Remembering one in every of Northern Virginia’s winningest coaches, the ‘Phil Jackson of soccer’


As a younger boy, Tommy Adams attended Osbourn Park High School’s boys soccer video games coached by Ken Krieger. He did so not as a fan, however as a forward-in-training.

This article was republished with permission from WTOP’s information companion InaspectNoVa.com. Sign up for InaspectNoVa.com’s free e-mail subscription immediately.


Ali Krieger and her father Ken give one another a hug after the Washington Spirit’s match towards the Western New York Flash on the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, Md., on Saturday, April 20, 2013. Ken Krieger, some of the profitable highschool soccer coaches in Virginia historical past, died Monday morning. He was 69.(Courtesy Jeffrey Mankie/InaspectNoVa.com)

As a younger boy, Tommy Adams attended Osbourn Park High School’s boys soccer video games coached by Ken Krieger. He did so not as a fan, however as a forward-in-training.

Adams wished to be taught the place’s intricacies when his flip got here to play for Krieger in highschool. To do this, Adams targeted on Skip Skipwith, the Yellow Jackets’ scoring risk upfront. Tall, lean and quick, the all-state choice blazed previous opponents his senior season to attain an area-high 24 targets and assist Osbourn Park attain the 1990 Group AAA state closing.

Modeling his sport after Skipwith, Adams believed he knew what Krieger wished when the 2 teamed up at Hylton. He didn’t. The actual training awaited him.

Like anybody who performed for Krieger, it was by no means sufficient to have expertise despite the fact that lots of them did in droves.

He wished you to know the sport throughout the sport so that you simply had been all the time one step forward of your foe. And no boys soccer coach within the historical past of Prince William County athletics did a greater job of educating that to his gamers.

Krieger died March 4 on the age of 69 following a protracted battle with dementia. His celebration of life service is May 5 at 11 a.m. on the Howison Homestead Soccer Complex.

Krieger seen soccer as one thing to play with poise and magnificence. No kick and chase for his groups.

His groups ran at fast and environment friendly tempo by way of spacing and correct runs. The one-touch model was methodical and disciplined with the correct mix of deception and velocity.

In normal, highschool groups in Northern Virginia didn’t play that means when Krieger coached. So he took it upon himself to indicate his gamers how one can increase their sport and play at a degree that created one thing to marvel at and emulate.

Drawing on European groups as inspiration in addition to his time serving as an assistant at American and George Mason universities beneath corridor of fame coaches Pete Mehlert and Gordon Bradley, Krieger demanded that his gamers maximize all the area.

It all began with correct positioning. Work the ball from the again with persistence and imaginative and prescient after which in a flash, exploit a number of angles and assault the objective with proficiency.

In Adams’ case, Krieger communicated his want with the assistance of basketball. Krieger wished Adams to view the sector like some extent guard would on the court docket. When he obtained the ball, Adams surveyed his choices. Go left. Go proper. Go straight up the center.

An glorious guard for Hylton’s basketball workforce, the 6-foot-3 Adams noticed the soccer area in a brand new means. As a senior, he recorded an area-high 28 targets and earned all-state honors because the Bulldogs’ received their fourth and closing state title beneath Krieger in 1998.

Although he had alternatives to play soccer at UVA or William & Mary, Adams as a substitute signed with Hampton University for basketball. Feeling like he nonetheless had room to develop and that basketball would take him additional, Adams loved a stellar profession on the MEAC faculty.

He received convention participant of the 12 months honors and helped lead the Pirates to 2 NCAA Tournaments, together with an upset victory in 2001 when the fifteenth seeded Pirates beat second-seeded Iowa State within the first spherical.

Adams then went to preseason camp with three NBA groups (the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks) earlier than embarking on a seven-year professional profession abroad.

But for all his hoops’ success, Adams by no means forgot what he discovered beneath Krieger. It was extra than simply soccer. It was about belief. It was about humility. Most of all, it was about being open to new potentialities.

“His largest influence on me is that he took a uncooked athlete and taught him a completely totally different model of soccer,” Adams mentioned.

An spectacular legacy

Krieger was a no-nonsense coach. With his deep voice and staccato means of talking, Krieger received to the purpose and rapidly. He didn’t mince phrases.

What he did do was join the dots in a means that any good instructor does irrespective of the topic or the game. They take the disparate and switch it right into a cohesive narrative for any scholar to know.

Yes, he had loads of expertise to work with. The listing contains Hylton graduate David Stokes, the No. 5 general decide within the 2003 MLS Draft, Forest Park graduate CJ Sapong, the tenth general decide within the 2011 MLS Draft, and Hylton graduates Grover Gibson and Kyle Rakow, who had been each Parade All-Americans.

