Dafydd Evans: The Link Between Swansea City and D.C. United

SLUG:sp-wcacsoc DATE:November 2, 2007 CREDIT: Mark Gail/ TWP Washington D.C. ASSIGNMENT#: 195547 EDITED: dl DeMatha's soccer coach Dafydd Evans hugged Eric Hamel after the game with Carroll in which Hamel scored the winning penalty kick. (Photo by Mark Gail/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
SLUG:sp-wcacsoc DATE:November 2, 2007 CREDIT: Mark Gail/ TWP Washington D.C. ASSIGNMENT#: 195547 EDITED: dl DeMatha's soccer coach Dafydd Evans hugged Eric Hamel after the game with Carroll in which Hamel scored the winning penalty kick. (Photo by Mark Gail/The Washington Post/Getty Images) /

Dafydd Evans has enjoyed coaching success in both the United States and his homeland of Wales. He is the subconscious link between Swansea City and D.C. United.

On July 21st, 2016, Swansea City A.F.C.’s takeover by an American consortium was completed.  The group was led by Jason M. Levien and Stephen Kaplan, both of whom are now co-owners of D.C. United. Although Levien and Kaplan may be the most prominent links between Swansea City A.F.C. and D.C. United, further investigation would lead you to find Dafydd Evans, Head of Football and Head Coach of Swansea University F.C.

A Welsh speaker born in rural Llandysul, “Coach Daf” has blazed a unique trail. After obtaining an undergraduate Business degree from the University of Glamorgan (now the University of South Wales), Dafydd was left at a crossroads. Injuries had derailed his promising football career, but he knew that he wanted sports to be a focal point in his life.

His mother’s history as a teacher and headmistress inspired the idea of becoming a coach, and Dafydd soon found himself at Bangor University completing a bilingual Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) course. It was this qualification that took him over to the United States, where he would unexpectedly live for the next 15 years.

Dafydd is most famous for his time at a private boys school in Hyattsville, Maryland called DeMatha Catholic High School. It was here, as Varsity Soccer Head Coach, that he won a national championship (2011), seven varsity conference titles, and nurtured the likes of Bill Hamid, Chris Odoi-Atsem, Jacori Hayes amongst others. He finished his Stags career with an incredible 224-18-20 record. Through his success at DeMatha, Dafydd was offered employment by the D.C. United Academy, where he worked with the U-20 and the U-23 side for six years.

Dafydd’s time in America was invaluable. He learned a lot. This is what he had to say about sports coaching in the U.S. during an interview with Y Clwb Pêl-Droed in January 2018;

"The U.S. are very goal/success orientated in all their sports from youth to professional level. They truly value the coaching profession, maybe more than other countries. Experiencing coaching trends in other big U.S. Sports and how those clubs were run from top to bottom was an eye-opener and dealing daily with athletes from all over the world in different languages and different cultures was a great way of progressing teaching/coaching adaptability."

Nonetheless, although he thoroughly enjoyed his American experience, Dafydd was longing for home. He was returning a couple of times per year for various reasons, and there was not much left for him to accomplish in the U.S.

He returned to his homeland as part of Swansea City’s Academy staff in October 2015, and also became the Director of Football and Head Coach for men’s football at Swansea University as part of an agreement between the club and institution, which was formally announced in March 2016.

"Swansea University has a Welsh League heritage dating back to the 1960s when under its previous guise as the University College Swansea played at the highest level of Welsh football for nearly two decades.The club was relegated from the third tier of the Welsh League in 1985. This lead to a 32-year exodus which ended in 2017 with the return of the University to higher levels of the Welsh football pyramid."

Since being resurrected for league competition in 2011 by a group of ambitious students, the club has enjoyed considerable success and silverware. The professionalism, coaching expertise, and knowledge the partnership has brought has been invaluable. Under Dafydd’s guidance, Swansea University F.C. has thrived. They have enjoyed three consecutive league promotions, lifted the West Wales Cup in 2016/17, and are now competing in the brand new JD Cymru South after they were awarded a Tier 2 License by the Football Association of Wales. Dafydd has transformed the culture and the ambition of the club.

Nonetheless, American imports have also played an integral role in the club’s recent success. Dafydd’s ties to the D.C. area and his knowledge of the U.S. soccer system has helped him to secure the signatures of some very skilful players. During a pre-season tour to the United States last summer (2018), where the D.C. area played host to the majority of the games, Dafydd shared his secret for attracting exciting American talents with WalesOnline;

More from MLS Multiplex

"The U.S. market almost hands itself to where we are at. There are not as many opportunities to be professional in America.There is limited eligibility for the MLS (Major League Soccer) draft, and Swansea University has a high academic standard meaning they can play but they get the personal development and it’s a good model that works on both sides."

Christopher Fanet had spent four years at American University (where he was captain during his senior season) before arriving in June 2017 and was chosen by Y Clwb Pêl-Droed readers for the Welsh Football League Division Three 2017/18 Team of the Season.

Declan McCabe and Zack Knudson signed before the 2018-19 campaign; McCabe came through the ranks at the New England Revolution, while Knudson was with the New York Red Bulls. Both men were plying their trade at Georgetown University before they made the move to South Wales. Forward Arion Sobers-Assue, formerly of DeMatha Catholic, Florida Gulf Coast University, and Virginia Tech became the latest American to arrive at Sketty Lane when he joined last month. 

Next. MLS: Ranking all 24 stadiums. dark

As of writing (September 3rd, 2019), Swansea University F.C. are currently second in the JD Cymru South. The success of the partnership between Swansea City and the University cannot be overstated. Swansea University F.C. has a unique football model, but as long as they have Dafydd Evans at the helm, a man who has proven himself capable of developing players and projects, the sky is the limit. He is the subconscious link between Swansea City A.F.C. and D.C. United.