skip navigation

2019 USL Expansion – Coaches’ Roundtable

By USLSoccer.com Staff, 10/01/18, 7:00AM EDT

Share

Hear from the Head Coaches who are preparing for inaugural seasons next spring across the USL

As the 2018 USL regular season starts to wind down, it’s easy to start to look ahead to the future. For some teams that means focusing on the upcoming 2018 USL Cup Playoffs, while for others it means beginning their preparations for next season. Among those that are already planning for 2019 are the seven expansion teams set to embark on their inaugural USL campaigns this coming March.

Six of those expansion clubs – Austin Bold FC, Birmingham Legion FC, El Paso, Hartford Athletic, Memphis 901 FC and New Mexico – have already hired head coaches as they work to build their foundation from the ground up. We checked in with Austin’s Marcelo Serrano, Birmingham’s Tom Soehn, El Paso’s Mark Lowry, Hartford’s Jimmy Nielsen, Memphis’ Tim Mulqueen and New Mexico’s Troy Lesesne to learn more about their coaching philosophies, the challenges they expect to face in their first season and what they plan to bring to their club and its growing fanbase. Here’s what they had to say:

Marcelo Serrano

Marcelo Serrano

Austin Bold FC
Tom Soehn

Tom Soehn

Birmingham Legion FC
Jimmy Nielsen

Jimmy Nielsen

Hartford Athletic
Mark Lowry

Mark Lowry

EL Paso
Tim Mulqueen

Tim Mulqueen

Memphis 901 FC
Troy Lesesne

Troy Lesesne

New Mexico

WHAT ARE YOUR COACHING PHILOSOPHIES AND WHO/WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCE IN SHAPING THEM?

Mark Lowry
Mark Lowry
El Paso
“My coaching philosophy is one that creates a demanding set of standards for the team and also for each individual player. It requires players to work extremely hard and strive to improve every day they are on the practice field. Players that have worked with me before throughout the league know that I like to teach and improve them as individuals, to give them more knowledge and equip them to perform better every game.”… “My playing philosophy is built around the ball. We will be a team that is obsessed with retaining the ball when we have it, and then regaining the ball as quickly as possible when we don’t have it. I like to be in control of the game and the best way to do it is through our use of the ball and our positioning and movements on the field.”
Tom Soehn
Tom Soehn
Birmingham Legion FC
“I believe in a coaching philosophy that is centered on hard work, respect, teamwork, discipline and development. The attacking and defending principles are centered on making play predictable, pressing high and allowing the freedom to express our attacking qualities. I have had the fortune of playing with and coaching with some great soccer minds which helped me develop a philosophy I felt could be successful.”
Jimmy Nielsen
Jimmy Nielsen
Hartford Athletic
“In my playing career, I’ve been lucky to have had many great coaches, and I am still in contact with most of them. The one who stands out the most for me is Peter Vermes from Sporting Kansas City. From a leadership standpoint, my approach is that no two players are alike -- they are all very different and you need to spend time with each of them to get to know them. I like to practice the motto: 'They don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care.’ These are words to live by.”
Tim Mulqueen
Tim Mulqueen
Memphis 901 FC
“Throughout my career I have always wanted to provide players a platform to play to their potential. If players can do that then you will be a successful team. I’ve been blessed to work with some incredible coaches in my career and I have learned so much from them all. Bob Reasso at Rutgers gave me my start to coaching and I learned how to build a program from him. Coach [Bob] Gansler taught me how to coach. Every day with Coach was akin to being at a coaching course. Finally, from Jason Kreis, I learned the importance of relationships. Relationships between players and coaches and how essential they are to you being successful.”
Troy Lesesne
Troy Lesesne
New Mexico
“Developing relationships and showing a genuine concern for a player’s development both on and off the field is the foundation of my coaching philosophy. In terms of style of play, we will have a proactive approach to the game where we will look to take the initiative both in possession and out of possession against our opponents. The combination of working under top managers like Mike Jeffries (Charlotte Independence), Michael Anhaeuser (Charleston Battery) and Ralph Lundy along with the players I’ve worked with over the last 14 years have helped shape my coaching philosophy.”
Marcelo Serrano
Marcelo Serrano
Austin Bold FC
“In professional soccer, the number one coaching philosophy must be to have a winning team. For me, having a winning team and winning the right way – with both the people and the business side of the game – is extremely important. My biggest influences are Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest leaders that this world has ever known, and on the soccer side Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, I admire and follow his teaching style and character.”

