North East’s Stars and Stripes

North East’s Stars and StripesAmerican coach Rod Underwood has agreed on a two deal with returning TT Pro League club DIRECTV North East Stars.

The former Cleveland City Stars coach has been in Trinidad since March having a hard long look at the club’s management structure and screening sessions before finally agreeing to the two-year deal with at option for a third.

Stars CEO Brent Sancho confirmed the signing the 42 yearold American adding that the club made the right decision.

“We have probably taken a little too much time in selecting our Head Coach, but we wanted to ensure that we made the right choice. I knew Rod from my days playing in the US and he has an excellent reputation. The players will find him to be tough, but fair, and will benefit from his coaching abilities.”

Underwood was the first African American to play soccer at Furman University and was a prolific goalscorer with teams such as Albuquerque Geckos, New Mexico Chiles and New Orleans Gamblers. His coaching career began as player-coach at The Chiles and then The Geckos, before being appointed head Coach at South Carolina Shamrocks.

Underwood also coached at Georgia State University and Portland Timbers before taking up the position of head coach at Cleveland City Stars for the 2009 season.

“I am pleased and excited to take up the position of North East Stars,” said Underwood who explained that he is impressed by the Stars ambitions.

“This is an immense challenge because my appointment has occured so close to the beginning of the season.

“But I’ve spent some time getting to know the staff and players before I commiting myself. And one of the main reasons I accepted the offer from the club was because the Stars are clearly ambitious, both on and off the field. I was particularly impressed with their plans for community interaction and a youth academy. Also the development of young talents is a real passion of mine.”

Underwood said although he still has to strenghten some areas of his team, he is delighted by the positive attitude of the players and the coaching staff.

“We're looking good to go. I've pushed them really hard to ensure that we are ready to compete in the ProLeague. My only concern is the overall conditions of the playing surfaces due to the recent lack of rain. It’s easy for players to pick up injuries on these surfaces, but its the same for all teams, so we will have to manage through this period,” ended the Stars’ head coach and Atlanta native.

“The entire coaching staff have been working hard to ensure Coach Underwood had a solid group of players to enable him to make his final selections. It was great to discover that our footballing philosophies are very similar, and this allowed Underwood to hit the ground running and fine tune our training and tactics to suit his requirements,” said Director of Football Kevin Jeffrey.