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2024 USL Championship Preview – Young Coaches Roundtable

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 03/04/24, 5:10PM EST


Hear from Charleston’s Ben Pirmann, Colorado Springs’ James Chambers, El Paso’s Brian Clarhaut and LouCity’s Danny Cruz on a variety of topics around the league

In recent seasons, the USL Championship has become a place where young talent has been able to earn its first opportunity in the professional ranks.

That’s not just true on the playing side, either. In fact, in the 2023 season more than half of the league’s coaches to begin the campaign were under the age of 40 years old.

For young coaches, the Championship has become a place to test themselves and their coaching philosophies in a league which has as diverse a collection of playing styles as anywhere in the world. Earning success has led to opportunities elsewhere – see 2021 Championship Coach of the Year Neill Collins, who has guided current club Barnsley FC into the playoff positions in EFL League One in his first year at the helm.

Ahead of the new season, we brought together four current USL Championship Head Coaches under the age of 40 – the Charleston Battery’s Ben Pirmann, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC’s James Chambers, El Paso Locomotive FC’s Brian Clarhaut, and Louisville City FC’s Danny Cruz – to talk about a wide variety of topics.

Here’s what they had to tell us.

Note: Some answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Q: When did you first envision becoming a coach?

BEN PIRMANN: My dad was a pro coach, and I was a very, very bang average college soccer player. So, I knew probably by the time I was 18 or 19 that that was going to be my future.

JAMES CHAMBERS: I think for me, it was a natural progression as I went through my career. I think I took a keener interest in the staff side of things, the tactical side of things, and the organization as I got a little bit older. I think that really came to fruition when I met Brendan [Burke] at Bethlehem [Steel FC], and that kind of gave me a pathway as regards to here in the U.S. for us to say, ‘Hey, this might be something you should look to do at the end your career.’ So, for me, it just happened naturally. I don't think you grow up wanting to be a coach. I think you do that if you’re really bad at football. I think you want to be a professional footballer first and foremost, and then there’s a natural transition.

BRIAN CLARHAUT: Yeah, I mean, for me, it was a similar type of pathway and situation. I always said passion for the game and wanted to be involved with the game, and like James said, you want to be a player and how far can you push that? I knew I wasn’t going to get to that level, and I always had a keen interest, and I wanted to be involved in the game, and I was fortunate to get put in environments and learn from some good coaches. And then it just took off from there. That was a natural progression of ‘OK, I like this. This is my passion. This is what I want to do, and they want to be involved in the game,’ and then it kind of took it into the next step and the next step.

DANNY CRUZ: For me, I played for a long time, got towards the tail end. I felt like my physical attributes – which is really the only reason I had a playing career – started to diminish, zero technical quality, but I had a lot of heart. When I got to Salt Lake, I was in an organization that I felt believed in the development of coaches. I watched coaches continue to go through their pathway and obviously make their way to the to the First Team. We had, obviously, a big Academy there at Real Salt Lake at the time, and when I made the decision to retire, I still had a year of a playing contract, but I felt it was time for the reasons that I said before. So, it came to fruition and I was at a good place to learn and develop with the right people around me. That year was really the year that I felt okay,this is the direction that I want to go.

The Charleston Battery's Ben Pirmann has been a finalist for the USL Championship's Coach of the Year each of the past two seasons, winning the award in 2022. | Photo courtesy Michael Wiser / Charleston Battery

Q: What do you think has been the most important step or the most important element you’ve come to understand in your progression as a coach?

PIRMANN: I think that one’s probably a little bit different because I think putting it like most important, or kind of ranking things, is probably a little bit different. But at least for me, one thing that I’ve really put an emphasis on is collaboration and understanding there’s a lot of different ways to view things. We’ve got two ears and one mouth, so I should listen twice as much as I speak-type thing, and that’s helped me see a lot of different viewpoints, especially because I’d never played professionally, like I said, I wasn’t a high-level player, I have to absorb a lot more than I put out.

CLARHAUT: I think when you first get into this profession, you’re really focused on the tactics and in the football side of things and taking that in as a sponge and learning as much as possible. And then when you get more experience and you’re going through good times and hard times with your team, you realize players are people and that's been my biggest takeaway. That players are people and they need to be treated as such. So that’s been the most important element that I’ve taken in the last few years.

CHAMBERS: I think for me, to echo the two boys, Ben and Brian, I think when I first started out I was coaching younger kids and I was going easy with it because I wasn’t sure of my personality as a coach. It was almost trying to leave the player side of things to be the coach, but you can’t be the same person. I think as you get more experience and each year goes by, what you value changes and I think right now for me, it’s being open minded. There’s certain things and elements and principles that are who I am and what I stand for, and part of what I agree with, but there’s also certain areas that I’m willing to bend and be flexible for. I don’t have all the answers, but I want people to be able to row in, but I have to be also open minded to take that on board. I feel like that ties into the collaboration side of things, and also having the person first.

CRUZ: I have a little bit of similarity in what everybody has said here. I think the first thing is when I started, I was obviously thrown into it and so focused, to your point, Brian, on the tactical side of it, especially as a young coach. I think over time, I’ve continued to really learn and understand that it’s about the relationships that we’re building in the locker room, right? The ability to build the trust to hold players accountable. So, I think that evolution has really come over time, to Brian's point. And then the other piece again, kind of echoing Ben here, is continuing to try to surround myself with people that I’m going to grow from, that are going to challenge me. It’s easy to say, but I’m really not the type of person that wants ‘yes-men’ around him because I don’t think that benefits the group. And I certainly don't think it benefits my growth.

So, the ability to take all those ideas in and really hear what people that you trust have to say and then obviously make decisions, as we all have to do every week, I think that becomes important but I think that relationship piece, I think I struggled with that a little bit last year with so many different personalities and new players from all over obviously, but I'm definitely better for it.

At 34 years old, Danny Cruz remains the youngest Head Coach in the USL Championship as he enters his fourth season at the helm. | Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC

Q: What's more important as a head coach, your man management or your tactical process?

PIRMANN: I don't know if one is more important, like, you kind of have to have both. I think, like Danny said, if you aren’t getting the relationship right, they’re not going to buy in, they’re not going to do the tactics, but you can be best pals or trust and have a great relationship. But if you don't know what you’re doing and you’re giving them bad ideas or you're not clear with it, it isn’t going to work out. So, I think it’s probably a balance of both, at least that would be my approach. Talking about not having a ‘yes man’ and having people around you that are going to have a growth mindset. I think you can improve both daily if you have genuine people, good relationships, but if you’re open to improving and studying teams, “hey, you watch El Paso play, they’re doing this and moving this guy, preparing for this, Louisville is doing this,” every team is different and keep getting better, you can you can actually find a way to enhance both.

CLARHAUT: Going back to my previous answer, I always say that standard is greater than strategy. That’s kind of where we start, and the bench point, you need to have a balance in it or else you’re not going to be successful. But for me, it's you need to you need to start with step one and get those standards correct in order to do the tactics. So that’s where I lay the foundation down and then step two is the tactical element. That’s important as well, because you won't be successful if you don’t have that. But I think in terms of man-management and the buy-in – like you talked about Ben – that’s the building phase for me.

CHAMBERS: The guys here and the players nowadays, they all care about the tactics, but that almost comes secondary in a way. You have to get them to buy into you first and foremost as a person and what you believe in and what you’re trying to get across. Then, obviously, the tactics will come after that. I think players, especially now at this level, want to be challenged a little bit more. They see the players at the higher level, the Premier League, Champions league, they almost want those tactics, but that comes secondary. I think the man-management side of things will probably get you a little bit further than being solely focused on the tactics. Finding that balance right in the middle – some days it might be 40 percent man-management, 60 percent tactics, and it can flip the other way depending on the person, depending on the day – you do have to be able to do both. It's a juggling act.

James Chambers was appointed as Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC's new Head Coach this offseason after serving for three seasons at the club as an assistant coach. | Photo courtesy Isaiah J. Downing / Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

CRUZ: I think for them, the more important aspect of the question, I think it’s the man-management piece. But, absolutely, if you don’t have a balance of both, I think you’re going to struggle with success in any league, obviously in this one as well. So, we put a massive emphasis on that at the beginning for the staff. Then again, the buying-in and the understanding of expectation and how we want to operate every single day, and the people that we bring in, you know, that becomes really important, but I think, again, the man-management piece, I choose to start there, because if you don't get that right then – as you guys have all said, Ben, you said it at the beginning, tactics, they might win you some games, but you're not going to have sustained success.

Q: This is becoming a league where young players are becoming more important, and going out and finding talented young players is becoming much more prevalent across multiple clubs. How do you approach recruiting young players and then integrating them into your club environment?

PIRMANN: For me, personally, it’s not a massive priority. We had a kind of generational young talent, but I didn’t sign him, we inherited him, and he was a special player. It’s not a massive priority for me or for our club at the current time, but I also think there is [opportunity there]. I mean, Louisville has been probably the best in the league with it. Brian has been in Europe where it’s a must-have. These things have to happen, but for us, it’s not a massive priority. It’s about winning and winning straightaway, so we tend to target a little bit more the 24-to-28 year olds. But obviously it shows that there are some phenomenal young footballers out there.

CLARHAUT: Being here in El Paso last year was my first year, and I know the emphasis they have on the academy, in grooming homegrown talents – Louisville has done a very good job with that. That’s something I think is important to the culture and important to our club. So, that’s something where we start and ask ‘how do we integrate them?’ We know these players are going to have ups and downs, like a roller coaster. Making sure that our leadership on-the-field, veteran leadership, is good, to put them in a good environment to be successful, giving them confidence, and giving them time and patience, because it takes time. It takes time with the individual, and it takes time for them to get acclimated to the speed of play and demands of adult football, you know, to professional football. So, I think it’s important. I think it’s important for this league and there's been a lot of success stories in the league, and I think it’s just going to continue to grow.

Brian Clarhaut will enter his second season at the helm of El Paso Locomotive FC this campaign after leading the side back into the playoffs in 2023. | Photo courtesy Ivan Pierre Aguirre / El Paso Locomotive FC

CRUZ: I would say we put a heavy emphasis on it here. We’ll start in preseason, there’ll be 10 players from you know 2007s to 2009s that have been identified as players that have potential to be with the First Team, then they’ll go through that very first phase, which is really only 10 days, for them to be able to experience a little bit of how that is. From there we’ll take a couple more players with us on the trip that we’re taking in preseason, again to give them that experience, but the same thing that you just said Brian, there are growing pains that come with it. I think expectation from the very top of the organization, our ownership down, to myself in this chair, and then obviously to the academy directors, everybody is aligned on what we’re trying to do. Ultimately, it’s to win a championship. That is the priority here at this club, no question about it. But we didn’t build an entire Academy here and bring in good people that are good at that to not develop these kids.

So, we have a four-phase process that we go through for each individual. It starts when they’re 15 years old, and it’s a constant dialogue between the Academy directors and myself. We sit down and we go through heavy detail on where these kids are, positionally where we think they’ll be in three years, all these different things, and it's a big process. But I think ultimately, as long as in your organization you’re OK with the understanding that there will be growing pains, and that’s OK, because the player is going to be better for it, and then believing in it, my hope would be that people understand that we believe in that here.

Obviously over the last five years the roster has been very similar year-in and year-out with a lot of change this year. So, it’ll be really interesting to see how some of these young kids – who have been in our environments since they were 16 and now they’re 20 – they take on the leadership role from a culture standpoint and everything that you need, and that's the hope because they started when they're 16. They’re four years in now. They understand the expectation. They understand how to operate on a daily basis, but it is certainly something that we believe in here and we take pride in it.

Q: James, for your club, you’re starting to see a couple of these players come through now. What’s it like to now be their Head Coach, especially with the experiences that you had in Bethlehem previously seeing the way that Brendan [Burke] managed some of the young talent that was coming up into that squad from the Philadelphia Union's Academy?

CHAMBERS: I think for us we’re still in the very infancy of placing the structures with the academy. Alan McCann has done a fantastic job along with the staff at Pride Soccer to try and meld that. We’re not officially classed as an Academy yet, but we do have players that are in training with us. Probably the most prominent one that we signed this offseason is Marco Rios. He had been in with us before and it was probably a little bit too much, too soon. Then he came back about 18 months later and showed his development. I think with young players, the guys have touched on it, their only consistency is their inconsistency. The thing is, he played against Louisville, he came on and he had a mistake that led to the third goal that changed the game, but then the following week, he goes out and gets the equalizer against San Antonio. So, we have to live by that as regards to one week it can be up, one week it can be down, but we have to roll that wave with him and help him as much as possible.

I think for our experienced players here, it’s a case of once the young players come in, are they earning their respect right off the bat? Because we think they’re good players. That’s fine. But can they be in the environment? Can they add to it? And are there days where they're more consistent versus inconsistent? That’s the platform that we’ve tried to provide. We don't have as many as the guys in older environments, but we’re trying to bridge that gap.

