Home Madison Forward Madison names Matt Glaeser new head coach & technical director

Forward Madison names Matt Glaeser new head coach & technical director

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Forward Madison FC announced Friday that it had hired Sacramento Republic assistant coach Matt Glaeser as its new head coach and technical director.

Glaeser, 36, played college soccer at James Madison University and the University of Hartford, where he was the America East Conference Goalkeeper of the Year and the NSCAA Northeast Region Goalkeeper of the Year as a senior. He went on to play professionally for a season each with the Western Mass Pioneers in USL League Two and Pallo-Iirot in Finland’s third division, then made 67 appearances over three seasons with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the NASL. He then went on to play for Wilmington Hammerheads where he transitioned to player/coach over the 2014-15 season. In 2016 he joined the coaching staff at Major League Soccer club Real Salt Lake, where he was director of goalkeeping and specialized in coaching set pieces. He also assisted in coaching RSL’s development side Real Monarchs, helping lead them to a USL Championship title in 2019. After the 2020 season, RSL assistant Mark Briggs landed the head coaching job with Sacramento Republic of the USL Championship division, and brought Glaeser along as assistant. 

In an interview Friday, Glaeser said a career in the lower divisions has him prepared and excited to take the helm at Madison.

“Lower-level soccer is tremendous. It’s such a cool platform for guys to showcase themselves,” he said. “The markets are cool because you can get up close and personal with people. The fan bases are exciting. I think it gives young and older players a chance to play at a good level. Guys are playing for their jobs, playing for their livelihoods. It’s a fast-paced, ever-changing environment. It’s really exciting to be a part of as a player and a coach.”

In a press release announcing the hire, club officials said conversations with supporters made it clear that fans want to see “grit” on the field — something Glaeser said Forward Madison fans can expect to see next spring.

“I think grit is determination to be a team-first player. To put yourself behind the team,” he said. “And what that means is the willingness to run, to do the dirty work, to make it uncomfortable for the opponent. I think grit is that determination, not always doing the pretty thing or the fun thing. Sometimes you have to be nasty. Sometimes you have to tackle. Sometimes you have to get in people’s faces, step on their toes and make the game uncomfortable for the opponent. That’s something that I believe in, and that’s a part of my identity as a coach.”

He said that doesn’t mean he’ll condone playing dirty or too physically, but he does intend “to create a culture that celebrates … determination to make the game uncomfortable for the opponent by putting pressure on the ball, by getting in people’s faces and by making our home field a fortress and a place that people don’t want to come and play.”

He said tactically, he won’t focus as much on a set formation as on what he called “principles.”

“I like my teams to have an identity in the way we defend the way we attack, (which) can be done in various formations,” he said. “The principles of play are, can we get pressure on the ball? Can we win the ball higher up the pitch? If not, can we get into an organized block and be hard to break down and be able to counter attack? On the attacking side of the ball, we want to play quickly. We want to move the ball quickly to rotate the opponent and look to play forward.”

Glaeser said there will be a core of returning players but declined to name them at this point. So far only two facts about the roster are publicly known: Midfielder Aaron Molloy remains under contract with Forward Madison and will return, while Jiro Barriga Toyama has signed with USL Championship expansion side Monterey Bay FC.

Glaeser said he’ll be looking for players who are “hungry.”

“I want guys … that want to go places, guys that want to win, guys that are professional and team-first, team-oriented,” he said. He also said he’ll look for players who are athletic, mobile and able to play vertically.

Glaeser said he’s been well aware of Forward Madison and the reputation it’s built for a strong supporter culture.

“As a coach that’s all you can ask for is that you have a supporter’s group that’s vibrant, that’s involved in the game, that’s getting into the opposition a little bit,” he said. “That’s stuff that as coaches that you live for … I’m delighted on that side of things. I feel like we have an extra player on the field already.”

Glaeser will be the third coach in Madison’s first four seasons, but says he hopes to be here for the long haul.

“I’ve been given every confidence by the leadership at the club,” he said. “Everything that’s been advertised has come to fruition. I feel really good about where I’m at as a coach. I feel really good about the direction the club’s headed … I certainly have plans to be at the football club and then hopefully create a sustainable future.”

He’ll also be the youngest head coach in Forward Madison history, which he hopes will help him relate to players. 

“I played at these levels for a long time. I’ve been there,” he said. “I understand some of the pros and cons, some of the challenges, some of the adversity that players face on a day-to-day basis. I’d like to think that my coaching style will be an open door policy. I want the players to understand that I understand, first of all, that they’re human beings first. I understand the sacrifices that get made, but I also know, um, how awesome it is and what a great feeling it is when things go well.”

“We are confident he will succeed in Madison,” Forward Madison Chief Operating Officer and Owner Conor Caloia said in a press release. “His passion for the game and competitive drive are evident. In surveying a focus group of fans and supporters during the search, there was a desire for a Club with a clear identity on the pitch and a Club that showed grit for 90 minutes every match. As a former player and as a Coach, Matt has demonstrated this grit by working through the challenges that have come his way and has had success. His energy is infectious and we are excited for our fans to get to know Matt on and off the pitch.” 

“What’s attractive to me about the club is we’ve proven that we can be successful off the field,” he said. “We have a brand, we have a community-first identity. Over the last three years, that’s been proven, that the club and the community and the city have that. The task for me and my staff is now, how can we translate that identity onto the field? There’s no magic recipe. It’s going to take time. There’s going to be ups and downs. But I do feel as though, moving forward, if we can create the same identity that we’ve created off the field, on the field, then I think that will lend itself to success.”

The first opportunity for fans to interact with Glaeser will be at Palette Bar and Grill for “Just Coffee With Coach Glaeser,” this Saturday, December 4, at 10 am. Complimentary coffee will be served to all in attendance.

Forward Madison will begin play in their fourth USL League One season in April 2022.