After an interview process that lasted nearly a month, former University of Maryland assistant coach Brian Rowland got announced on Friday as the university’s seventh men’s soccer coach in program history dating back to 1926.
The first item on his to-do list as he replaces former coach David MacWilliams is to get as much information about the current players and get to meet them.
“Certainly, the break makes it a little difficult to meet and speak with guys individually,” Rowland said. “But that’ll be the first sort of checklist when school resumes, if not sooner if I can get a hold of guys and start that process.”
Rowland said he did statistical research and watched video clips of Temple games to see its players during the interview process. Rising sophomore forward Alan Camacho Soto “stands out as a good young player that could be a big key piece,” Rowland said. In 13 games in 2017, Camacho Soto made 12 starts and notched 11 points to rank second on the team. He earned second-team selection in the American Athletic Conference and made the All-Rookie team.
Rising senior midfielder Hermann Doerner, who played all 18 games last season and tallied seven points, is a “versatile” player, Rowland said.
Rising junior forward Thibault Candia, who led the Owls in points during his first season with the team in 2017 and earned second-team distinction in The American, is also an interesting player, Rowland said.
“I’m excited to sort of just start to put I guess a fresh set of eyes on some guys that are within the group that maybe can fit what I would like to do with the team,” Rowland said. “I know sometimes those guys either haven’t had the opportunity yet or have maybe just yet to flourish.”
Rowland will also have to add to the existing core of players. The Owls will lose seven seniors entering next season. Defender Mark Grasela and midfielder Matt Sullivan played every game as key parts of the team’s defensive unit. Midfielder Divin Fula Luzolo started all 18 games, tied for the team lead with three assists and earned first-team selection in The American.
MacWilliams said he had four players verbally committed to join the team for the 2018 season before the university opted not to renew his contract for a 19th season. The period during which prospective players can sign their National Letters of Intent starts on Feb. 7, 2018, and ends on Aug. 1, 2018.
“I think it’s important to really get to know those guys well, evaluate them and sort of make sure that we’re all on the same page and that they fit,” Rowland said. “If they’re coming, that they’re going to be fitting into the style of play and certainly vice versa, that they’ll fit in and they’re going to enjoy their experience with me as well.”
The trio of returning players Rowland mentioned — Camacho Soto, Doerner and Candia — are all foreign-born athletes. Rowland’s goal in recruiting is always to win the state, but he also wants to find international players.
As he seeks candidates to fill two assistant coaching positions and a volunteer role, Rowland wants “dynamic recruiters that are going to help build this culture,” he said.
Rowland’s experience recruiting and coaching skilled players at Maryland can attract talent to Temple, said Brian Clarhaut, who assistant coached for Temple from 2012-15, coaches a professional team in Sweden and knows Rowland through friends who played on Maryland’s 2008 Division I title team.
“It gives you a little bit more incentive to put some trust in him moving forward when you’re making a decision with your college choice,” Clarhaut said.
“I think he’ll be energetic and hold the guys to a high standard…that he expects from his experience in Maryland,” he added. “I think he’s going to have the same type of expectations on these players and try to get players with that standard.”
Rowland will inherit a group that made the American Athletic Conference tournament in MacWilliams’ final season. The Owls lost to a nationally ranked Southern Methodist team that won the league and reached the NCAA tournament.
Rowland spent eight seasons at Maryland. The Terrapins made eight NCAA tournaments during his tenure, which included the 2013 Division I title game. The University of Notre Dame won, 2-1, to prevent Maryland from winning its third championship in less than 10 years.
Temple has made seven NCAA tournaments in program history. The Owls made three straight from 1966-68 under coach Pete Leaness, who led the Owls from 1930-70. His successor, Walt Bahr, qualified for the tournament in 1973, and Bahr’s successor John Boles reached the tournament three years later.
Boles made two more tournaments during his tenure from 1974-94. The last one, in 1985, is the most recent in program history.
The work it takes to make the NCAA tournament happens during the spring and summer, during “times that people aren’t watching games,” Rowland said.
“There’s a process to getting there, and certainly, I’ve been lucky to be very well educated at Maryland in that process to get teams to be successful,” he said. “So I think that’ll be a valuable addition and a valuable strength to bring.”
“I’m over the moon about this opportunity to get going and certainly am extremely thankful to [Athletic Director Pat Kraft] for trusting with me this task and certainly feel very honored but also very hungry to get to work,” Rowland added.