NPSL Spotlight on San Diego Soccer
San Diego, America’s 8th largest city is arguably one of the most popular soccer loving cities in the USA. Without a MLS team to support, fans often cross the border – only a few miles away to Mexico — and cheer for the Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente, often referred to as Xolos.
One of the most diverse cities, San Diego’s love affair with soccer reflects the city’s multi-cultural population. With a greater population than San Francisco, San Diego is one of the few top cities without a pro soccer team. #1 New York has New York Red Bulls, New York City FC, #2 LA has Los Angeles Galaxy and next year LAFC, #3 Chicago has Chicago Fire, #4 Houston has Houston Dynamo, #5 Philadelphia has Philadelphia Union, and #7 San Antonio is taking steps towards their dream of being the next market for a Major League Soccer franchise. While Phoenix may be the largest city in the U.S. without a Major League Soccer team, San Diego is the second largest city — and, is clearly the a top contender with extremely high TV Ratings for soccer and a devoted heartbeat for the beautiful game. When you think of how well the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers teams do in cities smaller than Southern California’s Pacifical coastal jewel, one wonders how the sun shines so much brighter in San Diego than 120 miles north in LA or a few miles south in Mexico. The excuse San Diego is an outdoor city focused on the beach seems trite.
San Diegans were once treated to the technical prowess of NASL’s top players in sold out stadiums, and of course, the city’s championship indoor team – the San Diego Sockers with Ron Newman, Brian Quinn, Zoltán Tóth, Julie Veee, as well as Jean Willrich and Alan Mayer. Even Pele has packed the stands once upon a time in California’s best beach city. SD Sockers still rock the house with fan favorites like Kraig Chiles, Nick Perera, Chris Toth, Brian Farber, Ryan Guy, Eduardo Velez, Chiky Luna and newcomer Dan Delgado on the 2015/16 roster.
San Diego’s NPSL teams have often battled on and off the field with intense rivalry. Anyone remember the days not so long ago of San Diego Boca vs San Diego Flash? This year promises to showcase some of the best soccer the city has seen in decades. There is a highly professional approach from North County Battalion and Albion SC Pros NPSL teams – both concentrating on putting a quality product on the field and making sure fans have a great time at games.
Even casual soccer fans who attended last week’s San Diego Derby between North County Battalion and Albion SC Pros were captivated by the sheer passion and fun of watching the match.
Anticipation for the NPSL soccer season increased among diehard soccer fans and they welcomed these two NPSL teams with open arms and quickly jumped on their chosen side of the local rivalry, which was brewing full force with no one clearly sure who was going to emerge the winner of last Saturday’s game – which was first time these two teams played each other.
While NC Battalion may have scored first, Albion Pros emerged as the victors of this first round. The two teams have very different chemistry and this is only the start of the fight for being the leader of San Diego soccer.
Here is a closer look at the two NPSL teams:
NC Battalion Head Coach Ryan Guy
The NPSL soccer coach who has yet to hang up his pro cleats and started coaching recently.
- Ryan Guy holds a USSF “B” license
- Years coaching: 2
- Years as a professional player: 8
- Played pro soccer with: Currently on the Guam National Team in the World Cup qualification. Formerly on St Patrick’s Athletic (Dublin, Ireland), New England Revolution (MLS), San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) among others.
- Youth soccer coach at San Diego Surf Soccer Club.
- Special talent as a coach: Ability to relate to players on their level. Creating scenarios that help push players beyond their perceived boundaries.
- Coaching philosophy: In order to teach players the intricacies and nuances of football, I take this relatively simple game, complicate it, then break it down in to pieces and make it simple again.
- #1 expectation from your players: I expect every player to be self-motivated and have a strong personal initiative.
- Will you beat your local NPSL rival next time? Yes.
- Goals for the season? Our goal, from the on-field side of things, is to set a precedent for the future of the club by developing a playing style that is not only effective and dangerous against our opponents, but is as enjoyable to play as it is to watch.
“Knowing how on field situations unfold when playing soccer — having played for so long, I have the ability to understand what a game needs and what is realistic to expect from a player and the impact they can have on field,” said NC Battalion Head Coach Ryan Guy. “I will bring out the best in my players and help them reach the next level.”
Any final thoughts? “From having so many different coaches, with a multiplicity of coaching styles, I know what works and perhaps more importantly, I know what doesn’t work,” said Guy.
Albion Pros Head Coach Ziggy Korytoski
The NPSL soccer coach who has two decades of amazing experience but never suited up professionally.
- Ziggy Korytoski holds a UEFA “A” license, USSF “A” license, NSCAA Premier Diploma and a KNVB coaching certificate.
- Years coaching: 20 years.
- Years as a professional player: 0
- College coach at San Diego State and previously at the University of Hawaii as well as Cal Poly and Harvard University.
- Coached Club Teams: Santa Rosa United (CA-N), Charlotte SC (NC), AFC Lighting (GA), Black Watch (FL), NWC Alliance (OH-S), Head Coach Ohio South – District 3 (ODP), North County FC (Paso Robles,CA), San Luis Obispo Fire (CA-S), Duxbury FC (MA), New England Regional Scout for US Developmental Academy
- Former head coach for professional clubs in Guatemala’s top league with Deportivo Coatepeque and Antigua GCF plus Head Coach of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Men’s National Team, Head Coach of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Women’s National Team.
- Coaching philosophy: We say at Albion that “wining is not enough… yes, we must win, but we must also play attractive” … As fans saw by the “Ole, Ole, Ole” chants vs the NC Battalion last weekend. By adhering to certain principles within the game, we are constantly searching for perfection in execution and pursue the objectives of the team game by game – seeking the perfect game.
- #1 expectation from your players: Do your job. Do what is being asked of you and execute to the best of your ability. I don’t need you to be a 10 on the night… But you definitely can’t be a 5 or a 6.
- Will you beat your local NPSL rival next time? Yes
- Goals for the season? Win the conference, qualify for the US Open Cup, Play for a National Championship, Average 2,000 + fans/game, and develop players that move into the USL, NASL or MLS as soon as possible.
- Special talent as a coach: Ability to build a culture and player identification — and, community involvement.
“Defensively, our team defends as a unit and tends to be extremely organized with a higher than normal line of confrontation,” said Albion SC Pros Head Coach Ziggy Ziggy Korytoski. “We design to bait teams into certain areas of the field where we enter with swarms of collective pressure. The desire is to return possession of the ball in our favor as soon as possible, though we have the ability to adapt if a change of momentum has taken place or if the game demands of us something else.”
Any final thoughts? “I have never been afraid to play a youth player that I felt was ready, as I believe that homegrown players save cost for the future and allow for more consistency in the development of a club philosophy as players understand what is being demanded of them at any moment in the game – as well as off the field and in the community,” said Korytoski.
Upcoming matches: Albion SC Pros host Corinthians USA on Saturday April, 23rd at 5:00 PM at Mission Bay HS Stadium.