Photo courtesy of Des Moines Menace
John Pascarella has high coaching aspirations, and after eight seasons serving on the Sporting Kansas City staff, he is hoping to not only showcase his abilities but improve them while leading the Des Moines Menace.
Pascarella, who will also serve as a scout for the USL Scouting Network in 2017, joined Sporting KC’s technical staff in 2009 and served as a goalkeeper and fitness coach until he became an assistant coach in 2011. With Premier Development League coaching experience already under his belt, Pascarella returns to the league eager to grow as a leader and coach.
Wanting to learn more about and help develop college-aged players, Pascarella joins a Menace team that has many talented players this season. University of Nebraska Omaha forward Elvir Ibisevic and Valparaiso University standouts Isaiah Madrid and Ramone Howell are among the many notable players at his disposal for the 2017 season.
The Menace, winners of the Heartland Division three years in a row, start their title defense against WSA Winnipeg on May 20.
PDL: What interested you in the head coaching position with the Menace?
JP: After serving as an assistant coach under Peter Vermes at Sporting KC and having learned so much, I was eager to see if I had the leadership skills and coaching ability to lead my own team. The Menace, with their long history, provided a stable franchise and supportive environment to begin that journey as a Head Coach. They have consistently been one of the best PDL teams both on and off the field which creates some pressure and expectation – which I tend to like and is the type of environment I thrive in.
PDL: Along with serving as the Head Coach of the Menace, you will also serve as a scout on the USL Scouting Network. Why do you want to participate in the USL Scouting Network?
JP: The purpose is simple and similar to why I was tasked with creating the draft board each year with Sporting KC – to identify the most talented college-aged players in the country so that they have a chance of progressing to the highest level appropriate for them and, in turn, giving our country and national team coaches a broader poll of players to select from. Over time, this should help our domestic leagues and national teams find even more success. The information we gather could also help U.S. Soccer understand the types of players we are currently developing and what aspects they may need to reevaluate so that we continue to improve our player development scheme at the youth level.
PDL: Can you explain how you identify talent? For a player wanting to know what it takes to make it to the next level – to move from college/PDL to the pros – what is required physically, technically, psychologically?
JP: Pace and power, as well as overall athleticism, continues to grow more important in the modern game and something we are looking for in the players we scout. Skill is obviously important, but being able to do it very quickly while being harassed by the opposition is what separates the best from the others. When I am looking at a player's skill, I also want to see what sets him apart – what is his strength? There are a lot of connectors in the game today, but is there someone that can deliver a final pass or play a textured cross or extremely strong in the air in front of goal? Some skill that sets them apart from the others is something I consider when scouting.
PDL: The PDL focuses on helping the development of players. Specifically, how do you help that process? What sort of coaching philosophy will you try to use and employ with the Menace?
JP: Players don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. If you can connect with them to make them comfortable with you, then they will open up their minds and allow you to help make them more competent. That increased competence leads to confidence in their ability to play and my ability to lead and teach. When that happens the magic begins.
PDL: What are you expecting for the Menace in your first season as their Head Coach?
JP: Quality attacking soccer with solid defending and smart decision making based on match circumstances, all the while displaying class throughout by all involved with the club. Working interdependently with the fans, the media, the referees and the league.