A little under a month ago, U.S. Soccer announced its first class of recipients for the first-ever Pro license. Union Head Coach Jim Curtin was among the 13 graduates, joined by several other MLS and U.S. youth national team coaches.
The new license is regarded as the highest and most prestigious coaching license in the country. But what makes the course worthy of that designation?
For starters, it's modeled after the UEFA Pro license, which is the European equivalent of the U.S. Soccer Pro license. As Curtin described it, the course involves a year's worth of preparation, study and evaluation.
"It's a complete change to the structure," said Curtin when describing the course. "If you think back to when I got my A and B license, those are strenuous courses, but they’re only a week long, a seven-day course. This was a year long.
"We had a weeklong stint in Orlando, and then we had a site visit where they came to the Philadelphia Union and evaluated us for a week, building into a game. Then we had a meeting at the midway point, during the Copa America, there was a meeting in Chicago that was followed by another site visit where they saw a week of preparation where maybe we improved on some things after getting some feedback and going through the course. It then ended with a week in Chicago and the final presentation and final assessment. It was impressive the way the course was structured and the way it ran."
Following the extensive program, Curtin reflected on the honor that he felt to be part of the pioneering class of graduates as the first to earn the license. Along the way, he also remarked that it was invaluable to go through the program with other MLS coaches, who shared ideas to benefit the group as a whole.
"It was a really special thing to be a part of. You learn that each and every coach in the course goes through a lot of the similar challenges that I go through as a head coach. In a lot of ways, we’re going through a lot of the same things. We really learned and shared a lot with each other. I was amazed at how open it was and how everyone shared their experiences. We did a lot of reflection on how you can improve in things going forward as a coach."
The ultimate goal of the license program, of course, is to raise the bar for all professional coaches moving forward. Curtin believes that the license will continue to do that as the program takes shape in the years to come.
"I know every coach that I talked to that went through the course was very impressed. I know they’ll make adjustments; take our feedback and make it better moving forward. Incredible experience, an honor to be a part of the first one and I think it’s made me a much better coach for sure."