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Willamette United Magazine - Sharing the stories the make our club special









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Did you know?

Project update - What is the status of our new home fields?

In the office and on the field Krisa is taking care of Willamette United members.

We give you all of the details concerning our Player Development Program.

WUFC PROGRAM OVERVIEW Which program is best for your child?


Checking in with WUFC alumni Kira Saito and Joe Corner.


Meet WUFC sponsor Jay Puppo of Puppo’s State Farm.


LAFC soccer club’s 24/7 ‘MOM’



Meet WUFC Alum Mitch Monihan!

Welcome to the first edition of the Willamette United Magazine! The staff and Board of Directors of Willamette United are excited to launch our club’s official Magazine. Our club has almost 3000 registered players and a number of unique soccer programs. In order to keep up with our growing club we have had to increase the amount of communication we give to our members. We understand that the communication coming from our office can be overwhelming at times so we are trying to work smarter in the way we reach certain segments of our membership in different seasons. We have to keep our day to day communication at a minimum. That means we never really get to tell in-depth stories about the amazing people that make up our club. We have so many incredible players, parents, coaches and supporters that comprise our membership. In order to share the stories that can’t be put into an email or Facebook post we decided to launch this magazine. We will use the magazine to tell you about the big things happening in our club and the incredible people that make up Willamette United. In the next twelve months we will be building a new sports park, launching a club wide leadership program and increasing our scope to more than soccer. We want your feedback and ideas for the next issue. If you have a great photograph you want to share or a story we should tell email me at ray@willametteunitedfc.com. We hope you enjoy this publication! Ray Nelson Executive Director Willamette United Football Club


WILLLAMETTE UNITED STAFF Club Administrator & Registrar - Krisa Duff Email: krisa@willametteunitedfc.com Cell: 503-638-9777 President of Soccer and Club Director of Coaching - Jim Brazeau Email:jim@willametteunitedfc.com Cell: 503-704-9292 Director of Operations / Recreational Manager - Steve Piercy Email: steve@willametteunitedfc.com Cell: 503-314-7161 Associate Director of Coaching / Camps - Mike Iacolucci Email mike@willametteunitedfc.com Cell: 206-380-1116 PDP Director - Alex Hockborn alex@willametteunitedfc.com WILLLAMETTE UNITED BOARD OF DIRECTORS Club President / Executive Director - Ray Nelson ray@willametteunitedfc.com Chairman - Greg Gabler Greg.Gabler@sumcousa.com Club Vice President - Kasey Saito ksaito2@comcast.net Secretary - Mike Hansen mhansen@earlbrown.com Treasurer - Joe Sullivan JSullivan@delapcpa.com Player Advocate - Bobbi Kelly bobbikelly6585@aol.com Recreational Director - Scott Howard gotsoccer@outlook.com Member at Large - Erik Simshauser simshauser_e@yahoo.com Member at Large - Justine Keith justinesemail@gmail.com 3


Plans to build a new youth sports field in our community are moving ahead slowly but surely. The club has used the money we raised with our club auctions to complete all of the surveys, studies and plans needed to apply for a conditional use permit through Clackamas County. While this process is slow and expensive the club is making progress with the hopes of opening the park in 2020. Here are the highlights from the last 12 months of work: • Willamette United secured a “similar use decision”. Before we could apply for a conditional use permit (needed for construction) we had to get “sports fields” added to the list of approved facilities that may be considered for a conditional use permit. • We have completed all of the studies, surveys, reports and plans needed as part of the conditional use permit application process. This includes but is not limited to traffic studies, environmental studies, hydrological studies, soil testing, site surveying and preliminary construction budgets. • The conditional use permit application has been completed and all pertinent reports are included. We are waiting one one item from the land owner and then the application will be filed with the county. • We have created full sponsorship proposals and will be approaching potential sponsors soon for park and field naming rights. • We have communicated with over 15 different local youth sports organizations and we have verbal commitments to rent over 65% of the available field time at the park. This includes almost all of the West Linn and Wilsonville youth sports organizations. • We have the large financing pieces in place to pay for the $14.1 million construction budget. The financing package will include existing revenue, new revenue streams specific to the park, donations, a SNAP loan through a bank and a substantial investment from a private group. We will also be applying for multiple grants. In order to begin construction next year we need to get our park designers working on all of the drawings and plane specific for the site prep and excavation. That piece of the project is going to cost approximately $250,000. We will begin a donation campaign at the end of 2018 in order to try and immediately raise the money needed to get the site prep plan completed. Our goal is to secure a conditional use permit in the first half of 2019. If we receive a positive decision we will break ground as soon as the weather allows. If we secure the conditional use permit in early 2019 we hope for a fall 2020 park opening.

You can learn more at www.wufcsouthlake.com. 4

The park will feature a field house, operational building and three artificial turf fields with lights. All fields are sized to work for soccer, lacrosse and football.

The 30,000 SF field house is designed for soccer, futsal, lacrosse, football, and softball. The open space has been designed to be quickly set up for different sports.


• Three outdoor turf fields for soccer, American football. lacrosse and all field sports

• An 30,000 SF indoor training facility for soccer, football, lacrosse, and all field sports • An operational building that will include: 1. A large multi purpose room for training, workshops, seminars and speakers. 2. Operational offices 3. Gathering areas and lobby 4. Team rooms 5. Training and health room 6. Concession area that provides healthy food for families • Covered “crow’s nest” for comfortable parent viewing of outdoor fields • Playground (Harper’s Playground designed for all children including those with special needs) • BBQ pit and picnic area for individual families and large groups • Jogging path and river viewing area 5

rooting for one another meet our newest staff member Krisa Duff

If you’ve called or visited the Willamette United

She attended Paradise Valley Community College for her Freshman and Sophomore year where she led her team to the NJCAA National Championship! She then transferred to Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon where she played left midfield.

office recently you’ve probably met Krisa Duff.

From day one Krisa had big shoes to fill. As our new Club Administrator and Registrar, Krisa was taking over for Dawn Gunther who retired in March of this year. Dawn is a legend in our community. She was with the club for almost 20 years and she helped grow Willamette United into one of the strongest and most viable youth sports organizations in the area. She worked tirelessly to communicate with families and manage much of the day-to-day operations for nearly 3,000 local soccer players. No easy task by any measure. Thankfully Krisa was up to the challenge and the transition was smooth.

“MY FAVORITE PART ABOUT COACHING AT WILL AMET TE UNITED IS GET TING TO HELP INDIVIDUAL PL AYERS COME TOGETHER AS A TEAM, SUPPORTING AND ROOTING FOR ONE ANOTHER.” -Krisa Duff Krisa came to us from Pacific University where she graduated with a degree in Sociology and she is currently enrolled in the Arizona State University online Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership and Management.

Krisa is currently the Head Coach of the 2009 Girls PDP age group and the Assistant Coach of the 2007 Girls Classic age group. She enjoys working with the younger players and helping to grow their passion for the game. She also goes well beyond just soccer coaching to help players develop respect and compassion for their teammates.

Today Krisa is in charge of all aspects of player and team registration as well as the day-to-day operations of our office. She sets up registration at the start of each program, registers our players for tournaments and leagues, and communicates with the league directors to make sure everything is ready for our players and teams to play each week. She also works with the rest of the administrative staff to help answer any questions and create a positive experience for all of our WUFC players during their season. In addition to her office responsibilities she also coaches with multiple teams for the club. Krisa grew up in Phoenix, Arizona where she started playing soccer at the age of 5. She played competitively with North Scottsdale Soccer Club at the age of 12 and instantly became the star of the team. 6

WHAT IS PDP? Knowing what soccer program is right for your child can be confusing - Let us help!

The Player Development Program

(also known as PDP) is designed to provide a high quality training environment for young soccer players (U8, U9 & U10). This program is for those players looking for something more competitive, and challenging than recreational soccer. In 2016 US Soccer adopted a model where youth soccer teams are comprised of players born in the same birth year. The current PDP players were born in 2011 (U8), 2010 (U9) and 2009 (U10).

