[kicking it]
El Juego del Mundo
Bringing an international flavor to soccer at USD is a major goal
by Ryan T. Blystone

It’s been called the world’s game. Soccer — widely known outside the United States as futbol — enjoys a passionate following all over the globe. The sport quenches its fans’ thirst for competition, instills pride when there may be little else to cheer about and, in particularly avid locations, causes businesses to close during big games.

None of this is news to Seamus McFadden and Ada Greenwood, USD’s men and women’s soccer head coaches. A native of Dongal, Ireland, McFadden had developed a passion for soccer by age 15. Greenwood came of age in Essex County’s Southend, near London. “I grew up around soccer because there wasn’t much else,” Greenwood says. “It was my life for five or six hours a day, in school and after school. “

A lifetime of experience has played a role in their approach to coaching soccer players.

“We’re influenced by our background,” McFadden says. “Mine is European, but I also have Continental and Latin America influence. I played from age 17 into my 30s in Mexican leagues. I have an international sense in how I want to play.”

McFadden fielded USD’s first men’s team in 1980. He has a 294-210-44 overall record, 19 double-digit win seasons, five West Coast Conference titles, 11 NCAA tournament appearances and led USD to the 1992 national title game. He’s also a seven-time WCC coach of the year, thanks to the talents he’s recruited to USD.

McFadden’s success has had much to do with having the right players. “It’s about putting players in the right situations, limiting their touches on the ball and trying to pass their way out of it. There are two kinds of teams — one that plays soccer and one that tries to stop you from playing soccer. We try to play soccer.”

Greenwood was a USD women’s soccer assistant coach for five seasons before becoming head coach in 2003. He has a 54-39-10 record, one WCC coach of the year honor and three NCAA playoff appearances. “We try to play a very good possession game and have a lot of creativity. It’s a high-level style of play and we want really strong decision-makers on and off the ball. We want our players to be resilient and have a relentless mentality.”

To carry out the coaches’ systems, both like to infuse their roster with international players. “I’m a big advocate of bringing players from overseas because I believe it brings a lot of flavor, bridges continents and brings everyone together,” says McFadden, who’s had as many as six international players on his team at one time.

Greenwood has had players from Canada, England, Sweden, Norway, Ireland and Australia. “I definitely love having international players. They bring a lot of different elements to the team.”

One of USD’s top international male players was defender Roger Lindqvist, from Halmstad, Sweden, who played from 1992 to 1994. He led the Toreros to three consecutive NCAA postseason appearances. And American-born Ryan Guy (who played at USD from 2002 to 2006) competes for St. Patrick’s Athletic in the League of Ireland. McFadden saw Guy play recently just a few miles from where the coach grew up. “It was very gratifying.”

The women’s team currently has four players seeking experience in an international setting: seniors Amy Epsten and Jennifer Mello (Portugal national team invitees) and juniors Natalie Vinti and Jackie Garcia (Mexico national team invitees).

McFadden took his 1997 and 2002 teams to Ireland and England, respectively, to play exhibitions, bond and pick up a life lesson or two. He hopes to take another team trip soon.

McFadden says that such travel helps develop the whole student. “We go over there, go to a (Premier League) game and the players see how the other half lives and count their blessings for where they are and what they have.”