What do you plan to bring to the table at your new club?

Tim Mulqueen
Tim Mulqueen
Memphis 901 FC
“I plan to bring a level of intensity and competitiveness that has served me well since my youth. I only know one way of being successful and that is with a relentless work ethic and an uncompromising will to win.”
Troy Lesesne
Troy Lesesne
New Mexico
“A commitment to being relentless in how we prepare and compete every single day. I’m confident that this mentality will resonate with the state of New Mexico.”
Tom Soehn
Tom Soehn
Birmingham Legion FC
“I have been honored to play and coach on several championship teams. It’s those experiences that I plan to share as we develop a culture within the club.”
Jimmy Nielsen
Jimmy Nielsen
Hartford Athletic
“I am here to help build a great club that creates a winning tradition, uplifts our community, and brings people together through the world’s game.”
Marcelo Serrano
Marcelo Serrano
Austin Bold FC
“Our vision is to field an entertaining brand of soccer that will entertain fans in Austin, Central Texas and throughout the world. We will play an up-tempo, fast-paced and dynamic style of soccer.”
Mark Lowry
Mark Lowry
El Paso
“In the past my teams had a reputation for playing good football, and that’s something that will continue here as I believe it’s the best way to win. I also want to bring entertainment and am mindful that at the end of the day this industry is about entertaining. Yes, we always want to win, but we have other responsibilities when serving our city and community.”

You’ve been part of an inaugural season before in the USL, what takeaways do you have from that experience and what do you hope to replicate or do differently this time around?

Troy Lesesne
Troy Lesesne
New Mexico
“My time with the Charlotte Independence was invaluable, particularly during our inaugural season in 2015. When you’re in an organization at the ground level you must first clearly define and establish the club’s culture, both on and off the field. Next, holding everyone accountable to this culture will create an environment of success that will undoubtedly lead to great results in every facet of the organization.”
Jimmy Nielsen
Jimmy Nielsen
Hartford Athletic
“It’s important to have had the experience in Oklahoma City as it’s very different to build a team from scratch than to come in with a settled club. At the same time, this experience in Hartford is different in that I now have four years’ experience coaching in USL and a vast network of player relationships. I had to ramp up quickly with no prior experience in Oklahoma City, whereas here, on the player recruitment side, I have relationships in place and know exactly what I’m going after.”

How do you take what you’ve learned in other jobs and bring it to a situation where you have to start from scratch?

Mark Lowry
Mark Lowry
El Paso
“I am lucky enough to have been with two other organizations that were in their infancy, Orlando City and Jacksonville Armada. I held various roles in those clubs, particularly in Orlando where I had the experience of working in the front office and seeing how the ticket department operated and the challenges they faced, learning how to build a great fan base, working in the community to cultivate those relationships and the importance of the local people in the success of the team. My goal was always to be on the field coaching, but looking back, these experiences of being in the front office of a professional team are priceless and give me a very unique perspective that not many coaches have. Being able to relate to various departments and understanding what they go through day to day will be critical in the success and synergy we create here in El Paso.”
Tim Mulqueen
Tim Mulqueen
Memphis 901 FC
“What I have learned from my previous experiences is that there are no shortcuts to building a successful organization. You need talented people who take ownership of the club and their role in it. Everyone and everything counts in terms of building a successful organization and a championship culture. I want the players, coaches and all staff to know that their role is vital to the success of the club – everyone pulling in the same direction to achieve success.”
Marcelo Serrano
Marcelo Serrano
Austin Bold FC
“There are many obstacles when creating a team from scratch – it is not easy. Together with the ownership group, especially chairman Bobby Epstein, and our GM Roberto Silva we are working 24 hours a day on this project and it has been intense. We work closely with each other to on every decision to ensure we are true to our mission and values.”
Tom Soehn
Tom Soehn
Birmingham Legion FC
“I believe it is so important to bring not only talented players but good teammates. I can say that on almost all the successful teams I have been part of, you can walk into the locker room and know if that team will have the ability to do special things or not.”

