Sean McAuley Q&A: Get to know the new Timbers assistant coach

McAuley spent six years at Sheffield Wednesday before returning to Portland

New Portland Timbers assistant coach Sean McAuley comes to Portland after six seasons as the academy head coach for Sheffield Wednesday in England. A one-time Timbers defender during the team’s USL era in 2002, McAuley’s arrival brings a new voice with a deep desire to strengthen the squad’s coaching corps and a skill in developing young talent.

Over a fifteen year playing career, McAuley played for numerous teams across England, including St. Johnstone, Hartlepool United, Scunthorpe United, Rochdale and Halifax Town before beginning his coaching career with Sheffield Wednesday in 2005.

With an energetic personality, McAuley is ready to help invigorate and improve the Timbers squad for 2012 and beyond.

What are your hopes and plans in your new role with the Timbers?
SM:  I hope to be part of a successful era in the Timbers history.  I intend to work extremely hard to make that happen and I would like to be seen as a supportive part of the team for the players and management.  I hope to be involved in as much as I can to help the club achieve its goals.

What do you best remember about your time in Portland?
SM:  I enjoyed the atmosphere in the club and around the city.  During my last stay, my wife and I lived in the Pearl District but I had the opportunity to see the surrounding areas through coaching and engaging with the community soccer clubs which I really enjoyed.

While you were here, your time overlapped with Timbers defender now GM/interim head coach Gavin Wilkinson. Any particular memories of playing alongside Wilkinson?
SM:  Gavin was a good player and a strong leader on the pitch, he had good experience and always gave 100%.  I enjoyed playing alongside Gavin and at the time we both had ideas to continue after football with coaching careers, which would lead to long discussions after the games!

Moving from Sheffield to Portland is a big switch. How did it come about?
SM:  It all came about really quickly, soccer is an evolving game and when opportunities come along you have to make quick decisions.  I have had the chance to go into management at other clubs in England and turned each one down due to my position at Sheffield Wednesday being a good one and also the other clubs never felt right.  I have always followed my previous clubs and I watch MLS soccer on ESPN.  When I watch the Timbers games and see how the club has changed it was a real easy and quick decision.

What kind of experience(s) do you bring to the club?
SM:  I have filled many different roles at Sheffield Wednesday.  From interim manager to youth coach, I most recently managed all the teams from reserves down to schoolboys.  During this time the club has suffered a relegation, new ownership, promotion, and then challenging for promotion to the EPL.  It has had extreme highs and extreme lows.  But through all of my time, I have been learning and developing.  I hope to be able to meet all the challenges head on.

What are the differences you see between English league play and MLS?
SM:  In England you have 92 professional clubs all with different philosophies and playing styles.  The English FA doesn't control the technical curriculum of how they want the clubs to develop the game because the Premier League offers more reward for clubs, over having a successful national team, and so with this in mind the English style is different every week.

My last spell of managing the first team at Sheffield Wednesday included games against Swansea who play total possession football and then Newcastle who at the time played a more direct style with 2 big strikers (Andy Carroll & Marlon Harewood). Therefore the English game is constantly changing tactically.  With MLS, I believe it to be athletic and skillful with key players having freedom to create.  MLS is an exciting brand of football with both teams constantly on the offensive which some game are very open and end to end.

Outside of soccer, have any interesting hobbies?
SM:  I spend the majority of my time in soccer so my hobbies are doing whatever the family need me to do in my spare time!!