TODAY ON THE COURT: KEITH TOZER, FORMER U.S. FUTSAL MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM HEAD COACH, AND WINNER OF 1996-2004 CONCACAF CHAMPIONSHIPS, ALONG WITH ADAM BRUNDLE, DIRECTOR OF ISL FUTSALA.
It is never easy to grow a relatively new sport, and it is especially complicated to promote it in the USA, under the shadows of American Football, Baseball, Basketball and Hockey.
The birth of professional indoor soccer in America dates back to less than 50 years ago, when in February 1974, the North American Soccer League staged two indoor exhibitions against the touring Red Army of Moscow club.
Despite its novelty when compared to other sports, coach Tozer has accomplished great results developing professional indoor soccer and was the Major Indoor Soccer Leagues first draft pick in 1978 for the Cincinnati Kids owned by Pete Rose of MLB.
After decades of playing and coaching, Tozer became one of the most successful coaches in U.S. soccer history, and the all-time winningest coach in North America Professional Indoor Soccer with over 700 wins, six league championships and nine “Coach of the Year Awards.”
Coach Tozer’s success at indoor soccer led to his role as the U.S. Futsal Men’s National Team Head Coach. He was the interim head coach at the first CONCACAF Futsal World Cup qualifier in 1996 with the U.S. winning their first CONCACAF Futsal Championship.
Tozer coached the National Team for 20 years with six CONCACAF Championship appearances, reaching the podium another 3 times:
– Bronze Medal in 2000
– Gold Medal in 2004
– Bronze Medal in 2008.
Tozer also led the team to a seventh place finish at the 2004 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Chinese Taipei.
On ISL’s side, Adam Brundle currently manages two Futsal academies, in Charlotte and Austin, that have produced over 20 National team players and the 03 G National Champions of 2020.
With hardwork and dedication, he has conquered important milestones for the sport, from partnerships with USYF, to implementing the only Futsal organization in the country with 2 development academies.
What are the next steps?
What’s the future for indoor soccer in the USA?
Let ‘s find out!
- WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO START PLAYING INDOOR SOCCER?
Keith Tozer: In 1978 I was playing college soccer at Oneonta State University in upstate New York. I was preparing to be drafted into the NASL when I received a call from Keith Van Eron, the goalkeeper for Hartwick College also in Oneonta. He told me I was the first player drafted in the MISL for the Cincinnati Kids. I was a member of the U.S. Olympic Team player pool and our Head Coach Walt Chyzowych were good friends with Earl Formen and Ed Tepper who were the co-founders of the MISL. They asked coach Chyzowych to handle the inaugural draft and many of us then went on to play in the MISL.
- IF YOU HAD NOT BECOME A PROFESSIONAL SOCCER PLAYER, WHAT OTHER SPORT DO YOU THINK YOU MIGHT HAVE TRIED AND WHY?
Keith Tozer: I don’t know if I had the skill set to play professionally but I played ice hockey for many years growing up and played in the National Championships when I was a Bantam. I think because I loved playing ice hockey, playing indoor soccer was much easier for me.
- WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO START IMPLEMENTING FUTSAL ACADEMIES IN THE US?
Adam Brundle: Futsal has so many benefits to aid any player’s development. It encourages every player to be creative, and forces them to think quickly and find solutions to problems in various situations. It allows players to express themselves, and that is the beauty of sport. I wanted to be able to reach as many players as possible and give them the opportunity to develop and learn how to be the best creative versions of themselves through the sport!
- WHAT OTHER SPORTS DO YOU LIKE TO PLAY/WOULD YOU LIKE TO WORK WITH AND WHY?
Adam Brundle: There isn’t a sport I have played/experienced in the past which I have not enjoyed to play. I grew up playing Rugby, Cricket, tennis, field hockey, soccer and of course futsal. They all offer something different, and are so unique in their own way but yet so similar in what they teach. I would honestly work with any sport, as long as it allowed me to still be in the world of youth sports.
- WHY DO YOU PREFER FUTSAL TO OUTDOOR SOCCER? WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
Keith Tozer: I love all forms of soccer! Outdoor, beach, indoor and futsal. However, my passion is for futsal and of course indoor soccer. Futsal is such a great game on its own as well as a great youth developer for outdoor players. Players can develop great technical ability from futsal, create quick and agile physical skills, hone tactical awareness and become very confident in their game.
