OKC Energy’s assistant coaches are sharing their extensive, diverse coaching experience with the first team. Their unique mix of coaching talent will also aid in the development of younger players for the Club at the U-23 and lower levels.
Jon Pearlman, assistant coach for the first team and head coach for the U-23 PDL team, spent more than 20 years investing in the Arizona soccer community. Prior to joining the Energy, Pearlman served as head coach of the PDL’s FC Tucson, where he also was the general manager and managing partner. During his time with FC Tucson, the team made the playoffs in five of six seasons, won four consecutive division titles, and was named the 2014 PDL Franchise of the Year. Pearlman helped recruit more than 30 players that went on to play professionally, internationally and in the U.S., including seven MLS players. In his role as managing member of FC Tucson, Pearlman helped develop the MLS Preseason in Tucson, the largest and most well-known MLS preseason event in the country. Pearlman also served as executive director of Tanque Verde Soccer Club in Tucson for the last 13 years, was a member of the Arizona Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program, is a scout for U.S. Soccer, and holds his U.S. Soccer Federation “A” coaching license.
“This was, for me, a unique opportunity,” Pearlman explains. “I really like the company here, and I like (owners) Tim and Bob tremendously. From a work situation standpoint, it was an opportunity to work with Steve (Cooke) and Danny (Stone), two guys that I had been friends with in the industry for a long time, but never had a chance to work with until now.”
Pearlman is enthusiastic for the Club’s future. “Everything I have tried to do is always with a long-term vision,” he says. “The Energy’s long-term vision matched my long-term vision for growing in the game and growing myself professionally.”
Danny Stone, assistant coach for the first team, has been instrumental in the development of players at other premier organizations. Previously, Stone was with the Colorado Rapids of MLS for the past seven seasons. From 2010 to 2014, Stone worked as technical director at Downtown Las Vegas Soccer Club, where he oversaw the first Alliance club relationship with the Rapids. He moved to Denver in 2014, and became the Rapids Alliance’s director and coach of the Rapids U18 Development Team. Stone has coached U.S. Youth National team camps and been a part of regional training and coaching staffs since 2008. He holds his U.S. Soccer “A” coaching license. A key concept that Stone has felt with Energy FC is unity.
Stone explains, “From a first team perspective, everyone has a shared focus in doing as much as we possibly can to make the on-field team successful.” Stressing the sense of belonging emphasized by the Club, Stone says the organization’s goal is for “an enjoyable experience for people coming to games, and anybody that is involved with the club from an off-the-field perspective.”
This idea of total Club inclusiveness also carries over to his work with the First Team and his fellow coaching staff. “When things go well, everybody can celebrate that together, and when things need improvement, everybody can pull together and steer the ship in that direction as well,” he adds.
Goalkeeper Coach and Director of Goalkeeping Lexi Vizarelis brings vast Oklahoma collegiate and youth coaching experience to the staff. His most recent position was with the University of Oklahoma women’s soccer program. Prior to that, Vizarelis worked as an assistant coach of the men’s and women’s teams at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (USAO) for 14 seasons, a tenure that included 10 Sooner Athletic Conference titles and nine trips to the NAIA National Championships. In addition to his collegiate coaching, Vizarelis has worked at the youth competitive level as the Director of Goalkeeping at Oklahoma Football Club (now OEFC Central) since 2005. He has led several teams that have won state championships and had top-three finishes in the Premier League West. In 2016, Vizarelis was named Oklahoma Soccer Association Girl’s Competitive Coach of the Year. He also has experience with NASL and WPSL teams, and has his national “A” coaching license from the U.S. Soccer Federation. Being a part of the first team staff has been the fulfillment of his dream.
“I’ve always had this desire to coach at the professional level,” Vizarelis says. “When you get to work with a Matt Van Oekel who’s got MLS experience, Cody Laurendi who has vast USL experience, and then you’ve got a great young talent like Bryan Byars coming up, it’s pretty cool to go to work every day.”
Vizarelis is especially honored to be a part of the Energy’s efforts in growing soccer in the state of Oklahoma.
“I’ve been a Oklahoman ever since I left college,” Vizarelis admits. He’s proud of all that Energy FC have accomplished for soccer in Oklahoma. “It’s really nice to see that everyone is coming together to help grow something bigger, to grow a community-based soccer family throughout the state.”
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