A little more than a year after taking the seventh-seeded Colorado Rapids to an unlikely MLS Cup victory, Gary Smith is working knockout wonders again on the other side of the Atlantic.
Smith and his new side, League One club Stevenage Borough, held Premiership visitors Tottenham to a scoreless draw on Sunday in FA Cup action, setting up a winner-take-all replay at White Hart Lane. Tim Ream and Bolton await the winner of that game. One in which Smith and Stevenage, emboldened by what was a very competent performance against Spurs, hope to push what could be a distracted Tottenham side to the limit.
“It’s quite incredible and we’ve got every chance,” Smith told ITV following the match. “They’ve got Arsenal and Manchester United soon and we might be sandwiched between them and we’ll go there with belief."
If they do manage to pull off a shock result and write their names into FA Cap lore, it will be because they managed to slow down the likes of Gareth Bale, Louie Saha and Jermain Defoe, something Smith was keenly aware of following the match.
"I thought today we prevented a tremendous Tottenham side from creating more than they are probably capable of," he told Sky Sports. "There was just a bundle of energy about the team.I thought that when that intensity dropped towards the end of both halves, the players' ideas and organisational skills to keep some very talented individuals at bay was fantastic."
Of course, Stevenage and their recently hired manager – Smith joined the cause on January 25 in a move club chairman Phil Wallace called a "different approach" – will have a much harder time containing Spurs in London, but it's still nice to see a former MLS headman giving an EPL title contender at least a temporary headache.
Added note from Yanks Abroad's Brian Sciaretta:
@jonahfreedman great story. It's also worth mentioning an American played for Stevenage in the game vs Spurs. (NYC-born Don Cowan)— Brian Sciaretta (@briansciaretta) February 19, 2012