MLS Home Grown Talent: What, Where, Why, How

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Home Grown Talent

Why the New York Red Bulls do it Better than Anyone in the United States

The New York Red Bulls just signed another young man to their first team, adding another “home grown player” playing or practicing with their first team.  With more home grown players on the 1st Team roster than any other MLS team in the league, you’d think that the Red Bulls had a huge machine that pushed raw ability through, outputting a region full of talent, then just skimming the cream from the top… and you’d almost be right.

The NYRBs actually take a very community oriented approach to player development, where they have nearly 200 ACTIVE youth coaches/scouts spread out over hundreds of miles, covering New Jersey, New York and parts of Pennsylvania.  These coaches work at the most basic level, in their “grass-roots” program, working with local kids to build brand awareness and interest in the professional game.

Now, these aren’t marketers or “brand ambassadors” DISGUISED as coaches.  These are legitimate, certified, educated, PROFESSIONAL youth soccer coaches, working full and part-time, to teach and inspire young players.  Many are even OVER-qualified to coach at this level.  Even more than their own individual qualifications, they’ve gone through an intensive orientation and receive continuous education in the RBNY Player Development System, to teach them how to teach the game to players, identify worthy talent for the RBNY Academy, and build passion for the game of soccer &, subsequently, the New York Red Bulls.

Now, you may think that you know what this is really about: Selling tickets, right?  Well… sure.  It’s ALWAYS about selling tickets.  After all, without ticket sales (revenue), there is no “professional” in professional soccer.  However, the Red Bulls take the art of selling tickets to a level that only Red Bull can achieve.

FANTASY vs REALITY

New York Red Bulls worst seats in the stadium

This is the view from literally the worst seats in Red Bull Arena. You can still see every inch of every line of the field.

With their new stadium an hour drive from the New York metropolitan area, the New York Red Bulls are exactly what you’d expect from a New York area professional athletic team – TOP LEVEL.  Their facilities are the best in Major League soccer and there is – LEGITIMATELY – not a bad seat in the stadium.

However, when you leave the polish and professionalism of the Red Bulls and go to the community level – where the talent is discovered – it’s like comparing a Helzberg Diamond store to a Sierre Lione diamond mine.

Sierre Lione diamond mine

Sierre Lione diamond mine

Rock Hard Development

If you’ve ever been to New York in the winter, it’s easy to understand why the pilgrims had such a hard time surviving:  It’s cold, rocky and windy – until the 2 weeks of summer blow in:  Then you’re just standing on a hot rock.

As you can imagine, it’s probably pretty hard to raise soccer players on this land.  The spring in New York is pretty wet, and when it rains, the fields are quickly washed out.  Grass doesn’t grow without a fight, and when the soil is eroded, all that’s left is rock and packed soil.

Playing soccer in the New York environment is a challenge.

Westchester New York soccer field

A Westchester New York soccer field

RBNY Youth Development embraces the challenge and literally coaches teams wherever there is an open lot.

Why America Doesn’t Have MORE Home Grown Talent

A lot of talent gets lost in the American youth soccer system, due to bad coaching, bad parenting, a failure to recognize potential, injury and even death.  The biggest tragedy in our system though is that most youth soccer coaches are too busy trying to win trophies for themselves, to identify and REFER talent to a pro club, who can make a deserving young athlete’s dreams come true.

The Red Bulls system DIRECTLY identifies this problem, and destroys it, by making the #1 priority of all of it’s coaches to DEVELOP SOCCER PLAYERS.  That means that if your child plays on a team with Red Bulls trainer – ANY TEAM – they will get as close to equal playing time as any other player on the team.  On top of that, the trainers follow a clear Approach to Development that any parent can get behind.

As you already know, the best development tool for any player is playing the game in a positive environment.  Apparently, nobody does it better than the New York Red Bulls.

MORE INFO ON RED BULLS YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
If you live in New Jersey, New York, Eastern Pennsylvania or Southern Connecticut and are interested in the New York Red Bulls Development Academy, get more information here: http://www.redbullsacademy.com/training/about-our-program/

Want the DIRT on Red Bull soccer?

Read this article from Vice – https://sports.vice.com/en_us/article/for-the-value-and-image-of-our-brand-red-bulls-audacious-german-soccer-plot

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About Author

Mike Slatton is a 2nd generation American youth soccer coach since 1984, and the son of one of the nation's first female licensed youth soccer coaches (Anita Slatton, 1979). He's also a professional soccer scout, a player since 1977, and the father of three adult and teenage children who all play or have played the game. "My job as a youth soccer coach is to develop detail oriented problem solvers who can react quickly under pressure. This relates to life - not just soccer."

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