Changing players, and staff, is all part of keeping things fresh. When you’ve been at a club as long as I have – 20 years, including my time as a player – you have to change things up.
You also have to keep the balance right. My first assistant has been by my side since the beginning, so it’s equally important to have people around you who you can trust – and who aren’t afraid to speak their mind.
Late on in my playing career, I started to get looked at as a leader on the field. But coaching? No chance.
I was never the guy to talk tactics with the coach or the team. The game was simple to me: run, fight, pass and move. I loved playing, knew what it took to win games and understood my role in that. That’s where it stopped.
I saw the grind my coaches put in. The toll that every season took on them. I didn’t think it was any way to live.
“Suddenly, it was all on me: who I was playing, how I was coaching – ownership, staff and players were all looking at me”
But D.C. United had other ideas. When my career came to an end, they offered me an assistant coaching role.
It was a good opportunity for me to take a look at coaching, pick up a pay cheque and stay close to the game.
When people say coaching is the next best thing to playing, I don’t buy it. Okay, you’re still a part of the group – still close to the locker room, and the bonding moments that come with being part of a team. But the two professions aren’t comparable to me.
For four months, I was in between the two: the connecting piece between the coach and the team.
Then everything changed.
I was asked to become the interim head coach. The club was set on moving on from the previous manager and wanted me to take the role in the short term.
I’d planned to spend a couple of years finding out who I was as a leader. Deciding whether or not I even wanted to pursue the coaching field as a profession.
Now I was being handed the keys to the team.