Minnesota United assistant coach Mark Watson’s route to becoming the team’s new technical director alongside coach Adrian Heath has taken him from Canadian national team defender and assistant coach to MLS player, assistant coach, head coach and many points in between.
At age 49, he and Heath now are responsible for United’s first team. The two have worked together since Watson was Heath’s assistant at Orlando City in 2014. Together, they will identify, negotiate with and acquire players for a first team that numbers 18 to 20 players.
“Wato’s probably covered all bases in his career,” Heath said. “From player and international player, assistant manager, manager, coach. You name it, he has done most of it. The most important thing for me is he’s a guy who has worked with me now the last four, five years. So he knows the type of things I am looking for on and off the field. He has a really good grasp of what we’re trying to do here, the type of player we’re trying to bring to the club, the character we’re trying to bring in.
“I’m very excited what we’re going to try to do over the next four years.”
Watson will report to Heath, who will report to Chief Soccer Officer Manny Lagos, the former United sporting director before the team’s sporting operations were restructured and gave him a new title.
“He’s a really well-rounded individual with lots of different types of experiences,” United CEO Chris Wright said. “He has worked for multiple clubs, in the Canadian national team system for a period of time. The thing I like about Mark is, he’s a great communicator.”
Looking forward to it
Lagos is negotiating with United’s 2019 Forward Madison FC affiliate about a similar agreement next season while United contemplates owning its own USL team someday. The team shuttled young players such as Mason Toye, Wyatt Omsberg, Dayne St. Clair and Carter Manley to play there —a four-hour drive or short flight away — to gain game experience.
“We’re still in process, assessing positives,” Lagos said. “It looks positive because of the experience we had last year. The goal is to have a reserve team that really connects and pushes our ability to develop high-level players. We do believe we want to do a lot more in that space than we are now.”