PDP trains on the grass fields at Athey Creek Middle School. There are 2 PDP seasons, Summer/ Fall (June-October) and Spring (February-April) both of which include 2 training sessions per week and participating in a development league on Sundays (7-8 games). The development leagues are focused on development and fun and our teams do play against other local soccer teams. One of the fantastic elements to the WUFC PDP program is that we run our own FALL Player Development League (PDL) at Wilsonville High School. (No travel!) Teams from around the Portland Metro area come to play competitive soccer in a safe, fun, and development focused environment. By running our own league we can control the environment. The WUFC staff makes sure that the games are fun and that coaches and parents support young players without pushing them in an overly competitive way. If you have any questions about the program or if you want help learning if this program is right for your child email Alex or Mike. Alex Hockborn (WUFC PDP and PDL Director) alex@willametteunitedfc.com

At Willamette United FC we create a development focused environment for our grassroots players, by providing them with an experienced PDP coaching staff trained in early player development Those coaches use a player focused curriculum designed to help players develop and progress in all fundamental areas of the game.

Mike Iacolucci (Associate Director of Coaching) mike@willametteunitedfc.com

PDP INFORMATION AT A GLANCE • What: A structured soccer program for young players looking for a competitive environment with experienced coaches • Duration: TWO SEASONS FALL: Early May through end of October SPRING: March through April • Ages: Players that are 7, 8, and 9 years old • Training Location: Athey Creek Middle School • Training Days: Monday/Wednesday (BOYS) & Tuesday/Thursday (GIRLS) • Games: 2 Summer Jamborees and 1 Tournament in August WUFC Fall PDP League - 8 league games – Wilsonville High School Follow the below links if you are interested in more information on PDP or the WUFC PDL PDP: http://www.willametteunitedfc.com/home.php?layout=900893 WUFC PDL: http://www.willametteunitedfc.com/home.php?layout=4506465


WUFC PROGRAM OVERVIEW WHAT program is best for your child?

Selecting the right youth sport program for your child is like ordering from a restaurant menu in a

foreign country. If you don’t speak the language how can you be expected to pick the right option? In an effort to help you make the right decision for your young player we have created this summary of available soccer programs and the variables to consider when choosing the right program. All programs have the same options and value for both girls and boys. All of our Recreational programs are organized by grade and all of our competitive programs are organized by birth year. (Our competitive players must be registered through US Soccer and they decided in 2016 to organize all programming by the year a player was born.) Recreational Soccer = Small time commitment, lower cost and fun is the priority. Competitive Soccer (PDP and Classic) = Year-round play, higher cost and more competitive.

Pre-K: We don’t currently offer any organized programs for players younger than Kindergarten or 2012 birth year. If you are interested in getting your pre-k child excited about soccer give us a call and we can recommend some fun programs at local indoor centers and summer camps.

Kindergarten – 2nd Grade: For K-2 players who just want to get started with Soccer and

have some fun with it, we offer a couple our K-2 recreational soccer program. This program runs mid August – October and is perfect for first time players. We also offer Summer Camps in June and July as well as Winter and Spring Skills Camps under our YDA (Youth Development Academy).

7, 8 and 9 Year Olds: For players born in 2011-2009 who want something a little more

competitive than recreational soccer,we offer our Player Development Program (PDP). This program has two different seasons, Summer/Fall and Spring. PDP is designed for players and families who want a little more out of their youth soccer experience and want to prepare their child for competitive soccer. PDP coaches are paid staff coaches who are licensed and trained to run practices and games for this age group. With two training sessions per week and games on the weekend, PDP players are immersed in soccer with their teammates and really become students of the game. PDP does require a slightly greater time commitment from families, but you can still choose to just play in the Fall or play both Fall and Spring.


3rd – 8th Grade: Our Fall Recreational program is perfect for 3rd-8th graders who want to play for fun and not have soccer take up too much of their schedule. The Fall season starts at the end of August and runs through the end of October. We also offer Summer Camps and Winter and Spring skills programs for 3rd-8th grade recreational players.

For 3rd through 8th grade players who want to play competitive soccer against other high level teams in the Portland area and beyond we offer our Classic program. Try outs for classic soccer happen early each May. Classic players compete year-round and practice twice a week with 1-2 games on the weekends. They compete in tournaments in the Summer as well as an end of season playoff tournament. Our Classic coaches are salaried professionals who have vast knowledge of the game. Classic Soccer is a year-round program with a break in the Winter for the holidays (although some players continue with indoor futsal in the Winter). The time commitment, travel, and cost make this a program best suited for players and families who want soccer to be a big part of their youth sports experience. Our players get the chance to bond with their teammates and coaches over the course of the year and play some of the best competition in the state. They also get the opportunity to develop technical and tactical skills that will allow them to play the game at a high level in High School and College. Multi sport athletes are welcome!

