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U-15 head coach Chris O'Neal kicks off yearlong educational program with French Football Federation

By, 09/10/19, 10:00AM CDT


Major League Soccer today announced the fourth iteration of its groundbreaking partnership with the French Football Federation (FFF) that will provide 20 experienced MLS youth academy coaches — including Sporting KC U-15 head coach Chris O'Neal — with world-class training through a yearlong youth development course resulting in participants earning their Elite Formation Coaching License (EFCL).

The initiative places participants through the same course and training demands the FFF mandates of its domestic coaches but customized for North America’s needs, accelerating Major League Soccer’s collective expertise in player development. The program incorporates features unique to each MLS market allowing coaches to better serve their respective club with learnings from this continuing coaching education course. Created in 2013, the partnership has already seen more than 60 coaches graduate through the program to earn an EFCL license.

Officials from MLS gathered in Paris in June to meet with French Football Federation President Noël Le Graët to officially renew the partnership and extend the pledge to offer mutually beneficial resources. The partnership with the FFF promotes an exchange of best practices and experiences in youth development. Program methods include on-field training sessions, classroom instruction and development of strategic academy growth through seminars with academy directors and coaches from the various international clubs and federations participating.

“Major League Soccer is committed to becoming a leader in the area of player development, and the continued partnership with the French Football Federation provides an important learning opportunity and world class education for our elite academy coaches,” said MLS Vice President & Technical Director, Youth Development Fred Lipka. “Since announcing the partnership six years ago, we have already seen its tremendous impact on our player development system, laying a strong foundation of expertise throughout our academies. We are incredibly excited to continue this process as these coaches continue to raise the standard of academies throughout the league.”

The EFCL program consists of three parts:

  • FFF course with a week of intensive field and classroom instruction at the Clairefontaine national training facility in France and an additional four weeks of domestic training in the United States and Canada
  • European Club Observations – One week of immersion at an international youth academy at one of the following clubs: Inter Milan (Italy), Benfica (Portugal), Anderlecht (Belgium), Espanyol de Barcelona (Spain), Olympique Lyonnais (France), AS Saint Etienne (France), FC Metz (France), RC Strasbourg (France), FC Lorient (France)
  • Integration of the Program with MLS Academy – Creation and/or modification of the Club’s youth curriculum and evaluation system for the development of players

The EFCL program begins in Clairefontaine for a week of training followed by a week of European club immersion where coaches will receive rigorous hands on instruction from club management on training styles from top to bottom of the academy.

Following several installments of coaching sessions in the United States and Canada during the following months, participants will return to Clairefontaine 12 months later for a final week of evaluation. In order to complete the EFCL program, each participating coach must secure a CSA or USSF A coaching license in advance of the final exam at the end of the 12-month period.  At the conclusion of the program, all passing participants will receive an Elite Formation Coaching License.

First Name Last Name Current Club Current Coaching Position
Steven Covino Atlanta United U14 Head Coach
Michael "Ross" Brady Chicago Fire U13 Head Coach
Joshua Neff FC Cincinnati U15 Head Coach & Performance Specialist
Erik Bushey Colorado Rapids U17 Head Coach
Kelvin Jones Columbus Crew SC U19 Head Coach
Matias Asorey FC Dallas U17 Head Coach
Gus Teren D.C. United U14 Head Coach & Academy Technical Director
Javier Cano Gallego D.C. United U19 Head Coach
Kenny Bundy Houston Dynamo U19 Head Coach
Victor Pastora Inter Miami CF U15 Head Coach
Nicolas Gagnon Montreal Impact U15 Head Coach
Samuel Castellanos New York Red Bulls U19 Head Coach
Rodrigo Marion New York City FC U17 Head Coach
Javier Carrillo Orlando City SC U17 Head Coach & Academy Director Assistant
Cody Worden Real Salt Lake U17 Head Coach
Daniel DeGeer San Jose Earthquakes U14 Head Coach & Director of Pre-Formation
Daniel Lock Seattle Sounders FC U15 Head Coach
Chris O'Neal Sporting Kansas City U15 Head Coach
Gianni Cimini Toronto FC U17 Head Coach
Scott Howey Vancouver Whitecaps FC U15 Head Coach