Adam Brundle: Prefer in this situation is a strong word. Although many people associate futsal and soccer as the same, they are in fact very different. Both of them have elements that make them so great in their own right! What I love about Futsal is how quick paced the game is, and how purely entertaining it is. Players are more involved consistently, and get more touches, and score more goals!
- ACCORDING TO STATISTA, THE NUMBER OF FUTSAL AND INDOOR SOCCER PARTICIPANTES IN THE US HAS GROWN FROM APPROX. 4 MILLION TO APPROX. 5 MILLION BETWEEN 2016 AND 2018. HOW DO YOU ANALYZE THE DEVELOPMENT AND CURRENT CONTEXT OF FUTSAL IN THE USA?
Keith Tozer: Both versions of the indoor game being indoor soccer with boards or no boards for futsal has grown I believe in recent years because youth players love being around the ball all the time. Because the fields or courts are much smaller than outdoor soccer everyone feels they are more involved in the game which keeps young players mentally and physically engaged.
Adam Brundle: Futsal is growing because it is becoming more known, and more people are seeing the benefits. Large outdoor soccer clubs are now seeing that futsal has a big impact on players development, and are therefore implementing it into their clubs curriculum. Futsal still has a long way to go in order to break out of the shadow of soccer in the US, however it is definitely on the right trajectory. .
- WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHALLENGES FOR FUTSAL IN THE USA?
Keith Tozer: In order for the U.S. to become a power in the futsal world we will need the PFL to be successful. The top ten+ National Teams in the world all have professional futsal leagues to draw from. That would give many more young players the opportunity to either play outdoor soccer or futsal.
Adam Brundle:The main challenge(s) are the other sports it has to contend with. There are only so many days in a week, and if children are playing other sports it is hard to build futsal into the weekly training regime. From a tv rating standpoint, even soccer is still only the 5th most popular sport in the US. Therefore getting people interested in Futsal which is a very new sport in the US, ahead of staple American sports will be the main challenge that is faced.
- WHAT IS YOUR IDEAL SCENARIO FOR FUTSAL IN THE USA?
Keith Tozer: If U.S. Soccer would create youth futsal National Teams both for boys and girls similar to their outdoor program that would be fantastic. Obviously we need a full Women’s Futsal National Team and I firmly believe in a short period of time we could become one of the best teams in the world. Creating these youth teams with full men and women national teams would have a huge impact not only in Futsal but also our entire outdoor program. What do we have to lose? Other super powers in the outdoor game globally have done so.
Adam Brundle: The ideal scenario is that more and more people start believing in the game, and more and more people become proficient in the education of futsal. This will allow Futsal to be seen as its own sport and not be seen as a compliment to soccer. USYF is doing a great job at leading the charge, and creating a pathway for players to get a true taste of what futsal is. With the creation of the PFL led by Mr. Tozer, it will give players a complete pathway. It will also allow players to realize there is a future beyond the game past the age of 14/15, and that they could turn it into a career.
- HOW DO YOU SEE FUTSAL IN THE USA IN THE NEXT 10 YEARS?
Keith Tozer: In the next ten years the growth of futsal here in the U.S. will be substantial. I see more and more futsal facilities, academies, league and tournaments being developed across the U.S. giving more and more players the opportunity to experience this great game. Even though the game doesn’t need coaches per say, the game we still need more knowledgeable coaches who understand the methodology of the game of futsal and the USYF coaching education along with others will help immensely. When the PFL kicks off it will be a great shot in the arm for futsal here in the U.S. as well as globally. The PFL will attract some of the top coaches and players from around the world to the U.S. and will only help elevate the development of the American players not only for the league but also for the U.S. National Team..
Adam Brundle: I see it growing exponentially, and being played all over the US. As coach Tozer has mentioned the PFL will allow not only for players to see high quality professional futsal live in America, but it will also pave a realistic pathway for young americans to be able to follow. It will be the tip of the US Futsal pyramid. This will allow for more youth clubs to start engaging in futsal and only futsal, and I believe in the next 10 years we will see Futsal come out of the shadow of soccer, and begin to stand on its own as the sport it is!
- WHAT MOTIVATIONAL MESSAGE WOULD YOU SEND FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS TO ENGAGE WITH FUTSAL?
Keith Tozer: All the top players in the world have said at one time or another, “I am who I am because growing up in my country I played Futsal!”
Adam Brundle: It is not really a motivational message. However I would just encourage anyone and everyone to try it.. I am positive that more often than not you will fall in love with the game.