Linenberger excels with father as coach

Matt Linenberger does a slide kick to steal the ball away.
Last season, he scored two goals as a defender.

Matt Linenberger does a slide kick to steal the ball away. Last season, he scored two goals as a defender.

Daniel Morales

The Sacramento State men’s soccer team has many close relationships among its members – especially that of head soccer coach Michael Linenberger and his son Matt Linenberger.

Matt Linenberger is going into his third year at Sac State and is a journalism major. His father, Michael Linenberger, who is entering his 19th year as the Hornet soccer’s head coach, is also coaching him.

Matt said he does not really feel any extra pressure being the coach’s son, but he does feel he has to aspire to a higher standard given his situation. He wants to prove he is not just on the team because of his father. Matt wants to show he is a good, hard-working player.

“I don’t feel any extra pressure, but I do feel the level of expectations is higher,” Matt Linenberger said.

Matt played in all 21 games last season and scored twice on six shots on goal.

Not only are the expectations higher, he is also expected to call his father “coach.”

“When I talk to my dad, I want to say ‘pops,’ but I have to call him ‘coach,'” he said. “It’s more of a professional relationship on the field.”

Michael Linenberger was asked about their father-son relationship on and off the field.

“I try to be a coach on the field and a dad away from the field,” Michael Linenberger said.

Michael Linenberger and assistant coach Matt McDougall are pleased to have such a good player and person on the team.

“He’s a very good person and athlete,” McDougall said.

Michael Linenberger said his son is an important element of the team, not just on the defensive side, but also on the attack.

“We’re very happy with Matt’s development here at Sac State,” Michael Linenberger said. “He’s a quality left back, clean with ball and good in the air.”

Michael Linenberger said he and Matt worked hard on adding something extra to his son’s game throughout the last couple of years, whether it was attacking or improving on crossing the ball to open scorers.

With Matt’s aggressive attacking against University of San Francisco on Friday, he showed off the effort he puts in practice during the games. He pushed forward, created space for his teammates and hit a few crosses to open players down field. He also performed well on the defensive end.

In the second half, he kicked the ball across the goalie box and a deflection pushed the ball into the goal to give the team a lead. However, the cross-field kick he delivered to give them the lead was vital and they controlled the match from then on, winning 2-0.

Matt has been playing soccer for 15 years and making the transition from high school to college level took him a while to adapt.

“Guys here are a lot faster, bigger and stronger,” Matt said. “I had to get used to the physicality.”

He has been able to secure a starting spot as a defender and make important plays for the Hornets. Matt highlighted his 2010 season in the championship game of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament against No. 2-seeded CSU Bakersfield when he assisted on the game-winning goal in overtime.

Also, in his freshman year, he scored the game-winning goal in overtime against UNLV in the semifinal of the MPSF tournament. The Hornets went on to win that year as well.

This year, the team is riding a 22-game home winning streak. The team is looking for a three-peat this year, as the players now have a target on their back.

Matt said what he enjoyed most besides getting to play and train every day, is the camaraderie and friendship within the team. He stressed how important it was to play as a team, as it has been a point to their success thus far.

“We play as a team; we play as a family,” Matt said.

Daniel Morales can be reached at [email protected].