Thanks to Allstate and the #ProtectTheCup campaign, I had the opportunity to speak with former USMNT Goalkeeper Brad Friedel. The USMNT U-19 Coach discussed a wide variety of topics ranging from the grassroots movement to the FC Dallas players in Bruce Arena’s setup. Allstate is The Official Protector of the CONCACAF Gold Cup Trophy for the second time
Friedel partnered with Allstate with goalkeepers Tony Meola and Adolfo Rios in the #ProtectTheCup campaign to promote youth soccer in the United States.
“Allstate has been a long term supporter of soccer in the United States” said Friedel. “They have gone into some areas of the US and put in fields for kids in underprivileged areas and do clinics for them. It is very important that there are big companies that are out there to invest from the grassroots level all the way to the professionals.”
Friedel is currently the coach of the U-19’s Men’s US side, and has certainly benefited from the emphasis of the developmental academy pushed by MLS to provide programs to train prospective talents to make them professional ready.
“The work that has been put in by the developmental academy, also with some of the non-DA clubs, and with the scouting network that has been put in, they have done a tremendous amount of work to get the feelers out there and to expand the sport in the U.S. and it has been growing day by day,” said Friedel.
The former Blackburn stopper also noted that the difference from when he left for England and when he came back was night and day in terms of development.
The 46-year-old touched on FC Dallas’ role in the academy system and having players like Kellyn Acosta and Coy Craft both having featured for the U-20’s in the last couple of years.
“FC Dallas has an incredible youth program, they have many players that have gone through the national team programs,” stated Friedel. He hailed the technical training and the players being true professionals when they are in camp. He also put in his opinion on what the next step is to take the Developmental Academy the best it could be.
“Coaching education is something that all countries, not just the United States could improve on,” said Friedel. “The US has recently hired two individuals from Holland to get the coaching license set up which was needed. If you get the better coaching, then they will know what to do with the young players, along with setting up the competitive environments, which the Developmental Academy is doing.”
One player in particular that Friedel has been impressed with is the latest US international, Jesse Gonzalez.
“It was great to see Jesse Gonzalez commit his future to the United States,” said Friedel. “It was also great to see Bruce call him in, and it is up to Jesse to impress Bruce in these training sessions and how he will get to know his teammates in this kind of surrounding with the US national team and that was great to see.
Friedel has witnessed one of Dallas’ own firsthand in the youth ranks turn into a player fighting for a spot on the (pending qualification) Russia roster. Kellyn Acosta, the Plano-native has had a breakthrough year with Dallas and the United States.
“I know Kellyn very well, I worked for a while with the last Under-20 cycle,” stated Friedel. “He unfortunately got injured during the qualifying, but was an integral part of the Under 20 World Cup in New Zealand, and he is a very, very good player, and he has a great attitude on him. He can also play a lot of different positions, and that bodes well when you go into World Cups and you have limited roster spots and it’s important that you have a few players that can play more than just one position, and Kellyn is also very good to work with. You have a player that you can integrate into a team, and become very good within that group.”
Brad Friedel, Tony Meola and Adolfo Rios will be in Dallas tonight for the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal when United States play Costa Rica. The trio will be in Los Angeles for the second semi final matchup, and will wrap up their tour in the Bay Area for the final.