December 6, 2006 story on Bob Gansler (from

12/06/2006 5:16PM
Gansler a teacher on the soccer field
By Mike Ulmer /

For Bob Gansler, it all started with a request he dare not refuse. "I was a freshman in high school in Milwaukee and a priest in our parish, Father Jerome Weber, asked if I would coach a fifth-grade basketball team," Gansler said.

Father Weber pointed to his own busy schedule. This, he told young Gansler, would be good for everyone.

It was certainly good for Gansler. While he would go on to forge a glorious playing career that included two appearances with the U.S. Olympic team, he would garner his greatest fame as a coach.

In addition to a hatful of international kudos, Gansler would spend seven years and win a championship with the MLS Kansas City Wizards.

Now, Gansler is back in the game as Mo Johnston's assistant with expansion side Toronto FC.

The 65-year-old Gansler will work with assistant coach Mike Matkovich and goalkeeper coach Carmine Isacco.

Gansler said the relationship between he and Johnston, a longtime player of Gansler's in Kansas City will be an uncomplicated one.

"Just like Carmine and Mike, I am here to help. Mo's decisions are going to be final, that's the way it works and that's the way it has to work," Gansler said. "We're not going to agree on everything, but at the end of the debate, we will be unanimous in carrying through the decision."

Gansler has immense respect for Johnston, so working for a former player should be no problem.

"You've got to remember, Mo was the ultimate captain," he said. "He knew how to do his job. He knew who was good at one thing or poor at another and he knew who needed buttressing and when. He's going to be a great coach."

Gansler has some knowledge about the inner workings of a good coach. After his playing career ended, Gansler turned to coaching high school soccer in Milwaukee. Eventually, he would move up to lead the U.S. national team to its best ever finish, a fourth place finish in the under-20 world championships.

Gansler led the U.S. team to its first World Cup appearance in 40 years in 1990 before taking a job as coaching director for U.S. Soccer. He spent three years in the late 1990s coaching the A-League's Milwaukee entry before taking the Wizards job.

Married for 40 years and the proud grandfather of six, Gansler remains a teacher. That is to say, a coach.

"Someone once said coaching is teaching in short pants," he said. "That's what you're doing, teaching, on the field, in the hotel lobby, in the airport. I enjoy coaching, be it 10-year-olds, 15-year olds or 30 year-olds."

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