These are heady times for Stanford men’s soccer coach Jeremy Gunn, who was hired in December as an assistant with the Earthquakes Academy program.
Gunn was delighted to see the Quakes select Stanford target forward Adam Jahn with the 15th overall pick of the MLS Supplemental Draft on Jan. 22.
Moreover, two of Gunn’s former University of Charlotte players were scooped up by MLS clubs: Jennings Rex, by the Seattle Sounders in the supplemental draft, and Donnie Smith, by the New England Revolution in the the MLS SuperDraft.
So life is good for Gunn, an English native and proven winner who says he loves coaching.
Not surprisingly, he hit it off with Quakes Academy Technical Director Chris Leitch before landing his new gig.
“I just said, ‘I’d love to help out in any way you’d like, if there’s anything you want me to do,’” Gunn said of his conversation with Leitch. “So then we just talked more. In Charlotte, I actually head-coached an academy team while also being at the college. That was when the college season wasn’t year-round, so I could actually do that. Now it’s too difficult to be in that type of position with an academy team because there’s a 10-month season.”
Gunn, 40, sees progress in the U.S. Youth Soccer Development Academy overall.
“I think it’s a great system,” Gunn said. “Since its inception, it’s made great strides with how it’s been run and certainly with just the level of talent showcased in academy soccer. I think the ODP (Olympic Development Program) system worked in a certain way, but really, you were kind of playing in basically all-star games, which is a great showcase of individual talent but doesn’t really work at the finer points of the game.
“Whereas in academy soccer, you’re already bringing about most of the best players together on a weekly basis, where not only can you continually develop them as individuals, but they get to learn the game from a team perspective a lot better. They get to progress and move forward with team concepts in a much better way, I feel.”
Jahn, an imposing presence up front at 6-foot-3, impressed Gunn with his soft touch for a big man and his dedication.
“He had an exceptional season,” Gunn said. “I only worked with Adam for the year, but from Day One he showed a wonderful professional attitude and a desire to always keep improving. What separates him from his college counterparts is that he has such a wonderful touch on the ball and therefore has the ability to make great decisions as a soccer player.”
Of course, the Quakes boast two robust target forwards in Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart, so the bar is pretty high in San Jose. But expect Jahn to be a willing student if he’s afforded the chance.
“The Earthquakes have exceptional strikers,” Gunn said, “and so you can look at it one of two ways: It’s going to be stiff competition and it will be difficult, but I think Adam will take it as an opportunity to be able to learn from great players and, hopefully, pick up more tricks of the trade as he goes along, and keep developing more and more, so that when he gets opportunities he’s even more prepared.”
After being hired at Stanford in December 2011, Gunn led the Cardinal (9-8, 5-4-1 Pac-12) to a third-place finish in the conference. Previously, he built Charlotte into a national power over five seasons. A former first-team All-American at Cal State Bakersfield, Gunn also enjoyed success during a seven-year stint on the Cal State Bakersfield men’s and women’s coaching staffs, then he built to the Fort Lewis College (Colo.) men’s program into a Division II power.
As a youth, he played for Grimsby Town FC and Scunthorpe United FC, and then professionally with the Chico Rooks, North Bay Breakers in Rohnert Park, and the Nashville Metros and Charleston Battery in the then A-League.
With his great dedication to player development, expect him to be cheering after numerous MLS drafts in the years to come.