CARY, N.C. – When North Carolina FC Head Coach Dave Sarachan finished his year-long stint as interim manager of the United States Men’s National Team in November, he began pursuing new coaching opportunities that would meet his three main criteria.
“The people, the place and the project.”
In the end, NCFC checked all the boxes.
“When we first had a phone call about this position and began the conversations of what this would be like, the first thing I thought about was what are the people going to be like that I'm going to be working with,” Sarachan said at his NCFC introductory press conference on Thursday. “That for me that is very, very essential.”
The 64-year-old, who was announced as the fourth Head Coach in the club’s history in December, quickly found comfort in his discussions with NCFC Owner Steve Malik and President Curt Johnson.
“You have to have a guy at the top that has vision and ambition and Steve certainly has that,” said Sarachan. “I've known Curt on and off for many years and [Voice of NCFC] Dean [Linke] alluded to his background in the game. I know I can work well with Curt, he's a soccer guy, he's a guy that listens, he's got great experience.”
Beyond building a relationship with the club’s front office, Sarachan explained that he felt very much at home at NCFC’s top-class facilities after spending time there over the years during hist two stints working within the United States’ National Team program. He spent a week at the Cary, N.C. facility this past March ahead of the team’s friendly against Paraguay at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park and helped run a 10-day camp there as an assistant to Bruce Arena prior to the team’s departure to 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan.
“I still find this to be a fabulous place to play,” said Sarachan. “Whenever I talk to anybody that's been here, that's the first thing they say, ‘Oh wow, this place, great facilities, grass fields, good set-up, good infrastructure.’”
North Carolina FC President Curt Johnson, Head Coach David Sarachan and Owner Steven Malik at Thursday's press conference. | Photo courtesy North Carolina FC
The final piece to the puzzle was the project, the opportunity to build on the foundation that former Head Coach Colin Clarke laid over the past seven seasons and use the club’s vast resources as the largest youth-to-pro club in the country to take NCFC to a level it’s never been previously.
“I think the timing's great to really push and really make this club as good as any in the country,” said Sarachan. “The community in Raleigh and Cary I know is excited about getting this thing and moving it to another level.”
While the job matched all the criteria that he was looking for, Sarachan also talked about his excitement to join the USL Championship ahead of the biggest season in the league’s history.
“It's become a much more competitive league,” Sarachan said. “There are better coaches, better players, more competition and I'm learning more each day. It's something that I'm excited about from that standpoint and I think the relevancy of this league has really gotten to a point where it's an important piece to the development of players and the landscape of soccer.”
Sarachan said that he and Johnson are already in the process of shaping the club’s roster for the 2019 season and that his first goal after building a first team was to bring the club back to the USL Cup Playoffs after finishing ninth in the Eastern Conference last season.
“We're going to try to put together a group that is going to compete every day, a group that is going to enjoy playing soccer every day, that's going to be entertaining,” said Sarachan. “We want to win, and we want to put a product out there that people are going to get excited about and that's what motivates me.”