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Matao hires interim coach

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The head coach position for the Matao has been filled – for now.

The Matao have hired an interim coach to help them prepare for the East Asian Football Federation E-1 Football Championship Round 2 in November in Chinese Taipei. This after the Guam National Men’s Soccer Team lost former head coach Gary White in April after White left the club to accept a head coaching position in the china league one.

The Guam Football Association has officially hired Darren Sawatzky – a former Major League Soccer player, Seattle Sounders youth development director and assistant coach for the University of Washington. Most recently, Sawatzky was head coach of the Tacoma Stars of the Major Arena Soccer League.

GFA spokesperson Jill Espiritu says Sawatzky signed with the Matao as an interim coach – and he is scheduled to land on Guam to take a look at the facilities and meet with players by the end of the week. GFA president Richard Lai says the matter of hiring Sawatzky on an interim status will be brought before the GFA board tonight.

As you may recall, White left the Matao after receiving a critical FIFA coaching certification upgrade enabling him to coach at a higher level of soccer. After having been with the Matao for 4 years – a period which saw the team garner international media attention after its FIFA ranking peaked at an all-time high for the island – white promptly left the team and accepted a head coaching job in China.

Several candidates had expressed an interest in coaching the Matao – most notably Serbian coach Nikola Kavazovic – but Sawatzky was signed as interim coach to help the Matao prepare for the EAFF E-1 Championship Round 2. As you may recall, Round 1 was played on Guam, but the Matao had enjoyed a first-round bye in the tournament. Sawatzky’s hiring has come at a crucial time, as Guam has attained its highest-ever FIFA ranking at 146th in the world. GFA officials did not say how much Sawatzky was getting paid for the interim coaching job. Sawatzky’s twitter account made no mention of the hiring.

Sawatzky, 43, spent four seasons as a player in the MLS – mostly as a part time player traded between teams before he signed with the Seattle Sounders of the United Soccer League in April of 2000. He tied for 3rd in the league with 16 goals and was a first team all star. He attended the University of Portland where he finished 10th on the school’s all time goals scored list.

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