Matt Barnes Named New Head Coach Of Sockers FC

To earn a return ticket to the Premier Development League playoffs, Sockers FC will have to “fly high” in the Mid-South, perhaps the toughest division in the entire PDL.  It’s appropriate, then, that the man who will guide the club in 2014 has “aeronautical” experience.

The Sockers today introduced Matt Barnes as the club’s new head coach.



Barnes, who now serves as head coach at Lubbock Christian University, came to West Texas after a record-setting, two-year stay at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.  He will continue as LCU’s head coach while guiding the Sockers. 

The 41-year-old native of Bakersfield, California, led LCU to an 11-5-1 mark in his first season as the Chaparrals’ head coach, including an 8-1 mark in the Heartland Conference.  Because LCU is making the transition to the NCAA Division II level, the school is considered a provisional member of the conference and is, therefore, ineligible for postseason play.  While the Chaps cannot officially claim the Heartland Conference title, their 8-1 mark put the club in sole possession of first place in the final 2013 league standings.


“We’ve spent a good amount of time on the decision regarding the next head coach of Sockers FC,” said assistant general manager Jeff VonHolle.  “There were a number of quality coaches who applied for the position, but we felt Matt brings the ideals best suited to what we’re looking for to lead our club.  His coaching experience, contacts around the game of soccer, what he accomplished in his first year at Lubbock Christian and his enthusiasm for this job were all very important factors in making this decision. 


“We know that Matt is excited about the opportunity to coach in the Premier Development League, and we share that excitement as we look to the future of Sockers FC.”


In two seasons at Embry-Riddle, Barnes’ teams went a combined 23-11-6.  In 2012, the Eagles captured the CalPac (California Pacific Conference) championship with a 14-3-3 record, capping a remarkable two-year turnaround and earning a berth in the NAIA national championships. When Matt took over as head coach in 2011, Embry-Riddle was ranked #171 in the NAIA.  By the end of the 2012 campaign, the Eagles broke into the national top 25.  For his efforts, Barnes was named the CalPac’s Coach of the Year. 


His résumé includes eight years as Director of Coaching with Roadrunner United FC (Bakersfield, CA), which includes 25 teams and a 50-member staff.


Matt was also an assistant coach for the University of California Bakersfield from 1997-1999 and was a member of the staff when the Roadrunners won the 1997 NCAA Division II national title.


He posted .706 winning percentage as a high school coach (1995-2004), winning three California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) state titles and playing for a fourth.  His coaching experience also includes one PDL season (2005) as an assistant with Bakersfield.


A National Christian College Athletic Association Soccer All-American in 1995 at Judson University (Elgin, IL) and was a member of Judson’s NCCAA national championship club as a freshman (1991).


An Academic All-American in 1993 and 1994 (NAIA and NCCAA), Matt earned a master’s degree in special education at National University in La Jolla, CA. 


Barnes becomes the third head coach in club history, succeeding Warren Cottle (2011-13), who stepped down last July after three seasons with the club.  Jesus “Chuy” Enriquez coached the team in its first two seasons (2009 and 2010).

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