The U.S. Soccer youth development program gained a new advisor and resource — a guidance counselor, if you will — on Thursday, and it’s a familiar name filling a brand new position.
Nelson Rodriguez, a 14-year executive of Major League Soccer and most recently the league’s appointed caretaker president of Chivas USA, was named U.S. Soccer’s “managing director of national team advisory services.” It’s a mouthful of a title, but Rodriguez’s position could prove to be immensely useful to the next wave of US national team players as the navigate the ever-complicating, cutthroat world of professional soccer.
“After the World Cup this summer, Jurgen Klinsmann came to me with the idea that because the landscape for aspiring professionals has changed so significantly, providing basic counseling services to our young players would be very beneficial,” U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said in a release.
So Rodriguez’s role will be, among other things, to counsel, guide and evaluate the prospects of players making up U.S. Soccer’s various youth national teams. For instance, determining whether or not a player is ready to turn pro; what club or country might be the best fit for a young player looking for a change of club; providing guidance on subjects like personal finances, agent representation and time management.
According to SI‘s Grant Wahl, Rodriguez will begin his tenure by spending time with the 16- and 17-year-olds currently in the U.S. residency program in Bradenton, Florida, ahead of next October’s Under-17 World Cup.