New Sac Pro Soccer director Graham Smith on what he’s looking for in a head coach

Team owner Warren Smith and Graham Smith

Sacramento’s new USL-PRO soccer franchise announced an important hire yesterday, bringing on an experienced hand with deep connections at all levels of the game in both the United States and England.

Former Chelsea executive Graham Smith was named as Technical Director, meaning he will be in charge of setting the direction of the club and hiring all other soccer personnel, including the head coach.

Smith, 55, has had a long career, and, as could be important for a new franchise like Sacramento, has extensive experience in not only "on the field" matters, but also in longterm club and player development, as well as in the business, branding and marketing side of the game.

He played professionally as goalkeeper in England from 1968 to 1976, worked at Adidas for a decade, was brought to the board of directors at Chelsea for five years, left to start a sports agency and marketing company in 1990 (which grew rapidly and is now one of the largest sports agencies for soccer in the United States). He then left in 2006 to coach and direct a lower division team from Southern California, The Ventura County Fusion, who he lead to the Premier Development League title in 2009.

I spoke with Smith for over an hour after the news of his hire was announced. We’ll publish a full feature about with him and his plans for the team soon. For now, a teaser:

Question: What are your principles and how will we see them in the team?

Graham Smith: The principles are as follows: Play with style, play attractive attaching soccer. Play with an entertaining element. Bring on board players that are innovative, that are professional, that are capable of taking their game, and the game of the team, to the next level.

The selection of a coach is going to be vitally important. I see whoever comes in as coach not as a short term situation to create effect. It’s got to be a coach who’s knowledgeable, who has experience coaching at a good level and who will buy in to what we stand for and will be prepared to give himself to the soccer community here in Sacramento.

It’s not going to be someone who’s going to come in and coach the team and go home for the night. It’s going to be someone whose totally identified with the soccer community – there are so many good clubs out there at every level with the kids, the boy and girls, right through to the senior level…

We want to ingratiate ourselves with all of those people and we want them to feel part of it. We want an exchange of information, an exchange of ideas. We want input and we want to work toward getting a successful franchise for the Sacramento public, and we want to be able to identity the club and the community with everything that’s good in football and hopefully that will take us to Major League Soccer.

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May 1, 2013 | 8:42 AM

Will there be food trucks? Local concessionaire? Local beer?

May 1, 2013 | 8:47 AM

They did at least get a permit to serve beer at the events, which was a concern when they first announced the venue. Given the proximity to Track 7 and New Helvetia, I think local beer is imperative!

May 1, 2013 | 2:42 PM

Was a name ever established for the Sacramento team? What will be our greatest obstacles to be apart of the MLS? It looks like we are in good hands with Graham Smith on board! Thanks guys! Looking foward to finally having a “home team” here in Sacramento.

May 2, 2013 | 8:32 AM

They just had their first round of nominations for a team name and colors. A second round will let folks vote on the names and colors, and then a final round will be for the final shield and scarf designs. The latter concludes on June 17th. and then scroll down to the “announces naming contest” press release.

May 1, 2013 | 4:03 PM

When does the soccer season start?

May 2, 2013 | 8:33 AM

Spring 2014 is the beginning of the USL Pro season, but they’re apparently having some exhibition matches in the meantime.

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