With the completion of the World Cup, player development has become the topic of conversation within the community. So I went to the fellow I know best, who trained my nephews and was instrumental in helping me set my focus on “serving soccer junkies” since I began this effort in 2005, to discuss the topic.
Jeremy was named General Manager of the St Louis FC USL Pro team on May 1st. Since then he’s been very visible in the community as well as spending his time crisscrossing the country scouting players for the March 2015 opening.
There are only two Clubs in the country, the Richmond Kickers and now SLSG, who have a USL Pro team at the top of their development pyramid. US Soccer has recognized the need for a Pro Development pathway as a significant factor with a special category for Best Overall Club in their Annual Development Academy Awards:
For the overall awards, the Philadelphia Union was named the Best Overall Club in the East Conference. FC Dallas earned the same distinction in the Central and the award went to the LA Galaxy in the West. To be considered for this award, a club must have a U-12 through Pro Development pathway.
Jeremy has paid his dues in reaching this point in his career. We cover his time with the Chicago Magic where he worked with USMNT Goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who was a defender at the time, as well as Ned Grabavoy and Chris Schuler who are now in Major League Soccer. He returned to Springfield SC where he captured two Missouri State Cup titles with the 90-91 age group in 2007 and 2008, the first titles won in Missouri by a non-Metro (STL and KC) Club. The first win, as U16’s, came against a Scott McDoniel coached St Louis SC squad.
He joined Dale Schilly at Metro United in 2009, shortly before the merger, becoming the SLSG Illinois Director of Coaching and U18 Academy Head Coach. Prior to his Club experience, he worked as an assistant at both Missouri State in the late 90’s where he worked with Matt Pickens, and he assisted Kevin Kalish at SIUE for two years on his arrival here in Collinsville.
The decision to purchase a franchise and establish St Louis FC, with a cost of over $1M in cash, time and investment is a significant one for any club. I had questions about whether it is the best use of the money given alternatives for investment in other areas.
Jeremy addresses the topic in-depth, noting how the opportunity presented itself and the decision-making process internally that led to moving forward. We discuss the relationship between Major League Soccer and USL Pro and it’s impact so far, with Tommy Meyer (SLUH/Indiana) as a specific discussion point. Jeremy also emphasizes the opportunity it offers young men from 17-23 that want to continue their development outside of college soccer, holding Jay DeMerit up an example of a player who had to create his own model to reach the professional ranks and the US Men’s National team.
Alumbaugh emphasizes the opportunity it offers every player in the region to discover what a professional training environment is really like. By being nearby, it will mean more players will be exposed and will be better able to assess their desire to reach the next level. He also addresses the “Pay to Play” conundrum.
With funding being such a significant topic, we covered several bases. Alumbaugh mentioned Dan Flynn’s comments at the Is the US Becoming a Soccer Country panel held in early May. Flynn, a SLUH alum, is the Secretary General (GM) of US Soccer. He brought up funding coaches at middle school ages as critical and Jeremy talks about the steps he is taking in that area.
That led to the topic of how overseas clubs earn cash by being a net provider of talent to larger clubs. For Everton, their world class training facility was funded after Wayne Rooney was sold to Manchester United. Jeremy believes that this possibility is very real in the US. I offer a link to an in-depth story on the topic as it relates to Jozy Altidore below the audio interview link. Check it out if you are inclined.
Wrapping things up, just a note that We’ll be able to see the MLS Homegrown All-Stars on Monday August 4th as part of the All-Star Game week events.
Let me know what you think in the comments or send me a tweet at @SoccerSTl
This article aims to educate US youth soccer clubs on the FIFA training and solidarity payments, highlight the structural, cultural and legal obstacles in US youth soccer, and lists the high-profile example of training compensation and solidarity payments that could have been due to US youth clubs that trained Jozy Altidore.