MARTIN VASQUEZ NAMED DIRECTOR OF SOCCER OPERATIONS AT RSL-ARIZONA ACADEMY
MLS and Mexican First Division Veteran, Former Chivas USA Head Coach to Serve as Head of RSL-Arizona’s U.S. Soccer Development Academy Squad
SANDY, Utah / CASA GRANDE, Ariz. (Thursday, July 21, 2011) – Real Salt Lake and Grande Sports World today announced that Martin Vasquez has been appointed Head Coach and Director of Soccer Operations for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-16 and U-18 teams of the Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy. In addition to his roles with the burgeoning RSL-Arizona program, Vasquez will also serve as the Director of Soccer for Grande Sports World and Grande Sports Academy, the home of the RSL-AZ Academy, based in Casa Grande, Arizona.
“It is a great honor and a dream come true to be able to make a positive impact on the young men at the Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy, who we hope to develop into great players for Real Salt Lake, Grande Sports World and universities around the country,” said the 47-year-old Vasquez. “I am looking forward to achieving great things both on and off the field with the academy players.”
Vasquez brings a wealth of international playing and coaching experience at the highest levels to his new post, having suited up in the national team colors of both the United States and Mexico in addition to spending several seasons with a handful of Mexican Primera Division and Major League Soccer clubs before embarking on his coaching career. At Grande Sports Academy, Vasquez is reunited with Real Salt Lake-Arizona coach Mike Muñoz, who played under Vasquez while an assistant coach for Major League Soccer’s Chivas USA from 2005-06.
“I am excited to have the opportunity to work with Martin again and look forward to seeing how his knowledge of the game and his inspiration impacts our players,” said Muñoz, who garnered the USSDA’s U-15/16 Coach of the Year honor just a few weeks ago.
Born in Yahualica, Mexico, Vasquez moved at the age of 12 to the United States, where he became an All-American performer both at Alhambra (CA) High School and California State University–Los Angeles. Upon graduating, Vazquez began his professional playing days in both indoor and outdoor leagues in the USA between 1984 and 1987 before heading to Mexico to continue his career in the country’s first division, beginning with a three-year stint for Universidad de Guadalajara (1987-90). He also played for Puebla (1990-91) and Veracruz (1991-92) before moving on to his most successful stop, a four-year stay with Atlas, which he made over 100 appearances for from 1992-96.
“Real Salt Lake is excited to add a coach of Martin’s caliber to our youth program,” said Real Salt Lake Sr. Vice President of Soccer Operations & General Manager Garth Lagerwey, “and we looking forward to working with him to prepare our academy players for the next level.”
Vasquez was allocated to the Tampa Bay Mutiny of Major League Soccer in the league’s inaugural season in 1996, and his outstanding play as a defensive midfielder earned him a spot in the MLS All-Star Game that season. He enjoyed two seasons in Tampa Bay and one final campaign with the San Jose Clash in 1998 before retiring from the playing field, wrapping up a 17-year professional career before shifting his focus to coaching.
“I thought I was going to play forever, but late in my career I started thinking about coaching,” said Vasquez. “Not pros, but youth soccer, because I wanted to give back to the game that gave me so much.”
After his playing days, Vasquez cut his coaching teeth for a handful of years at the high school, collegiate and WUSA levels before re-joining the ranks of MLS as an assistant on the sidelines of both tenants of The Home Depot Center – the Los Angeles Galaxy (2004) and Chivas USA (2005-08). Vasquez would then have the rare opportunity to expand his coaching horizons in Europe, joining Bayern Munich for its 2008-09 Bundesliga campaign under the legendary Jürgen Klinsmann, who described Vasquez as “a constant driving force, with great passion and commitment to his players.” In December of 2009, Vasquez got the opportunity to return to Chivas USA, this time as the team’s head coach, a post which he manned for the squad’s 2010 season (8-18-4).
Vasquez joins the Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy at the end of a brilliant inaugural season in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, where it competed among 78 other elite youth soccer programs from across the nation. The RSL-AZ U-16 team was undefeated in both playoff rounds and finished third in the country at the end of the USSDA’s “Finals Week” tournament in Milwaukee last weekend, while the RSL-AZ U-18 team also made the postseason and ended the season among the top 16 teams in the nation in its age group. RSL-AZ is currently holding auditions for the 2011-2012 season.
The high-profile opportunities will continue for the program, as several members of the RSL-Arizona teams are gearing up to join forces with their RSL-Utah and RSL-Florida brethren for next week’s Generation adidas Cup (formerly the SUM U-17 Cup), taking place at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, from July 25-31. In addition, six RSL-AZ players have already suited up for Real Salt Lake in MLS Reserve League action – with five more fixtures through October offering even more opportunities in the coming months – while several others trained with the Claret-and-Cobalt during the first-team’s annual pre-season stay at Grande Sports World in February.