When Bryan Green accepted the job as Temple Men’s Soccer’s head coach in December 2022, he knew the program he was inheriting had just one winning season in the last five years and struggled to keep up in the American Athletic Conference.
Green accepted the challenge to rebuild the program competing in the powerhouse AAC, which had five teams make the NCAA tournament last year. He believes Temple will be one of those teams soon enough.
“Regardless of what it was before, this is what it is going to be,” Green said. “We’re going to work hard, we’re going to treat each other with respect, and we are going to come together as a team.”
With 20 years of Division I coaching experience and eight postseason appearances, Green knows what it takes to build a winning culture. Now, he hopes to bring that culture to Temple.
Green grew up in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio and played college soccer at Elizabethtown College, where he was an All-American and inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2019.
Green’s passion for the game did not end when his playing career did and he decided to get into coaching at Elizabethtown, where he worked as an assistant.
Green worked his way up the ranks, getting his first break as the head coach for Keystone College in 2000. He also gained plenty of experience as a recruiter, including four-consecutive top 30-ranked recruiting classes during his time as the recruiting coordinator at West Virginia. He also served as an associate head coach at Drexel from 2010-13.
During his time at these programs, as well as stints at Belmont and Louisville, Green harnessed his recruiting ability and found success abiding by certain criteria for players.
“I look for joy, team-first humility, courage and hard work,” Green said. “There is a lot that goes into being a Division I student-athlete. There are a lot of demands and a lot of times, the rewards don’t come until further down the line. If you don’t find joy in the hard work, sometimes you don’t stick with it, and you can’t get better.”
Recruiting has been a crucial part of Green’s tenure so far. In previous years, Temple has struggled in AAC play but performed well against non-conference opponents. After former head coach Brian Rowland got the job in 2018, Temple went 24-43-13 overall and 11-27-5 in the AAC. The Owls decided not to renew his contract following the 2022 season.
Green got right to work on the recruiting trail at Temple. Defender Nikolai Zapolskikh is one of 10 freshmen listed on Temple’s roster this season. He has already made a difference on the pitch for the Owls, as he was named City 6 Defensive Player of the Week Sept. 5. Zapolskikh, a native of Puerto Rico, was adamant about playing for a school where he was comfortable.
“I saw myself being here for four years studying, training and getting better at soccer,” Zapolskikh said. “I was comfortable with the coaches, with the teammates, and I saw myself playing for Coach Bryan.”
Coming into a new program, Green also knew the importance of recruiting players from the transfer portal. The Owls lost several key players from last season, including former starting goalkeeper Eoin Gawronski and former midfielder Sawyer Koza.
As soon as he got to Temple, Green got right to work. He beat several teams to signing goalkeeper Flannan Riley, who played at St. Francis Brooklyn and Presbyterian by forming a bond with him and convincing him to come to Temple.
“He really takes on creating a family-style environment with a coach who genuinely knows you more as a person and as a player,” Riley said. ”For him to be a person you can go talk to and he checks up on you and cares about you, that was a big thing for me.”
As head coach, Green knows he has to be more than just a recruiter. He wants to bring a very aggressive style of play to the Temple Sports Complex regardless of the opponent, and he hopes his players buy into the system
“We want to play a very attack-oriented style of soccer and that certainly goes for when we have the ball,” Green said. “But, we also want to be the aggressor when we don’t have the ball. We want to stick to our identity because we think that gives us the best chance at being successful.”
Despite his optimism, Green’s aggressive style of play has had mixed results so far this season. The Owls have out shot their opponents 42-35 but are still searching for their first win of the year, sitting at two losses and two draws.
Riley and Zapolskikh have both seen the immediate impact of Green’s playstyle and prep through their first two games despite the lack of wins, Riley said.
“You can see what he’s done and how he has changed the program,” Riley said. “We have a roster of about 30, so it’s not just the starting 11 that makes an impact. Everyone has a huge role on this team and I think that’s what he preached.”
Temple has little time before AAC play to figure out its offense. The team’s conference opener is Sept. 16 on the road against Florida International. However, Green is confident the Owls can find an identity and work to put Temple Soccer back on the map.
“The biggest part of our program is we want to be a team of hard-working individuals that play together as a team,” Green said. “The new guys and the returners have really done a good job of blending together, staying as a team and working with each other.”