Andy Williams (43) is all Concacaf, the silky midfielder was born in Canada, played the bulk of his career in the United States, and represented Jamaica at a World Cup. Andy Williams knows this region like the back of his hand.
Retired since 2011, Williams worked as a scout for Real Salt Lake before moving on to coaching opportunities in Arizona. Williams leaves behind a treasure chest of memories suiting up for Jamaica and most notably RSL. Williams has witnessed firsthand the evolution of Major League Soccer, from a ragtag league of 12 clubs to a booming league of nearly 30.
At the international level no memory sticks out in his mind than the 1998 World Cup and four Gold Cup squads that he was a part of. Williams earned 90 caps for the Reggae Boyz and scored 27 goals.
Loy Hansen was not interested in building a winning franchise at RSL
Bolavip: So, what has Andy Williams been up to?
Andy Williams: Am currently still in Utah, in Salt Lake City, been with the front office of Real Salt Lake since I retired, I was a head scout until last year and now am in the process of moving to Arizona right now, where I have the possibility of a coaching opportunity down there in youth soccer.
BV: How is the experience of scouting in MLS?
AW: Well, honestly at the time I retired I did want to play one more year, the coach and GM at the time (Jason Kreis, Garth Lagerwey) thought I could help in a different aspect, and they offered me the scouting job. They knew how much soccer I watched on my own and they thought I could help in the scouting aspect. I’ve been doing that since 2012, and I think I have done a decent job here (RSL), there is always hit and miss with certain players when you are scouting but am pretty happy what I have done so far.
BV: It has been a tumultuous time at RSL, from the team falling off of the top spots in MLS, the Petke incident, and then what happened with the owner Dell Loy Hansen, a far cry from the standard RSL set as a small market club, what happened?
AW: Well, I want to be honest, and I just think the owner (Loy Hansen) did not fancy a winning team. He wasn’t trying to build a winning program here and it showed on the field. If you are not spending money in the right areas and everyone around you is, like Seattle, LAFC, and it is paying off, I think we hit a bump the last four, five years. (Loy Hansen) was not interested in building a winning franchise here.
BV: The team will be sold, it’s only a matter of time, do you think new owners can revitalize the franchise?
AW: 100 percent, there have been a few names floating around as potential owners and I hope MLS vets these guys and makes sure they are not coming here to make RSL a tax write off. That they want to win, and if I was an owner, I’d do everything I can to build a winning franchise...
BV: Speaking of owners, you have been around the league a long time, what do you make of the Inter Miami incident? Where upper management fudged the rules a bit so to speak.
AW: I think (Inter Miami) went too far. There have always been rumors of under the table deals in MLS, but it has never been proven. There has always been hearsay but if you can’t prove it, you can’t come out publicly and criticize and chastise someone else. For Miami they took a big hit with what they did.
BV: You were there for the opening of Historic Crew Stadium, did you ever think an MLS team in two decades time would open two Soccer Specific Stadiums?
AW: (Laughs) I remember opening up in 1999 and how special of a moment it was back then. Seeing the way the stadium closed and the new one opened it is really special. Am so happy for the Crew fans, that stuck with the Crew and fought to keep that franchise in Columbus. It is finally paying off, they kept their club, got a new stadium in Downtown where the Crew always wanted the stadium to be, the new owners came in stepped up and they (the fans) are being rewarded.
BV: The irony of Historic Crew Stadium was it opened up with 2-0, closed with 2-0 and is defined by 2-0 is it not?
AW: Yeah! Dos a Cero, they should have named the new stadium that! (Laughs)
Jamaica and the 2021 Gold Cup
BV: Changing gears, and looking ahead to the Gold Cup, how do you see the Jamaican program at the moment, their chances in this tournament?
AW: I think Jamaica should take the Gold Cup as a mini–World Cup camp. They brought in a lot of new players, English based players, that haven’t been with the program, so they should take this Gold Cup and work on fine tuning things for World Cup Qualifiers this year.
BV: One thing that stood out from the Jamaica team that made it to the France 98 World Cup was they were around together for a long time. Many players reached 50,60,70 caps. Today it seems to have been difficult for Jamaica to find a core group of players, many players reach a handful of caps and never really are seen again, what do you make of all that?
AW: Unfortunately, in this day and age you can not do that in the soccer world right now. The majority of the players back in 98 were local, only a handful of guys were overseas. Now you have the majority of players overseas in MLS, USL, and Europe, so to get that team bond it is really tough. This Gold Cup is perfect to build that team bond with the limited time they have together.
BV: What is the key for Jamaica to get to the World Cup in 2022?
AW: I think they need to just learn how to play together. If you have a core group for the next six months, it will be beneficial, you can’t have one guy this month and the next month another guy coming in after, it doesn’t work. Hopefully, the federation can prepare the team the best way come World Cup qualifying.