play in the USL-2…I want players who want to play at the highest level of soccer that they can. As a player you think that you will be able to play forever…I am here to tell you that is not true. So, if we can do well as a team against those higher division teams that will be good for the players on the Hounds.
Last year the Hounds seemed to play a defensive, counter-attacking game. Do you have a favored formation or style that you'd like to employ?
I think that we will have to adopt different formations and styles of play throughout the season. It will be challenging because we will have two games in as many nights on the road with travel in between, we will play on grass fields, turf fields, big fields, small fields…you get the picture.
You seem like a hands-on kind of guy! Being only one year removed from playing, how difficult will it be to manage the team from the touchline as opposed to being on the pitch?
I imagine that it will continue to be hard, as I can no longer directly affect the game with my play, rather now just with substitutions. I will still be running around with the team in practice, and helping individual players with things that I see in their game which may need some help…but I am not getting any younger!
How do you see some of the new acquisitions fitting in with the Hounds, in particular, Severs, Shintaro and Gilstrap?
Chad has been a proven goal scorer in this league for years now and after struggling to score for a couple of years, I think Chad is a very good addition to this year’s squad.
Shintaro is a player that I have played against for the past two years, I did not like playing against him because he is very busy and plays with a good bite. So, I expect the same from him when he dons the Riverhounds logo. I brought him in to fill the role that I played on the team for the past two seasons and I know that he is capable of doing it.
We have lacked a true #1 GK for the past couple of years and that hurt us. Hunter is the man! He trains hard every day and is a true professional.
You seem to have more than a few guys capable of playing in the middle this season. How will that competition help the team as a whole?
I think that competition will breed success in everything that we will do, and I want us to play with fire. So, if guys are competing for their jobs everyday when they show up for training, this will make it a good environment. I have also changed the pay structure of the team for this year…all contracts have a base salary but, have a bonus structure as well which involves being in the game day 18 and the team winning as a whole.
Where do you see the strength of this team? The backline, the midfield, the forwards or between the sticks?
I think that we will be strong all over the field. As I just stated, I think that our strength will have to come from our willingness to compete in every game…because I believe it will be a very tight league.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I would just like to get my first season as a professional coach under my belt and we can discuss the future in the future. It is an honor to be named Head Coach, but it is also something that I will not take lightly in any area. It is a massive challenge and one that I am very excited to meet head on!
Does it make any difference to the players, both the Hounds and your opponents, to have the support of the Steel Army?
I think that it is huge to have the support of the Steel Army! Others may have their own stadiums and such, but when the Steel Army is drumming and humming their songs and chants, there is nothing like it in this league for sure!! I think that it is a bonus for the Hounds to have THE BEST supporters group in the USL-2. Thanks guys!