Taking over perennial Premier Development League powerhouse FC Tucson, David Cosgrove walks into an enviable position as he inherits the head coaching position at a club that has won four-consecutive divisional titles.
Since the club began PDL play in 2012, it has finished with a .500 or better record in each of its six seasons, with four of those ending atop their division, three times in the Mountain Division and once in the Southwest Division. Under the stewardship of Rich Schantz from 2010-2016, who is now an assistant coach at FC Tucson’s parent club Phoenix Rising FC, and Jon Pearlman in 2017, now an assistant coach with the OKC Energy FC and head coach of the OKC Energy U23, the team posted a stunning 53-15-18 record in the team’s PDL history. It’s a legacy of success that Cosgrove now takes on the challenge of continuing.
Cosgrove will also attempt to continue Tucson’s role of developing professional talent in 2018. In the recent past, Tucson has helped develop future MLS talent such as Justin Bilyeu, Aaron Long and Donny Toia, and was also home to No. 5 overall 2018 SuperDraft selection Jon Bakero. Additionally, Cosgrove faces the unique challenge of guiding the club through its transition as it becomes a professional club and founding member of the new USL Division III, which launches in 2019.
Shortly after his appointment, Cosgrove spoke with USLPDL.com to discuss his inheritance of the successful club, the team’s connection with Phoenix Rising FC and his goals for the 2018 PDL season, beginning on May 4 with the full schedule recently released.
PDL: You take over one of most successful PDL organizations in FC Tucson. What does it mean to you to be a part of such a historic program?
David Cosgrove: It's a real honor. What they've accomplished with FC Tucson is amazing. I've been in Tucson my whole life and I never dreamed we'd see something like we've seen the last seven years here at Kino Stadium. So to be a caretaker of the team and the brand name is a tremendous honor.
PDL: FC Tucson has won four straight divisional titles, and four in six years of existence. What is it like having such high expectations of success in your first year in charge?
DC: It's an intimidating record for sure, but I welcome the challenge. All of the pieces are in place to be extremely successful here. The coach has to get the job done though. There aren't any excuses. I think it will be a tremendous opportunity for me to grow and continue the winning tradition.
PDL: FC Tucson also develops a wealth of future professionals, most recently including Jon Bakero, Danny Musovski and others. How do you plan on continuing the successful development of talented players?
DC: I don't think we're going to change the plan a whole lot. In my career I've been fortunate enough to work with a couple of players who are already in MLS. To be one of those who can help players along that path is a real honor and responsibility and I look forward to challenging those kids into taking the next step.
PDL: Being owned and operated by Phoenix Rising FC, FC Tucson benefits from an incredibly close relationship with a USL club. How important is that PDL-USL connection for player development?
DC: For me as a coach, the Rising FC connection is a real exciting part of the puzzle. I love how the USL and Phoenix Rising FC are run and organized. It's even more professionally-done than I envisioned. Even when I was coaching five, 10 years ago, I never thought I'd be in the position to coach on this level.
PDL: You’ve also had a successful coaching career to date, being the all-time leader in wins at Pima Community College and serving as Director of Coaching for Tucson Soccer Academy. How do you hope to translate that experience to the PDL?
DC: There are a couple things that will really help me. One is the fact I've been exposed to some great soccer people who know good tactics and understand the responsibility of a coach. I also have a varied background with both youth and adult players, so that definitely helps. The strength I have is I can develop those relationships and create a trust between a player and a coach. They can then use it as a vehicle to get where they ultimately want to go.
PDL: We’re just a few months away from the start of the 2018 PDL season. What are you most looking forward to in the months to come?
DC: I'm looking forward to looking at players, putting a roster together, and reaching out to coaches across the country to find good kids. I've already been contacted by some of the top kids to have come out of Tucson, so I'm sure we'll see some of those guys on the roster. I think it's really important we have a connection to our community like that. So, stuff like learning the process and evaluating players is going to be big coming up. The next two months are definitely going to be busy but I look forward to it.