As a Head Coach but also a Technical Director, how do you go about building a squad from scratch?

Troy Lesesne
Troy Lesesne
New Mexico
“When you have an entire roster to build leading into the 2019 season, which is right around the corner, it’s important not be impulsive as there are many quality players available. We will stay patient and make sure that the players we’re bringing in fit our club’s culture, style of play and system of play. We are recruiting players who want to be a part of what we’re building in New Mexico.”
Mark Lowry
Mark Lowry
El Paso
“First of all its important to understand who you are as a coach and how you want to play. Having a defined system of play and philosophy in place first makes it easier to identify players that you believe will be successful for the club. Creating the player profiles and knowing exactly what you need from your goalkeeper, or No. 7 or your No. 9 means you can really pinpoint your search and focus in on the players that fit that profile for that position. You can’t just take shots in the dark and hope that it works out, that’s not fair on you, the club, or the player.”

What do you think are the key building blocks that will help your club succeed, both on and off the pitch, in its inaugural season?

Jimmy Nielsen
Jimmy Nielsen
Hartford Athletic
“We have to get the right people in place from the beginning to create and direct the culture we want to build. We want a team that will compete on the field and that we can be proud of on and off the field. You have to dig deeper when you do your scouting and research as we need players to buy in to everything we’re trying to do here.”
Mark Lowry
Mark Lowry
El Paso
“The key to being successful on and off the field in year one is to create a unified culture very quickly. One that bleeds through the technical staff and players, the front office and into the community. If all three of those groups can be on the same page, understanding and fighting for the same mission then it will give us a better chance of success in the early days. Also, a key aspect that is sometimes underappreciated, is the importance of hiring and working with good, honest, unselfish people. Good people build good organizations, and with everyone rowing in the same direction we can bring success, in various forms, to El Paso sooner rather than later.”
Tim Mulqueen
Tim Mulqueen
Memphis 901 FC
“The key building blocks that will help our club succeed in our inaugural season are having talented players who have a community and team-first mentality. They need to live and breathe Memphis while having a high level of competitiveness on the pitch. They need to be intelligent and strive for excellence daily - whether it’s on or off the pitch.”

What should your city and fan base expect from the club in its inaugural season?

Tom Soehn
Tom Soehn
Birmingham Legion FC
“They should expect our team to press high, play with energy, be organized and be prepared for each match. Our fanbase should know that they our 12th man and our players will look forward to going on this journey together.”
Jimmy Nielsen
Jimmy Nielsen
Hartford Athletic
“It is our goal to make Hartford Athletic a club that other USL teams will see on the schedule and dread playing against. We will be prepared to outwork our opponents and leave everything on the pitch, every match. Our fans should also expect a club that cares deeply about their community and wants to make them proud.”
Troy Lesesne
Troy Lesesne
New Mexico
“We want our club to be part of the fabric of this community. If we’re going to be successful, we know we have to win the support of this state. This is a chance to do something special and it’s our mission to provide a product that will captivate our fanbase. New Mexico deserves a winner and that’s what we’re going to deliver.”
Mark Lowry
Mark Lowry
El Paso
“I want them to see a team that understands what it means to represent El Paso. A team that is proud to call El Paso its home and will leave everything on the field, every single time. I have learnt very quickly that El Pasoans are proud people and we want to give them something else to be proud of.”
Tim Mulqueen
Tim Mulqueen
Memphis 901 FC
“Our Club, like all Memphians, will be tough-minded and hard-working. The City respects people who work hard and get after it and we will do just that.”
Marcelo Serrano
Marcelo Serrano
Austin Bold FC
“They can expect hard work, respect for Austin’s culture and hopefully a winning team that can entertain the city. Everything is a process and we are working hard to have all of this already in our first year.”

Follow the USL Championship

Latest USL Championship News

Most Read USL Championship News

Latest Videos