Six days from now... The North American Soccer League Spring Season gets underway on the weekend of April 12-13 and the daily countdown focuses on the league’s 10 coaches and how they see this upcoming NASL campaign.
Atlanta Silverbacks – Eric Wynalda
The Silverbacks technical director returns to Atlanta take full control of the Silverbacks squad for the 2014 campaign. The former U.S. National Team Forward and three-time FIFA World Cup veteran enters his second spell of coaching duties with the Silverbacks after being briefly at the helm in 2012. The third all-time leading goal scorer in U.S. Soccer History, Wynalda also remains an active soccer analyst for Fox Sports 1.
Wynalda said of now coaching the Silverbacks in 2014: “Well, we anticipated having some player turnover, so I think anytime that you go through the process of scouting and finding new players to help your team, it’s going to take time. It can be difficult, but this offseason has gone surprisingly well in terms of identifying new players that we believe will strengthen our squad.”
Carolina RailHawks – Colin Clarke
One of only three coaches still in the NASL, Northern Ireland native Clarke is currently first in all-time victories (37) since the league returned in 2011. He is also the only NASL coach in the top 10 in CONCACAF Champions League victories (10). A veteran of the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, Clarke has been at the helm of the RailHawks since 2012. He guided Carolina to the best overall record in 2013, which included a 16-game unbeaten streak at their home field WakeMed Soccer Park.
“Our home record was phenomenal and we want to continue that and to excite our fans by winning games and scoring goals,” Clarke said looking to 2014 season. “I’m excited with the roster that we have and the players we have brought in. We’ve had some roster turn over since last year, but that is expected. We are going to continue to play our style.”
FC Edmonton – Colin Miller
A former Canadian national team player and coach, Miller returns for his second year in charge of FC Edmonton. Under Miller, the Eddies were the best defensive team in 2013 posting a 1.00 goals against average. In 2014, Miller’s squad aims to continue to be strong on the backline and improve offensively in turning draws into victories. The Eddies also aspire to be a contender in 2014 for not just the NASL crown but also the Amway Canadian Championship.
Miller commented on the upcoming Spring Season: "The guys have been a credit to the program we set up in the offseason. The new guys have settled in very quickly and we can already see the quality of the team go above what we had last year. It’s an exciting time to be an FC Edmonton player and an even more exciting time to be an FC Edmonton fan.”
Fort Lauderdale Strikers – Gunter Kronsteiner
Austrian Gunter Kronsteiner will take charge of his second consecutive season with the Strikers have added several key signings for the upcoming Spring campaign. The former Austrian player who has won two domestic titles and participated in the UEFA Cup, hopes to continue bringing experience to the Strikers who showed improvement from a disappointing first half of 2013 to a strong finish in the Fall season.
“When I see what all the teams in the league have done in the off-season, it makes me think that the league will be much stronger,” said Kronsteiner. “So for us it means we have to work hard and we have to get the right players in place; we’re still working on this. If everyone did their homework then we’ll be in good shape and leave our footprint on this league.”
Indy Eleven – Juergen Sommer
The first coach in the history of Indy Eleven, Juergen Sommer, is also a former U.S. national team goalkeeper and was the first American keeper to play in the English Premier League. A member of the U.S. roster that competed in two FIFA World Cups (1994, 1998), Sommer was also a local standout leading Indiana University to the national title in 1988. Sommer also doubles as Indy Eleven’s Director of Soccer Operations and looks guide the expansion club to be competitive during the Spring Season.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to come out into a shortened spring season and learn a lot about our team,” said Sommer. “I think we have a very manageable schedule. It’s a very balanced schedule as well, which allows us to balance training and recovery nicely throughout the season.”
Minnesota United FC – Manny Lagos
Manny Lagos, who is one of only two coaches that has been at the helm of the same team since the revamp of the NASL in 2011, aims to lead United to the league championship that they last won three years ago. The former U.S. national team player who also competed at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, Lagos is ranked third in the all-time coaches victories (27). Under Lagos, Minnesota enjoyed a successful tour in England last month that included a 3-0 victory over local side Matlock Town FC, which was the first win by an NASL club on English soil since 2013.
