FC Tucson announced today that former Seattle Sounders Youth Development Director and current Tacoma Stars and Sounders FC U23 Head Coach Darren Sawatzky has been named the head coach of FC Tucson effective immediately. Sawatzky becomes the club’s fourth-ever head coach and the first head coach in the team’s new professional era in USL League One.
"I am very excited and grateful for the opportunity to help build on the history of FC Tucson and all of the great people that have built the brand and opportunity in Tucson,” Sawatzky said. “Helping the development pathway for Phoenix Rising through the USL League One team in Tucson is a great opportunity and working with Rick and the staff at Rising is something I am really looking forward to. A big thank you to Bobby Dulle and the ownership group at Phoenix Rising and to Lane Smith and Cliff McElroy at the Tacoma Stars/Sounders U23 for everything in this process. We are looking forward to building a winner."
Sawatzky has a long history of coaching up and down the soccer development pipeline from the amateur to the professional ranks and has been a coaching mainstay in the soccer-rich Pacific Northwest.
Among his many stops was a stint as the Director of Youth Development for the Seattle Sounders. During his tenure, the U16 and U18 boys teams won multiple division titles with the U16 team reaching the national semifinal once. The academy also produced numerous players who went on to become professionals, including most notably U.S. National Team members DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United) and Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders).
“We are privileged to have someone with Darren’s wealth of experience to lead FC Tucson in our first year as a professional club,” said Phoenix Rising General Manager Bobby Dulle. “His strong relationship with Rick Schantz will allow him to have a significant impact on our plan of developing talented players that can succeed at the top professional levels in the United States and around the world.”
FC Tucson’s new head coach also brings nearly a decade of professional soccer experience with him to the job which includes stints with Major League Soccer and United Soccer League clubs. At the end of his career, Sawatzky played with then-USL side Seattle Sounders, appearing in 67 matches and scoring 22 goals.
Sawatzky will lead FC Tucson into its first-ever professional season in USL League One. The 2019 season will consist of 28 matches with FC Tucson playing 14 home matches and 14 away matches. The season runs from March 30 to Oct. 4. The USL League One playoffs will consist of four teams with the semifinals held on the weekend of Oct. 11-13 and the final to take place from Oct. 17-21.
Fans can now place $25 deposits on season tickets by going to FCTucson.com today.