Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Smith - from MLS to FA Cup

Npower League One promotion hopefuls Stevenage Football Club hosted third place EPL side Tottenham Hotspur in the fifth round of the English FA Cup this past weekend in front of a capacity crowd of just over 7,000 at Broadhall Way. Stevenage was led by a familiar face to MLS fans.

Only a few weeks ago, Stevenage announced the arrival of their new manager Gary Smith, formerly of Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids, who has led an impressive opening few weeks in charge already seeing his new club to two wins and a draw in the league and now this Sunday’s impressive FA Cup draw against Tottenham.

In his post match comments to SkySports he had this to say:

"I thought today we prevented a tremendous Tottenham side from creating more than they are probably capable of," he said.

"There was just a bundle of energy about the team.

"I thought that when that intensity dropped towards the end of both halves, the players' ideas and organizational skills to keep some very talented individuals at bay were fantastic.

"I am very, very pleased for them and all of their efforts. They have come away with a result, which is great."

Smith also was quoted on his clubs official site Stevenagefc.com:

“We were all hopeful that we could project ourselves in the right fashion, not only on live TV but in front of a live audience here.

“I think the players have given a wonderful account of themselves.

“There were periods in the game where we kept possession well, created some nice half chance openings, but it wasn’t quite as clinical as we would have liked in front of goal.”

Smith already had an English background having been in the Arsenal youth academy before having his longest playing periods at Wycombe Wanderers and Aylesbury United through the early and late 1990’s.

His first managerial job came in the United States with Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids. In three seasons he led them to their only MLS Cup victory in 2010 and recorded an impressive 42% winning percentage with a record of 47 wins, 30 draws and 35 losses but was fired in November of 2011.

Smith looks to be proving that just as the MLS looks to have become a great source of player talent if you look at the success of players like Clint Dempsey of Fulham and the Everton’s Tim Howard, but also as a starting ground for managers to move to jobs in England.

Stevenage now face a return match at White Hart Lane and will once again hope for his players to take the match to Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham side just as they did at home.

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