From the summer of 2012 to this past fall, Ante Razov worked as a coach in the LA Galaxy Academy. He was in charge of teaching teenagers how to put the ball in the back of the net.
Now, Razov coaches one of the best groups of forwards in the history of Major League Soccer.
The two strikers that make it such a dynamic unit are Clint Dempsey, the captain of the U.S. National Team, and Obafemi Martins, the 2014 MLS MVP runner-up. In his first season as a Sounders FC Assistant Coach, Razov has thoroughly enjoyed working with the pair of All-Stars.
“I’m a new guy, a young coach, but it’s a very respectable relationship,” Razov said. “They’ve both treated me very well. Because they’re two top players, I’m not going to teach them how to play soccer. They’ve got that down pretty well. I’m just there to sharpen the edges.”
This may be his first coaching job at the professional level, but Razov had the respect of stars like Martins and Dempsey even before Sounders FC hired him.
Razov played in MLS for 14 years, and his career was nothing short of remarkable. He is fourth on the league’s all-time scoring list with 114 career goals and has netted the most goals of any player for two clubs: Chicago Fire and Chivas USA. A native of the Los Angeles area, Razov also earned 25 caps with the National Team.
The group of strikers that Razov now coaches is off to a hot start this season, as Dempsey and Martins have scored three goals apiece in their first three matches. They are the only players in the league who average at least one goal per game.
“I think they’ve had a decent start to the season, goal-scoring wise,” Razov said. “It’s still very early, so we’ll continue to try to sharpen it up and improve the little things. They’re two top players, so with them it’s mostly maintenance and just sharpening the edges a bit. But they’ve been in pretty good form.”
Martins and Dempsey are the only ones who have scored for the Rave Green so far this season, but Razov is not concerned and believes that will change very soon.
“You’d like to have a little more balance. However, I think when you have two top players like them, that is OK. That’s what their job is,” Razov said. “You always want to have a little more balance, but I think it’s still very early, and that stuff will take care of itself.”
Sounders FC’s next match is Sunday evening at the LA Galaxy, the side that dueled Seattle for the 2014 Supporters’ Shield and Western Conference Championship. Dempsey in particular has had a great deal of success against the Galaxy, recording a goal or assist in four of his six matchups with LA since he signed with Seattle.
This weekend’s road trip will be especially exciting for Razov, who lived in the City of Angels for the majority of his life before moving to the Pacific Northwest in January.
“It will be good to just get home and see some family and friends,” he said. “We’ll try to take three points out of a big, early-season game.”
Sunday’s match will kick off at 4:00 p.m. PT with national television coverage on FOX Sports 1.