By Ryan Bailey
US Soccer A-licensed Coach Bryan Scales spent over a decade at the New England Revolution as Academy Director and Academy Coach. Under his leadership, seven Homegrown Players were signed to professional contracts, while over 80 players were provided paths to NCAA Division I scholarships. Scales is now coaching the U14 team in CLTFC’s burgeoning Academy Program.
Hi Bryan! What is it about Charlotte FC that made it the right fit for the latest chapter of your career?
In 2010, after spending almost 20 years as a college coach, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to become Academy Director with the New England Revolution, where I helped build the program, almost from scratch. One of the big lessons I learned from my time in New England was the importance of having good people involved in the development process. When Marc [Nicholls, Technical Director] and Dan [Lock, Academy Manager] reached out about what they were building here in Charlotte, and most importantly, what type of people were involved, it was something I was very interested in.
What does your day look like on match day?
Match day is the players’ “recital” after a very competitive week of training: it’s the players’ time to perform at their very best and express themselves. Depending on the age group, it’s really about getting them physically and mentally ready, giving them a little confidence, and letting them do their thing. I’ll stay in the background and support—reminding them of some brief ideas and concepts that might help their performances.
Outside of match days, what does a typical day look like for you?
Aside from getting acclimated to this great city? Normally, as you make our way through a long academy season, you tend to get into a regular routine of designing and evaluating training sessions and matches, exchanging ideas with the staff, and preparing for upcoming matches.
Once our first team gets up and running, I’d expect that we’ll be able to observe their sessions in the morning, before putting the final touches on the Academy sessions in the evening. Miguel [Angel Ramirez, Head Coach] and his staff have unique youth development backgrounds, which will be a valuable resource for our Academy staff and players.
You enjoyed plenty of success with the Revs in developing youth talent: what, in your opinion, is the ‘secret’ to getting the most athletic potential from a young player?
If I’ve learned anything it’s that there’s no secret formula to youth development. There are so many ways to approach it. You certainly need to have to have a plan and a “process,” but there’s not one recipe that bakes a cake. However, developing relationships with your players does matter and there is no substitute for having good people and mentors around young players, whom they can trust.
Educators and role models who know how to challenge them, how to inspire them, and how to move a player along on their development pathway are valuable. Like a parent, you are trying to develop autonomous young people, who can go on and be successful for the long haul.
What are your impressions of the U14 group so far? And what are your impressions of the CLTFC Academy setup?
The U14s are a fun group. Patrick Daka and all the staff involved in the CLTFC Discovery Program did a great job evaluating and getting many of these players ready for the MLS Next Academy level. They have talent, personality, and a real passion to play—which, as a coach, you always hope for.
We’ll see how they develop over the next 12 months as we try and get them ready for the jump to the U15 MLS Next pathway. With the Academy going from two to three age groups this season, we have a larger pool of players, which facilitates more opportunity, more competition, and really begins to fill out our development pyramid leading into the first and second teams. I’m obviously just the new guy here, but the growth and potential is cool to see.
Do you think there is something special about the youth talent in the Carolinas?
This region certainly has a strong history of producing athletes (and soccer players) who can succeed at the highest level. There is a real sporting and competitive culture across the Carolinas that brings out the best in these young athletes. The opportunity for Homegrown players to make a big impact for Charlotte FC is there.
Finally, how do you define success?
“Success” is having a steady pool of academy players who can impact our first team consistently, perform at a high level in MLS, and ultimately have the opportunity to compete for some of the very top clubs in the world.