Former Seattle Sounders Academy Director Darren Sawatzky, who took the job as the national coach of Guam in September, will make his debut as the team's coach when Guam visits Hong Kong on Sunday in the East Asian Cup. "I would be remiss in saying that I understand and know everything, because this will be my first international game at this level, so there's always things to learn,'' Sawatzky said in an interview with Radio New Zealand's website.
A Seattle native who played in MLS for four seasons, with three different teams -- tje New England Revolution, Dallas Burn and Colorado Rapids -- when the league first started, Sawatzky is not only the Guam coach, but also the General Manager and head coach of the Sounders' U-23 team, as well as head coach of the Tacoma Stars of the Major Arena Soccer League. He was approached by Guam to take over their team after the departure of former coach Gary White, an Englishman who left the national side to take a job coaching in China. White, who worked with Sawatzky in Seattle, helping to develop the Sounders' Academy program, recommended Sawatzky for the job when he left.
Sawatzky had worked with White in helping identify professional players who were eligible to play for Guam because of their heritage, so he has some familiarity with the roster going in. He had an opportunity to run a training camp with Guam-based players earlier in the year.
"My approach is very team-oriented, group-oriented,'' Sawatzky said. "Our team will be very passionate and competitive. We will hunt in packs and the style of play will be very evident when the games start.''
Guam, known as The Matao, will also have matches against North Korea and Chinese Taipei this month.