After eight seasons as an assistant coach for Sporting Kansas City, John Pascarella takes the reins as the Menace's head coach. Photo credit: USA Today Sports Images
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017 – John Pascarella will bring his experiences as a Major League Soccer coach and player to his new role as the head coach of the Des Moines Menace.
Announced today by Menace owner Kyle Krause, Pascarella will lead the Menace into the 2017 Premier Development League season.
“From a large pool of applicants, John has distinguished himself as a coach who can achieve our goal of bringing the PDL championship back to Des Moines,” said Menace general manager Matt Homonoff. “With his passion for the game, his engaging personality and his knowledge of players at the college and professional levels, we are confident that he is an ideal fit for the Menace.”
Pascarella comes from Sporting Kansas City, where he was an assistant coach the last eight seasons. A former goalkeeper, Pascarella was part of the Los Angeles Galaxy in the first two seasons of MLS.
“I am ecstatic to be involved in the premier organization in the PDL,” Pascarella said. “The Menace’s history and tradition speaks for itself, and I’m just glad to be a part of this team.”
The Menace’s new field general has been part of Sporting KC’s storied renaissance of recent years. He joined the Kansas City Wizards in early 2009, reuniting with former Galaxy teammate (and current Galaxy coach) Curt Onalfo, then the Wizards’ head coach.
Since late in the 2009 season, Peter Vermes – a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame – has been the head coach for a franchise that has taken cosmic leaps forward. In 2011, newly rebranded Sporting Kansas City christened its spectacular new stadium in Kansas City, Kan.
With a new identity and a fresh start, the organization won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2012 and 2015, and in 2013 – the same year the Menace battled to a 2-0 loss to host SKC in the Cup’s third round – the team won the MLS Cup in a chilly shootout against Real Salt Lake.
“My time in Kansas City has been a tremendous learning experience, and being part of the process has been fantastic, because off all the emotional ties and relationships formed along the way,” Pascarella reflected. “I may be leaving the organization, but I will always have a love for the community, the club, the fans, the players and the staff.
“I see that same type of feel here in Des Moines, and I want to help make this stronger and broader. I want to connect, to get out and about in the community, to market the game and the club and the youth programs. Building ties is what I’ve learned in Kansas City more than anything.”
A New Jersey native and a Penn State graduate, Pascarella will be in a lead role for the first time since serving as head coach and technical director for the Northern Virginia Royals in the 2007 and 2008 PDL seasons. His first coaching experience came in the college ranks, as Maryland’s goalkeeping coach (1998-2000), a role followed by opportunities to guide teams at the youth, Olympic Development Program and high-school levels.
“The leadership piece – being the one who can set the tone, implementing my vision and leading the team – this is what excites me,” the Menace’s new skipper explained. “It’s a move I’ve been thinking about it for a few years, and I am excited to take this next step with the Menace.”
Pascarella has “A” coaching licenses from the United States Soccer Federation and from the Union of European Football Associations.
His professional playing career began in Peru (1989-92) and continued with the Richmond Kickers in the 1994 A-League season. His final two seasons were with the Los Angeles Galaxy in the first two years of Major League Soccer. In 1996, he was the backup goalkeeper in the inaugural MLS Cup – a 3-2 win for DC United.
The Menace’s four most recent head coaches have MLS experience on their resumes. Mike Matkovich (2015-16 Menace), Mike Jeffries (2013-14) and Laurie Calloway (2001-02 and 2010-12) have coached MLS teams. Pascarella, however, is the first Menace head coach who has both played and coached in the league.
In the coming season, Pascarella and his team will try to earn the franchise’s fourth straight Heartland Division championship. Soon after open tryouts on April 22, the team’s schedule will start on May 10 in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (the Menace’s eighth straight appearance in the national tournament). The Menace’s PDL schedule, to be released in the coming weeks, is set to begin at home on May 20.
“To me, it’s about building an authentic culture – a caring culture that demands excellence and brings out the best in our players,” Pascarella shared. “We want to win, we want to create the group interconnectedness where everybody believes in similar values, where everybody is pulling in the same direction. This shows itself on the field and makes lasting impressions and makes a positive difference in the community.”
Born: July 20, 1966 in Vineland, N.J.
Wife: Lisa (Married Sept. 19, 1992)
Children: Daughters Kara (17), Cassie (16) and Jordan (12); son John-Patrick (14)
Education: Penn State (B.S. in Exercise and Sport Science, 1989)
ABOUT THE MENACE: The Des Moines Menace provides the highest level of soccer in Iowa. Preparing for its 24th season, the Menace men’s team competes in the Premier Development League (PDL). Entering its sixth season, the Menace women’s team is part of the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL). With loyal support, the Menace men’s and women’s teams play their home games at the Valley Stadium in West Des Moines to provide family-fun entertainment. The Menace organization provides the growth of the game of soccer in Iowa with their youth soccer programs, including Junior Menace (ages 3-9), Menace Youth Academy (ages six and older), and youth tournaments, camps and clinics.