The City Report Roundtable Volume 1 – The BundeSTLiga!
By now you've probably already read about the exciting, and somewhat unexpected,
news on the City SC academy coaching staff. The big head liner is Lutz tapping his old
Bundesliga colleague, Andreas Schumacher, to lead the academy as its first head
coach. There's no two ways about it...it's exciting as hell to have *real* soccer news
breaking about our club. Below, Steve Rusnack, Andy Croley, Matt Zoellner, and Jordan
Durlester provide some thoughts and analysis on the hires:
1. Even though we're still ~2 years away from seeing our senior team take the
pitch, what does it mean to you to hear about these academy hires
happening now, in 2021?
SR: With the announcement on the academy hires, my first reaction was one of disbelief,
followed by amazement once it set in. I was shocked that the media didn't pounce on this, or
that a bigger deal wasn't made by the organization. I don't mean to criticize St Louis City
SC, especially since they have gotten so much right, but I feel like a bigger presentation was
warranted here. I understand that hiring Academy coaches isn't as big of a deal as hiring first
team coaches to many, but in this case it's laying our foundation, our future. These coaches are
not only our first hires, they are also a major piece of our puzzle. It's downright exciting!
AC: The Academy is where it all starts. While lots of Academy players may not ever make it in
MLS, those who do will be loved and adored by the fans! So, having a strong coaching core is
essential to the growth of these players. The staff have to buy into the entire system. Academy
play is not about wins...it's about grooming talent (and fans need to understand this).
MZ: I'm interested but not overly surprised since the Academy & MLS Next is starting quicker
than the MLS team.
JD: Success on the pitch is never an accident; it's always the result of strategic planning, talent
identification and grooming, and a coaching staff that instills their philosophy about how the
squad should be playing. These hires lay the base for what our club is going to be. Make no
mistake about it; this is a big deal.
2. With Lutz running the show, the evidence would suggest we're going to
have a lot of German nationals/Bundesliga vets shaping how the club is
run. What do you think that'll mean to how we play/how the club runs?
SR: Lutz's natural ties to Bundesliga will definitely lead to more German hires, and most likely
signings as our roster starts to develop in less than a couple years. I don't necessarily think that
we will be overrun by German nationals, but I think there will be enough included in the
organization to have a major influence. I do believe that this will lead to a more German style of
mentality and play. Of course a big factor in how that translates to the first team will depend on
who is hired as our head coach.
AC: Honestly, I'm not sure Lutz's influence will truly attract more than 1-2 German players. And
I expect them to be young and inexperienced. At the end of the day, the roster will contain
mostly players from North, Central, and South America. And that's not Lutz's fault...that's the
nature of the MLS.
MZ: I might be in the minority here, but I think we won't have many German players. Currently,
the MLS has 5 players from Germany. MLS teams are getting foreign players, but they are not
German. Lutz may have more influence over a coach that has a German background. So that
possibly may change. Will the MLS now become a draw for the German youths to come play
JD: I firmly believe these hires are a sign of things to come (in the best way possible). I have no
doubt that CKB and the ownership group were keenly aware of (a) the plethora of young
American soccer talent that has developed in Germany over the years and (b) the unrivaled
commitment to team development and coaching by the DFB, when they hired Lutz. With that in
mind, I expect our future head coach to have German ties, and our overall club stewardship to
mimic the German clubs.
3. What's important to you about an academy? Do you want to see a strong
pipeline of academy kids make their way to the first team? Or is more
important to use as a mechanism to grow and sell talent to other leagues?
SR: I believe our academy is a big foundation of the organization. When you look at the talented
players who have come through academies at clubs like NYRB, Dallas, and Philadelphia, just to
name a few, over the years, you can't help but look on that in admiration and hope that our
academy can produce the same. Obviously not everyone out of an academy goes pro, but quite
a good number of them do make it, and some excel to the point of playing overseas for big
clubs, in big leagues. I would imagine that within the first couple seasons of City's existence on
the pitch, we'll see a couple players turn out from our academy. And yes, sometimes you do
need to sell some of these guys to not only help the team financially, but to help the player grow
to their highest potential. I'm sure that we'll become familiar with academy players names
before too long, and that in itself can be just as exciting as who we sign directly to our first team.
Afterall, these will be our guys, grown from our soil, from our team
AC: The answer is BOTH. Developing first team talent is crucial. But there is also tremendous
value in using that talent as a attractive trading bait to lure in a top player from another
team. And let's be honest....the very special academy players may even get looks from
European leagues, which is a more flattering way to showcase that is happening in the
MZ: To be successful, I think you need both; Homegrown players to fill roster spots, and if they
also happen to be starters, even better. With only 3 DPs and limited international spots, a team
needs to hit on homegrown players.
Selling homegrowns would be more important to me, however, that's clearly more difficult. It's a
sure fire way to pump cash into the team, whether that is used for current roster, academy, or
Some current MLS teams are getting a nice influx of cash from selling. I will say, and only time
will tell, but there are examples of, say, Atlanta selling players at their top, but then really
struggling to replace players sold. ATL has not been the same, or even close to the same, for 2-
3 years. Then you have Dallas, arguably the best homegrown network, and so far it is paying no
dividends. They are struggling mightily. Philly is at the high end, but Dallas has over 8 kids who
might have a chance to leave.....Seattle is closing the gap.
JD: I really want to see MLS increase their sales abroad. Demonstrating a strong talent pipeline
does wonders for establishing credibility for the league - and thus trickles down to the individual
clubs. City also needs to develop its own unique culture, and what better place for that to start
than the academy. On-the-pitch style and tactics also should be consistent amongst all levels to
ease the burden of players moving up the latter.
By Jordan Durlester