Exclusive Interview with Dallas Sidekicks New Head Coach Simon Bozas

The Dallas Sidekicks held an open invitational practice for media Sunday night at Fieldhouse USA in Frisco where I was able to catch up with the Sidekick’s new head coach Simon Bozas while also getting a first glimpse at the prospective 2015-16 team. Some veteran players were in attendance like key defensive standouts Mike Jones, Cody Ellis, and Fabinho as were offensive mainstays like Cameron Brown, Ricardinho, Nestor Hernandez, and Jamie Lovegrove to name a few.  Bozas said the Sidekicks have held 11 invitational practices as he evaluates and builds his team.  While the transaction to purchase the franchise from previous owner Ronnie Davis had taken place; there is additional league paperwork which prevented Bozas from disclosing his final roster, coaching staff, and details about the 2015-16 schedule.  Sources provided the following information on new head coach Simon Bozas:

US-born and Argentinian-raised, Bozas has been immersed in the soccer world from a young age. After making his way through the highly competitive, full-immersion youth system with Deportivo Español, Bozas played professionally in Argentina’s third division and Bolivia’s first division before deciding to move back to the United States to pursue a career in finance.

Bozas went on to work in executive financial management with corporations of all sizes. He eventually made the transition to entrepreneurial business owner. Bozas has over 14 years of banking experience and has assisted in opening new market shares and managing multiple financial institutions.

Concurrent with his finance career, Bozas kept soccer close, coaching and managing teams for local adult tournaments. For the past 15 years he has passionately worked to put successful teams together using local talent, making him extremely familiar with the Dallas soccer scene and what it has to offer. This familiarity will serve as a great advantage in his appointment as General Manager and Head Coach.

Veteran forward Jamie Lovegrove, back from England, was up to his old tricks creating in the middle and scoring goals during scrimmages. Also, forward Nestor Hernandez after successful offseason surgery, is moving well on his repaired knee.  While Hernandez is still rehabbing and working on his conditioning, spectators were treated to a few glimpses of his cannon shot that MASL goalkeepers dread.  At one point during scrimmages, Lovegrove made a run down the left side with Hernandez screaming down the right wreaking havoc on the defense, and it reminded me of the dominating mid-season fourteen win playoff qualifying Sidekicks of last year.

While the veterans impressed, some young prospects stood out as well. Former Furman University men’s soccer captain and 2014 Southern Conference Tournament MVP winner Clint Ritter (see some of Ritter’s college highlights here) is quick, has great touch, and an explosive shot.  He reminded me of a younger former Sidekicks midfielder Shaun David.  Another invitee that caught attention was forward Michael Grba who played four years for the Detroit Waza Flo.  Grba is a hustle player who was creative with the ball and makes outstanding off-ball moves.  In spite of Bozas’ rigorous practice, the veteran forward had great stamina throughout.

The full transcript of my exclusive interview with head coach Bozas is as follows:

Can you provide us with insight as to your coaching staff?

“We need to have the league transaction finish before finalizing our coaching staff, but we are are having conversations with Assistant Coach Nick Stavrou and we need to have follow up conversations with Sagu as potentially our goal keeper trainer.”

Are you happy to have Jamie Lovegrove back in the United States?

“It always helps to have an experienced player like Jamie come back to help out the team not only from a soccer perspective but also a moral perspective in the locker room.”

Nestor Hernandez has a surgically repaired knee, how is he looking in his rehab during the invitationals?

“We briefly talked about his rehab, and he’s a little ways away. But he’s doing a good job of working hard.”

Who are some of the veterans that are catching your eye during the invitational practices?

“One of the vets that caught my attention was Fabinho who is explosive and he’s very athletic. I also brought back Shamu for an invitation this season and his fitness is very impressive.”

Juan Gamboa has been at these practices as an invitational goal keeper. Many people believe he was one of the better goalies in the MASL last season with Hidalgo La Fiera.  What is your opinion of his tryout?

“Before we started the transaction to purchase the team, Ronnie Davis was instrumental in getting Juan over to Dallas and helping him get acclimated to the city. Gamboa showed interest to be part of the Sidekicks, so that’s a great thing for our team.”

Do you have a backup goaltender that you’ve been looking at?

“Yes, in the invitational practices we have looked at six keepers, and hopefully if Sagu does join we would look for him to find other prospects as well.”

Which new invitees have stood out to you?

“Because I am very active in the Dallas soccer community, many of the invitees I know well. For example, the forward Ruben Hernandez is someone who I think can produce for us and can be a key target.  Clint Ritter is an explosive player and has caught my eye and just needs to work through the parameters of the game.”

There is a lot of on and off-ball movement in your practices; do you have a preference as a possession style type play?

“100%…the culture of the Sidekicks going forward will be ball retention. Do not give the knife to the other team.”

Do you prefer a man-to-man or zone scheme, or will your team’s style vary?

“It would depend on the game and the situation, but the number one priority is ball retention; possession.”

Former Sidekicks player and head coach Tatu has been the face of this franchise for so many years. What is it like taking over for a man who has meant so much to the Sidekicks?

“There are some legacy players like Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, Troy Aikman and the Dallas Cowboys, and you have Tatu and the Sidekicks; these are guys who have been the face of the franchise for years, so I greatly admire his legacy. When you think of Sidekicks, you think of Tatu, and that’s a credit to him.  I am meeting with Tatu and some of the other players who were part of that Sidekicks golden era and having conversations with all of them about the team.”

Follow Matt Thornton on Twitter: @MattThorntonNFL