Former U.S. international Greg Vanney earned 37 caps for the U.S. Men’s National Team. Recently retired, Vanney earned a U.S. Soccer “A” Coaching License and will join Rene Miramontes in leading coaches on a week-long educational trip to Madrid, Spain. Vanney spoke with CoachesNet ahead of the international workshop to discuss the coaching education experience provided by the trip.
CoachesNet: You retired from playing professional soccer in 2008 and recently earned a U.S. Soccer “A” license. What are you currently working on?
Greg Vanney: “As of January, I accepted the position of Director of Soccer Operations for Grande Sports World, a brand new soccer resort and campus in Casa Grande, Ariz. February was a fantastic month with three MLS teams and one D-2 team taking up residence for preseason training. In addition, I have also accepted the position of Real Salt Lake Arizona youth academy director. I’m very excited about both opportunities as they unite world class facilities with player development. Lastly, I have been working with members of U.S. Soccer on a technical development program to host at all of the upcoming Development Academy showcase events this summer.”
CN: Is there anything in particular you are looking forward to watching or learning more about during your time in Spain?
GV: “I’m looking forward to everything about this trip, but if I were to select one thing in particular it would be the youth academy sessions and discussions. Throughout my career as a player, I have always had a great interest in the coaching/player development side of the game. I have spent a lot of time writing and developing my beliefs and philosophies based on my experiences (domestic and abroad), relationships and research. This trip to Spain is another amazing opportunity to gain information on how some of the top European clubs approach this topic within their individual systems.”
CN: How do you feel educational workshops like these help coaches develop?
GV: “These workshops are amazing opportunities for coaches to be exposed to new or different methods of coaching used in some of the top soccer nations around the world. Hopefully, these workshops get all of us coaches really thinking about what we place as most important with our kids day in and day out to make them better players.”
CN: Can you give an example?
GV: “Our culture in the United States places such a high premium on winning that we as coaches/club directors get caught up in results as a measurement of success. I understand all of the influences that lead us to that kind of thinking, but the end result is that we generally do not spend enough time emphasizing the necessary details of individual player development at the appropriate ages and instead focus on team development which can provide more immediate gratification. This is a huge problem within our youngest age groups, but I see people around the country working to correct it. My hope is that more and more coaching leaders will have experiences through the workshops that they will use to educate parents and young coaches to help change this mentality.”
CN: What is your impression on the type of soccer Spain plays?
GV: “In my opinion, Spanish soccer is the best in the world at this time. Their combination of technical ability, mobility and organization is a pleasure to watch. They have the ability to control and dictate matches through their possession and attacking play. This is a luxury that very few teams in the world possess. Additionally, their stable of players is second to none, which is a tribute to their current system of player development. Going into this summer’s FIFA World Cup, it’s tough to argue against them as one of the favorites to win the tournament.”
CN: You earned 37 caps playing for the U.S. Men’s National Team. Can you share a few memories or memorable moments?
GV: “There are so many memorable moments over the years. Being a part of the national team program is an amazing opportunity both personally and professionally. There is no feeling like putting on the U.S. jersey and walking out onto the stadium field to represent your country. The incredible high and sense of responsibility to perform never goes away, no matter how many times you do it. I was fortunate to be a part of three World Cup qualifying cycles (1998, 2002, 2006) and a Gold Cup Championship team (2005). The unfortunate memory for me was getting injured in a World Cup warm up match vs. Jamaica a few days prior to the team’s departure to Korea (2002), but watching the team perform made me proud to be a part of it all.”