All good things must come to an end, but that doesn’t make it any easier to find a coach to replace a legend in Roswell soccer coach, James Vernon. He had only one losing season in 16 years as head coach, missing district playoffs twice in his career.
When Roswell Independent School District posted the job, they were wondering who’d want such a big job. One name kept coming to the front and that was former Goddard and New Mexico Military Institute assistant coach David Sifuentes.
David is no stranger to pressure soccer, he’s had his own travel team and has followed the Roswell soccer program for many years. He was there when coach Vernon won RHS’ only state soccer championship in the 2013-14 season.
Now he will get a chance to coach his son, David Sifuentes Jr., who will be a sophomore this season. He has coached travel soccer for the last 10 years — his team was called FC Roswell. They have traveled to Colorado, Texas, Utah, and Arizona.
“The reason I decided to travel,” David said, “there’s no competitive soccer in the area, and we wanted to get the boys exposed to bigger and better things. We wanted to get the boys better.”
Sifuentes’ daughter, Idali, also played for her dad on the girls travel soccer team and he coached her when he was an assistant coach to Goddard’s Jamie Martinez. Before he was selected to be the head coach of Roswell, he was NMMI’s first assistant under John Barbour, this past season.
“I love coaching,” Sifuentes said. “I love teaching kids’. Again, knowing the vicinity — there’s no competition, there’s no competitive level. You have to try to stay as competitive as possible to be able to compete in the area, especially when we go to Albuquerque. Albuquerque has all of the academies and when you get there, you can tell the difference. It’s not the same when you play them.”
David played soccer in high school but wasn’t a good student according to him. While attending UTEP university, he played club soccer for a couple of years before getting married. David has played in men’s leagues since moving to Roswell 13 years ago.
Sifuentes moved here because he was offered a job at NMMI — he planned to only be here a couple of years but fell in love with the city of Roswell. While taking over the program, David knows he has big shoes to fill. He believesthere’s enough talent coming back to get Roswell into the playoffs and reach the state title game.
David feels that being in 5A is no big deal because RHS has always played Hobbs, Clovis, and Carlsbad and dominated the area in competition. He noted it had been eight years since Goddard had beaten Roswell, before beating them last year in the Coyote Classic.
The team is already taking shape during conditioning drills, with 11 seniors returning. David doesn’t believe in playing a senior just because they’re seniors. No, he will play the best players regardless of class.
“My big thing is talent,” David said. “I don’t care about your age or grade level, if you have the talent, you’re going to be a starter. If you’re good, you’re gonna play, it’s as simple as that.”
Already, one of the team’s biggest needs is to find a goalie. Last season, coach Vernon had both of his goalie’s get hurt. David feels he has the talent to cover the spot, most of his goalies want to play in the field. One bit of good news for him is the goalie who broke his wrist last season is back. David is trying to work with him and instill confidence that he will be OK.
David hasn’t committed to a system yet. Last season, Roswell ran a 4-3-2-1, but David wants to decide based on the talent he has on the field. He would like his team to be flexible and be able to adapt based on the opponent, and the abilities of his team.
Look for Roswell to play a system of high press, high defensive line, trying to steal the ball on his opponent’s side of the field with quick transitions. He feels that formations are just a number.
One of the main differences in coaching club soccer as opposed to high school soccer is the administrative part of the job. Vernon and RISD athletic director Britt Cooper have been kind enough to help and show him the things he needs to learn. Another advantage is the return of assistant coach, Peter Stover. The team is looking for a goalie coach.
“One of my skills is I like to form players,” David said. “My strengths are teaching the fundamentals and getting my team in shape fast. If you teach the fundamentals, everything else will work out. If the team does the fundamentals, the wins and losses will take care of themselves.”
Roswell’s schedule is nice — they only face one 5A school this year. They will play Las Cruces and they will play in the Los Alamos Tournament and face Alamogordo who were state champs two years ago. They will square off against defending state champions Los Alamos, parts of the season will be a challenge, but it will be a good measuring stick to see where the program is.
“I know most of those teams,” David said. “Most of them play very intensely and physical. The team has already scrimmaged this summer in Hobbs. That’s given us an opportunity to see what we need to work on and help us.”
David wants his players to know the soccer program cannot exist without them. He noted his kids are talking about winning a state championship. David stressed to them, how are they going to accomplish that? Telling his team they have to do more than talk about it, they will have to put in the work and work together as one unit; and be committed to the team.
“I’m very straight forward,” David said. “I don’t like to go around the bushes. I prefer to talk in private. I like to tell people what it is, they may not like it, but I think it is the best way out of respect for them. To me, that is the best way to go about it.”
He will have an open-door policy for his players and parents, where he will talk to them. He will not talk to them before or after games when everyone is mad or upset. He will meet with them after a cooling off period.
With the disbanding of the University of New Mexico men’s soccer program, David weighed in on the ramifications of not having a men’s soccer team at the Division I level in the state of New Mexico.
“I think it is a disadvantage for the kids in the area,” David said. “We do have the talent to have kids to play for DI schools. I hope University of New Mexico realized they made a mistake and bring soccer back.”
Roswell has already started conditioning for the season-on Monday-Thursday’s from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at RHS Fields.
Roswell will play 6 p.m., at NMMI in their first game Aug. 20.