It’s one thing to take one team to the Final Four. It’s quite another to do it with two teams in the same year.
Tim Oswald did that in 2013, and that’s why he is the Philly Soccer Page’s Coach of the Year.
First, Oswald turned around the Ocean City Nor’easters in the USL Premier Development League, transforming the amateur side from the struggling team he inherited in 2012 to one that won two straight division titles, boasted some of the nation’s top college players, and made the PDL’s final four in summer 2013.
To add to that, Oswald took Ocean City deep into the U.S. Open Cup, where they put on a valiant display against Philadelphia Union before bowing out in a dramatic, gut-wrenching finish at PPL Park, when a 90th minute goal by Ocean City’s Emmanuel Kollie was topped by Brian Carroll’s stoppage time winner for the professionals.
Then, during college soccer’s fall season, Oswald led Rutgers-Camden on an improbable run in the Division III college tournament, capped by an amazing 92nd minute game-winning free kick goal from 75 yards in the semifinals to make it to the national title game . (See video below.) They fell just short of the championship in a 2-1 loss to perennial small school powerhouse Messiah College of Pennsylvania. After first being named NSCAA Division III South Atlantic Region Coach of the Year for his efforts, Oswald wasthen named NSCAA Division III Coach of the Year. Equally notable, two of his players were named Academic All-Americans, which shows he wasn’t recruiting ringers who can’t hack it in the classroom.
All in all, it was a storybook year for the former Father Judge High School player, who has yet to crack the age of 40.
It’s easy to overlook coaches who find success at small colleges, but it’s not so easy to do so when they do it with two different teams in the same year. All in all, it marked a series of great achievements for Oswald. MLS clubs on the lookout for assistant coaches, such as the Union, would be wise to consider Oswald. He’s clearly doing something right.
Peter Vermes, Sporting Kansas City: Kansas City’s coach has longstanding ties to the Philadelphia area, where he grew up (Willingboro, N.J.), and he won the MLS Cup with a squad that clearly fit his mindset. In any other year, maybe he’s the guy who gets this, but Oswald’s double achievement was too impressive not to reward.