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MLS Dec 24, 2019

MLS and USL coaches complete U.S. Soccer Pro License Course

CHICAGO – Seven coaches who work across Major League Soccer and the United Soccer League Championship became the fourth class to complete the U.S. Soccer Pro License, finishing a year-long journey that began in January. Another four course candidates will earn their U.S. Soccer Pro License in 2020.

This year marks the fourth edition of the Pro License course, which is designed for coaches to further develop the skills and competencies necessary to work as a professional coach in a professional environment. Based on their individual needs, each candidate went through a tailored program designed to bolster their efforts to create a winning culture/team, develop a style of play, implement sport science initiatives at their clubs, reflect on their growth as a coach and serve as leaders in their organizations.

“The U.S. Soccer Pro License course provides a unique learning space for professional coaches at the highest level in our country,” said Director of Coach Education Barry Pauwels. “It is the ultimate environment for the coaches to develop new ideas, share and discuss those ideas with peers, experts and top coaches from within the country and elsewhere in the world.”

2019 Pro Course Graduates:

  • Nolan Sheldon (Assistant Coach, D.C. United)
  • Cameron Knowles (Head Coach, Timbers II/Assistant Coach, Portland Timbers)
  • Martin Rennie (Head Coach, Indy Eleven)
  • Simon Elliott (Head Coach, Sacramento Repubic)
  • Dave Van Den Bergh (Assistant Coach, New England Revolution)
  • Mark Watson (Assistant Coach, Minnesota United)
  • **David Vaudreuil (Head Coach of Tulsa Roughnecks during 2018 course)
    **part of 2018 course but completed license in 2019

2019 Pro Course Candidates:

  • *Giovanni Savarese (Head Coach, Portland Timbers)
  • *Ante Razov (Assistant Coach, LAFC)
  • *Marcelo Serrano (Head Coach, Austin Bold)
  • *Mike Petke (unattached, was Head Coach of Real Salt Lake during course)

*part of 2019 course but will earn license in 2020

Over the course of the year, candidates gathered for three course meetings in January, June and November, with development periods in between. During those development periods, U.S. Soccer coach educators visited the home club environments of the course candidates to observe how they applied the program’s theoretical components while they coached games, led training sessions and analyzed player and team performances.

“The 2019 Pro License course has been an amazing experience for candidates and instructors,” said Wim Van Zwam, lead instructor for the course. “Overall the feedback from the candidates was very positive. Highlights were the individual visits, the experts that were invited and visiting the MNT when they had a camp in Minnesota. All of this led to a life lasting experience for all candidates, especially also because of the time they could spend together. Lifelong friendships have been established between some of them.”

The course combines theoretical and practical components to help coaches reach their full potential. The year-long journey featured in-person instruction, visits by coach educators to candidates’ home club environments, expert guest speakers, webinars and a final assessment.

Guest presenters included: Guatam Mukunda (Professor, Harvard University), Doug Lemov (Managing Director, Uncommon Schools), Wade Gilbert (Professor of Kinesiology, Fresno State University), Steve Georgas (Deputy Chief, Special Functions Division, Chicago PD), Yannick Ferrera (Head Coach, Al-Fateh), James O’Connor (Head Coach, Orlando City SC), Ken Fields (SVP and Partner, Fleishman-Hillard), Raphael Wicky (Head Coach, U-17 USMNT), Steve Tashijan (USMNT Head Performance Expert), Darcy Norman (USMNT Movement and Conditioning Coach) and USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter. Berhalter earned his Pro License in 2016 as part of the inaugural class to complete the program.

“The Pro Course was a terrific experience; the instructors, Barry & Wim, along with U.S. Soccer, have succeeded in creating a course that promotes learning and growth that will undoubtably extend well beyond the finality of the course,” said D.C. United Assistant Coach Nolan Sheldon. “The chance to work closely alongside the other coaches and to gain perspective from the guest speakers was a wonderful learning experience.  The visit from the instructor into your own club environment was a memorable moment, as it allowed the material to be purposeful and personalized.

“Upon reflection at the conclusion of the course, you realize how much it has covered.  It really is an experience that stretches your own thinking and hits on every aspect of coaching and leadership.”

The U.S. Soccer Pro License represents the highest soccer license recognized in North America and completes the U.S. Soccer coaching education pathway that begins at the grassroots level.  U.S. Soccer stands as the only domestic organization allowed to license coaches under FIFA standards. The Pro License seeks to raise the minimum standard for an individual seeking to become a professional coach in MLS, the NWSL or USL.