Updated: Mar 6, 2019
Following the announcement regarding Edson Aguiar's recent appointment of becoming FA Euro Academy's Technical Director, the club can officially reveal that US Soccer National Youth Team scout Kai Haaskivi will be joining the club's staff in our growing Sarasota expansion.
Kai Haaskivi is regarded as many as one of the most well respected coaches and footballing pioneers of his generation. From scoring a goal against the immortal Italian goalkeeper Dino Zoff to being one of the founders for IMG Academy's world renowned soccer program, Kai has left an ongoing legacy that has helped shape and transition US Soccer into the modern era.
Kai Haaskivi is considered “One of the greatest soccer minds in the country." Born and raised in Finland, Kai's exposure to soccer started early in life as his father, Olavi, served as the Director of Coaching for the Finnish Football Association for over 35 years. Although raised in a soccer family, Kai ’s individual prominence in soccer began in the early 1970's as a member of the Finnish National Team from 1977 to 1984. Kai earned his first cap on the Finnish National Team in 1977 and continued in the National spotlight for years including playing in 1978 and 1986 World Cup qualifying matches and for 1980 European Championships.
During his National Team career, Kai recorded 29 caps and 7 goals. Haaskivi's professional playing career spanned over 19 years including stops with Finnish Premier League teams as well as with the Dallas Tornado, Houston Hurricane, and Edmonton Drillers of the North American Soccer League and the Houston Summit, Cleveland Force, Baltimore Blast, and Cleveland Crunch of the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL). In a 1982 friendly, Helsinki played against England, celebrating the Finnish F.A.'s 75th anniversary. During the match, he scored on a penalty kick as the Finnish team lost 1–4. He also scored against Italy's World Cup Legend, Dino Zoff, in Turin, Italy during a 1978 World Cup qualifier.
Kai began his MISL career in the league's inaugural season of 1978–79 with the Houston Summit. Playing the next season with the Summit as well, he was named an MISL all-star in both seasons. The team lost the championship to the New York Arrows in 1980. Haaskivi played in 1979–80 with the Houston Hurricane and 1981–82 with the Edmonton Drillers. He led the league in assists in 1981 with 21 and helped the Drillers win the 1980–81 NASL Indoor Championship and was named the MVP of the finals.
Haaskivi went on to star with the Cleveland Force from 1982–88. While with the Force he led the league in assists in the 1986–87 season. He then played one season for the Baltimore Blast before returning to Cleveland as player-coach of the Cleveland Crunch in 1989. He retired as a player after the 1991–92 season when the MISL, by then named Major Soccer League, folded. The Crunch moved to the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL). Haaskivi served as color analyst on the team's radio broadcasts. Haaskivi finished his career in the top ten of several MISL career statistical categories, including fifth in points with 683, tied for ninth in goals with 297, second in assists with 386, and eights in games played with 425. He was an eight-time league all-star selection and was named MVP of the 1987 All-Star Game in Los Angeles. He finished his NASL career with 112 points in 135 games.
Kai has had the privilege played against the best players in the world including Franz Beckenbauer, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Johan Cruyff, Johan Neeskens, Paulo Rossi, Kevin Keegan, George Best, Carlos Alberto and many others. Kai scored against the best goalkeepers in the world, like England’s Ray Clemence and Italy’s World Cup hero, Dino Zoff.
Kai's professional coaching experience is unmatched. He has coached at the professional, national team, collegiate, and youth levels. He worked as the GM and Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Division 1 of the United Soccer League (USL) and as the Head Men’s and Women’s Soccer Coach at Myers University. Kai also served as an assistant coach for two different U.S. U-17 National teams including top American talent like Taylor Twellman, Landon Donovan, Demarcus Beasley and Kyle Beckerman. Kai was the first Technical Director of the IMG Soccer Academy and the first Head Coach of the Bradenton Academics of the USL PDL. He served as the Head Scout for the US Soccer Federation’s Project 2010, as the Director of Coaching for Cleveland United and Braden River Soccer Club. Kai holds National Coaching Certification with A-Youth (the first in the country to receive the license in the nation), A, B, and National Youth licenses. Currently, Kai serves as youth national team scout for the US Soccer Federation.
"It is an absolute joy to have Kai part of the FA Euro family. It's hard to find anyone with a better track record than him." says Executive Director, Marco Balsamo. "The club has been working hard on acquiring the top coaches for the Academy and we are confident that, along with Ferdi and Edson, we have an elite staff with the best professionals who have dedicated their lives to the betterment of the sport. As both a player and coach, Kai has helped elevate soccer's popularity in the United States. Kai will have double duties in being the Director of Scouting and Director of Coaching Education as we want the next generation of upcoming coaches and players to develop and gain experience whilst they can be happy to know that they have the golden opportunity to learn from one of the greats."