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Posted Jul 16, 2012, 5:37 pm
FC Tucson's coach Rick Schantz and Sounders U-23 coach Darren Sawatzky will be opposite each other on the sideline when their teams face off in their first games in the Premier Development League playoffs on Saturday in Ventura.
Back in 1993, they were on the same side of the center line.
"He played outside right, I played outside left," said Schantz of Sawatzky and their time together playing for the University of Portland.
Sawatzki was two years ahead of Schantz, so took him under his wing.
"I took him up to Seattle for Spring Break," said the Seattle born Sawatzky.
Given the still small world of soccer in the United States, it probably isn't a big surprise that the two of them know each other. Sawatzky also knows FC Tucson general manager Jonathan Pearlman.
Schantz and Sawatzky been keeping up, particularly now that both are coaching in the same league.
"We've been texting each other on Facebook today," said Sawatzky.
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What have they been texting about?
"I told him that the winner should buy drinks for the loser after the game," Schantz joked. "That way we both win."
Remembering Clive Charles
During their time at the University of Portland, Schantz and Sawatzky were coached by Clive Charles, a beloved figure in American soccer. Charles coached both the men's and women's teams at the University of Portland until his death from prostate cancer in 2003. Portland Pilots that went on to celebrated careers after his tutoring included Kasey Keller, Tiffeny Milbrett and Shannon McMillan.
"He was the best coach I ever played for," said Sawatzky.
"I was an average soccer player," Sawatzky admits, but after playing for Charles, he went on to a nine year professional career that included time with the New England Revolution and Dallas Burn.
"I had all the athletic talent in the world," said Schantz, who Charles recruited as he finished up his time at Salpointe Catholic High School. "But I wasn't as disciplined as I should have been."
In his time at Portland, Charles sat Schantz down and told him he didn't have what it takes to be a professional player. Schantz stepped up his game to prove Charles wrong.
"He told me, 'I always know how to push your buttons, Rick," Schantz said.
"Clive really loved the game," Schantz said. "He taught me to really love the game."
Seattle U-23, but one O-23
When Seattle won their Northwestern Conference playoff match against the Washington Crossfire, the roster included a name familiar to long time Major League Soccer fans: former Seattle Sounder Nate Jaqua.
Premier Development League teams, even those with the phrase "U-23" in their name, are allowed to have a number of "over age" players on their rosters. And there is no rule against players with professional experience on your roster. FC Tucson has several, including former Real Salt Lake player Donny Toia and Michael Krauss, who played for Kansas City back when they still called themselves the Wizards.
In fact, having players with professional experience is good for the "developmental" mission of the league, says Sawatzky.
"Pro players with the young guys is good," he said. "Nate is there to help younger players learn to be professionals."
FC Tucson's Kareem Smith, who has played professional soccer in Europe and the Caribbean, has much the same role.
Jaqua was also brought in because, in a problem unique to PDL, many of the team's players are starting to leave because of obligations to their college teams.
The movement of college players through teams makes it hard to scout them too.
"Sometimes you rely on video, but mostly you rely on people you know e-mailing you to give you an assessment," he said. "But you have all these college players coming and going. By the time you play the team, they might have six new players."
Phoenix gets name, coach
The Arizona Republic's José Garcia reported on his blog that the newly awarded USL-Pro franchise in Phoenix will be called Phoenix City FC. He also reported that Dave Robertson, a former player for Rangers FC and Aberdeen FC will be coaching. Robertson also is the director of coaching for Sereno Soccer Club, one of the better regarded soccer academies in Phoenix.
Phoenix born Nick DeLeon is instantly recognizable on the field when he plays for DC United. His mane of hair is hard to miss and reminds long time MLS fans of Carlos Valderrama.
Change that to the past tense: DeLeon shaved it all off.
I was just getting tired of it,” he told the Washington Post. “It was getting in my way, it’s hot, it’s summer. I just thought it was time, I guess."
It could be just a coincidence, but the debut of DeLeon's bald pate coincided with one of DC United's worst games of the season. The team's goal keeper got red carded, two players had to be subbed out due to injury and they ended the game with a four goal drubbing at the hands of the Houston Dynamo.