But it’s one factor to have nice gamers. It’s one other to know how one can maximize these talents to full impact and on a constant foundation. Krieger managed the excessive expectations and persona challenges with ease.

“He was the Phil Jackson of soccer,” Adams mentioned in reference to the top coach who received NBA titles with the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls and Kobe Bryant/Shaquille O’Neal-led Los Angeles Lakers. “All the egos [Ken] needed to cope with. He had his personal ego. But he took all these egos and made one thing particular.”

In 30 seasons at three totally different excessive colleges (Osbourn Park, Hylton and Forest Park), Krieger went 386-184-37. His win whole ranks fourth all-time amongst boys soccer coaches in Virginia. He was the primary boys soccer coach in Virginia historical past to steer three totally different packages to the state match.

Overall, Krieger’s three groups reached 11 state tournaments whereas successful 9 area titles and 14 district titles.

Krieger started his teaching profession at Osbourn Park earlier than beginning the packages at Hylton and Forest Park when these two colleges opened.

It was throughout his 9 seasons at Hylton, although, the place Krieger loved his most success. From 1992-2000, the Bulldogs received 4 Group AAA state titles (1993, ’94, ’98 and ’99) and two nationwide championships (1993, 1998). He was the NSCAA/Adidas Division I High School Coach of the Year in 1999.

“I discovered life classes being a participant from Coach Krieger,” Stokes mentioned. “He might distill complicated situations into comprehensible and executable processes. For instance, all of his gamers knew the significance of ‘Attention to element’ and when to ‘Keep it easy.’ The imaginative and prescient and pathways he was capable of create by way of his teaching yielded the one cheap consequence: success.”

To at the present time, Stokes can hear Krieger’s counsel in his head when he performs leisure soccer.

“I nonetheless recall the defending precept, ‘See the person and the ball,’” Stokes mentioned. “He taught his gamers how one can be an efficient particular person inside an efficient workforce. I feel, most of all, his influence is that he was such a constructive affect on the lives of so many youths, together with me, and gave us a way of goal and course by way of soccer and life usually.”

Brian Albrecht agrees. Albrecht performed for Krieger at Osbourn Park earlier than happening to star at James Madison University.

“He was continuously making an attempt to be taught new ways and particulars to cross on to his gamers and groups to enhance them,” Albrecht mentioned. “His love for the sport was contagious as a participant as a result of he was educating new abilities, concepts and ways that improved us all. That is the mark he made on soccer and being the legend he’s now.”

Coaches discovered a lot from Krieger as nicely.

Larry Nemerow changed Krieger as Osbourn Park’s head soccer coach when Hylton employed Krieger to start out its program when the Woodbridge faculty opened in 1991.

Nemerow watched Krieger coach in individual any probability he might, even when it meant going to a Hylton sport as a substitute of scouting an upcoming opponent. To soak up any nuggets he might, Nemerow positioned himself in a sure place close to Hylton’s bench to listen to what Krieger advised his gamers.

Nemerow had a profitable teaching profession at OP, successful 299 video games in 23 seasons. But he all the time struggled to beat Hylton when Krieger coached there.

“He was most likely in my 40 years of teaching, figuratively talking, the mountain with the very best peak and I used to be all the time climbing to get to the highest and compete with him,” Nemerow mentioned.

Staying in contact

Krieger made it some extent to maintain tabs on his former gamers.

Albrecht recalled Krieger attending one in every of his faculty video games when JMU performed at William & Mary in Williamsburg. Albrecht didn’t know Krieger was there till the sport ended.

When the 2 caught up afterward, Albrecht advised his former coach he hoped he’d lived as much as the Krieger commonplace degree of play. Krieger didn’t say something. He smiled and in typical style, chuckled beneath his breath, whereas nodding his head.

“Ken was very influential in my life as a result of he held myself, friends, and teammates accountable to one another, the varsity, him and ourselves,” Albrecht mentioned. “In highschool, there are plenty of selections to make at a younger age and Ken all the time reminded us that he was watching us wherever we had been at. That mentality and management continued after we laced up our cleats and performed the sport Ken liked and we liked. When we had been on the sector we fought for Krieger and performed to Ken’s degree of expectations.’

Two days earlier than Christmas, Albrecht and his spouse visited Krieger at Poet’s Walk, a memory-care facility in Warrenton.

During the hour-long keep, they laughed and smiled. Albrecht thanked Krieger for all he did for him. Albrecht even introduced up the objective he scored off a bicycle kick senior season towards Woodbridge that the referee disallowed, ruling the excessive kick was a harmful play.

Albrecht thought Krieger acknowledged him as they talked. But even when he didn’t, the recollections stay unchanged. So did the bond. Krieger nonetheless the beloved coach. And Albrecht eternally the grateful scholar.



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