Pali Blues News Release -- www.bluessoccerclub.com
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – It was less than four months ago that the Pali Blues finished their 2011 season with a heartbreaking 0-0 tie against Santa Clarita that saw the W-League standout side fall one win short of reaching the playoffs. Now current men’s Head Coach Charlie Naimo is announcing his decision to personally take charge of returning the Blues women to their championship-winning ways from the 2008 and 2009 campaigns. Back then they were also coached by Naimo, who took this year off to fully focus on the men’s inaugural season in USL PRO.
Pali missed out on the 2011 W-League postseason despite a strong campaign that saw the team finish with a 7-1-6 record.
“It was really tough watching them play without being directly involved,” New Jersey-native Naimo said. “It’s because of Pali that I first came to California, and their success means a lot to me. They had some really good players this year and were very close to having a much more successful season.
“I felt that all it would have taken is a tad more professionalism from top to bottom, in terms of all the little things that are done on a daily basis. I want the girls who play for us to experience a truly professional environment. The coaching staff did a good job, but I’d like to smoothen out the little details and hopefully push us over the edge again.”
Naimo is among the most accomplished coaches in North American women’s soccer. Between 2004 and 2010, he won three W-League Championships and three Regular Season Championships while earning an accumulated regular season record of 89-10-10 across his stints with the New Jersey Wildcats, Sky Blue FC and Pali. During the same period, teams coached by Naimo never once failed to qualify for the playoffs.
In 2005, Naimo was awarded Field Turf Coach of the Year honors for his 15-1 season with the Wildcats. Under the New Jersey-native, the Pali Blues posted a perfect regular season record of 14-0 in 2008 and finished the campaign as champions in the first year of the franchise’s existence. They successfully defended their title the following season, making them one of only two teams in W-League history to win back-to-back trophies.
Naimo had a previous two-and-a-half-year stint in the W-League in the 1990s that saw him earn his first Coach of the Year award. Between the two stints, he has registered well over 100 wins in regular season play.
The current Head Coach of the Los Angeles Blues and Pali Blues is not afraid of the doubled responsibilities. In his work with both teams, he will be assisted by long-time sideline companion and 2011 men’s Associate Head Coach Shayon Jalayer.
“My success with the men and the women really depends on who I surround myself with,” Naimo said. “As long as everyone in the coaching staff and the front office is working hard and helping create a professional environment, I can be effective as a coach for both teams. It starts with [Shayon], who is the best person anyone could ever ask to have on their side. He and I are working to determine how exactly we’re going to deal with potential conflicts.
“We’ll make sure there are very few conflicts when it comes to the two teams’ training sessions, but aside from that it may not always be avoidable. That’s why we’re also looking to create an environment where the two teams are extremely connected and supportive of each other. When it comes to signing players for the men and the women, my priority this year is to find good personalities first. I need players who really want to be part of the Blues and help the entire club succeed.”
While the men’s USL PRO season extends from about March to September, the women’s campaign only runs from May to July due to the W-League’s important role as a developing ground for highly touted out-of-season college prospects.
“If there should ever be a conflict between the two teams, we can’t have players getting upset,” Naimo stressed in continuing to explain the significance of choosing the right personnel for both rosters. “We need them to trust that we make all decisions for the good of the entire organization and that I’ll leave them in great hands if I’m ever not here. We’re currently looking to bring in one more assistant coach on the women’s side to be better prepared for potential scheduling conflicts. That should help tremendously.”
When asked about his objectives for the women’s 2012 campaign, Naimo set his sights firmly on reconquering the W-League title as well as on helping kickstart professional careers. In light of recent rumors about a possible West Coach expansion of the WPS, the highest level of women’s soccer in North America, the Pali Blues Head Coach is sensing opportunity for young prospects all over Southern California.
Over 50 players from Naimo’s W-League teams have moved on to earn roster spots in the WPS or its predecessor, WUSA. More than 25 even earned the highest honor the soccer world has to offer by being selected to compete in this past summer’s FIFA World Cup in Germany with their respective countries.
“I’m excited about a lot of the young players at the different schools here in Southern California,” the highly accomplished coach said. “Given the potential expansion in WPS, I want to bring in as many of the top college players as possible and create the kind of competitive environment that can contribute to getting them ready to play professionally. I’d like to think it’s not a coincidence that we have an excellent track record of players who have been with us getting to the next level.”
The New Jersey-native is very much familiar with that level. He served as the General Manager for the Los Angeles Sol in 2009, the year that team won the WPS Regular Season Championship, and took on the role of Technical Adviser with the Chicago Red Stars WPS franchise during the 2010 season.
Naimo closed by providing a final taste of two major reasons he is not shying away from the challenging task ahead – his tremendous passion for the game and an unswerving confidence in his ability to build mutually enriching player-coach relationships.
“I’m already as inspired and motivated for next year as I’ve ever been,” he said. “Some of the players we have a chance of signing are the kind of people who make you want to come to work everyday and do whatever you can to help them win. The right players will bring that out in me. They have the power to lift me up and make me work even harder for their success. When you have players who you know will leave it all on the field, you owe it to them to be at the top of your coaching game all the time.”