High School: Our high school players have two different options. Recreational players can join our High School Coed program and play in the Fall season with an end of season Coed tournament. Our more

competitive players can join our partner club Crossfire Oregon. Crossfire Oregon offers year-round competitive soccer for high level players and the coaches are experienced and trained to coach high level soccer.

Camps and Academies are the next affordable option. Summer Camps, Winter Academy, and Spring Academy are very affordable options for your player to get a lot of touches on the ball in a short span of time and have a blast with our camp staff coaches.

Regardless of which program you choose we can promise you that all of us at WUFC will do everything in our power to ensure that your youth soccer experience is a positive one. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to any one of our staff members if you have questions about our programs and which option may be best for your child!


WILLAMETTE UNITED ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT Kira Saito We caught up with WUFC alum, Kira Saito. Kira currently is playing soccer and attending school at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. When did you know that you wanted to try and play college soccer.

I feel like I’ve always wanted to play college soccer. I love the game and want to play for as long as I can.

Tell us about your favorite youth soccer moment.

My favorite youth soccer moment happened when I played for Willamette United. It was the finals in state cup in 2012. We went into double overtime and in the last minute of the game, the ball was shot, deflected off the keepers hands right to my feet and I tapped it in. I will always remember that moment and the trip to regionals in Arizona.

Tell us about a person that inspired you to want to play college soccer.

My dad was the main person who helped me get to where I am today. He was my coach for most of my youth soccer career and now he’s my biggest supporter. He’s always kept me motivated and inspired to be the best player and person I can be.

What make a good team mate in your opinion?

To me the best teammate is someone who you can connect with on and off the field. They are someone who will work for the team, not just for themselves and are committed to working hard to make the team the best they can be. In the summer of 2013, two of my teammates got hit by a car and sustained very bad head injuries. This was a really hard time for my team, but we all had each other for support. We made signs and posters and videos for them while they were in the hospital, and when they got to go home, the club made huge signs and everyone in the whole club signed them. Willamette United has always been there for me and all of their players.


Why did you choose Willamette University?

I chose Willamette university mainly for the soccer opportunity. All of the players are extremely welcoming and caring. Everyone is supportive and very close with each other. This makes it easier for us to play together because we know each other so well.

What advice would you give to a player wanting to play college soccer?

My advice to young soccer players who want to play in college would be to work hard, set goals, and appreciate every chance you get to play. Things are not handed to you so you have to work hard, but it pays off. If you want something and you work hard for it, it will happen for you.

TOP: Kira with her Willamette United team. Her father, Kasey is in the back row on the left. LOWER LEFT: Kira celebrates a scoring a goal for her West Linn Lions! LOWER RIGHT: Kira in action with Willamette University.


WILLAMETTE UNITED ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT Joe Corner We checked in with WUFC alum, Joe Corner. Joe is playing soccer and attending school at Gonzaga University in Spokane. Washington. When did you know that you wanted to try and play college soccer.

Ever since I started playing soccer when I was 5, I wanted to play professionally. Every kid dreams of being a pro, scoring in front of thousands of fans. I would shoot into my little goal in the backyard and pretend I played for Manchester United. But once I got to be about 12 or 13, the idea of college soccer came onto my radar. I still just focused on playing my best and getting better every day, but the goal of playing division 1 soccer started to form in the back of my mind.

Tell us about your favorite youth soccer moment.

One of my favorite youth soccer moments came with our Willamette United Arsenal team in Phoenix for the Far West Regionals. We were a really good team, always won state cup, but we still felt like underdogs a little bit. We managed to get to the quarter finals and matched up with one of the best teams in the country from LA. It was easily 115 degrees and we held them off to get to penalties. It came to me to step up as the 5th shooter and send our little WUSC team to the regional semi-finals. When it hit the back of the net, it was at the time the most exciting thing I had done in my career. Celebrating on the field was amazing, and I just remember being so pumped we got to stay a few more days. At the time, staying in hotels and being far away from home was very new and we felt pretty big time. I’ll always remember that trip and that moment.

