Published: February 9, 2012
The position of Technical Director at Real Salt Lake–Arizona, the residency program of the Utah MLS team, has become a revolving door for highly qualified coaches in youth soccer over the last year.
Greg Vanney first took on the job in June of 2010. After six months of holding the role, Vanney was offered the spot as Robin Fraser’s assistant coach at Chivas USA.
Mike Munoz stepped in on an interim basis to finish the year; yet again he left RSL-AZ to take a position on Chivas USA’s coaching staff over the summer.
But it appears RSL has finally found a long-term solution in Martin Vasquez, who was hired by RSL in July of 2011 as the Director of Operations for RSL-AZ.
Vasquez was Klinsmann's right hand man at Bayern Munich.
Previously, Vasquez was famously the assistant coach with Jurgen Klinsmann at Bayern Munich and later the head coach of Chivas USA. Currently, he has an on-going role as the assistant coach with the
U.S. men’s national team, also under Klinsmann, but his full-time responsibilities are with RSL-AZ.
“I am very happy,” Vasquez told TopDrawerSoccer.com regarding his new job. “I feel like I can make an impact here. I can help develop players. I have some experience, so I am enjoying it very much.”
The rest of the RSL-AZ coaches are thrilled to have someone with Vasquez’s expertise on the staff.
“It is great,” said staff coach Freddy Juarez. “You pick up a lot of stuff from him, there is an excitement, a buzz about the coaching staff. And he has so much experience, but he is always listening to suggestions from the other coaches.”
Juarez also gave a ton of credit to Vanney and Munoz who helped develop the foundation for RSL-AZ, which is built on technical ability and possession-oriented tactics. U.S. Soccer scored RSL-AZ’s style of play favorably in the end of the year report cards handed out to every Development Academy.
The style of play has not changed much from one technical director to the next, and Vasquez spoke about how the technical ability of the players is important for pushing them to the next level.
“My main responsibility is to help these players develop and give them an opportunity with the first team,” said Vasquez. “Last year, we signed two boys to first team contracts. Hopefully in the future, we will have more.”
As a residency academy, RSL-AZ is challenged with finding players who are willing to move to Arizona, which can be a bit of a difficulty given the novelty of the idea.
“I think word still doesn’t get out there too much, maybe inside the Academy it does, but most of our players come from outside the Academy,” said Juarez. “We still need to get the word out more. Most of our players are coming from word-of-mouth.”
Another area where Vasquez is helping is the publicity and connections for the residency, which is based in Casa Grande, Arizona.
Carlos Salcedo, the starting center back for RSL-AZ U18, is a family friend of Vasquez. He joined the Academy after spending the last couple of seasons with Mexican club Tigres' youth system.
The inaugural success of the RSL-AZ program also attracted some notable prospects to the lone U.S.-based MLS residency program, namely U.S. youth international Jordan Allen.
“[Allen] has been doing very well, he is one of our impact players,” said Vasquez. “He is hot right now, so we continue to get him the ball and have him run at defenders.”
Allen, who is 16-years-old, has been moved up to the U18 team in recent games and performed exceptionally well.
Time will tell for the future of the players, but it looks like the revolving door may have stopped in just the right spot with Vasquez.