Lagos commented on United heading into Spring campaign: “We've certainly done a lot of work in the offseason and we're excited to get at it. We really feel like we had a nice core from last year that we kept and we're really trying to add pieces that make us better, like a lot of teams are, and we're really excited about those pieces that we've added; both some young players and older players.”
New York Cosmos – Giovanni Savarese
Savarese is back for a second season with the Cosmos after leading them to their sixth NASL Championship in 2013 and the club’s first since 1982. The Venezuelan was a standout goal scorer in the New York area both collegiately and professionally before playing in leagues in England, Italy and his native country. Savarese, who also played for Venezuela’s national team, took charge of the Cosmos in 2013 as the club returned following a 30 year-absence. On the way to winning the Soccer Bowl trophy last year, Savarese guided the Cosmos to an 11-game unbeaten streak, which is two shy of the overall league record in modern era.
“We are looking forward to the 2014 NASL season,” said Savarese. “It is a new year with new possibilities. We understand we needed to improve in some areas and were able to do so, bringing in some players that would improve us.”
Ottawa Fury FC – Marc Dos Santos
Prior to joining Ottawa Fury FC, Dos Santos spent the last two years coaching youth teams in Brazil and guided the SE Palmerias Under-15 club to their first ever Brazilian Championship in 2012. Dos Santos returned to Canada where he previously coached the Montreal Impact in the NASL until mid-2011.
“During the offseason every team in the NASL was committed to make themselves stronger for the 2014 season, which should produce an entertaining brand of soccer for fans of all teams to enjoy,” said Dos Santos. “There will be no easy games this season as every point counts! With only nine games in the Spring Season it will be a sprint to the finish and we must be prepared to play a full 90 minutes every game.”
San Antonio Scorpions – Alen Marcina
Marcina, who took over the coaching duties a few games into the 2013 Fall Season, has assembled a squad of players that not only meets the team’s goals, but also the style with which the fans and city expect the Scorpions to play. A former Canadian forward, who has played in Denmark, Germany, Iceland, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, United States and locally, Marcina looks to rebuild the Scorpions from their up and down 2013 campaign that saw them just miss out on the Spring title by a single point on the last match day to their struggle in the Fall Season in which which they lost nine of the 10 matches by a single goal.
“We have the great fortune of playing in a fantastic city, with ardent supporters, for a hands-on passionate owner, and under the banner of Soccer for a Cause in a community that fully embraces us,” said Marcina. “We are utilizing all the resources this great city provides to assemble a squad built to succeed as well as play the type of fluid, attacking, and attractive soccer our fans and city can be proud of.”
Tampa Bay Rowdies – Ricky Hill
The second all-time leader in coaching victories (33) in the NASL since 2011, Englishman Hill wants to build on the Rowdies’ league run in 2013 that saw them finish with the second-best overall record from the combined two seasons last year and eventually guide Tampa Bay once again claim the NASL title won in 2012. Hill played more than 400 games in England and represented his country under legendary coach Bobby Robson. After playing for the Rowdies team that finished second at the 1992 APSL Final, Hill coached several youth teams in England before being appointed manager of his former club Luton Town.
Hill said of the 2014 campaign: “We have a number of new talented players and whoever is in the starting XI should work even harder knowing that we have several guys on the bench who are eager to show their skills on the pitch. It is great to have a balance that we’ve not had in the past and this will allow us to play both wings more comfortably than we have in recent seasons.”
Soccer fans around the world will be able to ‘Watch Every Match Live’ throughout the 2014 North American Soccer League season, which kicks off on the weekend of April 12/13.
By subscribing to either a 30-day pass or a season access pass at www.NASLLive.com, soccer fans can access all 135 matches during the 2014 NASL Spring and Fall Seasons.
Throughout the month of April, the NASL is offering a 10-day free trial to enjoy the weekly broadcasts as the league’s 10 teams battle to reach the postseason and compete in The Championship for the coveted Soccer Bowl trophy.