Editor’s note: Recently, Eric Friedlander sat down with the Red Bulls new academy director Sean McCafferty. They discussws the state of the academy and what to expect going forward. This is part III of that interview.
Two of the most talked about topics among fans, and academy followers alike, are Homegrown Territories and Residency programs. For Sean McCafferty, the focus is on the present, and not putting the cart before the horse.
“I’m a big believer in never spending or wasting any time on something I don’t control,” said McCafferty.
Currently, the removal of homegrown territories is still a rumor, and McCafferty and the Red Bulls intend to treat it that way. The focus is still on local recruitment. However, with the creation of the homestay program, the club can now recruit deeper into New York City and Long Island than ever before.
That being said, they have shown they will bring in out of region talent, as Nicholas Nee and Jake Lacava joined the U-19’s recently from clubs in Texas and California respectively. As it stands, the Red Bulls scouting network is still local, so work will have to be done to expand it. However, the depth of talent in the region allows them to focus on other issues while waiting to see what happens with homegrown territories.
“You know, if the territories are going away, then we’d have to look at our scouting structure, our scouting network, our system, and as will everybody, and we’ll have to expand that I’m sure. But until that point, we’re focused on the players we have, and the improvements we need to make, whatever it may be. Again, we have a lot of work to do already. So better not be wasting any time on things that we can’t control.”
While the Red Bulls have no control over homegrown territories, they do control how they operate the academy. One of the questions MLS clubs are facing, is how to get the best returns from their academy. At the heart of that question is ‘do they create a residency program or not’? For the Red Bulls and McCafferty the answer is not right now.
“It’ll be easy to say we want to come in and do a residency program with 100 kids. It’s just not viable. It’s not needed right now in this area.”
While a full residency is not on the cards, the Red Bulls recently launched the homestay program. The homestay program doesn’t have the scale of a residency program, but allows the Red Bulls to bring players in from out of the region, or who are too far away to commute to training.
It also provides flexibility for top players to train with the USL team and have flexible school schedules. Currently the team have 2 players involved and the goal is to build on that foundation. While the growth may not be at the pace some desire, it is clear a plan in place that will move the Academy forward.