More than 40 selected coaches from local clubs and regional college programmes turned out for the kick-off event of the second edition of TSG's training initiative at FC Cincinnati's Mercy Health Training Center. Under the direction of academy goalkeeping coach Philipp Birker and Paul Rogers, Director of Goalkeeping at FCC, the participants had the chance to gain insights into the philosophy of goalkeeping at TSG and FCC in several theoretical and practical sessions, not to mention lean about the requirements of modern goalkeepers in the Bundesliga and the top American division.
Exclusive insight into concepts of goalkeeping training at TSG and FC Cincinnati
In the morning theory session, the participants learned about the training philosophy and training methodology for the goalkeeper position within both clubs, and in the afternoon, practical sessions were held on the pitch. Birker and Rogers used various problems and objectives to provide insights into the structure and concept of a goalkeeper training unit, which the coaches were then allowed to implement on the pitch themselves. "The content and details we were taught here were outstanding. What Paul and Philipp have delivered here on behalf of TSG and FCC is priceless for coaches like me," summed up participant Adam Maloney, co-coach of Wright State University. The event was also a great success for TSG: the second edition of the programme attracted almost three times as many participants as last year.
An important platform for the strengthening of regional ties and structures
"TSG enjoys an excellent reputation when it comes to the modern goalkeeping game. This is proven not least by the transfer of long-time head goalkeeper coach and trainer Michael Rechner to Bayern Munich," said Rogers. "This joint programme is very important for us to strengthen our regional relationships and build a community of promising goalkeepers," Rogers said. "We had a great mix of college, youth and professional coaches in attendance. Many of these coaches see players that we may want to attract to the academy. They're coaches we can help and then in turn they can help their goalkeepers." Philipp Birker, who coordinated the project for TSG, underlined the importance of the workshop series: "This platform is very exciting for us. It allows us to exchange valuable ideas and content, to look beyond our own horizons and thus to continuously develop in our specialist area of goalkeeping."
The importance of regional relationships - especially with local colleges - in US professional sport is shown by the example of Roman Celentano. The 22-year-old came to FC Cincinnati from Indiana University via the MLS Draft last year, and within a year of his arrival at the club, developed not only into the starting keeper of the current MLS league leaders, but also won his first cap for the US national team.
Horizons expanded both on and off the pitch
Alongside Philipp Birker, U17 head coach Carsten Kuhn also travelled to the Queen City. Both completed a 10-day internship with the FC Cincinnati first team and academy parallel to the goalkeeping camp. Kuhn, who reached the semi-finals of the German Championship with TSG Hoffenheim's U17 team, was thrilled with the conditions on site: "It was an outstanding experience and extremely exciting to be able to draw a direct comparison between the performance levels in the respective age groups. In addition, the exchange with Pat Noonan (head coach, FCC) and his staff was very valuable. The processes and procedures in the MLS are different from ours simply because of the size of the country. In addition, there are regulatory differences, which in turn have an impact on the philosophy of the game. It's these differences that make learning from and with each other so exciting."
A home match against Wayne Rooney's D.C. United to close out the week
At the end of the week of training, Birker and Kuhn attended FC Cincinnati's home match against D.C. United at the TQL Stadium, which was sold out with 25,513 spectators in attendance. The 250 million US dollar football complex, which opened its doors in 2021, was awarded the Prix Versailles, a global architecture and design prize by UNESCO, and the World’s Best Soccer Venue Award last year. The match against the team from Washington DC, coached by Wayne Rooney, ended in a 2-1 win for "Cincy". With 14 games played, FC Cincinnati are five points ahead of second-placed Nashville at the top of Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference.