Former US Men’s National Team captain, Thomas Dooley, is interested in coaching at Toronto FC. In my conversation with the former US/Bundesliga star and UEFA Cup champion, Dooley reveals his passion for coaching and what he would do as coach of Toronto FC.
Beatty: Why Toronto FC?
Dooley: Toronto is a soccer town and Canada is a soccer country. Its fans are knowledgeable and excited, much like the fans in Europe. Since coaching is a 24/7 job and I had been involved in two to three other projects, I didn’t want to sign up to a coaching job. Either I’m doing it right or not at all. Around one and half years ago I decided that I want to coach 24/7. When I became available, I was in positive discussions with Mo Johnston but had come too late and Preki was chosen as head coach of Toronto FC. Since then, I have also had meetings with DC United and things were moving positively, but in the end they chose to Ben Olsen as their head coach.
Beatty: Have you had any conversations with Klinsmann?
Dooley: I’ve contacted Toronto FC, but have not had any meetings with them yet or spoken to Klinsmann. I believe Klinsmann is helping them find their identity, structure, and playing style.
Beatty: What type of playing style would you have?
Dooley: You must play the style of game to fit the players you have. Three things are very important to play successful:
1. I would play an attacking style of soccer, though not at the expense of defense. The players need to understand the tactical part in any game. That is a key to play any style successfully.
2. Another very important part of playing successful soccer is fitness. You need to be fit for 90 minutes.
3. Passion, and play with heart. Players need to understand what does it mean to play for Toronto FC
Beatty: How would you improve the club?
Dooley: First, I would setup a good system of player development. Specifically, I would instill a soccer apprenticeship. At least five days of training per week for academy players would be mandatory. Our kids are missing thousands of hours on the soccer field and tens of thousands of hours on TV (theory) lessons.
Beatty: So would this be a residential academy?
Dooley: No, it is not necessary for kids to be in boarding school. Being able to see their friends and family at the end of the day offers some support and is does not necessarily need to be removed. Academy players (U-14, U-18) could alternate training and home/ online schooling or through cooperation with a local school to provide an education as well as a real soccer apprenticeship. For example, a U-16 team might train from 8am-10am M-F, while the U-18 team may be in class from 8am-10am. From 10am to noon, the U-16 team would be in class, while the U-18s trained. A break for lunch from noon to 2pm and then they begin the same process again from 2pm to 4pm and 4pm to 6pm. At 6pm, they are done and they get to go home. That is how it could look like.
Academy teams train three times a week. With the current level of training time, they really have time to only cover the basics and need more hours to also have time to train tactically. They must learn what each position means. If you look at players like Cherundolo, Friedel, Reyna myself, etc that have spent many years in Europe, we have feedback and high levels of training that many other players don’t get. With the proper training, a team can greatly improve its standing.
Beatty: What about first team players?
Dooley: You don’t need to have the best players to play successful or win championships. The best team wins championships. I have played 15 years of my 20 year soccer career in Germany. I went through all that. 1. With Kaiserslautern: we went from last place after more than half of the season to manage to stay in the league and win the German Cup. With almost the same team we won the Bundesliga Championship the next year. 2. With Schalke: from a goal to finish the season on 9th place we finished on 3rd, qualified for UEFA Cup and won it that fallowing year with almost the same team. That doesn’t happen through accident that is team building. I’m positive with that experience I can personally pass these things on to players. 3. As a coach at FC Saarbrücken, I had to deal with 34+ players. Many players who had come from big clubs like Bayern Munich, but were simply there to collect a paycheck. I had no assistant coach and was left without much support from the Club officials, but I fought every game for every point. I believe in giving 100% on the field for 90 minutes and leaving it all out on the field every time. With good training and work, one of my best players was Julian De Guzman and he went on to become a success in the Bundesliga and in France.
Beatty: Speaking of Julian De Guzman, can he be a big success for Toronto FC?
Dooley: Many players take some time to adjust to MLS, but players are also people. If a player is unhappy for any reason (playing in the wrong position, pressure as a highly paid player, problem with the coach etc.), it is difficult to play his best. You need to find the right tone for each player. Julian has a good soccer mind from his time in Europe and can and will be a great asset for Toronto FC and will be successful.
Beatty: Are there any particular players you have identified for Toronto FC?
Dooley: I have every touch of every player in every game for Toronto FC via Matchanalysis.com. [Matchanalysis.com is a game and player analysis service that has clients ranging from top teams throughout the world as well as news organizations such as the New York Times. In addition, Matchanalysis.com has signed agreements with 13 MLS teams individually and the league office in 2010 previously working with Seattle Sounders in 2009]. With these databases and tools, I already have a huge advantage on understanding all of the players on a team and whom I might want to incorporate if given the opportunity.
Beatty: Are there any particular people that you would like as an assistant coach?
Dooley: If a club would like to keep a current assistant coach for continuity purposes I would work with them, but if I had the opportunity I would bring in someone with whom I have written many books and also has a UEFA Pro-License as I do. [One of Dooley’s many other passionate investments into coaching and soccer is Dooley Soccer University, www.dooleysoccer.us, and my best guess would be that he is speaking of Christian Titz, http://www.dooleysoccer.us/index.php?page=christian-titz].
Beatty: What is unique about you?
Dooley: My goal is to have a great challenge, where I can show my knowledge and accomplishments in soccer. To achieve that, I aspire to a coaching job with clear goals, working with a great supportive organization and helping to build a team that plays successful soccer with a great team spirit.
We all know that you don’t need to have the best players to win a championship. It is the best team that plays successfully and wins trophies. I intend to build players who believe in themselves, play with confidence and develop a winning gene. For a number of years after finishing my playing career, I was not ready to focus 24/7 on a coaching job because of other commitments. Now, the time is right. After many year on the soccer fields all over the world (2 World Cup participations, 81 games for the US National Team, numerous Champions League and UEFA Cup games, 15 years of playing in the German Bundesliga and 4 seasons in MLS), I am now certain that it is time to continue, my so far very successful time in soccer.
Of course, there are differences in training between countries and different leagues. Not only in the quality, but also the mentality and culture play a big factor. I know that, I include that in the way I envision my training program and will act accordingly. I always had high expectations and accomplished all my goals.
As I mentioned before I am passionate about developing talent in MLS for the US and for Canada and I think if my training methods were implemented that in five years our current U-14 through U-18 teams would be significantly better than the players that have not benefited from a soccer apprenticeship. Under the right coaching methods, the current team would be instilled with a sense of 100% effort, soccer detailed information and tactics to become a great team regardless of the players. However, under the right coaching methods, each player would develop much better and faster. The MLS would benefit from those players and maybe players would not just sign up with average teams in the best leagues, they would sign with the best teams in those leagues.
What do you think? Excited to see more former USMNT players in the mix for coaching MLS or are you just wondering why it has taken so long for these players to work their way into coaching in MLS? What do you think about some of Dooley’s suggestions for development? As a Toronto FC, does Klinsmann and now Dooley give you hope for a better season for Toronto FC?