Where Have They Been?
After retiring in 2002 to take a role in the Crew front office, Todd Yeagley left Columbus the following year to join his father, the legendary Jerry Yeagley, as a Volunteer Assistant at his alma mater, Indiana University. In doing so,Yeagley helped coach the Hoosiers to their sixth NCAA Championship in his father's final season at the helm in Bloomington. The next season, Yeagley was promoted to Assistant Coach, a position he held until leaving for the University of Wisconsin in 2009 to become Head Coach.
Brian Maisonneuve hung up his cleats in January 2005 as the second longest-tenured original MLS player with one club behind LA's Cobi Jones. The Crew's original captain then accepted a position in Bradenton, Florida as Assistant Coach for the United States U-17 National Team Residency program and the U.S. U-20 Men's National Team. Following the 2007 U-17 and U-20 FIFA World Cups, Maisonneuve left Bradenton to become Assistant Coach for the University of Louisville where he spent two seasons.
Where Are They Now?
After one season at Wisconsin, Yeagley was named Head Coach at Indiana. When assembling his staff in January 2010, there was only one choice to be Yeagley's right hand man.
"My first recruit was Brian Maisonneuve, to bring him back to Indiana as a coach," Yeagley explained. "I knew that was the start of getting some good things going. We're now in our third year at IU. We've been able to build back and restore some of the IU success.
"We've known each other since before college," Yeagley continued. "We've always been friends. I always admired [Maisonneuve] as a player. He's honest and as genuine as anyone you will find. Those are the people you want around. My dad was very clear on how to build this program. You've got to put a lot of good people around you. He had excellent assistants and staff. That was the first thing I needed to do is to surround myself with those people. The fact that we know each other well and acknowledge each other with our skills and personalities. I know I'm always going to get honest feedback...You always need a guy that can push you, and that's exactly what Mais does. He makes me a better coach and he makes our program better."
The two's chemistry from playing four years at IU and seven seasons with the Crew together paid off on the sideline as the Hoosiers captured the Big Ten Regular Season Championship in their first season together.
"Not only do I know [Yeagley's] mind as a soccer player and coach, but we're also great friends. That means a lot when you're spending a lot of time together. All of that and the way he sees the game, how he thinks on and off the field, it all comes together in a good chemistry that we have. He knows what I'm thinking and I know what he's thinking. We know how each other will react in all situations. It's good."
Both Yeagley and Maisonneuve credit former coaches, including the elder Yeagley, mentors in their coaching styles. Maisonneuve acknowledges the coaches he played for with the Crew, along with Bruce Arena and Steve Sampson in the 1996 Olympics and 1998 World Cup respectively, as mentors. The former Crew captain says the most experience he recieved however was during his years in Bradenton with the U.S. Youth National Teams.
"To be honest, I've taken something as a player, and now as a coach, from just about all the coaches I've had," Maisonneuve explained. "I always say I'm the luckiest guy in the world because when my playing career was over, I was able to work with U.S. Soccer with John Hackworth, who is head coach right now with the Philadelphia Union."
"Hackworth was the Head Coach and he had four Assistant Coaches," Maisonneuve continued. "There were five coaches down there every day talking about soccer, picking each other's brain and watching training sessions. Bradenton was great not only with the U-17s, but the 20s too with Thomas Rongen, Dave Dir and Tim Mulqueen. All those guys had been around the block with coaching and playing. I was immersed in soccer for thee-and-a-half years. I have to say those three years in Bradenton with U.S. Soccer were like 15-20 years of coaching experience because that's all I did. I saw so many different coaches and different training sessions. It was fantastic. I've been very fortunate in my playing and coaching careers."
Now, as Head Coach, Yeagley uses his playing days as guidance on the sideline.
"From all of [my coaches], I learned something different whether it was something I like or something I'd like to do different as a coach," he explained. "I used that a lot as a player. When I make decisions now or how I handle things, I say 'What would I have liked as a player?' In the end [players] really want you to be honest with them. I work really hard everyday to make them understand where they sit and where things are."
This weekend Yeagley and Maisonneuve find themselves in the NCAA College Cup, Indiana's first appearance since winning the 2004 National Championship. Despite winning just one of its last four regular season games and losing the opening match of the Big Ten Tournament to Michigan State, the Hoosiers have come together during the NCAA Tournament to battle for silverware in Hoover, Alabama this weekend.
"The early exit in the Big Ten [Tournament] might have been just the break we needed psychologically and physically to re-evaluate and say 'Okay. What can each one of these players do better?' With a lot of adversity can come a lot of positives," Yeagley said.
"This group was having success this year and hit a little bump at the end, and now has found a rhythm," the Head Coach continued. "All that regular season experience has prepared us for this. We're focused. The players are playing for each other, it's a very unified group. Some of our players' confidence is continuing to grow and our big players are making big plays. To go anywhere deep in the tournament or playoffs at any level, you have to have your big players step up."
Competing against Creighton, Maryland and Georgetown this weekend, Yeagley is preaching to his side to focus on each game individually and enjoy the moment.
"It's so close right now," he said. "Yet, what we're very keen on is these guys going into this tournament and enjoying themselves and not worrying about the end, but focusing on each game independently and playing loose and relaxed."
The only major trophy Yeagley and Maisonneuve have won together came in 2002 with the Crew's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup victory. The duo never won a National Championship at Indiana, losing 1-0 to Virginia in their only championship game appearance during their senior year at IU.
"I've been so fortunate in my career, both playing and coaching," Maisonneuve explained. "It's something when I look back at it, to not have that ring as a player, it hurts. We had such a good team and a great group of guys and it was right there for us. I don't have a college ring. It would be great not only for what we went through in the early 90s, but for this group of guys. We really do have a great group of guys. I would be so happy for them to walk away from here with an eighth star."
Having won two NCAA titles as an assistant with the Hoosiers in 2003 and 2004, Yeagley says it would mean so much more to finally win one with Maisonneuve by his side.
"[To win the National Championship] would mean a lot on a lot of levels," the Head Coach explained. "To get that eighth star would be a phenomenal feeling. I know how important it is to so many people. Not only my immediate family and those who surround it, but what it means to this program. To do it with Brian here, Brian hasn't won a championship because he wasn't here as an assistant at that time. We were so close as players, it would be fantastic to share that with him and the rest of the staff to give so much pride back to this program."
(Photos courtesy of IUHoosiers.com)