San Jose, Calif. - San Jose State University men’s soccer head coach Gary St. Clair has announced the addition of former Spartan standout and current San Jose Earthquakes goalkeeper Dan Benton to his staff as a volunteer assistant coach for the 2008 season.
Benton was the Spartans’ starting goalie from 2001 to 2004, and spent the 2008 pre-season training as the third-string goalkeeper of Major League Soccer’s Earthquakes. He was officially signed by the club in late May, and is now the back-up behind starter Joe Cannon. Benton spent two seasons playing for the Charlotte Eagles of the United Soccer Leagues (USL) Second Division prior to joining the Quakes. He previously played for the Virginia Beach Mariners, then of the USL First Division, in 2005, as well as the Southern California Seahorses of the USL Premier Development League (PDL).
As a coach, Benton has led the junior varsity boy’s soccer team at San Jose’s Valley Christian High School the past two seasons, and was the head coach of the De Anza Force U9 squad in 2007. He coached the goalkeepers for the Almaden Force U14 and S.F. United U18 club squads in 2005, and has also coached team-affiliated youth camps for the Seahorses and Mariners, as well as numerous high school and college camps over the years.
Benton started 32 of 35 games played as a three-time team captain for the Spartans, including a career-high 18 as a senior in 2004. He posted a career goals-against-average of 1.37 to go along with 149 saves, which still rank 10th on the all-time San Jose State list. Prior to transferring in, Benton was the starting goalkeeper at College of Marin in Kentfield, Calif., in 1999 and 2000, earning team Most Valuable Player honors in both years.
After receiving his Associate of Arts degree from College of Marin in 2001, Benton earned his Bachelor of Science degree from San Jose State in kinesiology in 2005. He rounds out a Spartan staff under St. Clair that includes long-time associate head coach Ron Smare and sixth-year assistant coach Chris Behler.
“I am very excited to be coaching at San Jose State and alongside Gary St. Clair,” remarked Benton. “Gary gave me a chance as a walk-on and had a big part in my development as a player and a person. I owe a lot to this program and am glad to get a chance to give back to it.”
“Dan is a young coach with extensive experience in goalkeeping,” said St. Clair, himself a former standout goalie for San Jose State who has traditionally trained Spartan net-minders himself over the years. “He played here, and I think that our players will be excited to work with someone who is still competing professionally. That is something that will always be beneficial to the players in a program, and will add an awful lot to ours. His presence will also free me up to work individually with our field players, more than in the past. Dan is one of the few people I would entrust our goalkeeper training to.”