Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Te Kloese & Tigres high on U.S. talent
Dennis Te Kloese joined Tigres two years ago from Chivas USA, where he set up the MLS club’s youth program after the franchise launched in 2005. He had previously worked at Chivas Guadalajara.
Among Mexican clubs scouring the USA for Mexican-American talent, none is more ambitious than Tigres UANL, the Monterrey club has 16 U.S. products in its youth program. Tigres’ Director of Youth Development, Te Kloese explains to Mike Woitalla of Soccer America why his club believes in talent from the north and how its program benefits U.S. soccer.
SOCCER AMERICA: Why does Tigres have so many players from the USA?
DENNIS TE KLOESE: When I worked in the U.S., I saw there’s an incredible talent pool in the U.S. Working for Tigres, I’m trying to take advantage of the knowledge and contacts that I have in the U.S. It’s also common sense. We’re relatively close to the border [less than 200 miles]. … There’s more than 20 million people of Mexican descent living in the U.S. You can’t think there’s not talented players there and we have a few who I think are very talented. SA:
What’s the advantage for a young U.S. player to go to Mexico?
TE KLOESE: There’s things that are very good in the U.S. and there’s a few things that Mexico maybe has a little bit of an advantage. I think at Tigres we have a system that allows for a smoother transition from the youth level to the pro level. An 18-year-old kid can be the very best on his MLS academy league team, but it’s very difficult for him to make a big difference in MLS. It’s difficult for him to get playing time and to get confidence to get better. They need a lot of playing time and competition -- but competition within reason. It’s difficult with an MLS club when suddenly you go from youth soccer to competing with a Designated Player. Not everything’s perfect in Mexico. Not by far. But our U-20s and U-17s play the same schedule as the first team. Our U-20s won the league last season and are first at the moment.
SA: So the U-20 team serves as the reserve team?
TE KLOESE: Right. When our first team travels to San Luis, our U-20s go to San Luis. You can drop a few players down from the first team to the U-20s. The U-20s play in the stadium before the first-team game. The U-17s play in the training ground in the morning. Last week they played Chivas. The week before they traveled to Puebla. They played the clasico, the local derby against Monterrey, the week before that.
SA: MLS hopes to bring back a reserve league, but in the meanwhile, promising young players who aren’t good enough to crack the first team aren’t getting enough competitive games?
TE KLOESE: It’s hard for MLS coaches to give a lot of attention to young players who all of a sudden end up in the first team roster -- because there’s a big need for results from the first team and MLS is getting more and more competitive. It has more teams now and it's getting harder to make the playoffs. Young players need a little bit of patience and they’re not very consistent in their performances in general. We have the ability of being more patient. If there’s one guy who really did have a bad game against Chivas one week, we still play him against San Luis’ under-20 the next week. Because we see something in the guy. He shows some qualities. He needs a little time to adapt. Maybe we need to try him in another position. Maybe we have to train him a few things. Maybe he just lacks some information. They don’t have to go from step one to 10 in a year, then from 10 to 50 in a week or so.
I met Te Kloese a couple of years ago when I spent a couple of days with the Chivas USA staff, and he certainly has a firm understanding of the American youth system. If he can continue to tap into the US market, we could continue to see more Americans playing in Mexico.
Posted by Mike Jacobs at 5:31 AM