Tell us about a person that inspired you to want to play college soccer.

If I were to pick a professional player on the field that inspired me to keep getting better, it was Thierry Henry. I have always been a goal scorer and I remember watching videos on youtube of him effortlessly beating keepers. I just wanted to score goals like he did. His ability to always find a way to get it in the net is a mentality that I’ve tried to emulate. For someone that I personally know, my dad has to be the biggest help. He sacrificed endlessly to support my dream. He has been the one thats always been there for me during the good and bad times, and I would not be where I am today without him.


What make a good team mate in your opinion?

I’ve had so many incredible teammates over the years it’s very hard to pick one, but one that really sticks out in my mind is Felipe Hernandez who I played with in Sporting Kansas City’s Academy. He was a central midfielder that had a work rate like I had never seen before, and his willingness to chase and defend and work was really the motor for entire team. I think he was such a good teammate because you could always rely on him to be the hardest working player on the field no matter how the game was going. If I was feeling tired, to be able to look over my shoulder and see him chasing a guy all the way to the corner flag was always a great motivator. Teammates that lead by example are the best in my opinion. Felipe plays professionally now in the USL for Swope Park Rangers, so clearly that mentality has paid off.

What has been the best part and the hardest part in adjusting to college?

The best part of playing college soccer is playing in games. When you’re under the lights, you’ve got a couple thousand fans in the stands and you know your family is watching back home, it feels pretty special. Knowing every time I step on the field is an opportunity a lot of players would kill to have, but don’t get to, means a lot. The hardest part of college soccer is managing your time. You have to travel a lot for games and classes aren’t all as easy as they are in high school. The professors might not mind if you’re absent because they know if you don’t come you’re going to struggle. So keeping up with studying takes a real effort.

What advice would you give to a player wanting to play college soccer?

What should they do if they want to follow in your foot steps. My advice would be play as much as you can. Play as much soccer as you can play. Get on the ball every day. The best players absolutely live for the game. I know when I was younger I would practice as much as I could, and it has gotten me to the point I’m at today.

What would you like to share about your soccer experience growing up? UPPER LEFT: Joe attacks the goal for Gonzaga against Cal Poly. UPPER RIGHT: Joe gathers the ball in a Northwest Champions League semi-final for Willamette United. BOTTOM: Joe pictured as a member of the Willamette United Arsenal team that won multiple state championships.

Enjoy every moment of playing youth soccer. I have played all over the country with many different teams, coaches and players. I’ve played with a dozen players that are now professionals in the MLS. But the times I remember the most are often from when I was 12 beating Eastside out at Liberty high school. Enjoy it, because you only get so many opportunities to step on the field.



If you live in Wilsonville you have probably met Jay Puppo. Jay is a State Farm Insurance broker and he seems to be at every local event and gathering. If you spend a few minutes with Jay you realize that he loves our community. We asked Jay a few questions about his involvement in our community. Here is what we learned...

How long have you been in business?

I started with State Farm in 1989 so next year will be my 30th year in the insurance industry, all with State Farm. My wife, Tammy and I opened our agency in Wilsonville in 2000 so this is our 18th year owning the business.

What services do you offer?

Our team focuses on Home, Car, Life and Small Business insurance. I personally help clients to plan for their retirement and other larger goals like paying for college or starting a new business venture. Through State Farm Bank we offer checking and savings accounts and credit cards and CDs. We excel at car loans and home loans.

What makes you the best option for insurance (Sell yourself unabashedly).

We love what we do and we’re very good at it. We pro-actively invite clients in for an annual review. We make sure our clients are taking advantage of all of State Farm’s discounts and we help identify the land mines before anyone steps on them. Every member of my team is a licensed agent. I believe we are the only office in South Portland area that can boast that accomplishment. We are prompt, courteous, professional and when your worst day comes our team will take care of you like no other.

Tell us why you sponsor so many community events?

Tammy and I believe that community is everything. Something truly special happens when the community gathers to play and celebrate. We see it at the soccer events and Rotary concerts and the Kiwanis Kids Fun Run. We just love being a part of it all!

Tell us about your family and your Wilsonville roots.

