NPSL Spotlight With East Bay Stompers Head Coach Martin Sierra
The soccer scene has been exploding and the sport’s popularity increasing substantially. The National Premier Soccer League – NPSL for short – is the country’s largest amateur soccer league with 80 teams competing in 2016. SoccerToday’s special coverage on this 4th Division of the U.S. Soccer pyramid, gives soccer fans a glimpse into the life of the teams.
NPSL Soccer News: The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) is providing amateur soccer players across the United States with the opportunity to remain on the pitch following their college years.
Currently in his third season with East Bay Stompers, head coach Martin Sierra remains grounded as he grows with the game in the United States.
SoccerToday spoke with Sierra on his experience and his coaching philosophy with East Bay Stompers.
Diane Scavuzzo: When did you become in involved in soccer?
Martin Sierra: I started playing soccer at 6 years old. My earliest memories are of my family going to watch my older brother play. My soccer career was cut short due to injuries, but I did have two major colleges and a few junior colleges knocking at my door.
Diane Scavuzzo: As a coach, what do you look for in a player?
Martin Sierra: I look for a player who can adapt to any style or formation we choose to play. A player who — at the drop of a dime — can go from a 4-5-1 formation to a 3-5-2 and know exactly what his or her role is.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why coach in the NPSL?
Martin Sierra: I was amazed at the level and speed of play in the NPSL. It was a major step up for me coming from coaching adult premier teams in the local leagues.
The NPSL is definitely growing stronger each year.
Diane Scavuzzo: How long have you coached the Stompers?
Martin Sierra: I’ve been in charge for three seasons now. Last season we started slow but fought hard and made playoffs for the first time in team history. This season, again we had a slow start, but we are taking it one game at a time to get ourselves out of the cellar and into playoffs.
Diane Scavuzzo: What inspires you?
Martin Sierra: Honestly, it’s the players that inspire me.
I’ve seen so many teams go this route and players fall off because there isn’t any commitment, no GARRA! That has never been the case with this bunch.
East Bay Stompers’ players are fighters.
Diane Scavuzzo: Who do you believe is your team’s biggest rival in the NPSL?
Martin Sierra: Our biggest rival is probably every team’s nightmare, CD Aguiluchos USA out of Oakland. We have the Alameda County Derby. It’s always an intense game between our clubs.
Diane Scavuzzo: NPSL has teams in over 80 markets across the country — is your San Francisco, Alameda, Palo Alto area in need of more competition, or are you concerned about future expansion?
Martin Sierra: The more teams, the merrier. It doesn’t concern me because our bunch is loyal to the Stompers crest.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you have a youth club under your NPSL team?
Martin Sierra: Yes, we have a lot of support from the youth clubs in Newark, Fremont, Union City, Hayward, Oakland, Castro Valley, among other nearby areas. These youth soccer clubs are doing fun and exciting things with the kids.
Diane Scavuzzo: Would you like to see European style promotion and relegation exist in the USA?
Martin Sierra: I am a huge fan of promotion and relegation. If I’m not mistaken, we are one of very few countries that doesn’t promote or relegate teams.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the one moment/experience/decision you would like to turn back the clock and change?
Martin Sierra: The one experience I’d love to relive was my first game as head coach of the Stompers.
It was a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup qualifying match where everything that could go wrong did. It was like quicksand. The more we struggled, the deeper we sank.
Diane Scavuzzo: If you could pick any super power, what would it be and why?
Martin Sierra: I would pick the power to heal. Too many young players’ careers are cut way too short due to injuries.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is more important — fame or money?
Martin Sierra: Fame or money? Neither.
Being a good person tops them both.
Diane Scavuzzo: Who is your favorite soccer team or player? Who do you root for behind closed doors?
Martin Sierra: Boca Juniors, no doubt! Just take look at my calf!
Header Photo Credit: Nap Ba