Q: All of your clubs in the last couple of years have made significant notable transfers outbound. How essential is that element to clubs at this level at this point? And does it affect how you manage players over the course of a season and as you try to build their pathways in addition to achieving club success?

PIRMANN: I think it’s a very important deal. It’s a very important process to improvement. Us being a second-tier league, there’s not as much upward mobility probably as in a lot of the other countries with promotion-relegation and those types of things. But I think any coach in the world unless you're probably Pep Guardiola at the top, they want to be coaching at an even better league, and any player’s the same way. They want to go all the way up and win a World Cup and win the Champions League. So, I think there’s processes to it. There’s no doubt how important those things are.

I think USL, when I started coaching as an assistant coach in 2019, the biggest thing that was always taught to me was how much players make, it’s a detriment and we lose this money. Now, it seems that owners – who are the most important probably to this whole process in our league – have now viewed players as assets. They can sell them, and you never really want to refer to a human being as something you can buy or sell, but in this business of football it seems like our outlook has changed and we now view footballers as assets. And, the coaches – like Danny talked about with their academy, and Brian – these processes are really investing in the human being behind it to make them better.

Charleston Battery Head Coach Ben Pirmann talks with former Detroit City FC Head Coach Trevor James at Patriots Point. | Photo courtesy Michael Wiser / Charleston Battery

CLARHAUT: This is a part of our sport, right? Not only from a business side, but from an athletic side. And I'm a firm believer, I want players in my team and our club that are ambitious and want to reach the highest levels they can. We want those types of personalities. We want guys coming in that aren't just satisfied to be here. And I think from a league standpoint, it’s extremely important right? To see guys come in here, do the business, and then go somewhere else and have success? I think it’s a good selling point for our league. I think the league gets more competitive. I think it just adds value to the league as a whole.  I think it's a great part of the process.

I think it's great that we're seeing players move on to bigger leagues and have success there. And not only in the last couple of years, but even before that. I think it’s a win-win. We want players to move on to reach the highest levels, and when they can, it’s a win financially for the club, and the more you can attract top players, the more you’re going to get those guys back into your team and organization because they think this is an environment where I can get better. This is an environment where I can get seen. And this is an environment where I can get pushed and that’s important to the players. It’s been interesting, and it’s been a big growth in this league, especially when I’ve been in Europe in the last seven years and seeing the last few years how extensively players have moved on to different leagues around the world.

CRUZ: The first thing that I think becomes important for us before we bring a player in is understanding what their expectations are, where do they want to go? Because it helps set that bar in order to continue to try to hold them accountable. A lot of these guys, really all the guys that you've seen us sell, they don’t always go the exact path the way that we thought it would. but for the most part it has gone that way. So when you look at [Jonathan Gomez], when you look at [Joshua Wynder] or when you look at Manny Perez, all of them wanted to go to Europe before they got here. And it was good for us because now we understand what we need to do to try to help them get there.

As far as the managing of the player, I think it’s really good because everybody's aligned on what the goal is, to win a championship and get you to Europe, right? Well, here are the things that you need to do in order for us to make that happen, and winning is a big piece of it, as we all know, because the more that you’re winning, the more people are watching. Not to say you have to win to get a sale, but that’s just the reality.

Louisville City FC Head Coach Danny Cruz speaks with Wesley Charpie and Paolo DelPiccolo during the 2023 USL Championship season. | Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC

And so, I think that alignment at the very beginning of the process has been a big piece of what we try to do here before a player comes in. I'm very clear on what their aspirations are. And like Brian said, we want that. We want players that want to come here to go continue to play at a higher level, wherever that may be.

CHAMBERS: I think the level in the USL, it’s phenomenal. There’s some top, top players here. I think there's a lot of players that can go to any other league and play. It’s hard for the player that they have to be consistent in order to earn that. I think for young players as well, it’s important that they're consistent week-in and week-out. But for us, it’s trying to provide a platform. Players, obviously, they’re really driven to try and get to Europe, but the reality is that all we are is a platform for them. They have to come in, they have to do the business. They have to be able to perform on a daily, weekly basis. And when we see it, we see players working really, really hard from Monday to Friday, but Saturday comes and it doesn’t really happen for them, I think for us it’s just trying to be here to help them on the pathway. We do also have players that have come into the building, they wanted to go on to bigger and better things, but they’re not really as driven as they probably should be.

