Urbanyi helps further Kaw Valley FC’s connection to its developmental partner in Major League Soccer. The former coach of the Sporting KC Academy U16 and U18 teams from 2014-2016, Urbanyi has an intimate familiarity with the organization and may even get the opportunity to continue working with some of his former Academy players at Kaw Valley. The Hungarian international, who’s won a number of trophies over the course of his playing career and time with the National Team, is ready to translate what he’s learned at one of the pre-eminent MLS academy systems to a new age group previously underserved in the Kaw Valley-area.
While filling the gap in player development between the SKC Academy and the United Soccer League’s Swope Park Rangers, Urbanyi hopes to instill a sense of what it means to be a professional in his players. Winning is certainly an objective in the team’s first season, but Urbanyi’s true goal remains the development of upcoming talent and creating a solution to the issue of a lack of 18-23 year old player development in the region.
While he prepares to lead Kaw Valley FC into its first season, Urbanyi talked to USLPDL.com about his playing career, history with SKC and goals for his new club.
PDL: You have a history with Sporting Kansas City’s organization, serving as head coach of the U16 and U18 SKC Academy teams from 2014-2016. How does that familiarity help you in your new role with Kaw Valley FC?
Istvan Urbanyi: Sporting Kansas City is a very unique and professional organization that is full of amazing and very talented individuals. I learned a lot from the experience and it gave me the opportunity to gain valuable insight into the quality, hopes, dreams, attitudes and mentality of young American soccer players. Many of the players I coached at Sporting are now 20-22 years old and I have remained very connected and committed to that group of players. While I am very much looking forward to working with many of those same players, I’m also looking forward to the opportunity to build upon those common experiences. Obviously we will be adding a lot of new pieces to the team, but I believe having a core group of young men, who already have a good understanding of the culture, style of play and expectations we are going to build at Kaw Valley FC, will be very important and beneficial to the team.
PDL: What was it that made the head coach role at Kaw Valley FC so appealing to you?
IU: There are a lot of reasons. I think initially I was just very impressed by how Marcus, the President and General Manager of the team, talked about the club and his overall vision of the team. He is a very passionate individual and he really seemed to have a good idea of what he was looking for in terms of a coach and why he thought that I would be right coach and mentor for these young players. To be honest, I was very touched and honored, and we seemed to connect with one another very early on in the process.
The other reason is that I really felt that there was a developmental need in our area that existed between the SKC Academy and the USL. There are a lot of very good players in the area and I truly believe that the PDL can and should play an important part in the development of young professional soccer players in this country. I’m very excited to be involved with the team and the league, and I’m looking forward to building something very special here.
PDL: You had an illustrious playing career, winning many trophies, representing the Hungarian National Team and becoming the first Hungarian international to play in MLS. How does your long history in the sport prepare you for this role?
IU: I have been very fortunate as both a player and as a coach. The sport has given me a lot and I learned a lot about myself and the process of learning how to become a ‘professional’ through those experiences. I had great coaches, I had good coaches, and I had… coaches, but I learned a lot from every one of them. Being a professional player isn't really about the trophies or achievements, it’s about the weekdays, it’s about the small things and it’s really about the details. As soon as you learn and realize what it takes to be a professional player, you will win. Maybe not every game or championship, but you will have created the opportunity to make your dreams come true. Those personal lessons and experiences have served me well throughout my career and I’m confident that I can really help the young men who choose to play for KVFC.
PDL: What is your first objective to tackle as the head coach of Kaw Valley FC?
IU: My first objective is to create an environment and culture where every player wants to come back and compete for a position on the team next season. The PDL is a very special, unique and rapidly growing league. It will be very important that we create a quality experience for these players and that we set a good example for them professionally on and off the field as an entire organization. That’s our first priority. Our second priority will be to put the ball in the net more often than our opponents, and we will work very hard at that as well!
PDL: What characteristics are you looking for in players for the team’s first roster?
IU: I think first and foremost, we are looking for players who love the game, who know how to play, who are committed to getting better each and every day and who are not afraid to make mistakes and grow as a player and a person.
PDL: With Kaw Valley FC entering its first PDL season, what do you expect from the team both on and off the field?
IU: I have already touched on what I think the organization and I will be able to provide our players in terms of creating a professional environment and culture that is dedicated to developing young men as both players and people. Both Sporting KC and the Swope Park Rangers have very high standards in terms of promoting community involvement and creating an incredible experience for their players, fans and supporters. As a proud Developmental Partner of Sporting Kansas City, we intend to be equally committed to those same standards.