Andy Thomson Named Head Coach of USL League Two Side Sarasota Paradise
Scotsman Andy Thomson’s American Dream career has taken another step forward with his appointment as the new Head Coach of USL 2 side Sarasota Paradise.
The 41-year-old Football Careers client was announced as the man to lead the new expansion side as he furthered his football education at the United Soccer Coaches Convention in Philadelphia. Andy, currently the Director of Methodology at MLS Next Academy Kendall Soccer Coalition in Miami, has built a stellar reputation in the States. And he smiled:
“This is a special and rare moment to be a part of such an exciting project from the very beginning. It’s a huge bonus to get to work in such a beautiful place that I know so well.
“As a club we cannot wait to engage the community and have a positive impact.”
Andy has become one of the key emerging talents in this arena with a football philosophy constructed on his three learning pillars of soccer, medicine, and science.
UEFA A Licence holder Thomson, who also holds a Masters in Sports Science and Sports Medicine, first moved to America eight years ago to work with the US Paralympic 7-a-side team.
His broad spectrum of knowledge would see him hired by the USL franchises at San Antonio and Miami FC. Andy’s superb body of work alongside San Antonio FC Pro Academy Technical Director Nick Evans saw the club voted the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) Development Academy Coaching Staff of the Year.
In Miami, he furthered his education working as an assistant coach with Paul Dalglish and won all three matches he had in sole charge of the side when the manager was out with COVID-19.
Andy, who also spent an exciting year in Australia’s A League with Central Coast Mariners working under former Manchester United no2 Mike Phelan, cut his teeth in the coaching world in the Academy of Scottish Premier League club St Mirren coaching the likes of Aston Villa and Scotland midfielder John McGinn.
Now a true student of the game is ready for his next chapter with Sarasota Paradise. And the club’s managing partner Marcus Walfridson couldn’t be happier with their choice.
The 41-year-old Swede, a Head Coach himself both in Norway and his homeland, sees a huge growth opportunity with the new franchise. The top three levels of professional soccer in the United States are Major League Soccer (MLS), the USL Championship, and the USL League One.
USL 2, formerly the Premier Development League (PDL), is now the largest pre-professional soccer league in North America with more than 100 clubs across the country.
Last year 113 teams, split into 16 regional divisions across four conferences, participated. For its inaugural season, which starts in May and ends in July, the Paradise will play in League Two’s Southeast Division which will comprise entirely of Florida-based clubs.
Walfridson has spent the last two years putting this venture together after falling in love with Sarasota on vacation in the area. He admitted:
“I have had the American dream since I was a kid. I wanted to find a way out of Sweden. How can I get to the US? What do I know? Well, I know soccer.”
“If you had said 20 years ago that you were going to start a soccer team in Sarasota, I’d have probably said you were an idiot. Today, it makes perfect sense. It’s bigger, more vibrant, and younger.
“We’re looking to be impactful in the community and to help build a better community. We’re here for the long haul. This is where I want to live. It’s my dream place.”
Most of the players in USL 2 are collegiate age and they will compete with the dream of eventually turning pro. The vice-president of USL 2 Joel Nash cites the World Cup coming to America, Mexico and Canada in 2026 as a major driving force behind the expansion of the league. He stressed:
“From a sporting standpoint, absolutely, the players’ goal is to become professional. With the World Cup coming up, we want to introduce new people to the sport.
“The Paradise is the team for Sarasota, in Sarasota, the people of Sarasota, and with a true community feel.”