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Dello-Russo parlays MLS career to Terps coaching gig

In three years with FC Dallas, Michael Dello-Russo didn’t see much playing time. He played in 11 games, starting just four for FCD, the club that selected him in the fourth round of the 2006 MLS Super Draft.

Last summer, he was released and made his way down to Austin where he played for the Aztex. The Maryland native then headed back home to play indoor for the Baltimore Blast, when he heard from his college coach, Sasho Cirovski from the University of Maryland.

The Terrapins were about to have at least one coaching vacancy heading into the 2010 season and Cirovski was gauging his former captain’s interest in such a position. The 26-year-old Dello-Russo, who was a key member of Maryland’s 2005 national championship team, joined the Terps in January and is now enjoying his first coaching gig on his return to his alma mater. Tell us about your new gig.

Dello-Russo: It’s something I always wanted to do. The timing couldn’t be any better actually. When I went down to Austin, I enjoyed myself but I was ready to move on and kind of settle down. Have you officially hung up your spikes or do you still play a bit?

Dello-Russo: No, I hung it up. I’m playing just for fun now, which I love. I’m just playing with my boys and on some men’s league teams and I love it. How did this process start for you going back to the Terps?

Dello-Russo: I came back here to play on the indoor team, the Blast, so I was around here. Sasho [Cirovski] and I are both from Columbia [Maryland], so I’ve known him since I was 12. He just called me one day and asked me to meet him at his seven-year-old daughter’s soccer game. We met there and he wanted to see where I was at with everything because of the potential of both of them leaving, the other coaches or the potential of one of them leaving and him bringing me on. So it kind of happened at a little soccer field somewhere. He reached out to me and things fell into place. That’s what happened basically. How long have you wanted to get into coaching?

Dello-Russo: Everyone always kids because when I went to school here, everyone thought I would come back, with Sasho and all that. They all knew that was what I was going to do. It was something I always thought about, but I never knew. This is one of the only coaching jobs I would take. So it was nice for it to come about. You had three different coaches during your time with FCD. Do you draw from all three in developing your own coaching style?

Dello-Russo: I take a lot from Steve [Morrow] because he taught me a lot of defensive principles of the game. I feel like I’ve really been able to take what he taught me and help the boys out with all that. Schellas [Hyndman] came from college and his coaching style at least when I was there, was a little bit more suited for the college game because he was just getting used to the whole professional level. Just taking from him his player management with college players was helpful. How much do you miss playing?

Dello-Russo: I miss playing in Dallas. I enjoyed playing in Dallas but I didn’t want to go around and bounce from team-to-team. I actually get my fix of playing here. I train with the boys every day. I play in a men’s league, which is semi-competitive but it’s really just for fun. I get my total fix of playing. I enjoy it a lot. I coach a couple of club teams and will jump in and play with them. I feel like I really haven’t missed a beat with anything. Since it hasn’t been that long since you played in College Park, are you somewhat of a conduit between the players and the head coach?

Dello-Russo: It’s funny because one of the boys on the team, I went to school with. He was a freshman when I was a junior and he’s gotten a double redshirt. He’s here for his sixth year. It’s nice because that’s kind of the role I took when I was here. I was the captain for two years, so I was always kind of that middle man between the players and Sasho. It’s been an easy transition for me. I know the boys and knew them before coming in because it’s my alma mater. I followed them all the time and I came back and hung out with them before. It’s definitely been a very easy transition. Which of your former FCD teammates do you still keep in contact with?

Dello-Russo: I talk to Dax [McCarty]. I talk to Pablo [Ricchetti]. He’s in Dallas. When I came back in town, I hung out with Eric [Avila]. I still stay in touch with [assistant coach John] Ellinger. I came out for Dallas Cup and he was trying to get me to play golf one morning instead of watching games.