Alan Koch Announced As FC Edmonton Head Coach
FC Edmonton has made it official: Alan Koch is the new head coach of the Canadian Premier League side, who also picks up the secondary title of Director of Football Operations.
The 45-year-old South African gaffer comes with a high coaching pedigree, having previously coached FC Cincinnati in both the USL and its first-ever MLS season, with a more recent stint in the USL with the Colorado Springs Switchbacks having ended this month as Koch departed for his new role.
The head coach is perhaps most well-known for his monumental run in the US Open Cup with USL-era FC Cincinnati, where he trounced MLS sides Columbus Crew SC and Chicago Fire to reach the semi-finals of the domestic cup.
The Eddies have been without a head coach since September 21, when Jeff Paulus stepped down following a winless campaign at the Island Games bubble tournament. Koch becomes the fifth head coach in Eddies history, and the second of its CPL era.
It is a privilege to join FC Edmonton and I am grateful to Tom Fath and Eric Newendorp for this opportunity. I look forward to building on from the foundations that are already in place, and assessing the areas that we need to adjust to have the required success in this new league. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but I am confident that we can have success with the club.Alan Koch
Eddies co-owner Tom Fath noted that while the club looked at head coaches from around the world, the decision to bring in Koch came easily: the Alberta-based side was impressed by his winning pedigree, which Fath says will play a big role in filling the stands at a club ground with much room for improvement in regards to drawing crowds.
This isn’t Koch’s first time coaching in Canada either, with the well-pedigreed gaffer having moved to Vancouver in 2008 to coach at Simon Fraser University. It was there he won a multitude of coaching awards as he led his team to the top of the NCAA Division 2 national rankings prior to pursuing an opportunity with the Vancouver Whitecaps. He left Canadian university coaching behind after 126 games and an 83.33% win record at the NCAA level.
He arrived to the Whitecaps in a scouting role initially, but then earned the nod to take the reign as the first-ever Vancouver Whitecaps 2 head coach in 2015. He spent a little over a year with the side, ultimately becoming the first head coach to give Canadian youngster Alphonso Davies minutes at the professional level before the head coach joined FC Cincinnati.
It was during his time at FC Cincinnati when the Canadian Premier League first caught his eye, with the gaffer revealing he held discussions with a few clubs prior to the launch of the league. While he decided to remain in the USA at that point, those early discussions eventually gave way to today’s announcement.
With FC Edmonton having relied heavily on its academy system in the past, new Club President Eric Newendorp will be hoping that the coach can find a balance between his keen eye for young talent and his ability to secure results on the pitch, which is an area the Eddies have been sorely lacking.
In all three of his USL stints, Koch achieved a higher win percentage than any head coach in FC Edmonton history. This suggests that there will be a fair amount of turnover in the Eddies camp as Koch builds a roster that can begin securing results.
The club had been waiting until today’s announcement to begin revealing season ticket memberships, with Newendorp keen to show fans his vision for an improved Clarke Stadium experience.
Prior to Koch’s arrival with the club, FC Edmonton has re-signed a trio of academy youngsters in Marcos Velado-Tsegaye, Antony Caceres, and Chance Carter, while the CanPL Editorial team states that Easton Ongario and Jeannot Esua have signed on for 2021 as well. Given that Raul Tito stated he was on loan with plans to arrive in Canada afterwards, one imagines that his contract is set for the upcoming year, too.
To that end, Koch states that he doesn’t envision the Eddies playing a slow game under his tenure: he wants to lead an attacking side, and to do that he’ll be looking for players who match this style. He wants to hit the ground running in this ‘tiki-taka’ style of sorts, and will be looking at the market to fill this need while also making mention that there are some players presently at FC Edmonton that fit his style.
I pride myself on trying to play attacking soccer, and that’s obviously philosophically, but to do that you need to have attacking players.Alan Koch
In regards to the numerous out-of-contract players, Koch states that the next few days will be spent in deep discussions with Newendorp regarding which members of this year’s roster should be re-signed. Come 2021, fans should expect to see a few familiar faces, but perhaps a majority of new ones, too.
High on his priority list on the pitch beyond roster building and general philosophies are managing set pieces – for which the club has struggled with previously, even conceding three headed goals in one match against York9 FC last year – and improving the club’s creative output, too.
All-told, Koch brings in a great combination of USL connections, an eye for young talent, and experience with with the professional game in Canada. He looks to be an excellent hire by an FC Edmonton front office that hopes to win at least one North Star Shield within the next five years.
The Eddies have become just the second Canadian Premier League club to replace their head coach following Pacific FC’s sacking of Michael Silberbauer in 2019. He was ultimately replaced by Pa-Modou Kah, another coach who spent time with both FC Cincinnati and the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The term and financial details of Koch’s contract were not disclosed by FC Edmonton.
Header Image Photo Credit: Hayden Schiff