American Underwood to take reins of MBU

...Vows to help take the RSPL champs to next level

BY PAUL A REID Observer writer

Friday, February 24, 2017

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TUCKER, St James — American Rod Underwood is the latest coach to take over at Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) champions Montego Bay United (MBU) and the Georgia, USA, native says he hopes he will be the person to take the two-time national champions to "the next level".


The former Furman University player and coach arrived in the island on Monday and, with no time to rest, has jumped into his role as technical Advisor immediately, overseeing training on Tuesday and was in attendance on Wednesday at a media launch for MBU’s hosting of their Caribbean Football Union (CFU) first-round Group C tournament, to be held in Montego Bay next week.


He also got to see his team play their St James Football Association second-round Captain’s Bakery and Grill Knockout game against Division One team, Paradise FC on Wednesday.


The 48-year-old, who played six years in the United States Soccer League then at the highest level in the country, for Albuquerque and New Orleans, said he understands he is coming into the team at a crucial juncture. but said that is what he thrives on.


Following the hosting of the four-team CFU group, MBU will return to the RSPL where they will be seeking to strengthen their position in the top two after picking up just five points in their last five games since the departure of the most recent foreign coach Slavisa Bozicic, who returned to his native Serbia after just six months at the helm.


Underwood told the Jamaica Observer he had been in contact with MBU President Orville Powell "for more than a year", and has been tracking the team’s progress.


The coach, who says his most recent stints came with the Sacramento Republic as an assistant and who served in several capacities with the Portland Timbers, where he worked with Jamaican players Donovan Ricketts and Alvas Powell, says he hopes to continue the winning tradition at MBU.


"I have come in at a critical time but that is what I thrive on, pressure situations," he said. "I am coming to a successful club and I want to add to it. I want to make the club not just to be the best in Jamaica, but also to be competitive in the Caribbean. I want to add to it so they can take that next step," he said.


Underwood says his style of football is of high-pressure nature.


"High tempo, pressuring the ball, and ball possession. I believe in this; it’s the foundation of what I believe in," he said.


The quality of the players at MBU, with several presently in the national senior team set-up, is seen as a plus. "This can only help," Underwood said.


He will be the 11th coach to guide the team since the 2011-12 season when they returned to the island’s top club competition, after winning the JFF’s confederation play-offs.


Hugh Solomon was in charge for a few games in the first season before Brazilian Nedier dos Santos took over and lasted until the first six games of the second season, when he walked away after a series of losses.


Dr Dean Weatherly; Donovan Duckie; American Timothy Hankinson, who was in charge at the start of last season; Spaniard Carlos Garcia; Paul "Tegat" Davis; Brazilian Leonardo Neiva and Dillon Thelwell, who is the head coach now, have also been in charge at one stage or the other over the last five years.

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