International Soccer Network

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ISN Stars of Coaching Presented by Korrio – December 2013

Photo Credit: Atlantic Soccer Factory

Matthew Driver is arguably one of America’s brightest soccer minds. He is regarded as an innovator with a creative spirit and a deep respect for the game and its traditions. Driver has devoted his life to the sport and has contributed to the careers of players from all walks of soccer life.  He has been involved in every capacity, from coaching to management to marketing and administration, in addition to serving as a well-known author, tactician, and presenter.

“I was told at a very young age that I would be more successful as a coach than I would be as professional player,” Driver recalled. “I showed great promise as a player and displayed great leadership, but I decided if I wanted to continue my lifelong love affair with the game and continue to make an impact, I would have to go into coaching. It was at that time that I began to immerse myself in learning from clubs, federations, methodologies, and coaches all over the world in order to help shape my coaching philosophy.”

Driver’s qualifications read like a world map thanks to licenses from Brazil, Scotland, and the U.S.  Each of the experiences have shaped him as a coach, allowing the different philosophies to shape his own style for playing and coaching.

The Glasgow, Scotland native has literally gotten it done at every level from MLS to USL to NPSL to WPSL and everything in between.  He is best known for his time as the First Assistant Coach with the New England Revolution, leading the MLS side to an Eastern Conference Championship in 2002 and another strong postseason run in 2003.  His time there was truly a “golden era” for the club.

Driver also managed and coached the South Jersey Barons (USL), AC Diablos (NPSL and WPSL), Philadelphia Independence (WPS), Philadelphia Fever (WPSL Elite), Philadelphia Fury (NAL), and AC Crusaders (NPSL).

Photo Credit: Atlantic Soccer Factory

The Independence and Fever represented the highest level of the women’s game at the time, providing yet another opportunity for him to succeed in the spotlight.

Driver, who helped made headlines with the Revolution, is back in the news as of late. He is launching a new league, American Professional Soccer, built on the hopes of improving player development in North America.

“The league was suggested to me by several colleagues to share my sustainable business model and philosophy so that others can create the same opportunities for American players within their own markets,” declared Driver.  ”My vision is to create first-tier professional opportunities for homegrown American talent to provide them the competition they need. They need that competition to showcase their talent for greater opportunities either at home or abroad.”

Driver has learned (and taught) a lot about both sustainability and player development over his 20-year career.  These are two priorities for APS moving forward.

His experience in the private sector has helped him develop solid models and brands, ensuring his success in a number of soccer franchises and now a new league.  Dollar signs and attendance numbers are great, but Driver knows that the players are what the game is all about.

Finding the keys to developing players is needed for American to take a giant leap, or rather step forward.

“A player has to have the desire, drive, ambition as well as the technical, tactical, and physical attributes,” Driver added. “But in n my opinion, the most important thing is professionalism. Having a true grasp of what it takes to get to the next level and having the commitment of going about your business on a daily basis in a professional manner clearly defines a mental toughness. And having an understanding of what type of player you are and being the best of what you do.”

But the players need a world-class system and there is certainly a need for improvement in certain areas.

Photo Credit: Atlantic Soccer Factory

“In a country of 300 million residents and 5 million soccer players there’s only about 1,200 true academy players between the U-14, U-16, and U-18 age groups,” Driver concluded. “We need to create other types of academy programs to create more opportunities for more players to come into the system. Increasing the numbers of players at the higher-level coupled with experienced ex-professional players/coaches we should be able to replicate the same type of competition and learning environment for those players to develop. No one has the exclusive recipe for the development of professional players and we have many chefs in a large kitchen.”

You can see why a lot of people have taken notice of his ideas.  The renowned Canadian Soccer League (CSL) is amongst them.  APS and CSL came to a historic agreement just weeks ago, ushering in a period of strategic development for teams on both sides of the border.  Male and female players of all ages, from youth to pro, will be the true benefactors of this one-of-a-kind arrangement.  The agreement is far-reaching and looks to be a difference maker  in the North American soccer landscape over the long-term.

It would be hard (ok, nearly impossible) to find a professional with Driver’s diverse experience, especially when you factor in several years of high level work in the gaming industry.  It’s very clear that any player would be privileged to call him “Coach” and any organization fortunate to have him involved with their teams.

Matthew Driver is truly an inspiration for all those that love the beautiful game.

Korrio understands it is your passion for coaching kids that drives you. We also know that the less time you spend dealing with administrative, communication and automation hassles, and the more time you spend on the field, the happier you’ll be. And because you play a crucial role in our children’s lives, we want you spending as much time as possible coaching our kids. Korrio offers a modern approach to coaching by allowing new ways to communicate and develop a community on and off the field. Congratulations to the ISN Star of Coaching this month.

APS and CSL Agree to a Working Relationship

American Professional Soccer (APS) has reached an agreement to forge a working relationship with the Canadian Soccer League (CSL). The historic agreement provides many opportunities for growth and development on both sides of the border, allowing the beautiful game to prosper in a suitable environment.

The desire to launch APS was driven by the fact that the U.S. needs to develop a deeper professional soccer system to accommodate the increasing number of young, talented players. The lack of an adequate professional soccer structure relative to the number of players throughout the U.S. was expressed by FIFA president Sepp Blatter in 2011. Blatter made similar comments when visiting Canada in 2001. This working relationship solves this dilemma, providing additional opportunities for players to develop in a professional environment en route to higher leagues in North America and beyond.

Agreement was reached at a meeting in Toronto for the CSL and APS to strike a close working relationship in the areas of competition and business.

“We can derive considerable benefit by working closely with APS, a new league which has aspirations and a vision for soccer on this continent similar to that of our league,” said CSL chairman Vincent Ursini in making the announcement.

Matthew Driver, APS Chief Executive Officer and Michael Wheeler, legal counsel for APS, attended the Toronto meeting, which included owners of CSL teams. Talks were wide-ranging and covered the extent to which both leagues can enter into an arrangement for games to be played both sides of the border. A cross-border women’s semi-professional league and youth academy competitions will also be explored. Marketing ideas, with an emphasis placed on member teams being profitable, were also discussed.

“We look forward to working with the Canadian Soccer League to develop synergies that will help both of our leagues to improve performance on and off the field,” said Driver.  The Glasgow, Scotland native has a decorated coaching career, one that includes time as the First Assistant Coach at the New England Revolution (MLS) and Technical Director for the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). Driver also touts years of experience in corporate business, sports marketing, and sports team ownership and management.

Driver credits World Soccer Management owner John Horvath with initiating the meetings and helping bring this agreement to fruition.

APS plans to kickoff late in 2014 with teams in the Northeastern United States. The league has carefully planned for strategic growth in other parts of the U.S. in 2015 and beyond, creating a national footprint for player development and sustainability. The league recently accepted its ninth team with plans to cap the number of teams at 12 for the 2014 season.

The CSL, Canada’s professional soccer league, is a direct member of the Canada Soccer Association. The 2013 season saw the CSL operating a First Division of 12 teams and a Second Division of 9 reserve teams. The First Division in 2013 consists of Astros Vasas FC, Brampton City Utd., Burlington SC, Kingston FC, London City, Niagara United, SC Waterloo, Serbian White Eagles, St. Catharines Roma Wolves, Toronto Croatia, Windsor Stars, and York Region Shooters. Reserve teams in the CSL Second Division include Brampton City Utd B, Kingston FC B, London City B, Niagara United B, SC Waterloo B, Serbian White Eagles B, St. Catharines Roma Wolves B, Toronto Croatia B and York Region Shooters B. The CSL season runs from the beginning of May until the end of October.