City Report Roundtable Volume 4: Hackathon
By now you've all read the exciting news about John Hackworth being cast as the host of a new reality television program...err no, I'm sorry, got my wires crossed there for a minute. This is a soccer blog, yes? Yes. OK. Right. Not only is this a big hire, it's almost certainly a good sign that even more soccer-related positions are about to filled.
Keith Smith, Steve Rusnack, and Matt Baker go around the horn with some of their thoughts on the news and its implications for the club.
1. Putting aside Hack and his resume, what do you think about the position, role, and responsibilities? Is this "coach the coaches" approach inherently a good strategy? What are the major pros? Are there any cons?
KS: The Director of Coaching positions is crucial for what CITY SC is trying to do. In order for there to be consistency across all levels of the Academy, to the LDL (Lower Division League), to the first- team, someone needs to oversee the entire process or things can easily become fragmented. I think this position will keep everyone on the same page as much as possible and make it easier for players to transition to the next level. Having a position that is a coach to the coaches allows for continued learning and is a good model, especially as a model to the young players. It will help everyone to keep evolving within their skill sets. On top of that, it will help the coaches become more adept at the style of play CITY SC is playing. Always continue learning, always keep improving. If there is one pitfall to this approach it would be that it could have the tendency to lead to a cookie-cutter approach if implemented incorrectly. It's important for players, coaches, staff, front office, and anyone affiliated with the team to bring their own set of ideas and skills to the table. I think CITY SC is really emphasizing everyone bringing their own skills and creativity so I would imagine the individual in the Director of Coaching role with CITY SC will do the same; therefore, they seem to be implementing it in a way that gets the best from everyone.
SR: I believe that Hackworth's position is a suitable one for him, and one he will definitely excel in. To start, I was actually discussing this with Baker recently, it's my belief that this position is temporary for him. At some point, perhaps even as early as next year, I could see him having more of a direct role with the LL (Reserve/U23) team. He would be a great fit for the Head Coach position, given his experience in USL. That, or possibly an even bigger role as Assistant Coach for the 1st team in 2023.
MB: I think it's the perfect strategy, and absolutely necessary to realize Lutz's vision for the entire club from top to bottom. When you come in with a strategy and desired style of play especially, but also creating an entire structure from nothing, you have to have cohesiveness if you want to accomplish anything. The U14 squad will need to come in and be taught the exact philosophy that they will have as U17s in order to optimize their growth as players. We see it in sports all the time where players suffer because they change styles of play to fit a new manager or worse yet, the manager has to continually bring in different players because he needs those to fit his style of play as opposed to what his players were previously taught. It all might change as we eventually experience turnover, but in starting a club, you want to have everyone coaching a similar philosophy so the player's upward trajectory can be as seamless as possible. If our U17s and reserve squad are being taught he same style, it will make slotting some in the first team to help with fixture congestion that much easier.
A position focused on ensuring cohesiveness between coaches and identifying/signing players that align with the cohesive strategy is only positive, in my opinion.
2. Okay - get your bets in now - who becomes first team head coach?
KS: I could easily see John Hackworth becoming the first-team head coach, especially if they promote from within. It's possible he filled his current role right now just to get everyone started off in the right direction since CITY SC has said they are not looking for a head coach for the first-team until early next year. With that said, I think it will end up being Bob Bradley. His contract is expiring at the end of this season so this lines up perfectly for CITY SC to make him
the first head coach of the first-team in their history. He has had valuable experience building a team from the ground up with LAFC. What a job he did there too! They have been really good from day one, and have had some of the best players in the MLS. Who better to help build a team in America's first soccer capital? I don't think you could go wrong with either one of these two.
SR: I mentioned a few names in one of our earlier podcast episodes, but if we wanted to go with someone local, I could see Mike Sorber, who is currently Director of Soccer Operations for LAFC, as a great fit. Mike has been an Assistant Coach for various top level teams since his playing days ended in 2001, up until he took his current position in 2017. Pat Noonan could be another good one to fit, similar career to Sorber's. But beyond that, I can't guess. I can't wait to see who it ends up being
MB: Unless he gets scooped up by Real Salt Lake or more likely by FC Cincinnati, I'm going with Pat Noonan. If Noonan signs with one of those clubs before we sign our HC in early 2022, I'll go with the dark horse whose contract is up this year and someone who Hackworth has worked with previously... Bob Bradley.
3. The Coach Beard similarities have been well documented. As we look ahead to our first team squad, what's more important to have? A Roy Kent keeping your team organized and together or a Jaime Tartt banging in goals in a less than 'team-first' approach?
KS: It's definitely the Roy Kent type with keeping the team organized and together, but can't we have a hybrid of both? I think with our club a hybrid of leadership and overall skill is the way to go. What we don't want is the Jaime Tartt type just banging in goals without a team approach. It goes completely against their philosophy. I believe there is a middle ground here, and I hope CITY SC finds players that are a hybrid of the two approaches.
SR: I don't know, are we talking about a Season 1 Roy Kent and Jaime Tartt? Or Season 2? Because every team wants a Season 2 Jaime Tartt. Or can we trade both for a Dani Rojas? We need Dani Rojas, lol.
MB: I am 100% going with the Roy Kent approach. Keep the players in line, team focused, make the open pass and show respect. A Jamie Tartt style might be more fun here and there but I've seen the nonsense FCC has had to deal with in off the field drama. Having a Jamie Tartt would invite that, and FCC can keep their wooden spoon drama, no thanks.