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Dan Gaspar Named Men's Soccer Coach
Gaspar brings a wealth of international soccer experience to the Hartford program. He served as the goalkeeper coach for European Champions FC Porto during the past season, where he helped lead the team to a World Intercontinental Championship in Japan. Regarded as one of the top goalkeeper coaches in the world, Gaspar trained FC Porto's Vitor Baia, who was selected as the UEFA's Best European Goalkeeper in 2004.
"Dan Gaspar brings an immense background in the highest levels of international soccer to our program," said Meiser-McKnett. "He has coached some of the world's best players and we are excited and pleased to add someone with his level of experience to our staff."
The hiring serves as a homecoming for Gaspar, a native of South Glastonbury, Conn., who played in goal for the Hawks from 1974-77. He posted a career goals against average of 1.52 and averaged 87 saves and 930 minutes per season. He helped lead Hartford to NCAA Tournament appearances in 1976 and 1977, and an ECAC tournament appearance in 1974. Gaspar was named All-New England and participated in the Senior Bowl in 1977. He was inducted into Hartford's Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002.
"Very few times does an opportunity come along that feels as right as this one. It is a dream come true for me to return back home and coach the men's soccer team at my alma mater, the University of Hartford," said Gaspar. "I am grateful to the Department of Athletics, the search committee and the Hartford student-athletes for having the confidence in me to lead the men's soccer program. Hartford has a rich soccer history and my goal is to continue to build upon that tradition by honoring the past along with the present to establish a new generation of success."
Gaspar's hiring signifies a new beginning for Hartford soccer, as it coincides with the launching of Phase I of the University's Home Field Advantage Project. The project will include the renovation of Al-Marzook Field (existing soccer field), which will be completed in early August, in time for fall 2005 competition.
Gaspar made history in 1993 when he became the first American born soccer coach to accept a full-time coaching position in Europe with Sporting Lisbon of the Portuguese First Division. As goalkeeper coach, he helped lead Sporting Lisbon to the Portuguese National Cup title in 1995.
In 2003, Gaspar returned to Portugal to serve as goalkeeper coach for SL Benfica, where he helped lead the team to the Portuguese Cup Championship under head coach Antonio Camacho, the former coach of the Spanish national team.
From 2000-02, Gaspar served as head coach of the Connecticut Wolves in the USL Pro League. In 2002, he led the Wolves to a New England Cup Championship as well as the D3 semifinals. Gaspar has also held coaching positions with both the Portuguese and South African national teams as well as an assistant coaching position with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars of Major League Soccer. In 1999, he served as the associate head men's soccer coach at Central Connecticut State University.
During his two stints with the Portuguese national team he coached alongside Carlos Queiroz, the former coach of Real Madrid and current assistant coach of the English Premier League's Manchester United, as well as Felipe Scolari, the former head coach of the Brazilian national team that won the World Cup in 2002.
Gaspar is a technical consultant to Project 2010, a plan commissioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation to win the World Cup in 2010. He is the founder and president of the highly respected Star Goalkeeper Academy as well as the owner and director of the Connecticut Soccer School.
He holds a USSF A License as well as an NSCAA Advanced National Diploma. Gaspar's field coaching experience also includes an assistant position with the Japan League Grampus Eight in 1996.
He has trained the goalkeepers of the 1996 U.S. Men's Olympic Team, the 1991 U.S. Women's National Team, and the U.S. Men's Under 18 and Under 17 National Teams in 1998 and 1996.