Yours In Soccer, Darren Powell

“Yours in Soccer.” That’s how Coach Powell ends every one of his emails. There’s no better summation of his attitude than that.

 

Today’s announcement that Coach Powell had resigned to take a position with Orlando City Soccer Club came as a bit of a surprise. However, I’m extremely happy for Coach Powell, as a person and as a coach. Yes, I’m disappointed he will no longer be the head coach at my alma mater, Elon University. But he’s someone who lives to serve the players and to see him get the chance to do it at the highest level is awesome to see.

 

Photo: Elon Local News

Photo: Elon Local News

Coach Powell has done more for my career than any coach I’ve ever had. He’s consistently put his reputation on the line for me and encouraged me when others told me I wasn’t good enough. He’s had success on the field, graduated players, and had his players move on to the next level, all at a school where people said it couldn’t be done.

 

When Coach Powell took charge of the Elon Men’s Soccer program, no one envisioned consistent top 25 finishes, consecutive conference championships and tournament wins. And he did it playing an attractive style of soccer that made his players better. He didn’t take short cuts, didn’t stack his team with international players or play territorial soccer, all of which can buy you short-term success at the college game. Instead he built the program from the ashes, and made the Phoenix into a regional power and a destination for players near and far.

 

His new position at Orlando City could not be a better fit.  I’ve not come across a coach better at developing young players at all ages. He’s endued players with skills on the field, and values off of it, ensuring they succeed at more than just soccer.  For this I am grateful. I became a player under Coach Powell and I’m ecstatic his methods are being recognized by the one of the top organizations in this country.

 

Best of luck Coach, and may you always remain “Yours in Soccer.”

 

 

5 Things To Read

My interests are all over the place. Sports, politics, music, media. You name it, I’d like to learn about it. Here are 5 things I read (semi-recently) that I thought were noteworthy.

 

1. Good insight into what’s going on with the new MLS TV deal [LINK]

2. Martin Rennie on ‘right channel’ strikers and their success in MLS [LINK]

3. British GQ gives the Icon designation to Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen [LINK]

4. Sam Riches of Pacific Standard shows “How We Set Up Out Professional Athletes to Fail” [LINK]

5. The Economist, great as always on Russia, Ukraine and game theory [LINK]

Charlotte: The Soccer Capital of the South?

Recently reported by Bill Voth, Manchester City AC Milan and Liverpool are in line to visit Charlotte for an international friendly match. Speaking from the view of a Charlottean, the awarding of a marquee international match to the city of Charlotte represents the biggest step forward in the growth of Charlotte as a soccer market.

This match legitimizes what many in the area have thought for years: that Charlotte is a largely untapped soccer market.

Having grown up playing youth soccer in Charlotte, playing college at Elon University then playing professionally, coaching and working at soccer startup in Charlotte, I’ve seen nearly all parts of the soccer apparatus in the city. The passion is there.  The events haven’t been.

For too long, Charlotte has been passed over for prestigious matches like these in favor of the Mid-Atlantic metro corridor or it’s I-85 neighbor, Atlanta.  While NCAA College Cup matches have sold well, and various lower division teams spot the landscape around Charlotte, there hasn’t been the acknowledgment from the outside kingmakers that Charlotte can support soccer.

The city has staged international friendlies between foreign teams such as the Mexico-Iceland men’s match in 2010 that sold 65,000 tickets. But these haven’t been enough to attract national attention, the attention deserved by a metro population larger than soccer darlings Salt Lake City, Kansas City and Columbus.

The foundations have been set for years for this sort of event. Charlotte and the surrounding areas have numerous, well-run clubs filled with passionate soccer families, three local Division I programs and numerous smaller college programs. The Queen City also possesses a healthy American Outlaws chapter that fills pubs to watch international and USMNT matches and organizes trips to see both national teams.

The Charlotte Eagles, the current professional club in the city, has remained below the national radar as it’s focused more on its own unique, and rewarding, mission.  The fact that the Eagles have remained in business for over 20 years represents how large the Charlotte soccer market is. A religious-affiliated team with little marketing budget as been able to field a team in the second division since before the MLS was even around.  How many cities can say that?

Hopefully the match between Manchester City AC Milan and Liverpool can change the perception of Charlotte as a soccer backwater. The Queen City should finally lay claim and become the Soccer Capital of the South.