Although the 2019 Major League Soccer Player Combine is FC Cincinnati’s debut as a first-tier club, it’s not the first for its head coach. Before joining FCC in December 2016, Alan Koch arrived with a history of scouting and finding players from college who could develop into proven professionals.
Ahead of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, Koch was the men’s head coach at Simon Fraser University and became a scout for Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The plan was to have someone who knows the college game find the best college talent.
“There’s obviously a lot of overlap between what I do with SFU and trying to help out with the Whitecaps,” Koch said to whitecapsfc.com in December 2014. “It’s just a position that makes sense.”
He also mentioned he believed he could help Vancouver find diamonds in the rough deep in the draft. He did.
Koch helped Vancouver select center back Tim Parker No. 13 in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. Since then, Parker has 105 MLS regular season appearances and has two caps with the U.S. Men’s National Team. In the third round, the Whitecaps drafted goalkeeper Spencer Richey. Koch and Richey will be among the inaugural members of FC Cincinnati’s first season in MLS.
Following that 2015 draft, Koch joined Vancouver fulltime as the first head coach of Whitecaps FC 2. Two seasons later, he joined FCC as the head scout to help the club identify talent, similar to his role with Vancouver in the 2015 and 2016 SuperDrafts.
So, naturally, it makes sense that Koch is comfortable at the 2019 MLS Player Combine in Orlando, Fla., even if he’s in a different role.
Although he’s adjusting to his debut as a first-tier coach, he’s also back identifying talent, something FC Cincinnati initially hired him to oversee. Now, however, he’s relying on Hunter Freeman, FCC’s lead college scout, for information on 2019 SuperDraft picks.
“It’s very, very different in terms of how you go through this role,” Koch said. “When I was responsible for it, you’re the one providing dossiers, reports and assessments of all the different players to give to the club. Now we’re lucky we’ve got some great scouts in place.
“Hunter’s led our draft preparations and now we’re relying a lot on him. But I am looking forward to watching the players with my own eyes and making our final decisions down here.”
The 2019 combine ends Wednesday after participants play in full-field matches, similar to last Saturday. After that, FC Cincinnati will finalize its draft plans ahead of Friday’s MLS SuperDraft in Chicago, where the club has picks No. 1, No. 13 and No. 16 in the first round. The team also has seven picks in the first two rounds and 10 picks overall.
Can Koch and FCC find more diamonds in the rough?