Former MLS player, coach and GM joins National Sports Center staff with eyes on USA CUP

Former Major League Soccer (MLS) player, coach and front office administrator Tom Soehn was recently appointed Director of Soccer Development and Recruiting at the National Sports Center in Blaine.

Tom Soehn, a former D.C. United and Vancouver coach joins the NSC to promote soccer. File photo.

Tom Soehn, a former D.C. United and Vancouver coach joins the NSC to promote soccer. File photo.

In the new role, Soehn will be responsible for marketing and recruiting teams to be part of Schwan’s USA CUP in addition to growing the NSC’s soccer programs throughout the year. This year’s USA CUP will be July 12-20.

Soehn, who is a Chicago, Ill.- native, ended his tenure as Director of Soccer Operations with the MLS’ Vancouver Whitecaps at the end of the 2012 season and now lives in Blaine, near the NSC with his wife and four children.

“I’ve been in MLS since its inception [1996] as a player, GM, assistant coach and it all entailed a lot of traveling,” he said. The family decided to call Blaine home because his wife grew up in Roseville and the family has a summer cabin. “We decided it was time to settle down and have a place for the kids to grow up,” Soehn said as his oldest son, TJ is a sophomore at Blaine High School and he coaches his daughter’s U9 Blaine Soccer Club team. “Being home and coaching my daughter and just being around my wife and kids is really important,” he said. “What happens next, who knows, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

The first item for Soehn is to reach out to the many contacts he has made through soccer to get the word out about USA CUP. At the same time he wants to quickly get up to speed about everything at the NSC, “I’ll do a lot of observing, asking a lot of questions and learn as much as I can in this new situation.”

In addition to being a part of one of the top youth soccer tournaments in the world, Soehn was blown away by the space available for use.

“The facility is really in itself, second to none,” he said. “I’ve worked in the professional soccer environment for a while and seeing the facilities are all great. The management has done a great job and I’m just looking to do more.

“They’re already doing a great job with [USA CUP] and anything else I can provide is a compliment to what is already working.”

One item Soehn wants to look at for USA CUP is attracting more elite-level participation to ultimately raise the level of play across the board. “We want to draw some higher level of players from the rec-level all the way to the elite kids,” he said. “Watching some of that top-tier talent is great for the younger kids to see and hopefully want to emulate which will help build the game from the top-down or bottom to top so it can benefit everybody.”

Soehn was quoted in a press release from the NSC saying: “USA CUP is one of the most recognized brands in youth soccer, worldwide. I have great respect for the history and reputation of the tournament, and I am excited to help it grow in new ways. After spending so many years in professional soccer, I’m looking forward to devoting that same energy and passion toward building youth soccer.”

NSC Chief Communications Officer Barclay Kruse said the addition of Soehn to the staff is fantastic. “He can walk into a room with huge amounts or credibility and some of the major academy directors across the country might know his name.”

Soehn isn’t replacing anyone on the staff but the tournament’s lead marketing person, Colleen Bourdon will step into a part-time role and continue to lead the international marketing of the tournament.

Kruse said Soehn will step in to lead marketing efforts for everything else involved with soccer at the National Sports Center, besides the NASL’s Minnesota Stars FC. Kruse added: “It’s his job to build up soccer here through new programs and possibly new tournaments.”

Soehn grew up playing soccer in Chicago and had a successful collegiate career at Western Illinois University where he has been inducted into its athletics hall of fame.

He played professionally in several North American leagues before ending with a four-year playing career in MLS with the Dallas Burn (FC Dallas) and Chicago Fire before retiring in 2000.

He played with the Burn in the first MLS season and eventually played on the same team with current Stars FC coach Manny Lagos.

“We go way back and in a lot of ways it would make sense [to be part of the Stars FC organization] but that’s something time will tell but right now the focus is on the National Sports Center and growing the USA CUP and working to push the elite-level [participation] through my contacts,” he said.

Soehn has worked as an assistant coach for the Fire under Bob Bradley and Peter Nowak at DC United from 2006-2009.

In 2010 he joined the front office of the Vancouver Whitecaps as Director of Soccer Operations and was named interm head coach for the remainder of the 2011 season. He returned as Director of Soccer Operations in 2012 before leaving the Whitecaps after the season.
Jason Olson is at jason.olson@ecm-inc.com

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