Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Matt Glaeser: New FMFC Manager

Photo: Will Jenkins / Forward Madison FC

Forward Madison Football Club announced today they signed Matt Glaeser as their new Head Coach & Technical Director. Originally from Fredericksburg, VA, Glaeser plied his trade as a goalkeeper stateside in the lower leagues and even had a short spell in Finland in the Kakkonen. For the past four years he’s worked as an assistant coach for Real Salt Lake, RSL’s USL Championship side Real Monarchs (they won the league in 2019), and most recently with Sacramento Republic as an Assistant Coach and director of Goalkeeping. I want to thank Matt, who made time to sit down with me for a quick chat this morning in the midst of all the announcement craziness. He seems like a real peach of a guy.


NDZ: Firstly, let me just say welcome to Madison. I’m stoked you’re here and I think a lot of supporters will feel the same

MG: Thanks, it’s great to be here, I’m really excited to be coming to the club. There’s a lot of exciting stuff going on; I’m glad to get to be a part of it and be a leader here in the process.

NDZ: You won the Championship as an assistant with Monarchs in 2019. What did you learn from that run that you want to apply here in Madison?

MG: I learned a ton from that spell. That season, oddly enough, up until early summer we were in 14th place in the standings. There was a bit of a coaching change, and regardless of how impactful that was, we were able to move from 14th to the top 4. Something important I learned from that is, it’s never over. You can’t just give up because of a string of bad results, even if it’s 6-7 games where things don’t go as planned. The guys stuck together, and we ended up getting in the playoffs and as we all know in American sports, especially soccer in the lower divisions, there’s so much parity and if you get in the playoffs you have the chance to do something special. The biggest thing I learned that I want to bring here is creating a team-first culture. The guys at Monarchs bought into it, and we were able to do something special — not to say we didn’t have quality on that team, because we had a lot of it, but culture and that team-first mentality is what got it done for us.

NDZ: Fans will have high hopes for you and the team you’ll build as a coach who come in to a new club after winning a trophy elsewhere. Do you relish that pressure?

MG: I think you have to. Part of this sport, this business, this life, is being in high-pressure situations. The expectations at this football club are not only relevant, they make a lot of sense. With the support we get as a club, and the resources we have that not all third division clubs have, I think the expectations are warranted. That pressure is something that drives me. Look, I’m a bit of a workaholic — I’m up late, I’m up early, if results aren’t going our way I’m not sleeping at night — it’s part of the gig, and I love it. To be successful in this sport you have to relish that pressure and also be able to take a step back and not let it get to you. I try to be level-headed, and not let the highs get too high or lows get too low — so if we win a big game or have a bad run, it’s important to stick to your principles and what you believe in, and hope the rest will work out.

“The expectations at this football club are not only relevant, they make a lot of sense. With the support we get as a club, and the resources we have that not all third division clubs have, I think the expectations are warranted.”

NDZ: A lot of fans felt the team lacked grit last season, and Conor Caloia has said he felt the new manager needed to have a gritty style and that you were a good fit for that. Would you agree?

MG: That’s actually one of the first things I spoke about with Conor during the interview process. My identity as a coach is, “culture is king,” the way I go about my business is a fostering and building a team-first mentality. There are no excuses, we’re going to get in peoples’ faces, be hard to play against, and that’s the way I train my teams, how I recruit players, and that’s something I really believe in. That translates well to our environment here both in terms of our facilities as well as what we can do on the pitch, and I think it also translates well to the USL1 level.

NDZ: Most recently you worked in Sacramento as an assistant and headed up their goalkeeping coaching staff. Do you feel that more narrow focus gives you some unique perspective on coaching in general?

MG: As an assistant in the lower divisions, you’re never in an isolated role. You’re doing different things; for instance in Sacramento I was running training sessions for the whole team as opposed to solely working with goalkeepers. As an assistant coach, you get the benefit of having a bit less pressure — the media isn’t criticizing the assistant coaches, so you can kind of take a step back and focus on things the head coach can’t — head coaches have a more macro focus whereas assistants can be more nuance and details-focused. To be a good assistant you have to help your head coach; give ideas, offer your advice from working with the players as well as from your own past experience. Working as an assistant gives you the opportunity to dissect things at a micro level and help the team that way.

“That personal connection is something we can and should use to our advantage, to build our relationships. The stronger we are as a unified club — supporters, players, coaches, everyone — the stronger we are off the field, the stronger we will be during games and it will be crucial to our success.”

NDZ: Do you have any initial roster plans or ideas you can share? Are there players you want to go after or roles you want to fill right away?

