With 15 seasons in the books, MLSsoccer.com looks back at the stars, personalities and cult heroes who made Major League Soccer what it is today. We continue our "What Ever Happened To..." series with MLS original and All-Star goalkeeper Mike Ammann.
Where He Was Then
When MLS began back in 1996, Ammann was one of several American players to return from an overseas club, then playing for Charlton Athletic in England. He spent six seasons in MLS, with stints in Kansas City, New York and DC. He is perhaps best remembered for suffering a horrific leg injury after a reckless collision with Tampa Bay striker Mamadou Diallo in 2000. That incident and subsequent injuries forced him into retirement at the end of the 2002 season.
Where He Is Now
After his retirement, Ammann kept his distance from soccer, upset with the way his career ended. He did some coaching here and there, but did not stay not heavily involved with the game, choosing instead to concentrate on his post-playing career as a data-storage salesman.
That all changed in the past two years. While Ammann’s career in business thrived, his son’s own development as a goalkeeper triggered a desire to get back into the game. Last year, he created Twenty-Four Seven Goalkeeper, an Academy based in Sterling, Va.
“When I saw the lack of goalkeeper instructors in the area, I figured I better do something about it and try and start something and start coaching again,” he told MLSsoccer.com.
After launching the academy last year, things have already prospered in a short amount of time. He and his staff have worked with around 100 kids, and are wrapping up a winter training program. Ammann enjoys the chance to work with aspiring goalkeepers and helping hopeful players achieve their dreams.
“There are kids out there who have different goals,” he said. “For some of them, it’s to make a club team. Some of them it’s to make their high school JV team. Some, it’s to play Division I college. For me, it’s fun to sit down and work with those individuals and try and help them get to their goal.”
His creation of 247GK has also led to another opportunity with former Charlton Athletic teammate John Robinson. The Welshmen is engineering a program called Elite Soccer Center, an international company whose aim is to help young players of all ages get noticed.
In essence, the company is a traveling showcase, with the goal to host tournaments in different US cities so that players in one region can all converge for seven days to train and play in front of scouts, agents, college coaches and the like. The aim is to combine a showcase and camp trial formats so that players have a chance to succeed and get noticed.
“Our goal is to get [players] exposure to the next level,” Ammann said. “Whether that’s college, Division I, III, NAIA, and then there are older kids looking to be professionals.”
In January, Ammann and 247GK were officially named the Goalkeeper Trainers of Elite Soccer Center.
Things are continuing to look up for Ammann, who would love to coach full time if the right opportunity came along. Later this week, he will head down to Bradenton, Fla., to help head coach Wilmer Cabrera prepare the US Under-17s for the upcoming CONCACAF Championship in Jamaica.
“I’ve got a new love for the game again, and it’s fun,” Ammann said. “I’m excited about it, I’m excited about the future, and I like being involved.”
What They Said
“He’s a natural leader, very knowledgeable of the game. Anybody who’s under him with him being the coach is going to be fortunate.”
– Former New York teammate Mike Petke