Photo by Des Moines Menace
Mike Matkovich's coaching resume is long and impressive.
He has experience at the highest level of the professional game, and he brings that experience to the PDL with the Des Moines Menace.
"I think [what makes the Menace successful is] the overall organization from the owner [Kyle Krause] to the front office to the way we go about running everything," Matkovich said. "I’m probably biased, but I think this is the best-run organization in the PDL."
Matkovitch is no stranger to the PDL. He was the head coach of Chicago Fire U-23 from 2002-06, coaching players like Brad Guzan, Jay DeMerit and Ricardo Clark while leading the Fire to first-place finishes in the Great Lakes and Heartland Divisions each year.
Following his string of strong seasons with the Fire's PDL team, he began his MLS coaching career as an assistant coach for Toronto FC in 2007 before moving to Chivas USA as an assistant in 2008. Matkovitch, who is a Chicago native, then moved back to the Fire, where he served two stints as an assistant coach for the first team.
He did not stay away from the PDL for long, though, returning to a head coaching role with the Fire U-23 in 2014 before making the move to Des Moines a year later.
While he believes he develops his own skill set as a coach in the league, Matkovich most enjoys guiding young players on the path to professionalism.
"Working with the players [is what I enjoy as a coach in the PDL]," Matkovich said. "Trying to give these guys a little bit of reality for if they want to move on to play after college, to play in a pro environment.
"I think [the PDL is] a level above college programs. I think the environment is similar to what players will see in a professional environment."
He has not been with the Menace long, but Matkovich has already seen some of his players reach the pros.
"From last year’s team, we had two guys drafted by MLS teams – Chris Hellmann [drafted by Vancouver Whitecaps FC] and Vince Cicciarelli [drafted by Columbus Crew SC]," Matkovitch said. "They’re now in the USL – Chris is with the Charlotte Independence and Vince is with Saint Louis FC. A third guy from last year – Alec Bartlett [2013-15 Menace] – has joined Chris in Charlotte."
The Menace are off to a good start in the 2016 PDL season, and the team has even reached the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup – one of three PDL teams to do so.
To Matkovitch, the goals this campaign are clear: win the Heartland Division, win the PDL Championship and go further than any other PDL side in the Open Cup.
Matkovitch has experienced success in the PDL before, and appears to be on the path to another successful season with the Menace. However, results are not the be-all, end-all for the coach. He has accomplished many feats in his coaching career, but at the end of the day, helping players live up to their potential is what Matkovitch enjoys the most.
"The highlight for me," Matkovitch said, "is the players I’ve had the opportunity to coach and help develop."