FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Attention to detail is often a trait associated with goalkeepers in soccer. For Revolution II goalkeeping coach Yuta Nomura, it’s a commitment. A former 'keeper himself who played professionally in Europe prior to launching his coaching career, Nomura often gets creative to keep his players on their toes in net and in life, making sure they nothing is overlooked.
“Goalkeeper is a very isolated and lone position from any other field players,” Nomura said. “When a teammate scores a goal during a game, goalkeepers rarely come up to them and celebrate together. Instead, we stay in the back and keep ourselves calm and stay focused for the moment the team needs us.
“As coaches, we should be there to help develop players’ mental strength to maximize their performance level. Such as, how can we increase the percentage of winning saves, or when they make a mistake can they keep their head up and move forward?”
The coach tasked with developing the Revolution’s second team goalkeepers is a native of Tokyo, Japan, who first came to the United States as a teenager. Nomura enrolled at Lindsey Wilson College in Kentucky, playing soccer at the NAIA level. As a true freshman, Nomura and the Blue Raiders went undefeated (23-0-0) en route to winning the National Championship. He finished his four-year college career with a 68-11-3 record, allowing just 69 goals in 85 total appearances, while recording 35 clean sheets.
Not only was he challenged with maintaining his role as a starter for four years, but he did so while still in the process of learning English. Throughout his time in school, Nomura improved quickly on the field and in the classroom due to the support of his coach Ray Wells.
“I knew Lindsey Wilson was the school I wanted to go to because of the amount of professional players they produced, as well as the number of national championships they had won,” Nomura said. “Coach Wells had a faith in me and used me as his first-choice goalkeeper for four years.
“There are so many things that I have learned from the days I spent at Lindsey Wilson. Having a winning mentality and knowing what it takes to get to where you want to go and learn from not only success but also from mistakes you make.”
Nomura turned pro after his college days, moving to Sweden to play for lower-division side BK Olympic in parts of three seasons. It was his only foray into professional soccer, as soon after Nomura returned stateside to pursue coaching positions.
“I always wanted to come back to the states and to coach for the next generations,” Nomura said. “Of course, one day I want to go back home and coach in Japan, but as of now, I see my future here in the United States.”
What makes the United States such an attractive destination for Nomura? The amount of different youth sports opportunities offered. Getting to play different sports and broaden their horizons allows children to become authentic athletes, providing kids with different skills in the process.
“I see a ton of potential in goalkeepers in this country,” said Nomura. “When a soccer player decides to become a goalkeeper, they have all the things that a goalkeeper needs, such as the body coordination, hand-eye coordination, athleticism, among others. They are meant to be goalkeepers.”
His first job came for the University of Central Arkansas in NCAA Division I where he served as the Bears’ goalkeeping coach. In two seasons, he helped UCA to an NCAA Tournament berth and was part of a group that earned Missouri Valley Conference Coaching Staff of the year honors in 2018. During the two seasons he was with the program, UCA won three trophies.
Now in his first coaching role with a professional side, Nomura has wasted no time designing drills and implementing new challenges for the club’s developmental goalkeepers with Revolution II and in the Revolution Academy. During the past three months, unable to work with his charges on the pitch, he has scheduled frequent Zoom calls for the club’s “Goalkeeper Union,” involving all Revolution goalkeepers and coaches from the Under-14s all the way up through the first team. Nomura has also engaged in countless webinars and discussions with colleagues around the world, especially back home in his native Japan, about the art of goalkeeping.
“I believe that in order for them to succeed in their career and for us to bring a positive result, we need to build a strong bond and an honest relationship between goalkeepers and coach,” Nomura said. “Having said that, all the goalkeepers that I was able to coach responded very professionally and have been showing me their improvements every single day.
“Even though we [may] work for different organizations, there are things that only goalkeepers know and sympathize how we feel. Therefore, I love to use that platform to share my thoughts and ideas, talk about goalkeeping, and also to learn from other coaches.”
In addition to staying connected, Nomura has also advocated for Japanese players to stretch their horizons and play abroad. In a recent tweet, Nomura shared his thoughts on how Japanese players travelling to play abroad cannot only help the National Team to develop and grow incrementally, but will allow them improve individually – something Nomura knows from experience:
“Japanese Soccer has grown so much for the last 10 years and it still keeps growing,” Nomura said. “More and more Japanese players go abroad to play but it feels like something is still missing. I think we need to create an environment where not only players go overseas but also coaches are able to go abroad and learn from those leagues.”