EclipseSelect.org spoke with “Jordi” King, who recently served in a goalkeeper coach capacity with the U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team under the guidance of head coach B.J. Snow.
King began his dual duties with Eclipse Select and the Red Stars at the beginning of April. We delve into King’s first conversations with Eclipse Select President Rory Dames, his background, and how his demeanor and values mesh with the model embraced at Eclipse Select.
Q: How did the opportunity to join Eclipse Select and the Red Stars come about?
Jordan King: “I was with U.S. Soccer and working there part-time. I got to work with a bunch of high-quality goalkeepers, and that really opened my eyes to what else is out there. When I got this opportunity from Rory it was something that just was too good to pass up because it was Eclipse and it was the Red Stars as well. That made a big impact. The way that Rory sets up the club and kind of brings back old players, old goalkeepers, to train with the Red Stars, really was appealing to me because I do love to see the transition from club, to college to professional. To be able to work with all of that from a young age and then see them out all the way to that ultimate level was something that was really eye opening. That’s one of the main reasons that I decided to make this move. The players that I was working with privately back home and working with the national team, I would love to see them out, but the next step just wasn’t in my hands. Now, to be capable of making the decisions whether or not to bring them into the Red Stars is something that I think is an awesome opportunity for any coach to be able to do and see.”
Q: Take us through some of your duties and focus with Eclipse and the Red Stars.
JK: “With Eclipse, I feel strongly about youth soccer in the United States, and that is how this sport is going to grow. With the youth teams, Rory has pretty much opened up all the decisions. Video sessions are something I’ve decided to apply to the club so the players can grow, and also so they have footage so when they are applying for colleges they have some sort of training footage. A lot of the time the game footage is just highlights, highlights and highlights and there’s no decision-making that the colleges are able to see from that. That’s really important to me. … I’m still finding things out and learning what my responsibilities are. It’s going to the games. It’s going to all the training sessions so I can see every aspect of their goalkeeping abilities. With the Red Stars, during the season that is my focus as of right now because it is an important season and the women’s league is so new, that I feel like there has to be a lot of time put into that as well. It’s kind of the same thing. My duties are all the same for both the youth and the Red Stars. There really is no difference. It’s the same duties. It’s the same responsibilities, and I just have to find that way to make it work. With the help of everyone that is behind me, Rory, all the staff I’ve met here at the Chicago Red Stars and Eclipse that makes life a lot easier. They’re always willing to lend a helping hand, and that’s a good thing. It’s just opening my eyes to what else is out there.”
Q: What do you want to implement the most with this position?
JK: “For me, distribution is so big. Growing up and playing, I was on the smaller side for goalkeeping and I had to make it up in other ways. My eyes really opened when I started working and seeing sessions that B.J. Snow and Graeme Abel and those guys ran, because they were so specific with how the goalkeepers played, distribution-wise. The other thing is the video sessions for me. A lot of people are doing it, but mostly it’s done with the team overall and not specifically the goalkeepers, especially at the club level. It’s one thing when you point it out in training sessions and say ‘you’re way too tight to the near post.’ When they see it put into video with their own eyes, they understand they were way to close, hugging the near post way too much. … It’s something they don’t see until they actually visually see it.”
Q: In branching off the importance of goalkeepers being comfortable playing with the ball at their feet, how vital was joining an Eclipse Select side in terms of the club’s demeanor, style of play and vision?
JK: “Speaking to Rory for the first time, he said we always like to build out of the back if we can. It was something that was so important to me and it made a huge impact on my decision to come here. And the kids are so hard-headed in a good way to where they can take the criticism and be, ‘why did you pick that ball up? Why didn’t you play that with your feet?’ They take that criticism and turn it into something positive for themselves when they walk away from a training session. The possession-based type of play that they are known for was something that was extremely appealing to me for those reasons.”
Q: Take us through some of your playing experiences from college to the professional level so we have a sense of your journey.
JK: “Right out of high school I went to UC Riverside and played there for about a year and a half until I decided that I wanted to focus on playing and I got an invitation to go to Cardiff City. That was my first trial ever. I got out there and I ran into a lot of work permit issues. That mainly opened my eyes for me to say that this was possible. This is something that I can do. I spent a lot of time on reserve sides – I don’t know if it was my size or whatever – with the Galaxy, and never really making it into that next starting position. From Cardiff City, I made my way back home with the help of a few people who had connections in MLS and came on trial at the Galaxy and I went on trial with the Galaxy and was not selected for the team and then I left and I played in Hungary for a little bit with the help of Eric Wynalda. And then came back and trained, went into training with Chivas USA, with Daniel Gonzalez who was the goalkeeper coach at the time, who is amazing guy. He’s a smaller guy and he was a goalkeeper, and that lit me up knowing that he played at the highest level, knowing that there are other small goalkeepers out there.
“From there, I went back to Europe, did a pro league out there with it was more of a not so organized pro league, but there were some probably second and first league players out there, Championship goalkeepers. When I returned to LA, I signed with the reserve side there in 2012 I would say. Just having that experience and being in the professional side and being around the professional atmosphere made a huge impact on me, and knowing that I had to make the decision – am I going to keep going through reserve sides or am I going to make a transition somewhere along the line? I decided to make that transition into coaching. I want to pass on all the knowledge of being with so many different teams and trials on to the kids because it’s something that really helped me along the way, going through that adventure.”
Q: Before working for U.S. Soccer, how did your two-year assistant coaching stretch with UCLA come about?
JK: “I was actually [attending] at UCLA after B.J. Snow heard about me through a couple people, and he was new to the job there after Jill Ellis left [to coach the U.S. Women’s National Team]. He took the head coaching spot and I was doing a lot of privates along the side while playing on the reserve side at the LA Galaxy. I had a lot of work with keepers and working privately with them, and I did some club stuff along the way. At UCLA, I got a call from Louise Lieberman who was the assistant coach at the time and was asked if I would be interested in the goalkeeper coaching position there. My first thought was it’s UCLA. I never really thought about coaching until the later years, and then all of a sudden that came along and that cemented it for me. I knew from then on that I was going to be a coach. It was the right place at the right time. It was wholly B.J. Snow’s doing that really turned me into a coach and giving me that opportunity to work with the high caliber of players.”
Q: Were there any particular coaches you looked to, whether assisting or as a former player, where you have modeled a few things from their work?
JK: “There are three in particular that really are big influences to me. One was the goalkeeper coach at Cardiff City who I got to train with a bunch when I was out there on trial, George Wood. He played in the English Premier League, and his attitude toward me, he was so open to having me there and having me train with the team – with the first team, with the youth team, the under-19s. When we all got together, he was just always pushing me in the right direction. His style really rubbed off on me a lot.
“Second, B.J. Snow is someone who I am so grateful toward for the opportunities. The amount of time he puts in behind the scenes, which players normally don’t even see, is amazing. He’s literally working 24/7 and going over video and clipping video and studying the game. In my eyes, he’s one of the best coaches I know, and he still believes that he can go so much further. I just can’t wait to see how much further he can go. I think at some point along the way I think he can take over the full national position and really lead them in a good direction.
“The third person is Graeme Abel, who I haven’t gotten to work much with, but the time that I did, his professionalism and his knowledge and his style were similar to mine. The way he talked to the keepers even when they weren’t working was so encouraging, and the way he always wants to help and the way he wants to pass on his knowledge was something that was so inviting to me. I don’t know if he was like that with everyone, but it was definitely something that really pushed me to become a better coach.”