Jeff “Ziggy” Korytoski gave up coaching college soccer for another chance at the professional game this year. Last week, it landed him a job with a first-division club in Guatemala’s Liga Nacional.
He took over Deportivo Coatepeque after just one season as the head coach of University of Hawaii at Hilo in NCAA Division II. Before that, he led Antigua GFO to promotion from the third to second tier of the Guatemalan pyramid, coached the Northern Mariana Islands national team and spent time as an assistant coach at NCAA Division I Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
On a recruiting trip to Guatemala when he was on staff at Cal Poly, Korytoski met Antigua sporting director Ricardo Arenas, who played collegiately at Rutgers.
“He asked me what my dream job would be, and I told him I’d always wanted to coach professionally,” Korytoski told The New York Times in 2011. “He called me a month later and told me he’d taken over as the sporting director, and there might be a chance for me. These opportunities come around very, very rarely, especially if you haven’t played at the highest level.”
His new boss, president of Coatepeque Ronaldo Samayoa, wants Korytoski to take his club to the CONCACAF Champions League in the next few years. Although Cal Poly is known for its atmosphere in the college game, it is still a far cry from Estadio Saprissa on a Tuesday or Wednesday night.
“I’d like to make Coatepeque a winner first,” Korytoski told American Soccer Now. “I’d like to take a team into CONCACAF. I think Champions League would be a fantastic opportunity. I think I’m one of the few American coaches to be coaching abroad, and to be able to go back and be able to go up against some of the teams in MLS and Canada and Mexico around CONCACAF would be a fantastic opportunity.”
In Korytoski’s first game in charge, the club lost 2-1 to first-placed Comunicaciones. Coatepeque sits in 11th place in the 12-team league, with just one win in 14 matches so far.
“They’ve got the largest attendance base in the country,” Korytoski said. “It’s a team that’s at the bottom of the table right now, in the relegation zone, and the question is: is this team good enough to survive in Liga Mayor?”
If it does, and if Coatepeque can climb into the top regional competition under Korytoski, then Bob Bradley will no longer be the only American coach making an impact abroad.