Spokane, Wash. – United Soccer League (USL) Spokane has hired Leigh Veidman as the first head coach of its USL League One professional men’s Spokane Velocity FC team.
Leigh Veidman, most recently an assistant coach with the Charleston Battery of the USL Championship, brings to Spokane a wealth of coaching experience at the collegiate and professional levels.
“We were very fortunate to have a large and highly competitive applicant pool for this head coach position,” said Ryan Harnetiaux, Spokane Velocity FC club owner. “Leigh is a talented and well-respected coach, and his methodology and coaching style is a natural fit within our technical department and new organization. We are looking forward to welcoming Leigh to Spokane and building an incredible community asset.”
Veidman, who hails from Liverpool, England, moved to the United States in 2008 and has since worked in nearly every level of the soccer pyramid in the USA. He has been with Charleston for the past season, helping to lead the club to the 2023 USL Championship Final. Previously, he was with the OKC Energy FC, one year as an assistant coach and one year as head coach, taking the team from 1-11-11 to playoff contention.
“I am humbled to be chosen as the first head coach of Spokane Velocity FC and extremely excited about what the future holds for the club and the community of Spokane,” said Veidman. “From day one, my personal connection to the values, mission and goals of the ownership aligned. Having the opportunity to be part of building a professional organization and laying strong foundations for a successful future is key in an industry where winning is imperative. The ownership has shown a clear intent with the investment in a high-level environment to bring world-class soccer to the Spokane fans,” continued Veidman.
After playing as part of the Liverpool FC youth academy in England, Veidman came to the U.S. to play for Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, earning All-Conference honors in 2008 and 2010; he was named an All-American in 2010 as well. He holds career records at Iowa Western for career goals (41) and career points (91). He moved on to the University of Texas at Brownsville, where he again earned All-Conference honors. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science while playing at Bellevue University in Nebraska, earning All-Conference honors in 2013. He also spent four years as a player, from 2010-14, with the Toronto Lynx of USL League Two.
He moved into the coaching ranks in 2012, while a student at Bellevue for the Bellevue Soccer Club. By 2015, his coaching career was taking off, with assistant coaching positions at Midland University, where he earned a Master of Education degree in Leadership and Adult Organizational Learning, and the Des Moines Menace of USL League Two.
Veidman moved into the USL Championship in 2019 as an assistant coach with Fresno FC and helped guide the team to the playoffs. In 2021, he moved to Oklahoma City as an assistant coach with Energy FC, only to be promoted to interim head coach within a few months. During that time, he led a team that had 1 win in 23 games to winning 8 games and moving into playoff contention. The club struggled and paused operations in 2022, and Veidman landed at Charleston. This season, the Battery made a run to the USL Championship Final where they narrowly fell to Phoenix Rising FC in a penalty shootout after the clubs ended regulation and extra time knotted at 1-1.
“We are delighted to hire Leigh as the first head coach of Spokane Velocity FC,” said Gareth Smith, USL Spokane Sporting Department Consultant. “After an extensive review of highly qualified domestic and international coaches, and carefully following our evidence-based process that ranked each candidate, the choice was clear and conclusive – Leigh Veidman is the right person and professional to lead Spokane Velocity FC.”
Veidman reiterated the importance of high character people and high performers in all areas of the club especially for year one of a new organization. “The same applies to building the roster – we will be working diligently to identify players who fit our club’s ethos and will ultimately help the team compete in the 2024 season and beyond,” said Veidman.
“Spokane – I am extremely excited to meet you all in person and work together to make ONE Spokane Stadium a fortress!”
USL Spokane will host a media meet and greet with Coach Veidman upon his arrival to Spokane – details coming soon.
Spokane Velocity FC will begin play as a Division III team in USL League One in March 2024 at the new ONE Spokane Stadium. USL Spokane will also field Spokane Zephyr FC, a women’s USL Super League team expected to be sanctioned as a first division team and begin play in August 2024. A pre-professional women’s team made up of elite college players will play beginning in June in the USL W League. USL Spokane is owned by Aequus Sports LLC; its principals are Katie Harnetiaux, the club president, and Ryan Harnetiaux, both of whom are originally from Spokane.