Tammy and I have 3 amazing sons. Aaron is a Senior at OSU majoring in Bio Health Sciences with minors in Chemistry and Spanish. Luke is a Sophomore at OSU studying Computer Science. Carson, our youngest, is an 8th grader at Wood. Carson currently serves as president of Jr Scoop Ice Cream Company and he keeps bees in our backyard. He recently harvested 144 lbs of honey which he is selling to make money to one day buy a truck. All three of our sons love soccer! Tammy has served on the board of Wilsonville Community Sharing, Wilsonville’s food bank. I am active in Kiwanis and currently serve as a mentor to Jr Scoop’s student leaders. 14

How did you end up an insurance agent?

I have always loved business. As a small boy I sold iron on t-shirt decals at the bus stop up the road from our house. I took the money and bought a lawn mower and started my own mowing business. Mowing lawns helped me pay my way through Willamette University. Out of college I planned to open a chain of Figaro’s Take N Bake pizza stores with my friend who started the company yet I had too many college loans. He suggested I work for State Farm for a year or two and pay off my loans. My first day at State Farm I knew there was something special about the company. I never planned to be in insurance, yet State Farm fit my values and priorities. And when I was offered the opportunity to move to Wilsonville and have the agency here, it was the culmination of many dreams!

Do you have a crazy insurance story like we see on commercials?

You know... like when a person drives their car into their neighbor’s pool? My client’s young son was playing with matches on his bunk bed. When his sheets caught fire he ran down the hall and got the oscillating fan to “put the fire out.” Unfortunately, the fan just fanned the flames and filled the room with smoke so he ran down the hall and grabbed a can of hair spray to cover up the smell. Luckily he survived the fire. The home and his eyebrows did not! One of my Charbonneau clients jumped out of her golf cart to retrieve her ball. Unfortunately, the cart was on a slope and it roll backwards into the lake. Electric golf cars don’t run well in lakes! After remodeling their master bathroom my clients headed to Palm Springs for a golf tournament. He was winning so he called his neighbor and asked her to go into his house and UPS his lucky golf pants to him. As she opened the door and walked inside she heard her feet go squish squish on the carpet and then saw the “rain” coming through the living room ceiling. The newly installed toilet failed and had been cycling for weeks. The client trusted us so much he stayed in California as we oversaw the reconstruction of his home.

Willamette United can not operate successfully without the generous support from our local sponsors. Sponsor dollars help us pay for fields and scholarships for children that can not afford to play soccer. We will feature one or two of our sponsors in each edition of The Willamette United Magazine. When given the opportunity please support all of the businesses listed on the sponsor page of this publication!


LA soccer club’s 24/7 ‘mom’ loves his job By Paul Danzer

Thank you to Pamplin Media for allowing Willamette United to share a portion of this article which was first published in the West Linn Tidings. The original article has been edited for space.

Taking a call in the middle of the night because someone can’t find their keys might not sound like a scenario that comes with a dream job. But for West Linn’s Mitchell Monihan, solving such problems is all in a day’s (or night’s) work. And the 26-yearold loves it. His title is player coordinator for Los Angeles Football Club, but his title does not capture the nature of a job that is all about making life easier for the MLS team’s players. Monihan — who played soccer at West Linn High School and for Willamette United, and later, co-coached the WLHS freshman soccer team for two years — jokes that he is like the team mom for LAFC, the newest club in MLS. “It’s essentially whatever I can do to take the stress off of them and have them solely focused on playing soccer,” Monihan said. Monihan’s path to MLS started at OSU. He played for the men’s club soccer team and, along with twin brother Ian, was copresident and financial officer for the club. That experience gave him a glimpse at the business side of sports. After graduating with a marketing degree with an emphasis on sports marketing, he worked briefly in sales for Pamplin Media Group before pursuing his career in pro sports. Monihan reached out to people working in the sports industry, conducting informational interviews. “I found out there is no one, exact route to get into the sports world,” he said. “I did find out it was a lot about who you knew and not what you knew.” During the 2015 MLS season, Monihan was a member of the Timbers Street Team, a group that attends community events and activities to promote the club and the sport. His hope was he could land an opportunity in the Timbers marketing department, but there were no openings. His break came two years ago, when he saw a Craigslist ad about a new San Francisco professional soccer club. At first, Monihan thought the ad was a joke. But after a month of interviews, he was hired as the San Francisco Deltas’ manager of team administration. The Deltas won the North American Soccer League championship last season (beating Giovanni Savarese’s New York Cosmos in the finals), but by midseason, the Deltas’ ownership announced the team would cease operating at the end of 2017. Everyone started looking for jobs. Monihan was recommended to LAFC and now works for a club that is creating buzz for its striking new stadium, its attacking talent and the work of former United States men’s national team coach Bob Bradley. “If someone told me when I was watching him coach the men’s national team that I would be working with Bob Bradley every single day, I would not have believed it,” Monihan said. Days off are rare during the season, and no day is typical. Many days for Monihan start at 5:30 a.m., with his own workout at the club’s training facility. While working out, he and the club’s director of sports science will talk about any injuries or other player-related issues that might require scheduling a doctor appointment.

