“Adding Steve to our coaching staff is incredible for the young players looking to work their way up the professional playing ladder,” Stars Head Coach and General Manager Darren Sawatzky said. “He brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience from the highest level you only gain by playing there. Considering the adversity he has faced, I can think of no better person to help young players grow as men and young professionals.”
Zakuani, 27, has established himself as a fundamental part of the sports world in the Pacific Northwest ever since being drafted by the Seattle Sounders as the first pick in the 2009 Major League Soccer SuperDraft.
“I’m excited to continue my involvement with soccer in this region,” Zakuani said. “Working with young players is a huge passion of mine and this is a great chance for me to learn from Darren in a professional environment as I try to give back to a sport that gave me so much.”
Following his retirement from professional soccer in October of 2014, Zakuani made the decision to pursue his career in coaching. Joining the Stars provides Zakuani with the opportunity to learn under Sawatzky, who established and ran the Sounders FC Academy from 2008-14.
“As someone who wants to one day work with young players on a day-to-day basis, this is a great opportunity for me to start learning some valuable lessons in a great setting,” Zakuani said. “I know the Stars name very well, as does the whole soccer community in this region, so it’s great to be involved with the organization in a direct way now.”
Since stepping off the field as a player, Zakuani has established Kingdom Hope, a charity that provides scholarships to young athletes in the region.
“Steve is a local hero in a lot of ways – through his work as a player with Sounders FC and with the young people he has reached through Kingdom Hope,” Stars Owner Lane Smith said. “Having someone of his caliber working with young players on and off the field is very exciting and aligns with our mission here at the Tacoma Stars.”
Zakuani was raised in London and spent time playing in the Arsenal Youth Academy. His dedication to the game earned him a scholarship to play collegiately at Akron University under current Portland Timbers Head Coach Caleb Porter. After scoring 20 goals and tallying seven assists during his sophomore year at Akron he was a finalist for the Hermann Trophy, awarded annually to the nation’s top college soccer player.
The Congolese native made 80 appearances and scored 17 goals between 2009-13 with the Sounders before moving on to play one season with the Portland Timbers. After encountering difficulties recovering from his numerous injuries, Zakuani retired in October of 2014.
Tacoma continues to build towards the 2015-16 season and strives to become the winter destination for soccer in the Pacific Northwest. The Stars season begins on Oct. 24 with a road contest against the Dallas Sidekicks and will feature 10 home games played at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington.
Season ticket packages, group outings, and suite offerings for the Tacoma Stars 2015 season are available now. To purchase, call 1-844-STARS-TIME or visit the Stars online at http://www.tacomastars.com. The most up-to-date news and notes about the Stars leading up to the start of the 2015 season can be found by following the Stars on Twitter (@TacomaStarsSC) or liking the team on Facebook.