The City of Brotherly Love lived up to its reputation as once again the brotherhood of coaches from every level and every walk of life came together to learn, connect, and reconnect with the many different personalities in attendance at the United Soccer Coaches Convention.
Those who are a part of the soccer world, but have not attended this event, are missing out on a massive opportunity to spend quality time in a first-class environment with people who they may only see sharing knowledge on many different platforms.
On a personal note, in addition to one of the most enjoyable aspects, covering the MLS SuperDraft, I shifted my personal focus from field sessions to focus a large amount of learning on the classroom lectures ranging from ‘Managing a Half Time Talk’ to ‘The High Performing Mind,’ looking at the psychological development side of the game.
Thursday evening started with the usual stroll around the exhibit hall which as usual had the old favorites along with the mix of new and fascinating products mainly focused around the influx of technology that is continuing to improve, develop, and progress the game. Following on from the exhibit hall was the opportunity to reacquaint with some former friends and colleagues at one of the many social events and gatherings. This led us into the highlight of the evening, the NPSL-hosted social event that provided the opportunity for U.S. Soccer Presidential candidate Eric Wynalda to share his thoughts on the current state of U.S. Soccer and his vision for the direction of the federation moving forward.
After a great opening evening at the NPSL event, Friday started with the MLS SuperDraft. This year was surrounded not only by the hype of the players being drafted, but with the changing landscape of MLS, mainly the addition of LAFC and the potential relocation of Columbus Crew SC.
Once again the draft did not disappoint and showcased a wide range of the top college soccer players with a mix of American talent intermingled with a number of top level international players led first and foremost by another feather in the cap of the University of Akron with freshman Joao Moutinho being drafted number one, following in the footsteps of Steve Zakuani in 2009.
Different to previous years upon completion of draft coverage I took a couple of hours walk around the convention center and center city to chat with people from various different levels of soccer, from MLS coaches to local high school coaches and everyone in between. One of the fascinating outcomes of this was the overall feeling that this year’s convention had taken a slightly different feel with a lot more interaction between speakers and attendees and a huge increase in interaction between attendees who had never met before.
After collecting all of my notes together it became apparent that this had become possible through the openness of the United Soccer Coaches Association to guide these discussions, the wide range of speakers selected, and the massive growth in social media interaction and podcast development.
As always the United Soccer Coaches organizing committee did a fantastic job of ensuring that the convention provided the right blend of sessions both on the field and in the classroom while also keeping the schedule conducive to building, developing or rekindling professional relationships with the many coaches past and present that become lifelong friends.
This year was especially enjoyable for myself as I had the opportunity to spend time with our program’s graduate assistants and a couple of former players I was fortunate to coach who have now made the decision to step into the coaching pathway. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the event to coaches of any levels and am already looking forward to next years event in Chicago.