Building something worthwhile takes time and patience but perhaps most importantly, it requires continued learning and ensuing adjustments in order to develop. As Minnesota United’s Development Academy kicks off its second season of competition this weekend in Chicago, it carries with it the lessons learned from its inaugural campaign — lessons its leaders believe have laid the groundwork from which the program’s next steps forward will be taken.
Coaching academy soccer presents an interesting dynamic. On one hand, competitive sports will always be about wins and losses and as the next generation of Loons continues to advance through the system, the players will have to learn how to cope with that pressure. But there also exists a responsibility to develop the individuals, no matter the circumstance. To that end Academy Director Tim Carter evokes a familiar sports mantra: Trust the Process.
“As we go into this year, we are not about building the killer team,” Carter said. “That is not our goal. Our goal is to help players develop individually. What we have applied this year is more of a process and a curriculum to educate the players as opposed to just coming and coaching the team.”
“We are focused on the process,” he added. “We will have our ups and downs but, at the end, I would like to be able to say the process brought us forward.”
As it moves forward, MNUFC wants to carve out a singular club identity for its three academy sides — U13, U14 and, new for this season, U15. Academy Coach Andy Seidel spoke of building a system that creates an aura of sorts around the Minnesota United badge. He wants it to carry a heavy weight in opponents’ minds. When the Black and Blue walks onto the field, Seidel wants other teams to know exactly what is in store for them.
Minnesota wants to play the faster, execute better and exert more control over games. As you might expect, consistency can be an issue with pre-teen players, but MNUFC is looking to its 27 returners on the U14 and U15 teams and the more than a dozen Pre-DA alumni at U13 already indoctrinated in the club’s methods to lead the way in that regard.