Q: What are the elements to that? Maybe the change of mindset has been what’s been happening at the league office – obviously we had Mark Cartwright here as Sporting Director, and now Paul McDonough and Oliver Wyss. What does it mean to have those figures on the league side available to you and available to the clubs to help guide transfer strategy?

PIRMANN: I think it’s very important, one of the first things that I said, and Danny talked about the ‘yes-men, no-men,’ having people around you in a variety of capacities that are going to push you to get better. Even though I don't know those gentlemen as well, they seem to have good experiences, very, very sharp, very aggressive in pointing a lot of people in the right direction. Obviously, Oliver with Orange County has done a tremendous job moving a lot of players to Europe, so I think those resources are huge. As we’ve all talked about, you build relationships, you have a goal in mind, and you push and if there’s synergy to push in that common direction, only good things can happen. Hopefully these types of transactions continue to happen more and more.

CLARHAUT: It’s a step in the right direction to have leaders in our league with different types of experiences and high-level experiences. You've seen Paul work with a variety of different clubs and in MLS and his experience bringing in some of the top players in MLS, so it’s a positive to have good people around you, good people on your staff, like he said, to challenge you and I think we have challenging guys at the top end of the front office in this league. So, it’s exciting and I think it's a way to even grow this league further.

CRUZ: Yeah, we dealt with Mark quite a bit during the Wynder stuff, and I just think, to echo what you guys have had to say, the more people that you have in positions that have done it, that understand the different moments that we’re going through as a club, as clubs – obviously, Oliver certainly did a really good job up there in Orange County – I just think it allows us to continue to expand our ideas to work through different processes, and understand how someone may do things that may be different but beneficial for us to look at. The more people that you have in those positions, I think it becomes really powerful for us as a league.

CHAMBERS: Yeah, I think it offers new perspective with people in the higher positions in the league office. For my money, I think the American player is in such high demand at this moment in time since I’ve moved to this country in 2016, and I think everybody’s in the market to try and get the next big thing. Anything that pushes that, whether that be clubs, whether that be individuals at the league office, or the star players themselves, I think it’s invaluable.

Q: How important is having everyone as a club from ownership down bought into the same vision for the club's direction?

PIRMANN: I think that’s the key. You have to be in alignment at your club. If you want to succeed, everybody – from the chairman and the president, the coach and directors, to the players, to the staff, to the people taking the tickets, and the kit man – have to be in the same mindset. That’s what the most successful clubs, and honestly probably the most successful businesses in sports all over the world have had.

CLARHAUT: I echo what you say, Ben. Having a key alignment is massive for success, right? We’re one element, the First Team, the coaching staff, the players, we’re one element to the success. And if you don’t have a consistent vision and consistent standards that start from the top, from your ownership down to your general manager down to all the way down to ticket sales and how you're doing things the right way, that translates on the field. It goes hand in hand with recruitment, with what type of vision you want, to what type of product you want to put on the field each week, but it also comes down to what type of product you want to put together for the fans. I think it’s all integrated, and having that alignment is key to having a successful team and a successful product on the field, to be successful to win championships. It doesn’t just start with the First Team and us and 26 players.

El Paso Locomotive FC Head Coach Brian Clarhaut talks with players Ricardo Zacarias and Eder Borelli in the 2023 season. | Photo courtesy Ivan Pierre Aguirre / El Paso Locomotive FC

CRUZ: I would say critically, critically important. Obviously, our President James O’Connor feels the same in that we want our ticket-sales people upstairs to feel just as much pride when that place is full as we do when we win. And that again, goes to your guys’ point about alignment from a competitive standpoint. “Do we have the most season ticket sales in the league” is just as important as if we’re winning week-in and week-out, and the competition that comes with that. So, the alignment from top-to-bottom, I agree with you guys completely I think it becomes critically important.

CHAMBERS: Yeah, I think it’s imperative. It has to be everybody going in the same direction. And I think that’s where it helps, that if everybody's going in the same direction, now people from different departments, from different areas can have the input to improve and to make it better. We’re not veering left and right we’re going in the same direction. We’re all headed forward, and we’re all aligned, which can only help us to push the product, to push the players, to push the organization. That's where I think success is achieved.

Q: Personally, how do you feel about promotion and relegation?

PIRMANN: I mean, I enjoy it. I don’t know enough about the business in the background, the stakeholders. I think it’s fun from a fan’s perspective, a lot of people in this chat have been involved in it. As a player there’s probably something to it, I think, and as our country grows and it’s experience with good professional soccer that maybe it's something we get more educated on, but I enjoy it.

