As draftees and trialists spent time over the last six weeks looking to impress the Fire coaching staff enough for a roster spot, so did Aron Hyde, the club’s new Goalkeeping Coach. His work with the Fire’s three goalkeepers during the club’s six week, four stop tour was enough for him to be named to the position on March 1.
Hailing from Birmingham, England, the 27-year-old played for Judson University in Elgin from 2002-04, helping the Eagles to the NCCAA national championship his first year there, tallying up a 64-9-1 record over his three years between the sticks.
It was during his college years that Hyde had a training stint with the team he’s now coaching. He’s also trained with English clubs, Fulham FC, Millwall, Walsall and Wycombe Wanderers, but took up coaching after hanging up his playing boots, taking his license courses while working as an assistant first for Seattle University men’s and women’s teams, before spending last season at the University of Washington.
After spending a number of years in the Pacific northwest, and a number of weeks on the club’s preseason tour, Hyde’s happy to be settled back in Chicago.
“I obviously have some experience here,” said Hyde. “I was auditioning for my job [during preseason] but there wasn’t that much pressure because I’d talked to a number of people regarding the goalkeeping situation and so the transition was smooth. I have a good feel for the keepers here and we’ve built up a good rapport.”
At 27, Hyde is one of the younger coaches in all of Major League Soccer – though still more senior than the Fire’s goalkeeping corps -- Andrew Dykstra, 24, and Sean Johnson, 20.
“Aron’s been great,” said Dykstra. “He’s young but he came to the team with a lot of experience coaching the position. He’s pushed both of us very hard but he knows what he’s doing and I would say we have a great working relationship.”
As far as Dykstra’s performance in preseason, Hyde was impressed with the second-year player’s work ethic, especially after suffering an injury early.
“Andrew was a little slow to get going in preseason because he picked up a knock soon after we arrived in Arizona. We sent him back here to rehab while we went to Mexico, giving him some cardio work to do while away. The whole situation was the best thing for him because he was still working hard while rehabbing and came back into camp ten days later as sharp as ever.”
Though losing against New York in his first MLS appearance, the goalkeeping coach is confident in his new number one keeper.
“He could have been rattled early with the back pass that he played out for a corner, but he recovered well and looked confident in the goal. The goal they scored was well-taken and no one found him at fault for it. As a debut, it was a good performance to build off of and we expect he’ll continue to improve through the season.”
When it comes to the goalkeeping position, Hyde is bullish about the subject as it relates to American keepers. An Aston Villa supporter, he’s happy to have both Brads, Friedel and Guzan, backstopping the Villains the last two seasons.
“Goalkeeping is the one position where this country has done
a great job in continuously producing quality players. The play of guys like
Friedel, Guzan, Tim Howard, Kasey Keller and Marcus Hahnemann, has given this
country a great reputation of producing at this position and I think a lot of
it has to do with American emphasis on athleticism, with kids playing a number
of different sports that require good hand-eye coordination.”
Hyde has been back at work with his keepers this week, preparing both Dykstra and Johnson for Saturday afternoon’s clash with the Colorado Rapids, at 3 pm CT live on Telefutura.