ASHEVILLE, N.C. (April 21, 2019) – Fieldhouse recently spoke with Asheville City’s men’s soccer head coach, Mick Giordano. Last year was Giordano’s first as head coach of the Blues and the team’s second campaign ever. Giordano is currently on the UNCA men’s soccer staff and also graduated as a Bulldog after two seasons with the team in 2012 and 2013. He’s previously coached at Wake Forest and Wofford.
The Blues host their 2019 season opener this Saturday (April 27) at Memorial Stadium at 7:00 p.m against the Tri-City Otters.
The interview was conducted at Asheville City’s 2019 launch event on March 28 and was edited for length and clarity.
On the 2019 Squad
We’re looking at carrying 26 to 27 [players] at most on the first team, and then we’re fortunate, we’ve added the AC Academy. That will be some of the younger boys and some will certainly factor in and be pulled up to the first team. They’ll also be able to go back and be in an environment that’s a little bit more suitable for them full-time.
We’re in a good spot with the roster. A lot of what we’ve done this year has been straight recruiting and the staff was fantastic. With us watching games throughout the fall, we probably watched over 150-200 games.
After personal conversations, speaking with coaches, or recommendations that we got from other coaches, we’re pretty happy with the roster. We think that it’s going to be a good group. We’ve got seven coming back; several of them were starting guys that were really important for us.
(Returners include: Bruno Andrade, Lukas Joyner, Luke Matthews (pictured above), Will Mims, Frank Rosenwald, Jamie Smith, and Nathan Watt)
On the Team’s Expanding Reach
We’ve been going and tapping into some new markets in Oklahoma, Colorado, and California where maybe we didn’t know the coach last year, or we didn’t know someone [there] before. Coming back now, the club’s done a really good job with getting its name out and word of how well it treats its players.
Of the boys that played last year, 98% were still in college, and so when they went back – they obviously had a good experience – they spread the word. So, last year we had a lot of interest, and this year we’ve had even more. It’s been awesome in that way. The club’s name is out there.
On Playing in Asheville
Our fans are unbelievable. That certainly makes it easier to talk to a college player coming here in the summer. It’s a great professional environment, and they can play in front of 2,000 – 3,000. It’s almost a no-brainer. So with the try-outs and the recruiting, it was quite nice and quite easy. What was difficult were the decisions to set the roster.
I think you take Detroit, you take Chattanooga, and then you take us and those are the top three environments in the NPSL (National Premier Soccer League). Our fans are at the very top.
It’s crazy – it’s hard to get the boys to hear you sometimes. We’re right there [next to the stands]. We made the change after the first year when our bench was right where the South Slope Blues are. Last year we changed our bench to go where the assistant referee is, on that line.
We’ve got a little notepad that, if we need to, we’ll write notes if the boys can’t hear us and we’ll pass it along to them.
I absolutely love having that environment.
On Coaching in Asheville Year-Round
Coach [Mathes] Mennell, the head coach at UNCA, was actually my first boss in the college game and gave me my first start. So, I’ve been able to come back and join his staff as well which has been great.
Matt Tellez is the other assistant (at both UNCA and with Asheville City) and he’s one of my best friends, so it’s been really fortunate. I came back up and worked with Coach Mennell again and it’s just been fantastic.
On the Team’s Style of Play
We want to be able to have possession. Everyone’s going to say that, but for us it’s not just keeping it, to keep it. It’s up to us to keep it, to break lines, and get the goal and be attacking-oriented. So, we’re going to have this possessing style that has an attacking purpose to it.
On the road, I learned as a first-year coach, there are times in certain environments – on certain fields – that we’re not gonna be able to do that in our conference, unfortunately. So, on the road, just like a pro team, maybe it’s a little uglier, maybe it’s a little bit more direct, maybe it’s just a solid block and you’re defending a little deeper and you’re not pressing, but you go find a way to get a one-nil result.
At the end of the day, one-nil results get you three points, and those get you at the top of the table.