Jesse Marsch


LOS ANGELES (Jan. 13, 2017) — As part of its ongoing effort to develop world class players, coaches, and referees, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced Friday the candidates for the second edition of the U.S. Soccer Pro Course. The 17 selected applicants, headlined by U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis, will embark on a year-long coaching education and development program that will include three collective meetings, two individual club visits from U.S. Soccer coach educators, and a final presentation. With an overarching purpose to raise the level and the standard of coaching in the United States at the professional level, the Pro Course sets out to inspire the current and future generations of coaches.

2017 Pro Course Participants:

  • Paul Buckle (Sacramento Republic, USL)
  • Colin Clarke (North Carolina FC, NASL)
  • Steven Cooke (Colorado Rapids, MLS)
  • Jill Ellis (U.S. WNT)
  • Jim Gabarra (Washington Spirit, NWSL)
  • Jay Heaps (New England Revolution, MLS)
  • Dominic Kinnear (San Jose Earthquakes, MLS)
  • Jesse Marsch (New York Red Bulls, MLS)
  • Pat Noonan (U.S. MNT)
  • Caleb Porter (Portland Timbers, MLS)
  • Darren Powell (San Antonio FC, USL)
  • Brian Schmetzer (Seattle Sounders, MLS)
  • Daryl Shore (Real Salt Lake, MLS)
  • Mike Sorber (Philadelphia Union, MLS)
  • Greg Vanney (Toronto FC, MLS)
  • Josh Wolff (Columbus Crew, MLS)
  • Kerry Zavagnin (Sporting KC, MLS)

Each candidate was selected from an application process only open to coaches within the domestic professional environment. Selections were made based on a coach’s body of work, in addition to holding the required prerequisite, the U.S. Soccer A License.

In December, 13 professional coaches from Major League Soccer and U.S. Youth National Team programs completed the pilot Pro Course. Of those names, former U-17 MNT head coach Richie Williams and current U-17 head coach John Hackworth reflected on the course and what advice they would give to the upcoming cohort.

“This is the right thing to do,” Williams said. “You are always learning as a coach. I’ve been coaching for 10 years, but I learned a lot from this course. Every day you are continuing to learn so you can’t take learning opportunities for granted. Don’t think you don’t need the license, because there are many things we talked about that you pick up on, that you can apply to your coaching and make yourself better as a coach and as a person.”

“I thought it was extremely valuable for my growth as a coach and a process about personal growth,” Hackworth said. “In the end, I think I am a better coach, a better leader and a better manager. I think my training sessions are better and I think my game management is better. When you spend 12 months in this process you certainly do a lot of work, but you realize that this is not the end. Now we need to continue the processes that we’ve learned along the way and continue to develop.”

The group’s first of three collective meetings are set take place from Jan. 14-18 in Los Angeles. While each meeting phase of the course is designed to spark collaboration and discussion, the first meeting will specifically provide a program overview, course introduction and serve as a gathering between candidates and the U.S. Soccer coach educators. As one of the major components of the course meetings, guest speakers are brought in to share experiences and provide coaches with thought provoking material to incorporate into their individualized plans. The January meeting guest list includes U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bruce Arena, as well as the UEFA’s Head of Football Education Services, Frank Ludolph.

“It’s a honor to be a part of this program and to be able to exchange ideas with this group of coaches,” Arena said. “The Pro Course is something that all professional soccer coaches should aspire to achieve. The Pro Course is not only raising the standard, but also amplifying this notion of continued development. We should always be looking to better ourselves and our community of coaches.”

Los Angeles Guest Speakers:

  • Bruce Arena, U.S. MNT Coach
  • Jill Ellis, U.S. WNT Coach / Pro Course Candidate
  • Frank Ludolph, UEFA Head of Football Education Services
  • Gautum Mukunda, Harvard Business School
  • Daniel Coyle, Author of Talent Code
  • Thomas Schaaf, Manager (Hanover 96, Eintracht Frankfurt, Werder Bremen)
  • Mark Williams, Professor University of Utah

After the completion of the January meetings, the second phase of the Pro Course will take shape with individual club visits. During these engagements, U.S. Soccer coach educators work with candidates in their specific coaching environments. In part with the Pro Course’s content structure, each coach is evaluated and presented with a tailored program that is based on specific fundamentals, including management, leadership and coaching. At each site visit, the Coach Educators observe the candidate within their performance environment structured to lead up to a competition. While on site, instructors observe a variety of coaching variables including the coach’s relationship and interactions with players, staff, assistant coaches, and others involved in the team development process.

The U.S. Soccer coach educators for the 2017 Pro Course are Nico Romeijn, Wim van Zwam and Vanni Sartini. Romeijn’s previous experience includes head of education for the KNVB, UEFA Jira Panel and a UEFA Technical Instructor. Van Zwam’s past experience includes time as a professional coach in the Netherlands, instructor for the UEFA A Youth and UEFA Pro license, as well as youth national team coach for the KNVB. For Sartini, his pedigree in the coaching community was most recently cemented with the Italian FA as an educator. Before the Italian FA, Sartini served as an assistant in both the Serie A and Serie B.