Editor’s note: Recently, Eric Friedlander sat down with the Red Bulls new academy director Sean McCafferty to discuss the state of the academy and what to expect going forward. This is part I of that interview.
“Excitement, and then, you know, the mind starts going to what I can be. Because I know what it was, having been around it a bit. But I’m really looking forward to what we can be”
That was new academy director Sean McCafferty on a Friday afternoon at the Red Bull Training facility, about a month and half on the job. McCafferty, who spent 15 years on the east coast working in the Philadelphia area before moving to Barca Academy in Arizona, always had an eye to returning to the east coast. Red Bulls piqued McCafferty’s interest as an MLS club at the forefront of development, and a club he would have picked, if asked, 2 years ago. However, what was really attractive about the opportunity was the culture of the club.
“Everybody’s kind of all in here, and you know, I felt that right away, the immediate connection to the staff, and the vibe about the place. I think it’s not a coincidence why a lot of national teams and professional teams want to come here and train, simply because they get a really good vibe about the place. The facilities are phenomenal, and of course, as everybody knows, this is a hotbed for talent in the US. So what really excited me was the club, the culture, and also the excitement about what we can be. I think the future is going to be even brighter than it has been.”
While McCafferty was attracted to the Red Bulls opportunity, the hiring process wasn’t quick. After years of the position being in flux ,and a hire that lasted less than a year in David Longwell, the Red Bulls were in no rush. Contacted around late June/early July, the entire interview process took close to 6 weeks. The club wanted to do its due diligence and make sure they were getting the right guy. For McCafferty, the time was stressful, but ultimately he understood. Now that he has arrived, the focus is on evaluation and development.
“I think the first thing is to really get a lay of the land. Know every single player. You know? Both on the field, and off the field. Get their background. Really, can I have a genuine, relationship with all of them as well as the staff. My goal is to develop the staff, and with that comes the development of our players “
For McCafferty, the staff is the most important part of his vision, and he is relishing the opportunity to take a step back from the coaching role he held along side of his director position at Barca. Now he gets to manage looking at the big picture, rather than focusing on one age group. It allows him to insure that the standard of training is high, and as he said, “the most important minutes we have” are maximized. With a focus on developing his staff and being able to focus in on a specific team one week, and another the next, he can make the best evaluation of the players and the coaches.
McCafferty is not putting the cart before the horse, and his priorities are clear.