A coach's life: MLS veteran Eric Quill returns to his Texas youth club and wins another national title

By Mike Woitalla

Eric Quill played on the U-16 U.S. Youth Soccer 1994 national championship-winning Houston Texans team coached by legendary youth coach Roy Rees. During Quill’s nine-year MLS career, his coaches included Bob Gansler and Bob Bradley.

After his playing career, Quill returned to his childhood club and this summer guided Texans SC Houston to the 2017 Development Academy U-17/18 national championship title.

Texans SC Houston U.S. Development Academy Director
and U-17/18 coach Eric Quill.

Eric Quill on …

Roy Rees
Probably the most honest coach of my upbringing. I thought I was a good player but he made me realize I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. He wasn’t afraid to speak his mind and really be critical of me in the areas that I needed to focus on to get to the next level. He was the first one who really got through to me. A lot of my coaching approach comes through him because of how honest he was – and that’s the right way to be with these kids.

Rees, who died in 2011, coached the USA at four U-17 World Cups (1987-1993). He co-founded the Texans with J.R. Lee in 1987. Lee is still a director of coaching with the club.

His MLS coaches
I was somewhat of a vagabond, playing for Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Dallas and the New York. You pick up bits and pieces from all your coaches.

Bob Gansler, my coach at Kansas City, at MetroStars with Bob Bradley -- they’re legendary coaches in the men’s game.

I think how they really influenced me was on coaching the older ages, when you’re more in a management role, where you need these players to be confident and you need them to understand the team concept. You need to talk to them when their training habits are dropping, and not avoid those tough conversations. The players who want to get to the higher levels, they need to know what the everyday mentality needs to look like.

His parents
The profession kind of chose me based on my upbringing. A lot of my coaching influence comes from the balance between my mom and pop. My mother was an elementary school teacher and my father was a pastor.

Texans SC Houston was the only non-MLS club to reach the DA semis at either age group. In the last five years, eight of the 10 winners have been MLS clubs, who fully fund their youth academies. The Texans finished the season with a 15-game unbeaten streak, which included wins over the LA Galaxy, Colorado Rapids, Montreal Impact and Houston Dynamo.

Competing with MLS academies
I get that MLS groups have a lot of resources. But in my opinion we give every good a training as an MLS academy. We know what the training environment needs to look like to provide these kids with the best avenue to go to the next level. I played at the highest level. My assistant coach [Miguel Becerra] played Liga MX for 10 years.

The depth is very different. MLS groups are very, very deep and we definitely had to stay healthy. Our first 15 players could easily play in an MLS academy.

There is the financial challenge. Our demographic is very Hispanic and our players need financial assistance. Obviously, we scholarship kids based on need. Some get U.S. Soccer grants through the DA. Because of the good job we’ve done in the last few years, rarely anybody is leaving us for the Dynamo and anybody who has is coming back pretty quickly.

Pro start
I was part of the first MLS Project-40 class, in 1997, joining after a season at Clemson. Part of it included training abroad. For example, I spent six weeks with Chile’s Catolica.

Project 40: Front row (L-R): Eric Quill, Jose Botello, Barry Swift, Joe DiGiamarino. Standing: Brian Dunseth, Ubusuku Abukusumo, Juan Sastoque, Carlos Parra. MLS and U.S. Soccer launched Project-40, coached in its first two years by Tim Hankinson, in 1997 to provide a pathway to the pros for players who forgo college or leave early. The program is now known as Generation adidas.

Favorite players growing up
Lothar Matthaeus, Zinedine Zidane, Eric Cantona, Dennis Bergkamp.

Manchester United and Ajax Amsterdam.


Current favorite team to watch

Coaching start
After my last year, with the MetroStars, I came home and I needed a job while finishing my degree. I found one as an assistant coach of the University of Houston women’s team. That’s where I met my wife [then head coach Susan Bush, who played at UNC and for the USA]. I finished my degree in health and psychology at U of H.

Susan (née Bush) Quill

Transition from playing pro to coaching youth
You have to learn to be patient. Patience is the No. 1 thing you need to have. Starting out as an assistant coach with a women’s team, and then at the Texans, coaching younger and older kids, gave me invaluable experience. Being able to maneuver between a U-12 and a U-18 kid. You learn there are nuances and you can’t handle everyone the same way.

1 comment about "A coach's life: MLS veteran Eric Quill returns to his Texas youth club and wins another national title".
  1. Brian McLindsay, July 28, 2017 at 9:30 p.m.

    Can't say I have had the opportunity to meet Coach Eric Quill, however I have had the opportunity to see our teams play a large number of Houston Texans teams. Our particular club has had an ongoing rivalry for the past 12 years I have been involved in Houston soccer and can say they have some very well trained players. If my son were to change clubs, it would be to the Texans. Interestingly it was our club that has recently joined the Dynamo organization and has helped to greatly expand its youth program on both the boys and girls side. Any depth issue that may have existed in the past, has been addressed by the Dynamo organization in the past few months. I cannot knowledgeable comment on the turnover in the Dynamo academy except by reputation, where it was said they would rotate players out of the DA quickly if they thought another player could help the team quicker/sooner. Surprisingly very few DA players have ever been brought up to the first team, but it appears development of homegrown players has spiked recently throughout the MLS, wish I knew what was driving the change?

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