Photo by Lyndsay Radnedge/Burlingame Dragons FC
A college player-turned-coach, Eric Bucchere has provided opportunities aplenty for players looking to make the jump to the next level, and the current Head Coach of Burlingame Dragons FC sees similar leaps in his future.
“It's been a great two years with the Dragons and in the PDL,” Bucchere said.
“I first became interested in coaching as a career when I was in college playing for [current San Jose Earthquakes Academy coach] Paul Holocher. Paul is a dynamic and passionate guy, and brought out the best in me as a player and as a person. I knew I wanted to be that kind of a mentor one day. For me it's important to be happy where you are, but to continue to push and challenge yourself in new ways. Most importantly in five or 10 years, I hope I'm working with quality, motivated players and still learning as much or more than I'm teaching. As a player or coach you have to think about the future, but it shouldn't be at the cost of staying in the moment. Short answer, in five years to be on a USL sideline, in 10 years to be on a MLS sideline.”
While leading the PDL affiliate of MLS’s San Jose Earthquakes, Bucchere also serves as the Head Coach of NAIA school Menlo College. Whether it be at Menlo or Dragons FC, Bucchere has helped guide some of his players to the next level over the past few years.
“In Burlingame, and as part of the San Jose Earthquakes development model, we try to put our players in as many challenging situations as we possibly can,” Bucchere said. “For example this summer our players had the opportunity to train with the Argentinian and Mexican national teams during Copa America. We also regularly funnel players in and out of practice with the Quakes first team when they are doing well.
“I'm a big believer that you need to compete every day and so we make training as competitive as possible day in and day out. Because of that, we attract top-level guys that are ultra-competitive and want to be challenged and compete against the best. Our roster is deep and talented, and we want players who love that and want to compete.”
A former player of UC Santa Cruz, Bucchere earned his first assistant coaching gig at his alma mater. Since then, he’s joined UC San Diego as an assistant coach, was involved with San Diego Surf Soccer Club and served with the Earthquakes Youth Academy U16 and U18 teams.
Bucchere will return for his fourth season at Menlo College this fall. In 2014, Bucchere led the Oaks to a Cal Pac North Division Regular Season Championship. Bucchere encourages his players to participate in the PDL, seeing the league as the best option for college players over the summer.
“I think it's great for guys coming from non-DI programs because it's an opportunity to compete against different players,” Bucchere said. “The reality is: It's a lot more level of the playing field in college soccer than people think, and there are some absolutely top-class players in the NAIA, DII and DIII.”
While the 2016 PDL season is Bucchere’s first as the Head Coach of Dragons FC, he was an important member of the staff which helped lead Dragons FC to an 11-2-3 overall record and 2015 Southwest Division Championship.
“We want to be in playoffs every year competing for a PDL championship,” Bucchere said. “We also want to be graduating players into the USL and MLS. For me, those two things go hand in hand. This season, we are on track and hungry for more games to compete in.”
While Bucchere envisions his own pathway to the pros, he continues take great pride in Dragons FC and the players he leads.
“Burlingame stands out for a lot of reasons,” Bucchere said. “Incredible California location, some of the best weather in the world, great fans, Quakes MLS affiliation, history of success. Burlingame is also a great soccer town. After home games you see lots of green scarves and black shirts downtown, which really gives the players and staff great pride to represent that.
“The best part of coaching at any level is creating lasting relationships with your players,” Bucchere continued. “I can't wait to see how many guys move on from this group, and to watch them this fall excelling with their college or at the next level will be fantastic.”