Longtime Simon Fraser University head coach Alan Koch was introduced as the head coach of Whitecaps FC 2 on Friday ahead of the club’s inaugural season in USL PRO.
What type of coach is Koch? How does he plan to build out the roster? And what sort of brand of soccer will he have WFC2 play? We caught up with the North Vancouver resident to discuss these matters and more.
What attracted you to this position?
“I like the work that I’ve seen Robbo and his staff do. I think they’ve got a great philosophy, so to be intertwined with that and help create a bridge between the Residency program and the MLS team is something that is super exciting. Considering I pretty much work with that age group already, it’s something I know I can do and something I’m looking forward to being a part of.”
What do you think having a USL PRO team will do for the club and development of Canadian soccer?
“Firstly, it’s huge for the club because it gives the guys who aren’t getting regular minutes in the first team an avenue to get playing time, keep themselves match fit, and showcase their abilities. I think it’s a great opportunity for the young players in the Residency program. It gives them more of a realistic pathway to work their way up to the first team. And in terms of Canadian soccer, it’s huge. Now there’s another opportunity for Canadian players to play, which has been missing. It’s fantastic that the club has put this team together and I think it’s going to help not only Whitecaps FC but Canadian soccer as well.”
How would you describe your coaching style?
“Attack-minded, very intense, very consistent. You have to show up for work every single day and give it the best you’ve got. I try to get my teams to play possession football with an outcome at the end of it. I believe my philosophy meshes very well with Robbo’s philosophy and I think that’s part of why I’m being brought in.”
What’s your philosophy of working with young players?
“It’s really, really exciting to work with younger guys. Sometimes you have to put your arm around them and be there to help them out through some tough times. Other times you have to push them a little bit harder than they’d liked to be pushed. But the second they realize that you’re there helping them develop and achieve their goals, you’ll get complete buy-in from the guys. And from there, the sky is the limit.”
What brand of soccer can we expect WFC2 to play?
“I think you’re going to see something very similar to how the first team played this last year. People who went to BC Place to watch the first team play saw that it was fun, it was exciting, it was energized and any team I put out there is going to be an energized, high-intensity, very passionate group of guys. I like my teams to play possession-based football but certainly have an outcome to what we’re doing. We’ll look to go out and score as many goals as we can, but also play a very organized system.”
How do you plan to build out the roster? What sort of players will make up the roster?
“We’ll have to sit down with the first team and Residency staff and see what the plan is with some of the guys on the first team and see which Residency players deserve to be rewarded. We’ll obviously also have a core group of guys that will be our consistent roster for Whitecaps FC 2. So it’s a hybrid of a roster. We’ll have core group of USL PRO signings, we’ll have a group that will come down from the first team and play a few minutes, and we’ll have a group that will come up from Residency and play a few minutes. It will definitely be a work-in-progress, but an exciting challenge.”
What are your hopes for next month’s WFC2 open tryouts?
“I’m really excited about the open tryouts. It’s an opportunity for local players in particular, or anybody else who wants to travel from further, to come showcase what they can do. It’s not very often you get an opportunity to showcase your abilities to a professional team. We’ll be taking this very seriously as we obviously have those roster spots to fill. There’s a lot of talent in this community and this province. I’ve worked with a lot of those players, I’ve seen them. I think one of the biggest challenges for local players is the lack of opportunities. Well here’s your opportunity. Grab it.”
How do you balance the goals of developing players with building a winning culture?
“Obviously, the goal is to develop players and push them up to the first team. And I’m excited about that. We’re going to push the guys to help them achieve those goals. Individuals have more success when a team has success, so we want to put a quality team together and make sure guys buy into the philosophy and what we’re trying to achieve. It has to be a selfless approach, do what we need to do for the team, and hopefully that will help the guys work their way up.”
What did you learn from working with the Whitecaps FC first-team staff as a college scout this past season? Did anything stand out?
“The value of character. I think we all have the ability to identify talent and put it together, but I really learned from Robbo and Gordon, and it’s given reinforcements to my own beliefs, to bring in the right characters. They need to be guys who are willing to do what it takes for each other. It makes it a lot more enjoyable for everybody to work together and you can achieve far more success when you’re working with guys who buy into what you want to do.”
What are your thoughts on USL PRO’s recently-announced 2015 competition format?
“It’s going to be an exciting league to play in. We’re obviously playing in a very good conference with a lot of MLS teams and some very good other professional clubs. It’s going to be a challenge but it’s going to be exciting to play against some new teams that people in Vancouver haven’t seen here, so that will be a whole new element for our soccer community. We’ll go one game at a time and see how it goes.”
Come and see the next generation of Whitecaps FC stars as USL PRO arrives in Vancouver. With Season Tickets available for as low as $118, WFC2 matches will be a unique and affordable experience for fans, families, students and supporters. The first 1,100 fans to sign up for Season Tickets will be recognized as founding members of the WFC2 Starting 11, a membership group that offers exclusive rewards and experiences. Become a part of the team and secure your Season Tickets by placing a $50 deposit today.