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RSL AZ Welcomes Esteemed Youth Soccer Coach Tom Durkin as MLS Next Director

By RSL AZ, 05/22/24, 1:00PM MST


PHOENIX, May 22, 2024 -- RSL AZ proudly announces the appointment of Tom Durkin as its new MLS Next Director, marking a significant stride forward for the club.

The appointment of Tom Durkin signifies RSL AZ's unwavering commitment to excellence and underscores its dedication to fostering the next generation of soccer talent in Arizona. 

Bringing over four decades of coaching expertise across academy and collegiate levels, along with notable stints in Major League Soccer, National Women's Soccer League, and the U.S. Men's U17 National Team, Durkin embodies a wealth of experience and leadership in American soccer.

"When we started the search for the MLS Next Director of RSL AZ, we started with an incredible list, and on the top of that list was Tom Durkin. He is widely considered one of the most influential and talented coaches in the United States," said RSL AZ Technical Director/Executive Director Brent Erwin. "To be able to bring him to Arizona, to RSL AZ, and to our MLS Next program is impactful for not only our club and program but for the state as a whole. Tom Durkin is a fantastic man and coach and will make everyone better."

Prior to joining RSL AZ, Durkin notably served as the Academy Director for IMG Academies in Bradenton, Florida, from 1998-2011. There, he worked as a head coach and general manager of the Bradenton Academies, a USL Premier Development Team where his tenure saw the nurturing of U.S. Men's National Team talents like Michael Parkhurst, Heath Pearce, and Aron Jóhannsson.

"We are excited about Tom Durkin coming to the RSL family. His experiences at all levels of soccer will be invaluable to our player development pathway which has consistently seen players from RSL AZ coming up to our academy teams and Real Monarchs," said Real Salt Lake Director of Talent Identification, Jon Spencer. "We are excited to see Tom’s immediate impact and our goal as a club is that we are focused on winning together through development. Tom is an incredible asset to us in achieving our goals of developing young players for excellence on and off the field."

Durkin's illustrious career includes roles as an assistant coach for the U.S. Men's U17 National Team, Tampa Bay Mutiny of Major League Soccer, and head coaching positions in college soccer with Union County College, Rutgers University, and Richland College as well as the National Women's Soccer League's Boston Breakers for two seasons. 

“RSL AZ and the players in this state are very fortunate they will have the opportunity to learn under Tom," said RSL AZ Sporting Director, Mike Kraus. "He brings a wealth of experience from every level of soccer in our country and we’re excited to see his positive impact on our players, coaches, and club.” 

Expressing his enthusiasm for the new role, Durkin affirmed, "I'm looking forward to a new challenge here with the RSL AZ MLS Next program and I am thrilled to get started. We want to compete against the top MLS Next clubs and produce players that can make the transition to play for the Real Salt Lake Academy in Utah."