Doug Mello has been handed his fair share of yellow cards.

And the new Sioux City Breeze soccer coach has heard the obvious too many times - Mello yellow and all that.

But, fact is, Mello can be mellow, but the energetic and personable native of the relatively small village of Harwinton, Conn., can crack the whip and become a strict disciplinarian and tactician when necessary.

Even Saturday, before his team made its season debut Sunday in a United Systems of Independent Soccer Leagues game with the Pikes Peak Stampede, Mello was in the lecture mode at an afternoon practice session.

Up until he released his players from the drill and suggested they ride along to a Saturday night USISL game in Des Moines matching Pikes Peak and the Menace, Mello was cajoling, teaching and admonishing.

The Breeze were reminded of everything from lining up for a free kick to some last-minute advice to his goalkeepers in a shootout situation.

And, wouldn't you know it, the Sunday game with Pikes Peak came down to a second and sudden-death shootout.

"I've always tried to pay attention to detail and prepare teams the best way possible for a game," said Mello. "Whatever team I've coached, wherever I've coached, I think we're always prepared.

"That won't change with the Breeze. I love a challenge and that's why I'm here. I think we can be a major player in the Premier Division (amateur) in the USISL."

Mello has succeeded Brad Smith, the Breeze coach in its first two USISL seasons, and Sunday's 2-1 victory over Pikes Peak got the Sioux City team climbing upward right off the bat.

Scaling soccer heights, though, has been a Mello forte.

He was an all-state high school player at Lewis Mills High School back in Harwinton and then earned NAIA honorable mention honors as a college player at Aquinas in Grand Rapids, Mich.

He picked up the rudiments of the game and ability to pass the knowledge on so astutely that Aquinas, at 20 years of age, named him the head coach of the team.

He became the youngest coach of a college team ever.

Along with that, his 352 wins at the college level make him the youngest coach (38) to reach that pinnacle.

There have been many stops on many soccer pitches for Mello and his whirlwind rise in the profession quite likely won't dissipate with the Breeze.

"I've been in lots of places to coach soccer and I truly like Sioux City," said Mello.

"Listen, if you've ever been to Hobbs, N.M., one of the armpits of the world - and I don't want to offend those people - most everywhere can be paradise."

Ironically, Mello is now coaching a team called the Breeze and Hobbs, where he coached at the College of the Southwest, uses, as a Chamber of Commerce advertisment, the fact it's the city in the United States that experiences the fewest natural disasters.

Coaching also took Mello to Siena Heights College in Michigan and he's been the coach at Luther College in Decorah the past five years.

"Until I got to Decorah I'd never been in Iowa, but I love the state and I'm doing whatever is necessary to promote soccer in the state," said Mello. "Sioux City is a particularly strong area for youth participation and that's great."

Last year, Mello coached Des Moines to the USISL's Premier Final Four.

The straight-shooting Mello doesn't mince words when he says that's his Sioux City priority, the Final Four.

Playing style?

"It might not be pretty sometimes, but if it's functional enough to win, we'll take it."