Visnu Maharaj enters his sixth overall season on staff at Cleveland State in 2019 and his first as the top assistant coach. He was promoted to assistant coach following the 2016 season after serving as the Director of Operations for the previous three campaigns.
Maharaj, who primarily works with defensive players, helped the Vikings to a pair of wins over Power Five programs in 2018, the first such occurrence for the program in over 25 years. He also guided CSU to a win over eventual Horizon League champion UIC, one of just two defeats for the Flames in their last 19 matches against league opponents as of the conclusion of the 2018 season.
Maharaj helped the Vikings reach the Horizon League Tournament Semifinals in his first season as an assistant. Cleveland State won its Tournament quarterfinal match with a 4-0 victory at Wright State, the largest margin of victory by CSU in its Horizon League Tournament history. The Vikings also became the first team since 1999 to win a HL Tournament contest by at least four goals as the lower-seeded team in the match.
With Maharaj’s assistance, the Vikings improved over 50 places in the RPI from the season prior. Cleveland State played one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the nation, as its non-conference strength of schedule ranked 15th at the end of the regular season. CSU faced 10 teams among the top 101 in the RPI, the most in the League, as the Vikings faced three top-15 squads and two that advanced to the Elite Eight.
Maharaj was tasked with helping an incredibly young back line. In 13 of 19 matches, CSU started two newcomers at central defense. The Vikings also started three true freshmen on their four-man back line in both of their HL Tournament matches. Despite the youth, the Vikings allowed only 10 goals from the run of play in their final 16 matches of the campaign.
Primarily a central defender, Maharaj earned a pair of letters as a student-athlete with the Vikings (2012, 2013). In his time with Cleveland State, he was a key component of the CSU defense, appearing in 17 matches and making 13 starts. He helped the Vikings claim the 2012 Horizon League Championship and earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Maharaj, who was forced to retire in 2013 due to injury, was the team captain of the Nashville Metros of the Premier Development League in 2012. He also played for Rocket City United of the National Premier Soccer League in 2010.
Maharaj was a member of the Venezuelan U-17 National Team and competed in the South American U-17 Championship in 2009, where berths to the U-17 World Cup were determined. He also competed in the U-15 South American Championship in 2007. In his youth international days, he played against the likes of Coutinho, Neymar and Casemiro.
Maharaj was invited to the residency program at Brad Friedel’s Premier Soccer Academy and Columbus Crew Academy in his youth days. He played alongside Wil Trapp, a MLS All-Star for the Columbus Crew and U.S. national team captain, and Carlos Salcedo, a Mexican international player and former member of Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga.
In 2009, Maharaj was invited to preseason camp with the Colorado Rapids of the MLS but rejected an amateur contract offer.
Maharaj also serves as the Director of the High School Boys Program for Cleveland Force Soccer Club (formerly CSA Impact United).
Maharaj earned a Bachelor's degree in international business in 2015 and a graduate degree in sports management in 2017, both from Cleveland State. He resides in downtown Cleveland with his wife, Victoria, one of the all-time winningest tennis players in Cleveland State history.