Coaching Q&A: National Staff Instructor and MNT Scout Carlos Juarez
The U.S. Soccer Coaching Education Department presents a new series of articles to introduce coaches to its National Instructional Staff. Each month, the department will feature a Q&A with a member of the staff that will delve into his or her background and coaching experience.
We aim to share with coaches a small glimpse of our instructors' history, knowledge and expertise that they provide at U.S. Soccer educational events. The National Instructional Staff consists of top coaches from across the country, leading the sport in coaching education.
This month the series continues with National Instructor and Men’s National Team Scout Carlos Juarez. Juarez played soccer at Cal State University Los Angeles and went on to play professionally in Mexico’s second division before injuries forced him to retire. He quickly moved on to coaching at a young age and throughout his career has proven himself in all levels of the sport from college soccer to youth clubs and U.S. Youth National Teams. Today Juarez divides his time as a National Staff Instructor and as lead scout for the U.S. Men’s National Team, working closely with Jurgen Klinnsman. He is also Technical Director for the Clermont Stars Soccer Club where he resides in Rancho Cucamonga, California.
ussoccer.com: How did you first get involved in soccer?
Carlos Juarez: “I grew up watching my dad play soccer in the first division in Guatemala. I would go to his practices and games. That’s when I started liking the sport.”
ussoccer.com: What are a few of your most memorable soccer moments?
CJ: “The first time I got a full time job coaching college soccer was very important to me because that’s when I realized that I could make coaching my profession. Coaching at the college level gave me the opportunity to teach and coach. It expanded my ambitions of becoming a paid professional as a coach.
ussoccer.com: When did you first start coaching?
CJ: “My freshman year of college I went back to my alma mater high school and my former head coach Jose Lopez asked me to work with the junior varsity team. So I started coaching at a fairly young age.”
ussoccer.com: What is one thing you wish you knew when you were starting out?
CJ: “There is so much to learn about the game. I think all coaches need to continue trying to learn and grow throughout their careers. That’s one of the best things about coaching soccer; there is always more to learn.”
ussoccer.com: Who is a coach you look up to or admire and why?
CJ: “I’ve had a lot of good mentors during my career. My two college coaches Ralph Perez and Berhane Andeberhan were passionate about coaching and first encouraged me to look at it as a profession. Then as I moved on in coaching, Bob Gansler also inspired me because of his professionalism and knowledge of the game. There have been so many others that I respect and admire but I would say those three probably had the greatest influence on me.”
ussoccer.com: How did you first get involved with instructing?
CJ: “My college coaches Ralph Perez and Berhane Andeberhan recommended me to Bob Gansler when he was Director of Coaching back then. I used to come in and do the testing for courses on the weekends. The very first time I came in was in Thousand Oaks, California to help evaluate a “B” license. They kept calling me back, and it led to more opportunities, and then I got on staff and started teaching.”
ussoccer.com: What qualities does it take to be an instructor at the highest level of coaching education?
CJ: “You need to be able to teach the game. You need to be able to understand technique, you need to have a good understanding of what tactics are, and then you need to be able to teach them. Most soccer people can talk about the game. Most people can say that’s a good player or that’s a good team. But as an instructor, you need to be able to teach those things. You need to be able to understand the students, or candidates, and what it is they need to learn. Do they need to learn to teach or do they need to learn to analyze the game? You need to be able to teach and then you obviously have to have experience coaching and teaching at all levels. I had the fortune of coaching at the youth level, at the senior level, at the National Team level, at the professional level. I think I had an advantage because I have good experience teaching the game at all levels.”
ussoccer.com: What does it mean to you to be a U.S. Soccer instructor?
CJ: “It’s very rewarding and I feel it’s very important. Personally it keeps me sharp and it makes me a better coach. I also like to share what I know with other people and I’m glad that I have the opportunity to help others become better coaches. It means a lot to me. It’s one of the most important things I do as a coach.”
ussoccer.com: How did you first get started scouting for the U.S. MNT?
CJ: “I first met Jurgen Klinnsman about ten years ago. Then in 2011, I got a call from him to see if I would be interested in scouting a game. The first game I scouted was U.S. versus Costa Rica in a friendly at the National Training Center. It was a pleasant surprise to get that call. I was able to scout that game and I’ve been with him ever since.”
ussoccer.com: What has it been like working with U.S. MNT head coach Jurgen Klinnsman?
CJ: “It has definitely been a learning experience seeing how Jurgen looks at the game as an experienced person who has coached in the World Cup, has played in and won the World Cup and has played in the top leagues in the world. It is interesting to see how he looks at players, how he looks at teams, how he perceives opponents. He looks at the game from a very high level. He has a very critical eye for the game and he understands the newest and most modern tactics that are out there. Personally he has given me the opportunity to grow and learn.”
ussoccer.com: What qualities does it take to be a scout at the highest level of soccer?
CJ: “Being a scout requires a lot of experience in terms of analyzing games. You have to be able to scout how a team plays. You also need to have a lot of experience in evaluating and analyzing talent because you have to create individual reports for players on their abilities using the four components of soccer – technical, tactical, physical and mental. It requires an experienced eye in terms of watching hundreds if not thousands of games both live and on TV. You must be able to break down games, and with today’s technology do lots of video analysis and still put together the simplest possible report. It has to do with your experience as a coach, as a player, and your ability to observe games at the highest level.”
ussoccer.com: What are your responsibilities as lead scout for the U.S. MNT heading into the World Cup?
CJ: “My primary job is to scout the upcoming opponent. During the CONCACAF Hexagonal, I was always scouting the other team prior to our game. My responsibility is to analyze the opponent in terms of how they attack, how they defend, who the key players are, how they organize set plays. Then I put together a report that I present to the coaching staff and players. I basically provide information to the National Team so that we know what to expect from the upcoming opponent.”
CJ: “During CONCACAF Qualifying it was primarily me, but I had two or three other people who were helping. Juan Carlos Michia helped me the most. I would watch one game, he would watch another. I also had several staff coaches help me along the way from the instructional staff. Now moving forward there are four scouts. What we’ll do is have three of us scouting games and one putting together the report. There will be four of us scouting opponents at the World Cup.”
ussoccer.com: What will your responsibilities be during the World Cup?
CJ: “My job during the World Cup is to scout. We’re not really assigning specific teams to anybody; we’ll share the responsibilities of scouting all teams. Most of the work though is going to come before the World Cup. We’re trying to put together a database of players with the help of Dave Chesler. We want to make sure we have lots of information on the Ghana, Germany, and Portugal teams from our group. Most of this work will be done prior and then during the World Cup we’ll be scouting the opponents in our group as well as opponents in the possible next group which is the Belgium/Russia group. We’ll also be scouting teams that we could potentially meet in later rounds.”