This is the next in a series of conversations with BUSC board members, staff, and coaches!
This time we talk with our MLS Next Director of Coaching Jerry Losson. Losson carries a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) “A” license, as well as an USSF Development Academy Director of Coaching license.
Losson has previously coached at the youth, high school, and collegiate level. He started as a coach at BUSC, until he oversaw the growth of first the Developmental Academy, and now the MLS Next program.
Never one to be afraid to offer his opinion, Losson answered questions not just about the BUSC MLS Next program, but soccer in the United States in general.
We hope you enjoy this candid conversation with Losson!
How long have you been with the club now?
Talk about the progression of Ballistic DA teams to where we stand now with the MLS Next program.
We’ve intentionally grown slowly into a full academy. Along the way we’ve focused on individual challenges, enjoyment, passion and development. This is our 2nd year with a U-19 team and the individual talent level this year is higher because a greater number of players are with us, that have experience at this level of competition, and are adept at playing our way.
What’s been the key to our continued growth at the top level?
We have an identifiable way of playing, a methodology for teaching, clear core values and a development philosophy. We have built a foundation and laid a roadmap to what we want the players to look like upon graduation/promotion.
How fierce is the recruitment process for MLS Next teams?
It’s fierce and competitive. It’s difficult because we are competing with funded professional academies and clubs with monetary resources to offer free and/or cheaper options. Although I’m striving to build trust amongst fellow MLS Next Director of Coaches (DOC’s) there’s still a prevalent “me first” attitude with some. I’m striving to build trust amongst local club DOC’s, it’s a tough decision for them to let their players go to pursue a greater challenge because development isn’t at the forefront, but keeping players is. Regardless of our exemplary history for developing and putting players in positions to improve, achieve their dreams of playing professionally domestically and abroad as well as at the Division 1 college level, prospective parents and their players chase wins.
Was the hiring of so many quality coaches needed for recruitment?
Absolutely. Teachers that are coaches are very important for player development. Mentors with the ability to involve their students and athletes in their own development is crucial. The ability to engage, provide guidance, stir passion but also enhance critical thinking to solve problems is monumental. Experienced coaches that have knowledge at the next level, lived the next level and have networks at those next levels is a great resource for our players.
What is the next step for our MLS Next teams?
Along with the help of a very supportive BUSC General Manager and Board-of-Directors, we strive to minimize costs to the families. Free would be ideal as there are kids with families staying away from this platform due to costs.
You’ve recently spent some time in Spain with some of our MLS Next players. What is the perception of youth soccer in the United States?
That we are arriving! Our players were paired in Valencia with players at Eture/Cracks FC that were in Valencia football academies, including Valencia CF and Levante UD. In Talavera they trialed for eight days with the Talavera CF U-19 Honors Division team. In both settings, they held their own while proving they were at the same level. At times they were challenged and at times they bossed play. Player athleticism and strength were clearly admired by the Talavera CF coaching staff. They also were impressed by the coachability of our trialists being immersed in a foreign culture and counseled in Spanish.
What is up with the United States not being able to qualify for the Olympics or the World Cup on the men’s side?
If you had the keys to U.S. Soccer, what would you do?
I’d create a huge talent Identification department and get scouts out on a regular basis to currently under represented areas, leagues, and competitions. I’d get Austin Daniels involved in an inner-city, nation-wide soccer in the streets, Chapter 1 school soccer program implementation because he’s shared with me that he has a passion for it, and it’s needed to grow our game and it’s a way to help people. I’d create a “Give them a ball and they will play” program. I’d definitely increase staff and resources in the U.S. Soccer international clearance department. I’d put a stop to the money grabbing, power mongering youth soccer landscape with a move towards unification throughout states, then regions and ultimately nation-wide.
Can the MLS be a strong enough league to groom American players for us to be successful on the international stage?
Although it’s still growing up, MLS is getting stronger. Yes, I think it has the potential to make a splash on the international stage.
Should be we develop an “American” style of play as opposed to trying to emulate a Europe or South American style?
I don’t think so. We need to be ourselves and not try to be something or someone that isn’t natural to our own DNA. We are too diverse geographically, climate wise, and culturally to emulate a small country with football history and an established culture. I think we can evolve into a power without this modeling. The national teams, successful runs, are examples of adapting to the abilities and strengths, along with identifying tendencies of the players selected. Having key player characteristics identified by those selecting these players is crucial and mandatory, to even begin to establish a way of playing. My perception is that this is being done now with the USMNT. This is something we do here at BUSC MLS Next. With the ability now for our players to be exposed to our national teams on a regular basis will help to formulate us a soccer nation. The notoriety and success abroad and domestically at the highest levels of play (Europa, Champions, Premier, La Liga, MLS, etc.) individually of our homegrown Americans is also helping to create who we are as a soccer nation. We are heading in the right direction.