Interview with Burlingame Dragons FC Head Coach Eric Bucchere
Quakes Epicenter: The Dragons had a great first season last year and an exciting team that ended up winning the Southwest division. How do you plan on building upon the success the team had last year?
Eric: Last season was a phenomenal achievement and for the players to experience that success will serve them well in the future. Every season is a new beginning and we are all just really excited to be back together this summer competing at the highest level we can.
Quakes Epicenter: What style of soccer do you like your team to play? What do you want the players to get out of the time that they spend with you?
Eric: I want all teams that I work with to be an intelligent and diverse group that can attack and defend effectively in different situations. When we have the ball we want 11 players attacking, and when we don’t have the ball we want 11 players defending to win the ball back so we can attack again.
The ultimate goal for the players that will be a part of BDFC this summer is to have long and successful professional playing careers. We hope to create an environment in Burlingame that gives our guys the chance to be pushed and challenged consistently, and to show they can produce and preform well at the PDL level, and potentially beyond.
Quakes Epicenter: What is more important at the PDL level – winning, or development?
Eric: For me as a coach the two have always gone hand in hand, and you can’t have either without both. The PDL is the very last step a player can take before becoming a professional, and the world of professional soccer is very much results driven. So, creating, teaching, and fostering a winning atmosphere IS development. With that said if as a coach you’re not teaching the game and helping players expand their skill set you’re definitely missing the point of coaching at any level.
Quakes Epicenter: How important is it to integrate with the Quakes, and have more Quakes academy products on the team? How do you plan on working with guys like Paul Holocher or Dominic Kinnear on making the most of the partnership?
Eric: It’s definitely a top priority. At this point we have 12 Quakes Academy graduates signed with the 2016 Dragons this summer. A lot of credit has to go to Chris Leitch for making the Quakes Academy into what it is today, and helping develop players that any PDL team in the country would be thrilled to have.
Dominic Kinnear and Paul Holocher have both been great. I had the opportunity to attend the Quakes Combine at Avaya this January with Dom and his staff, which was a neat experience for me and for BDFC, and shows the commitment the Quakes have to the Dragons. For me personally it’s still a bit surreal to have opportunities like that, after being a fan of Dom and his Quakes teams for years as a young soccer fan growing up in the Bay Area. Dom is a very down to earth guy and it’s easy to see why he’s one of the most respected coaches in the league.
One of my goals with BDFC will always be to create a level that’s good enough to help put a few guys on the radar of the Quakes first team every year. If they ever have a need, we want to be a place they know they can look. We were lucky enough to have Ty Thompson as part of our Dragons midfield last summer, and seeing him drafted by the Quakes this season was fantastic.
Paul Holocher has been a massive mentor for me in my coaching career, starting with my days playing for him back at UC Santa Cruz. We speak often, and plan to integrate our groups as much as possible. We already have an exhibition match against the Quakes 18s set up in February, and also plan to use some current Quakes Academy players in BDFC’s upcoming exhibition match against Sacramento Republic on February 17th.
Quakes Epicenter: How important is USL PRO for these players? Do you ever see a jump to USL in the future for the Dragons?
Eric: The USL is very important. For players to have multiple options to continue playing professionally is crucial to the growth of soccer in his country. For example, our starting goal keeper at Burlingame last season, Josh Cohen, had a fantastic PDL season and recently signed a full professional contract with the OC Blues of the USL. He now has the chance to continue to improve as a player and gain valuable experience, a chance he may not have had without the USL.
As far as the Dragons, the PDL is a perfect situation for us right now, and all focus is on the 2016 PDL season.