Following a strong turnaround in 2014, Sockers FC is looking to expand upon that success in the coming seasons.
The franchise took the first step to that end today with the announcement that head coach Matt Barnes will return for a second year with the Club. Barnes was hired in November 2013 and guided the team to a 7-4-3 record, finishing in a second-place tie in the Premier Development League Mid-South division this summer.
“We are extremely happy that Matt Barnes will continue as our head coach,” said assistant general manager and director of soccer operations, Jeff VonHolle. “He brought a new energy and passion to this team, and the positive results were immediate. We know there are more great seasons to come.”
After one season as the head men’s coach at Lubbock Christian University, during which he led the Chaparrals to the best record in the Heartland Conference, Barnes was introduced as the head coach at San Francisco State University on July 30. Despite being further from West Texas during the academic year, Barnes is looking forward to returning to the Permian Basin during the PDL season.
“This summer was new and challenging for me, but, ultimately, it was fun,” Barnes said. “It will be great to come back here in a few months and continue working towards our goal of winning a national championship for our fans.”
Barnes is an expert at restoring programs, and his latest position at SF State continues his career path of bringing programs to prominence. The collegiate season is less than a week old, but Barnes’ team is already 2-1, and opponents have scored just one goal in those three matches.
The focus on defense and goalkeeping that Barnes brings to his players was invaluable during the Sockers’ 2014 season. Team goalkeepers faced the fewest shots in franchise history, which helped them allow 22 fewer goals than in 2013. Their 19 goals allowed were also the fewest in team history, and the team recorded its largest goal differential ever (+7).
Prior to LCU, Barnes spent two seasons at Embry-Riddle, during which he 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.
Barnes is the third head coach in Sockers’ history, following Jesus “Chuy” Enriquez (2009-10) and Warren Cottle (2011-13).
“With Barnes’ return, we are making a commitment to each other,” VonHolle said. “Most importantly, though, we are making a
commitment to our fans and partners that we will have strong and successful soccer franchise in the Permian Basin.”
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