Every Defiance head coach imprints something on the team and the organization. Previous imprints are Wade Webber's grit and quirky formations. Chris Little's was the youth movement. John Hutchinson’s was into direct play and Aussie talents. Ezra Hendrickson brought joy and new territorial scouting.
New coach Hervé Diese met the local media on Tuesday and focused on three main ways he'll influence the team and the organization – all while maintaining the culture and focus of the club as a whole.
1 - He wants to win MLS Next Pro Cup
Picking up where Webber left off, Coach H (years') is targeting that thing that has eluded Defiance/S2 and only Defiance/S2 in the Sounders org – a trophy.
"I'm not afraid to say that we want to win the MLS Next Pro Cup. I'm not afraid of that. It should be the objective of this team, just based on previous success and last year's success. I think coach Wade Webber did a fantastic job in putting a team together, and they did extremely well."
H credits the past couple years' success on the pitch as what helped advance several players to the first team.
"It's because of having those ambitions that those players get to be in that environment where they can naturally graduate into the first team. So my agenda is exactly the same. We want to do our best. We are shooting to win the cup and hopefully that will be the conclusion of the season."
2 - Force Schmetzer to make tough decisions
Still, Defiance is about development more than anything else. Winning a Next Pro trophy is less meaningful long term than helping players advance to the first team, helping those players earn playing time and helping those players earn big contracts with opportunities to represent their nation on grand stages.
He particularly mentioned the tweener players who will bounce between first and second team.
"My job is to ensure that when those guys do come play for Defiance that it's not a walk in the park. The training environment is challenging. It's one that's progressive, it's developmental, and we are fixing the weaknesses that they are having. So that when they jump up back to the first team, they are comfortable, they are composed and they're intelligent in the way they play."
Pushing those tweeners will be the competition from signed Defiance players. Sounders Chief Soccer Officer Craig Waibel says that roster is about to be amplified.
"You guys are gonna see in the next two week – it does not lack ambition. You know, we're gonna add a player here in the next 14 days. I think that that will again, expand this, this scope even more," Waibel hinted at a major signing for Defiance.
Our first week last week was probably the best first week of preseason I've ever had in my career. – Coach H
3 - Domination on and off the ball
Whether the coach has come from within the system as Hendrickson and Webber were, or from outside like Hutchinson and Little, they also add tactical tweaks based on their own personality and history.
"I was inducted through the Red Bull philosophy at that time when Jesse Marsh was still the head coach of Red Bulls and Chris Armas and Dennis [Hamlet], and in that system of football education, a lot of work off the ball was something that we encoded on a daily basis."
An additional emphasis on off-ball movement and positioning should help both core Defiance players and the tweeners as they won't be the foci of the first team when they're up. Knowing what to do when Albert and JP are running the squad should help the youngsters.
With Defiance those that understand the system will be able expected to dominate Next Pro. With teams in the league mostly being a mix of academy talent and prospects, there's an opportunity for clubs that play with advanced tactical awareness.
"I'm extremely commanding of the player's ability to control the game without having the ball."
Defiance's fifth coach will change the team and players, all the coaches have. That's the fun of the second team. Every year, every match, is a new.