Eleven Coaches From Across Professional Soccer Landscape Complete 2023 U.S. Soccer Pro License Course

Last Year Marked Eighth Year of Pro Course, the Highest License Recognized in the United States

CHICAGO (Jan. 19, 2024) – Eleven coaches who work across Major League Soccer, the National Women’s Soccer League, United Soccer League Championship and MLS Next Pro completed the U.S. Soccer Pro Course in 2023. The year-long journey saw the coaches become the eighth class to complete the Pro Course, the highest soccer license recognized in the United States and a pinnacle of the U.S. Soccer Coaching Education pathway that begins at the grassroots level.

As part of U.S. Soccer’s mission to foster the best playing environments, the Pro Course is designed for coaches to further develop the skills and competencies necessary to work as a professional coach in a professional environment. Based on their individual needs, each student coach went through a tailored program designed to bolster their efforts to create a winning culture/team, develop a style of play, implement sport science initiatives at their clubs, reflect on their growth as a coach and serve as leaders in their organizations.

"Embarking on the Pro coaching course is a journey that transforms passion into expertise,” said U.S. Soccer Director of Coaching Didier Chambaron. “It's not just a certification; it's a commitment to mastering the art and science of coaching at the highest level, and a testament to the dedication of coaches who strive for excellence, pushing boundaries to elevate the standards of soccer coaching across the US.”


  • Medhi Ballouchy (Assistant Coach, New York City FC – MLS)
  • Ricardo Clark (Head Coach, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 – MLSNP)
  • Freya Coombe (Assistant Coach, KC Current – NWSL)
  • Juan Guerra (Assistant Coach, Houston Dynamo – MLS)
  • Sarah Lowdon (Assistant Coach, Portland Thorns – NWSL)
  • Shannon Murray (Head Coach, Portland Timbers 2 – MLSNP)
  • Sean Nahas (Head Coach, NC Courage – NWSL)
  • Clint Peay (Assistant Coach, New England Revolution – MLS)
  • Ben Pirmann (Head Coach, Charleston Battery – USL-C)
  • Phillip Poole (Assistant Coach, U.S. Women’s National Team)
  • Natalia Astrain* (Former Head Coach, U-17 Women’s Youth National Team)

*Completed course after beginning with the 2022 class

From December 2022 to December 2023, student coaches gathered for three in-person course meetings with development periods in between, plus several webinars. During those development periods, U.S. Soccer coach educators visited the home club environments of course students to observe how they applied the program’s theoretical components while they coached games, led training sessions and analyzed player and team performances.

The Pro course combines theoretical and practical components to help coaches reach their full potential. The 12-month learning experience featured in-person instruction, visits by coach educators students’ home club environments, expert guest speakers, webinars, course assignments, group projects, and a final summative assessment.

Guest presenters for the 2023 Pro License included B.J. Callaghan (Assistant Coach, USMNT), Matt Crocker (U.S. Soccer Sporting Director), Aron Hyde (Head of Goalkeeping, Charlotte FC), Lars Knudsen (Technical Coach, Leicester City), Chris Little (Assistant Coach, Colorado Rapids), Joe Mazzulla (Head Coach, Boston Celtics), Roberto Martinez (Head Coach, Portugal), Jon McGraw (Co-Founder, Vision Pursue), Francisco Neto (Head Coach, Portugal Women’s National Team), Veljko Paunovic (Former Head Coach, CD Guadalajara), Mikey Varas (Assistant Coach, USMNT), Nico Estevez (FC Dallas) and Jason Williford (Leadership Consultant at Culture Index).

Offered since 2016, the U.S. Soccer Pro Course serves as a culmination of the U.S. Soccer Coaching Education pathway that begins at the grassroots level. U.S. Soccer stands as the only domestic organization allowed to license coaches under FIFA standards. The Pro Course seeks to raise the minimum standard for an individual seeking to become a coach in professional leagues across the United States. Click here to view a list of previous Pro Course graduates.

For details on other U.S. Soccer Coaching Education courses, please visit the U.S. Soccer Learning Center and review the information under “Available Courses” or check out our FAQ page.

About the U.S. Soccer Federation

Founded in 1913, U.S. Soccer has been the official governing body of the sport in the United States for more than 100 years. As U.S. Soccer looks toward the future amid an unprecedented moment of opportunity, we’ve aligned our efforts around five strategic pillars: Grow the game by increasing youth and adult participation and accessibility to the sport; Foster the best playing environments through quality of referees and coaches, increase DEIB and participant safety; Develop winning teams through solidified pathways and success of professional leagues; Grow the soccer economy to fuel reinvestment by increasing membership, fandom and commercial success; and Create a world-class organization through revitalized structure and culture, best-in-class talent, progress in DEIB, and more. For more information, visit ussoccer.com/ourvision.