MG: I can’t get into too many details on specific players, but we are going to exercise a couple of options, there will be a returning group. How many that is will depend on conversations over the next couple of weeks, but there certainly will be some guys returning who have done well and added value to the organization, guys who I think would be a good fit for what I’d like to do. That being said, in my opinion there’s a lot of room for growth and to improve the team. My first task and arguably the most important, is to help build a roster that will compete for the title. Certainly we’re talking about a spine, adding in some different elements than the past — and I don’t want to talk too much about the past — but moving forward I want to add more mobility and pace, some athleticism would be my initial thoughts. It’s still very early stages but that would be my initial thought process.

NDZ: Is there a specific position you want to fill first?

MG: A number 9. But then, everybody’s looking for a striker who can score lots of goals (laughs). I would say adding 3-4 to the front line and midfield will be where we start and then fill other roles. Look, I want to create a lot of chances, get opportunities and score a lot of goals. That all depends on who we can bring in, and we will really endeavor to throw ourselves into that process.

NDZ: You played for a spell in the 3rd division in Finland for Pallo-Iirot, what was that like, and what was your favorite part of your time there?

MG: When I played in college, I played with a guy who was Finnish and his dad was a coach in Finland, and he came over to watch us play and he liked me. And this is 10ish years ago when there weren’t as many Americans playing overseas, compared to the past 4-5 years where a lot more Americans have been going over to play in Scandinavia. The player profiles match up a bit more now. So I went over with the idea that if I impressed I might get a look from teams in the higher levels in the following years. I played ~25 games, ended up being the starting keeper for them. I was super raw, right out of college and not a very good goalkeeper at that point in time — not that I was ever a very good goalkeeper (laughs), I was always probably pretty average — but that experience was awesome. I learned what it was like to live away from home, experience a different culture, learn what soccer was like in a different part of the world, in a small town. It was also the first time I experienced real pressure — it was small town, lower level team, but walking around town everybody knows who you are. I was the American goalkeeper and if I had a stinker, you get dirty looks, it was a really eye-opening experience. I learned a lot from it.

“…it was small town, lower level team, but walking around town everybody knows who you are. I was the American goalkeeper and if I had a stinker, you get dirty looks, it was a really eye-opening experience. I learned a lot from it.”

NDZ: The community connection with the club is incredibly important, what does that mean to you?

MG: In my interview process, the first meeting I had was with some of the supporters. Having spoken with other coaches and friends, that is something that’s relatively unheard of and I think it’s great. I think Madison is unique, similar in a way to my time with Wilmington, I want to get in front of people and encourage that person-to-person connection. We have that ability here, where a first division club might not. It’s really important to me to get faces with names, to meet people, to have people get to know me as a person and not just as a coach. I also think it’s incredibly important for players to get to know the people who support the team, it creates a much stronger connection. For example in my playing days, I had much stronger bonds with fans when I’d coached their kid at a clinic or training session, or even just chatting and getting to know people more personally at club events. That personal connection is something we can and should use to our advantage, to build our relationships. The stronger we are as a unified club — supporters, players, coaches, everyone — the stronger we are off the field, the stronger we will be during games and it will be crucial to our success.

“It’s really important to me to get faces with names, to meet people, to have people get to know me as a person and not just as a coach. I also think it’s incredibly important for players to get to know the people who support the team, it creates a much stronger connection.”

NDZ: What do you want the fans to know about you? What are you passionate about outside of soccer?

MG: Coming into this role, I know I won’t have as much “free” time as I did when I was an assistant. But that being said, my long-time partner Sarah and I really enjoy getting away from sports. I’m not really the kind of person watching SportsCenter on the couch in my spare time, I very much like to get out and hike, kayak, paddleboard, and we’re excited to explore those aspects of Madison. We love to get outdoors, and to get away from the game — but look, soccer is my life — and when I’m watching it I’m not really doing it as a fan, it’s always to learn and pick up ideas. Away from the pitch I’m very family-focused, and my family’s all on the east coast and I’m glad we’ll be closer to them in Madison compared to California or Salt Lake. We like bars & restaurants too, and are really looking forward to experiencing that stuff in Madison along with the outdoors stuff.

NDZ: Lightning round! What’s your favorite movie, the last song you listened to, and the last book you read?

MG: Favorite movie: Braveheart. Last song I listened to would be Keep Your Hands Off Her from Chulahoma: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough, and the last book was Gods and Generals by Jeff Shaara. I really enjoyed it. I was a history major, I love history and my dad is a big Civil War buff and I think that rubbed off on me. I enjoy reading military history just from a leadership perspective, I know it’s a bit antiquated but there are fundamental things that are interesting — complicated people trying to lead and navigate through difficult situations.

Author

  • Andrew Schmidt

    Eclecticist, FMFC supporter, Flock co-founder, designer of things, and taker of photos. Writer, wrench, motorcyclist. Pro-intellectualist, anti-pedant. Drinker of coffee and greeter of dogs.

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