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Player to Coach: Rich Balchan

By Evan Unger, 01/12/21, 12:15PM EST

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Rich Balchan grew up as one of the top players in the soccer hotbed of Indiana. During his club career, Balchan played with one of the top teams in the state, Carmel United Cosmos, winning six USYS State Cup Championships. With Carmel High School, he helped lead the soccer team to a 23-0-0 record and a #2 national ranking while being named all-district and all-county. 


Balchan would go on to play at one of the top college programs in the nation, Indiana University. During his time as a Hoosier, he was called up to the U20 US National Team. In his Freshman year in 2007, he was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team. His Junior year, he was named second-team All-Big Ten selection and third-team NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region team.  In his senior year, he was named to the All-Big Ten first team, Big Ten All-Tournament team, and third-team NSCAA All-Great Lakes region. 
Following his successful college career, Balchan was drafted by the Columbus Crew with the 12th overall pick in the first round of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. In his rookie season, he made 18 starts, and scored his first goal in a 1-1 draw with New York Red Bulls. Following an injury-filled second season with the Crew, Balchan joined Real Salt Lake where he would stay for two years. He would then go on to play with Tampa Bay Rowdies and Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

When speaking about his playing experience shaping him as a coach, Balchan stated: “As a player, I played with and against some very talented players — most notably against Thierry Henry. I took notes of the little things they would do related to the nuances of the game, which has provided me the wisdom to pass onto the players that I coach.  I was very fortunate to be coached by Juergen Sommer, Todd Yeagley, Thomas Rongen, Brian Maisonneuve, Mike Freitag, Ernie Yarborough, Paul Dalglish, Jason Kreis, Phil Presser and most recently Kristian O’Leary. There is a ton of coaching and playing experience among those names, and I learned so much from them.”


Balchan arrived in New Jersey in 2018 to play for Atlantic City FC and also began his coaching career at that time. In 2019 was named Director of Coaching for Hamilton Elite FC. This year, he will be the head coach of both the 2003 Boys and 2005 Girls, and also the trainer of the 2010 and 2011 girls. In his role as DOC, he also trains the 2012-2014 developmental youth teams. This spring, the club will have more than 10 teams in EDP Leagues as they continue to grow under the direction of Balchan. In addition to his role with Hamilton Elite FC, he is still involved with Atlantic City FC as the assistant coach for the first team under former Swansea player and Coach Kristian O’Leary.  Balchan will also serve as Head Coach for the reserve team.


On his experience with EDP Soccer since working with Hamilton Elite FC, Balchan commented: “EDP has provided a very good level of competition in league and tournament play, which has allowed myself to adequately evaluate how the players, coaches, and teams can improve. I would rather lose games by a goal or 2 than win every game easily, and EDP has provided just that — an opportunity for players, coaches, and the club as a whole to be tested.”