Willamette United alum, Mitch Monihan watches LAFC prepare for a summer match against the Portland Timbers in Providence Park.


When the players arrive, Monihan puts on his concierge hat, checking on needs that include things such as getting a credit card or cellphone for a player’s wife or arranging family travel. While the team trains, Monihan spends his time trying to solve as many of the players’ problems as he can. Many days, there are more requests for help after training. Working closely with team administrator Geoff Huber, Monihan plans for the road trips, focusing on the transportation. He schedules flights and buses. He also works to make sure required paperwork is in order when the team acquires international players. On travel days, Monihan arrives at the airport at least 90 minutes ahead of the team to make sure boarding passes are printed for all 37 in the travel party, tags are printed for 35 equipment bags, and each coach and player is assigned their preferred seat. Monihan speaks a little Spanish and intends to keep learning that language. Fortunately, LAFC assistant coach Marc Dos Santos is there to translate. Dos Santos, who reportedly was among the finalists for the Timbers coaching job, was the Deltas’ head coach and speaks six languages. During games, Monihan is stationed near (but not on) the bench. He is ready if coaches or trainers need anything, for example, grabbing a pair of shoes from the locker room. Glamorous work it is not. But for Monihan — who dreams of becoming a general manager in pro sports — the people he meets and the relationships he can build are worth the long hours. “My dream job would be the general manager of the Portland Trail Blazers. But I see this career path leading me to be a general manager of a Major League Soccer team,” he said. Daily contact with players, their agents, the coaching staff, general manager John Thorrington and assistant GM Will Kuntz is a tremendous learning environment for Monihan. Kuntz, knowing Monihan’s ambition, has suggested “about 1,000 pages of light reading” such as the collective bargaining agreement with the players union and studying minutia of the MLS operating rules. Monihan does not know where his career arc might take him next. Perhaps he will work on the soccer side, cutting video for coaches or working with the youth academy. Maybe it will be a bigger role with a smaller organization. “The goal is to try to be an assistant GM somewhere where I can learn even more,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to get in at a young age and have a long time to work toward that goal.” The goal makes having to solve problems at all hours worth it. After a recent match at Houston, a player not on the road trip called Monihan because he lost his keys at an Ikea. In San Francisco last season, a player who had only his phone and could not find his locker after a workout at a gym ended up spending the night at Monihan’s home. For all of those quirky challenges, it is the people — and the experience of being part of a team — that Monihan most relishes. “My favorite part of the job is that I get to work with a bunch of different people from a bunch of different backgrounds,” Monihan said. “Being able to work with our coaching staff and our players, you really get to see them for who they are outside of how they’re portrayed by the media. Mitch Monihan playing for WUFC (Top) and West Linn High School (Bottom

“Being in close contact with our players and their families is very rewarding. You get to know them on a personal basis, and I get to work in a sport I grew up loving my entire life. Every single day, 24/7, it’s all about soccer. It’s been a really good ride so far.”


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UPCOMING PROGRAMS AND EVENTS • Winter Academy - Kindergarten-8th Grade Rec • Spring PDP - 2011-2009 birth year Check www.willametteunitedfc.com for all details



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Willamette United Magazine Issue 1  

The stories that make us Willamette United Football Club.

Willamette United Magazine Issue 1  

The stories that make us Willamette United Football Club.