FC Dallas prides itself on being a leader in the area of player development in MLS. But the principles of development go beyond the player and extend to the coaches and staff as well.
John Gall is currently enrolled in the UEFA A/UEFA Elite Youth A license (combined) course.
“The game is always evolving so educating yourself with new methods and ideas and concepts is an important part for any coach,” said Gall. The residential course aims to educate candidates in the technical, tactical, physical and mental requirements of modern football. “I began my UEFA coaching pathway with the Football Association of Wales last year when I took the UEFA B Residential course. Being Welsh, it was an honor to get to go home and successfully complete the course alongside the likes of Michael Essien, Simon Davies, Dorus DeVries, Stern John, Carlos Edwards and current Seattle Sounders’ Assistant Coach Gonzalo Pineda, to name a few.
“The UEFA course for me has been an incredible experience. It’s a support system if you like for what you’re currently doing within your club. So, it’s not like they’re telling you what to do and how to do it. they give you new ideas and methods to make you more successful within your own club and how you do things.”
The course develops candidates' ability to devise, organize, conduct and evaluate coaching sessions in advanced skills, tactics, strategies and systems of play. Gall is currently a candidate with an “A license”, an ongoing year-long course, ending in May 2020.
Matt Grubb, Girls Academy coach, is currently enrolled in the newly launched Director of Coaching License course. “Continuing education, continuing to stay on top of the game is something that’s necessary for all of our coaches,” said Grubb. “It’s fostered and supported by our club. Obviously, it’s their encouragement and their dollars. And that’s one of the reasons I think our staff in general is better than most of the other clubs around the country and it’s honestly why we do so well.”
U.S. Soccer describes the license as designed to help candidates develop the competencies needed to complete the tasks of a Director of Coaching, the technical leader of a youth soccer club. The role is defined by a number of objectives: developing a player-centered development pathway, creating player development plans, guiding the club’s teaching methodology, leading and mentoring staff, managing the performance environment, representing the club’s interests and more.
Matias Asorey, boys U-17 head coach, believes continuing to stay on top of the game is something that’s necessary for all coaches. In partnership with MLS and the French Football Federation (FFF), the introduction of the Elite Formation Coaching License (EFCL) was the brainchild of a March 2012 meeting in Paris between MLS executive Todd Durbin and a small collection of French development gurus.
“It’s basically learning the way the French develop their youth. The French have done very well. Especially in the last 30 years. Won the World Cup twice and right now they’re in the final to win the U-17,” said Asorey.
After spending a week at FFF headquarters in Clairefontaine, France, the coaches observed a club that’s already implementing this style of coaching.
“The course that I observed was Lyon, which is historically one of the clubs that sells and produces some of the best youth players in the world year-in and year-out.” Asorey continued to say that every coach who's completed the course believes they become better and more confident. “It’s been compared to as a masters. I’ve only gone through the first week, but it’s a very different approach to what I’m used to with the licenses.”
“I’m really happy to see it continue,” says FC Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez, who completed the program a few years ago. “For me personally, the course really changed me. It really got me out of my comfort zone to put in a lot of time and effort and energy and care for details when I thought I was doing enough. And it showed me I could do a lot more.”
Chris Hayden, VP of FC Dallas Youth and Academy Director, adds that all three coaches have a lot to gain from the respective courses they are taking.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for Matias [Asorey] to go through that course. John [Gall] obviously is getting a European perspective. And Matt [Grubb], just from the director’s course stand point, it’s as much about leadership as it is about actual technical expertise.”
It’s clear that as the game evolves, these new methodologies and support services that clubs offer will spur ideas, and FC Dallas will continue to be committed to developing players, as well as elite coaches.