Last Updated: March 2, 2016

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This Week in Seals History!

This Week in Seals History republishes articles from our archives.  We hope you enjoy a bit of history!

Bill Robertson’s Great Adventure

February 1, 2015

By Paul Sheirich

Originally published February 1, 2008

 (Please note that links in this article may not be active)

Looks like one of last year’s stellar central defenders for the Seals is working his way around the world!  Bill Robertson joined the Seals in San Francisco last season from his home in Manchester where he had been playing for the Rossendale United.  Robertson is now playing for the Canterbury United in Christchurch, New Zealand!


Roberston landed with Canterbury after inquiring into the possibility of playing in New Zealand.  “They liked my play, and offered me an excellent package, so here I am,” he said in an interview with the Seals.  


The move has played out quite well for Bill.  “I’m captain of the 1st team, and also head coach of their Academy Team which competes in the National Youth League.”  His appointment to team captain came after the previous captain left for an opportunity in Australia.  “They like my organization,” adds Robertson.


Canterbury has struggled a bit this season.  “We are half way through the season now, so hopefully I can help turn things around.”  Canterbury plays in the New Zealand National Championship, which is the highest level of soccer there.  The league consists of 8 teams nationwide on both the North and South Islands.  Most of the NZ International players play in the league. 


“We play each team 3 times and that makes up the format of the league. We train almost full time, 3 or 4 times a week, with a game on the weekend.  No seven hour drives to LA like in the PDL fortunately!   We fly to all away games because the distance is so far, so that is a bonus.”


The academy team is comprised of boys aged 16-19 years old.  “The team consists of all the best players in the Canterbury region,” says Robertson.  “In the squad we have several international players at their respective age groups.  I was appointed the head coach in October and have been training them since then. We just played our 1st league game this weekend and won 2-0, against Otago in Dunnedin. The league continues until around March.”  As a side note, the Seals U17 team played Otago in the 2006 Milk Cup in Northern Ireland, and also came away victorious.


A holder of UEFA B/ FA Level 3 coaching certificate Robertson whose previous Coaching roles have been with the Oldham Athletic Football Club working on their “Football in the Community Projects”, Academy Coach with the San Francisco Seals last year, and as a Sport Development Officer with the Oldham Council and Greater Manchester Youth Games.


“It is my intention to utilize my qualifications and experience to contribute to an already growing Canterbury United reputation. Canterbury United, and New Zealand football as a whole are certainly heading in the right direction, and I am grateful to the Club for providing me the opportunity to be a part of that,” said Robertson on his appointment.


Robertson has also attained various qualifications in disciplines such as Speed Agility Quickness (SAQ International) Fundamentals in Sport (Sports Coach UK) and Working with the Disabled (English FA).


Will Bill be back with the Seals in 2008?  “I am still not 100% sure what I'm doing for the summer yet.  I have a few opportunities to think about both back in England and over here, and I've also contemplated a return to SF if there was a spot on the team for me.”  


Maybe Bill can bring his Academy team here for a few matches!  Whatever happens, we wish Bill the best in his career, and hope to see him again in the future.

The Earthquakes bring the PDL Back to Northern California

April 26, 2014

by Paul Sheirich

The United Soccer League (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) is back in Northern California with the entry of the San Jose Earthquakes, and will participate in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference.  The Quakes looks to the PDL team to help bridge the gap between the first team and the Academy.
The Earthquake Academy has teams at the U14, U16, and U18 levels.  “There is an obvious need for us to bridge the gap that exists between the first team and the Academy,” said Chris Leitch, the Earthquakes Academy technical Director and coach of the Earthquakes U-14 squad.  “The PDL team will provide us with a way to replace the Reserve team, and allows us a way to continue to work with the college level players.” 

The PDL team will play their home games at CSU Stanislaus in Turlock, and coached by CSU Stanislaus men’s soccer head coach Dana Taylor. “The Valley gives us a tremendous opportunity to tap into talent that exists throughout the Central Valley,” said Taylor.  However, players for the new team will not be restricted to just Central Valley California.  “In addition to reaching out to the Central Valley for players, we are also inviting players from all over the country,” added Leitch. “We have relationships with many coaches around the country who know we are continually looking for players, and this network provides us with some great prospects.”

Coach Taylor has a proven track record of developing and elevating the play of teams and players.  Since joining the CSU Warriors in 2009, he has led the team to a 52-30-11 record, and elevated the program to a No. 1 national ranking in NCAA Division II for attendance.  “Putting a winning team on the field clearly contributes to improving attendance, but there is really strong support for soccer throughout the area, and we work with the community to help bring the fans to the game,” noted Taylor.

Prior to joining CSU Stanislaus Taylor was head coach for 10 years at Oregon State.  Alan Gordon, current forward for the Earthquakes, was one of the players Taylor helped develop.  His players received All American honors four times, All-Conference honors 46 times, and All-Region 11 times.  Overall in his 10 years at Oregon he helped develop an impressive 19 players reach the professional ranks. 

Putting together a competitive PDL team can be a challenge.  Sunday, April 13th was one of the first opportunities for Taylor to get a look at his team play, as they played Santa Clara University’s men’s team to a 0-0 draw.  “I haven’t had a chance to work with the players and have any formal training sessions,” said Taylor.  “Many of our players aren’t available until after May 1st due to NCAA rules.”

With no training sessions ahead of play with SCU Broncos, the obvious question was; “How did you think the team played?”

“Well, the first 15 to 20 minutes was not very good.  We weren’t connecting the passes, our runs weren’t there, and we clearly didn’t look like a team.  But the guys responded well to some pointed coaching and at the half we got a great chance to make adjustments and give the guys a better idea of the style of play we are looking for,” said Taylor.  “The second half was better, and at the end of the day we kept them out of the goal.  That’s a positive.”

SJ Earthquakes PDL on the AttackTaylor is working closely with the Earthquakes first team coaching staff.  The PDL team style of play will mirror that of the Earthquakes MLS team.  “We absolutely want our PDL team to play the same style we have our first team playing,” Leitch stated.  “It doesn’t make sense to have the players getting familiar with a formation we never use at the professional level.  We wouldn’t be able to adequately determine a player’s readiness to move up otherwise.”

The Fresno Fuego have had a strong following in the valley for years, and we here at think there is a great opportunity for a rivalry to form.  Some of the most passionate matches the SF Seals played were with the Fuego.  The Earthquakes help bring the PDL play to a new level in the Central Valley, and Northern California.  We’ve seen other sports do well in the Central Valley with their feeder baseball teams with great attendance, and Sacramento’s Republic FC USL Pro soccer team debuted this year. 

Take a day, or make it a weekend, and head out to Turlock and take in some PDL soccer (SJ Earthquake PDL Schedule).  Evaluate the players for yourself.  See who you think will be the next MLS star, and keep an eye on the Earthquakes PDL team.


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