CLARHAUT: Yeah, I like it. Last year was actually my first year where I participated in playoffs. The playoff structure was new to me as a coach. People can like promotion and relegation. It’s stressful, I’ll tell you that. There’s a lot of money on the line. It’s a lot of waking up in the middle of the night when things aren’t going well. In terms of looking at it from the American landscape, I think it would be a massive hit. I think it would bring a different type of viewer into our sport. And I think in terms of putting stress and demands on the player, daily and weekly, it’s critical for our growth in developing the American player. So, for me, I think it’s massive and I think it needs that.

CRUZ: I’ll echo something similar there. I’m going to tell you guys this because I think it puts it in perspective. I started in an MLS Cup Final, walked out in that game, went to Europe and lost the first five games playing for Bodø/Glimt [in Norway]. The pressure that I felt in the relegation zone, when the chairman and everybody wouldn't even look at you at the team meal after five games, was like nothing I’d experienced after seven years in Major League Soccer. And that, for me, was different because when you’re on the outside and you’re an American and you have never experienced that, it’s hard to understand. But when I was there and I was feeling it, that it was a feeling I’d never had before. And I played in some big games. So, I think it would be extremely beneficial for us in soccer in this country.

I think it's a differentiator for us, if we’re talking USL as a league, from other things that have gone on in American soccer. But to your point, Ben, I don’t know much about the business, so I’m glad I’m not the one making the decisions, but that would be my opinion on it.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC's James Chambers celebrates with Patrick Seagrist during the 2023 USL Championship season. | Photo courtesy Isaiah J. Downing / Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

CHAMBERS: I’ve been involved in it many, many years ago. And, yeah, it’s stressful. It can turn out to be good or bad. Obviously, you know where we want to be, on the better side of that. I think it would certainly elevate us, the league, to a real level that would separate us completely from MLB, NFL, all that sort of stuff. It would be exciting, but with the finances, it’s far above my paygrade to comment on that. I don’t have to pay the bills, so I don’t know what that looks like. I just know that it would really bring us a completely different outlook. And you wouldn’t just be focused on getting to the playoffs, there was so much more to play for towards the end of the season that every single game really matters.

Q: Which current USL Championship coach do you most admire?

CRUZ: I’ll start! What Ben has been able to do in Memphis, in Charleston, when you look at the turnaround, when you look at the players that you had, in particular at the very beginning. In all seriousness, for sure, it would be you Ben, because what you've been able to do has been incredible. And again, I wanted to start so that if there’s any feedback or anything the other way, I saw that question and again, Memphis two years in a row. Charleston with the year they had last year into 2023, it’d be you buddy.

PIRMANN: I appreciate that, and the other two coaches severely kicked my ass last year, so they’re probably laughing at us, but I appreciate that. One of the guys I really liked, and am pals with a little bit, Mark Briggs in Sacramento. I think he’s done a really good job, has a good, good outlook. You know, Brendan [Burke] coming back in the league in Hartford, those would be the two guys that I really try to watch, because they’re different from my style, and I like to absorb that. They've done a great job.

CLARHAUT: Yeah, for me, it's been an interesting year, getting to see the teams, the styles, getting to know some of the other coaches in the league, and I have a lot of respect for them, I think we have good coaches, right? I think we have a lot of good young coaches in here that do a lot of good things and that are innovative. The guys in this room, all three of you guys, and just from the west, someone like Morten Karlson in Orange County, when he took over, I think that's something to speak about. Then, like, as Danny said, those last two clubs you've been with and now that turned around that Charleston, I think it's impressive. Mark Briggs again, they've done a very good job at Sacramento, and even Alen Marcina, you know, the way he plays the way he recruits you know, you’ve got to respect that right? You don't want to be playing San Antonio in playoffs, right?

This is a tough game, so I have a lot of respect for a lot of these coaches and especially the guys in the room, you guys made a lot of success. I think it’s good to be in a league with good coaching in it just going to make it better. We're going to be challenged weekly, and that’s a good thing. And maybe if we get promotion-relegation, then there will be even more fun.

CHAMBERS: I have a lot of respect for everybody on the call. I think each of them does such a wonderful job in their environment. We have a lot of appreciation for what Bob [Lilley] has at Pittsburgh. I think his consistency, always in the playoffs and then obviously this year, finishing with the best record in the league, it’s remarkably impressive.

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