As we’ve seen in previous years, every offseason brings a certain amount of turnover for every MLS club – and that’s no different here in Vancouver. Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson has already stated that there could be four or five "exciting additions" prior to the 2015 MLS season. With that in mind, we present you Whitecaps FC Scouting Week. This week, whitecapsfc.com will release a different scouting-related piece of content daily until Friday, December 19. Here's what is out so far:
- Scouting Week Day 1: How Whitecaps FC landed Pedro Morales and Kendall Waston
- Scouting Week Day 2: Tommy and Teitur’s flight in Peru
- Scouting Week Day 3: Finding a gem (infographic)
- Scouting Week Day 4: Scouting South America
Today, on the final day of Scouting Week, we catch up with a familiar face who's helping out with Vancouver's SuperDraft scouting.
VANCOUVER, BC – In Major League Soccer, where there’s a salary cap in place to create parity among teams, building through the MLS SuperDraft can be a vital tool to sustain long-term success.
It’s not the only one – a successful academy can be equally if not more important. But there’s no doubt the SuperDraft is something worthy of a club’s time and resources.
That’s why Vancouver Whitecaps FC have looked to Simon Fraser University (SFU) men’s soccer coach Alan Koch to help support the club’s 2015 SuperDraft scouting efforts.
“There’s obviously a lot of overlap between what I do with SFU and trying to help out with the Whitecaps,” Koch told whitecapsfc.com. “It’s just a position that makes sense.”
Koch, a graduate of SFU who coached Whitecaps FC’s W-League team in 2009, has been working closely with the ‘Caps coaching staff this season to put together a list of players who may be worth selecting in next month’s SuperDraft.
The South Africa native knows a thing or two about the North American collegiate soccer scene, having coached in it for over a decade.
A former central midfielder who had professional spells in South Africa, Germany and Ireland, Koch began his coaching tenure in 2003 as an assistant at Midwestern State University, where he oversaw the majority of the program’s recruiting responsibilities. These efforts led the team to an Elite Eight appearance in 2003 and Final Four appearance in 2006. The Mustangs posted a combined 42W-14L-2D record over Koch’s three years with the program.
After a two-year stint as head coach at Baker University, Koch then returned to SFU in 2008 and has been at the helm of the Clan program ever since. In that time, he’s helped build one of the most successful collegiate sides in North America.
Koch is the quickest coach in SFU history to reach the 100-win milestone, a six-time Conference Coach of the Year, and has guided the Clan to a Top Ten ranking in either the NAIA or the NCAA in every season he’s been in charge.
Other highlights of his tenure at SFU include four NCAA conference championships, two NCAA regional championships, and two berths in the NCAA Final Four.
Within his role as SFU head coach, Koch is exposed to potentially draft-eligible players on a regular basis. But he’s also been on the road since the season has ended scouting a number of NCAA Division I, Division II, and NAIA matches.
Whitecaps FC assistant coach Gordon Forrest, who is in regular communication with Koch, and goalkeeper coach Marius Rovde have also been out and about scouting some collegiate matches.
The ‘Caps, for example, had a contingent at last weekend’s NCAA Division I Final Four Tournament in North Carolina, the NCAA Division II Final Four Tournament in Kentucky, and essentially all the conference tournaments before that.
“We’re pulling together our information as we head to the combine next month,” Forrest told whitecapsfc.com. “It’s been a busy schedule since we finished [the season]. There are a number of pathways within the club that we have to look at and make sure we’re on top of.”
As they say, scouting isn’t an exact science – everyone does it differently. When it comes to philosophy and methodology, there isn’t a wrong way or even a right one.
Naturally, watching as many games as possible is a good place to start, but there’s more to it than that. Networking is also a big part of it.
The more people you know, the more information you have at your disposal. That’s an area where Koch, whose extensive coaching resume speaks for itself, may have an advantage.
“We have some reliable people in place, we get some good reports from them, and then we try to put it all together,” Koch said. “I’ve been working the phones a lot trying to get reliable scouting reports, input and recommendations from people as to who could potentially be the right fit to come join the team.”
For Whitecaps FC, the right fit is also about having the right character – something Koch learned after spending some time with Carl Robinson and his coaching staff in the summer.
“I saw what makes them tick and what they like in the group … I was around the group to see their dynamics,” Koch said. “I think that’s a big part of the philosophy of the club – not just getting the right players, but getting the right people too.”
As it stands, Whitecaps FC have a total of seven picks in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft: one in the first round (13th overall), one in the second (38th overall), three in the third (54th, 58th and 61st), and two in the fourth (73rd and 75th).
Koch said the ‘Caps have identified a group of players that are being considered for their first-round pick, but a lot can change between now and January 15 with players potentially signing with other countries or declaring themselves eligible for the draft early.
The Whitecaps FC brass will also take into account what they see at the combine.
“There’s definitely some talent there,” Koch said. “The interesting thing with the draft is that everyone knows about the higher-ranked players. However, we have a bunch of lower picks this year and we’re hoping that with the work we’ve done, we’re going to be able to identify players that other teams have skipped over. We’re hoping to get a few diamonds in the rough later that could turn out to be big-time players for us.”
Participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver! 2015 Whitecaps FC Season Tickets are on sale now. In addition to Season Tickets, Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including Half-Season Packs, 5-Packs, Student Half-Season Tickets, and a Youth Soccer Half-Season Ticket. For more information on 2015 Season Tickets, visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.