Twelve coaches who work across Major League Soccer, the National Women’s Soccer League and the United Soccer League Championship became the third class to complete the U.S. Soccer Pro License on Friday, Dec. 14, finishing a year-long journey that began in January.
2018 Pro Course Graduates:
- Vlatko Andonovski (Head coach, Seattle Reign, NWSL)
- Kenny Arena (Assistant coach, Los Angeles Football Club, MLS)
- Brian Callaghan (Assistant coach, Philadelphia Union, MLS)
- Robin Fraser (Assistant coach, Toronto FC, MLS)
- Junior Gonzalez (Assistant coach, LA Galaxy, MLS)
- Ezra Hendrickson (Assistant coach, LA Galaxy, MLS)
- Sean McAuley (Assistant coach, Orlando City SC, MLS)
- Mike Munoz (Head coach, LA Galaxy II, USL Championship)
- Anthony Pulis (Head coach, St. Louis FC, USL Championship)
- Paul Riley (Head coach, NC Courage, NWSL)
- Ian Russell (Head coach, Reno 1868, USL Championship)
- Steve Trittschuh (Head coach, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, USL Championship)
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.
This year marks the third 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.
“It's an awesome experience to work with coaches every time,” said Wim Van Zwam, U.S. Soccer lead instructor for the course. “To start with a group in January, to see them develop and to see the difference in their behavior, individually and as a group at the end of the course is amazing. Learning to reflect on why you do what you do has been the central thread during this course.
“For us, that's the most important question: Why do I do the things I do every day? Why do I ask this question to my players? Why do I work this way? Why do I organize practice in this way? Is there a more efficient and effective way? Because at the end of the day, it's all about being more effective in what you do. That translates a lot of times to winning more games.”
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. In addition to Van Zwam, U.S. Soccer’s Director of Coach Education Barry Pauwels, coach educator Vanni Sartini and Chief Sport Development Officer Nico Romeijn also served as instructors for the course.
Guest presenters included Peter Bosz (former head coach, Borussia Dortmund), James Bunce (U.S. Soccer Director of High Performance), Wade Gilbert (Professor of Kinesiology, Fresno State University), Jason Kreis (former MLS head coach), Doug Lemov (managing director, Uncommon Schools), Gautam Mukunda (Professor, Harvard University Kennedy School), Curt Onalfo (former MLS head coach) and Peter Vermes (head coach and technical director, Sporting KC) as well as U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis. Ellis earned her Pro License last year, becoming the first female coach to complete the program.
Over the course of the year, candidates gathered for three-course meetings in January, June and December, with development periods in between. During those development periods, U.S. Soccer coach educators visited the home club environments of Pro License candidates to observe how they applied the course’s theoretical components as they coached games, led training sessions and analyzed performance.
“It's vital for any coach to go through the education system,” said 2018 Pro License graduate Sean McAuley. “It's really important that you stretch your own boundaries of education. The way that U.S. Soccer has put this course together, you work a lot in your own environment and that’s something that can be incredibly challenging, but also very rewarding because you’re not missing anything from your job, you’re enhancing your job, as well as your role and responsibility.
“It’s been really good to share the year with the other candidates and the instructors, and I've learned a lot. It’s definitely been a year in my career that I'll look back on fondly, it’s changed me quite a bit.”
Three candidates: Wilmer Cabrera (Head coach, Houston Dynamo, MLS), James O’Connor (Head coach, Orlando City SC, MLS) and David Vaudreuil also participated in the 2018 Pro License course but will graduate next year.
“We believe that this group will continue to progress, and they will continue to develop themselves to be better coaches,” Van Zwam said. “This course is also about being an example as a head coach. As these coaches pass on the word that this course is a really valuable experience in their growth, it helps to grow the game and develop coaches in America. It’s fundamental to our belief that we should work on developing better coaches because we believe better coaches develop better players.”
U.S. Soccer stands as the only organization able to license coaches domestically 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. U.S. Soccer strives to develop world-class players, coaches and referees.