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When it comes to innovation, Canton United Soccer Club Girls Director Drago Dumbovic is always on the cutting edge of the beautiful game.  This has been the case for many years as Drago has always been a step ahead as a coach and player.  He is known for his passion and enthusiasm for the sport as well as developing freedom, creativity, and imagination in players. 

“We are extremely excited to bring in a coach of Drago's caliber to direct the girls side of our program at Canton United,” Canton United SC Director Damien Marchione stated. “He had a fantastic professional playing career, brings knowledge as a director at one of the most successful youth clubs in the country and has over a decade of collegiate coaching experience. He will help our program continue to progress and provide our players with the most qualified professional environment possible for player development and success.”

Drago brings incredible credentials to the Great Stark County area, most recently serving as the head coach of women’s soccer at Sagniaw Valley State University.  He also served as a coach and director at Vardar Soccer Club, one of the top youth programs in the U.S.  Because of all of this he is widely regarded as one of the top coaching minds in the country.

He came to Canton United to be reunited with other former indoor stars like Joe Raduka and Joe Pavlek.  Drago was instantly impressed with the growth of the club in just five years.

“Congratulations to Damien (Marchione), Marko (Raduka), Joe (Raduka), and Joe (Pavlek) for what they have accomplished.  It’s simply spectacular.  It’s extremely tough to build something from the ground up and that is exactly what they have done.  And give credit to the parents as well because this couldn’t have been done without them.”   

With Canton United Drago has already implemented unique training programs that incorporate spinning, aerobics, and Zumba classes.  The end result has been improved energy, strength, and speed for his players.  He is also instituting video review sessions and position-specific training.

“We want our players to enjoy the game and work hard.  No team will outwork us or be in better shape.  We are developing players that are mentally and physically tough.  You prepare for the championship long before the actual game.”

Drago is certainly preparing his players for a championship run, something he knows a lot about, having won the NPSL Championship with the Detroit Rockers in 1992.

Preparation is a key part of Drago’s training program, which also teaches about citizenship, teamwork, dedication, and setting goals.  He often says that “every story has an end and you start with that end in mind.”

And that end is different for every player.  It might be playing at their local high school, getting a college scholarship, playing on a youth national team, or being one of the few elite players to turn pro. 

Drago knows a bit about the latter having spent 24 years in the professional game, starting with the world-renowned Dinamo Zagreb in the former Yugoslavia.  Along with many other great European footballers, Drago came to the U.S. in the golden age of the American game.  He would play as a pro both indoors and out, starring for teams across the U.S. and Canada.  This meant playing against the likes of Diego Maradona, Pelé, and Alexi Lalas. 

He was an immediate fan favorite, known for his ability as a game-changing player who set numerous league records in a time when the sport was flourishing.  Crowds of 60,000 or 70,000 were not unheard of in the original NASL, while crowds of 20,000+ were considered normal in places like Cleveland, Wichita, and Kansas City. 

Drago literally was a star at every stop of his playing career, whether it be in Pittsburgh or Minnesota, in Chicago or Detroit.  He appeared in commercials with Grant Hill while playing with the Detroit Neon, traveling to matches on the owner’s private jet.  He would do commercials with star NHL players while with the Rockers.  He was simply known as Drago and he simply was one of the best players of his generation.    

As a player he was obviously difficult to defend, often staying a step ahead of his opponent.  That remains the case event today as he often uses coaching strategies that others haven’t even heard of yet.  His experience as a pro in Europe brings a different mindset to the youth game.

Drago believes in fluid training that leads to game opportunities, not redundant training that is repeated mindlessly for weeks and months.  He believes that what has been learned in training must be implemented in games.  Drago is all about engaging parents in the process, knowing that preseason, season, and offseason activities must be carefully coordinated.

Drago is looking forward to his future with the club and being there for a new generation of great footballers.  He is equally excited about the growth of American soccer, having seen both the highs and lows of the game.  He is excited about this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, saying that the U.S. Women’s National Team is “spectacular” and that the “future is very bright.”

The future of Canton United SC is certainly bright thanks to Drago’s expert tutelage and leadership.  This could be the beginning of a golden age of soccer right here in Northeast Ohio.


Cleveland United