Photo courtesy of Michigan Bucks / Paul Thomas (left) and Demir Muftari (right)
Ahead of the 2018 Premier Development League regular season, the Michigan Bucks have made some major changes by naming Paul Thomas as the team's new Head Coach and Demir Muftari – named 2016 PDL Coach of the Year – as the new Technical Director.
Thomas has been promoted to lead the three-time PDL champions after serving as an assistant coach under Muftari since 2014. He has held a U.S. Soccer Federation "A" License since 2007 and has served as the Director of Coaching for the Michigan State Youth Soccer Association.
"I have been involved in high levels of soccer the past decade, but nothing has been as challenging and rewarding as being a part of the most successful team in American soccer history at this level," Thomas said. "I love working with the young players who are all aspiring to chase their dream to become professional soccer players here or abroad, and I will continue to work tirelessly to insure that this year’s team continues to produce champions. It is an honor and a challenge to be handed the reigns of this great program, and I appreciate the trust that ownership and management has given me to expand my career."
Muftari moves into his new role with the Bucks after five seasons in charge of the Great Lakes Division side. While at the helm, the Bucks won two PDL Championships (2014 and 2016) and four division titles.
"Our first Head Coach, Steve Burns, went on to coach college at Michigan, Bucks CEO Dan Duggan said. "Joe Malachino went on to coach at Eastern Michigan. Dario Brose played MLS for a short time. Don Gemmell is heading up one of the most successful youth programs is Houston, Texas. Paul Snape is having a great college coaching career at Butler, and then you have our current stable of coaches, who all won championships with the Bucks since 2006 in Dan Fitzgerald, Gary Parsons and Demir Muftari. We are proud of what all these great coaches have done to advance the game of soccer at the academy, college and professional level here in America. We have some of the brightest young coaches in the country on this staff ready to embrace the exciting opportunities that professional soccer will provide right here in the state of Michigan in the coming years."
The Bucks will kick off their 2018 campaign with a matchup against Detroit City FC in the First Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on May 9. They will then begin their PDL regular season against Lansing United on May 12 before playing their first home game vs. the Derby City Rovers at Royal Oak High School on May 20.