New DCFC coach Trevor James will need creativity in transition season

Larry O'Connor
The Detroit News

Detroit City FC’s new coach Trevor James will do what he knows best: Find soccer talent and build a roster.

The mission this time has an added wrinkle, though.

The Englishman who has a 30-year track record developing and nurturing talent will construct a playing side for DCFC’s National Premier Soccer League regular season in May where non-paid collegiate players traditionally feature. He'll then go through it again when the club makes the transition to the NPSL Founders Cup in August when the pros enter the picture.

“I think it is going to have to be a little bit creative this year with the roster or rosters, because it won't be two complete rosters, hopefully, but obviously some players will be available and some won't be available,” said James, 60, in a phone interview from England. “So it's going to be a little creative of making sure that we have players available for the Founders Cup season.

“It’s being as a creative in as many contexts as we can. … It’s using as many players with as many local ties as we can.”

James was named by the club Friday to replace Ben Pirmann, who left after six years to become an assistant coach with United Soccer League Championship expansion side Memphis 901 FC. He'll also become the club's general manager

DCFC’s reputation as a community club caught James’ attention. While such passion and commitment serve as the underpinnings of European clubs, that's not always in the U.S., said James, who was interviewed by the club's five owners.

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“Ultimately, most football clubs are owned by the community,” he said. “If you are not owned by the community, that's when teams don't do well or in this country, they move on somewhere else.

“I think the uniqueness was the ownership was very much into the community and trying to help people along, whether it be young players, whether it be young coaches, whether it could be anybody who could develop and have a great experience and better themselves. I think their vision of building the club and being Detroit's team and having the passion to match the supporters I thought was very genuine.”

James comes to DCFC with a lengthy resume, most notably having worked with Sir Bobby Robson as a scout at FC Barcelona, Newcastle United, FC Porto, Sporting Lisbon and the England national team.

The Norwich, England, native is also well familiar with the U.S. soccer landscape, having served in coaching and scouting roles with Major League Soccer clubs L.A. Galaxy, Portland Timbers and Chicago Fire.

He most recently served as technical director of Indy Eleven when the club made the transition to the second-tier United Soccer League from the former North American Soccer League.

He holds both UEFA and U.S. Soccer A coaching licenses.

"We interviewed a lot of great candidates near and far, but we were really impressed with Trevor's track record with building professional rosters and player management," said Sean Mann, Detroit City FC CEO said.

James describes his managerial style is direct.

“I'm straightforward, I'm pretty honest,” he said. “If it's good, it’s good. If it’s not, it's not. I'm not somebody who is going to shout and scream all the time. Players will know I am very fair and honest with them.

James, who played with English First Division side Ipswich Town, started his coaching career as a youth academy coach with the club in 1985. He later managed Colchester United’s reserve side before becoming first team coach and chief scout at Cambridge United.

His Ipswich Town ties would reconnect him with former Tractor Boys player turned L.A. Galaxy coach Frank Yallop, who brought him in as assistant in 2006. James oversaw the newly created Galaxy Academy as director of player development.

On James’ watch, the Galaxy Academy won USL Super-20 League crowns, reached the 2010 Super-20 National Championship and qualified for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy playoffs in U16 and U18 age groups.

He served as an assistant to John Spencer at Portland during the club’s inaugural MLS season and then moved to Chicago where he was director of scouting.

DCFC will host a meet-and-greet with James at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14, at Detroit City Clubhouse, 3401 E. Lafayette St.

Twitter: @larryo1961