The 2018 calendar year began with a bit of bad news for the Philadelphia Union organization. January 2nd, Penn State announced Jeff Cook as their new men’s soccer coach. The Union were now without goalkeeper coach Oka Nikolov, first team assistant coach Mike Sorber, and their reliable U19 coach, Cook, for Philadelphia’s Academy. Since, Philadelphia added a new goalkeeper coach in Tim Hanley and a fresh assistant in Pat Noonan. But until this afternoon, the U19 coaching spot for the 2018 campaign remained vacant.
Kevin Coleman steps up
In steps Kevin Coleman, the former U14 Academy coach with a USSF A License. Coleman joined the organization in 2013 as a coach within the Union Juniors (6-10 years old) program. Two years later, Coleman accepted a promotion to begin coaching within the Union Academy, the next step up from Union Juniors. As the U19 Academy coach, Coleman’s impact will prove to be much more profound on the organization as a whole. The U19 coach works closely with Bethlehem Steel FC’s technical staff to help identify and develop young talent for the USL ranks. So why Coleman exactly?
Other than Coleman’s exceptional history within the organization as an effective coach and teacher of the game, continuity and culture remain the top two pillars for the Union’s Academy.
“As a club, culture is critical, and a key part of that is looking inside first not only for players but for staff,” said Tommy Wilson, Philadelphia Union Academy Director. “We have created a tangible pathway for our coaches, as proven by Jim Curtin’s, Brendan Burke’s, and B.J. Callaghan’s progression from working at the Academy level,” said Wilson.
And that same pathway is the road former Union players are navigating as they transition to life outside the white pitch lines.
Fred! Fred! Fred!
Fred played for the Union from 2014-2015 and then with Bethlehem in 2016. He began his player to coach transition on the field in 2016 when he served as Player-Coach for an often teenage-filled Steel FC roster. Later that year, Fred moved to nearby Wilmington, Delaware and joined the Union organization as a Union Juniors coach. From there, Fred demonstrated his knowledge and followed the pathway st forth for young in-house coaches. As a result of his efforts, he was rewarded the U12 head coaching job at the beginning of 2017 and this afternoon was announced as the new U14 coach in Coleman’s place.
A World Cup winning Union coach
Remember Jose Kleberson? How could you forget? The former Manchester United player and World Cup champion who signed with Philadelphia in 2013? Well he joined the organization in 2017 as both a Union Juniors coach and the U12 coach with Fred. This afternoon Kleberson became the official U12 head coach. He will have the squad to himself.
But perhaps equally as important, the Union filled a major hole within the scouting department.
The Director of Talent Identification position has remained vacant since Pete Pososki moved back home for family matters. Jon Scheer replaces Posoki. Scheer comes to the new role as from the University of Delaware where he was the Assistant coach of the men’s soccer team. Scheer has been involved with Philadelphia Union Youth programs including Union Juniors since 2012, and has additionally served as a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) National Scout.
What a time to be a teenager playing your way through the Union’s academy ranks. Along the way they will learn from two soccer greats, Fred and Kleberson. Sign me up.
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Peace out Union fans!