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Bayern Munich on quest for an American player

The NSCAA Convention, the largest soccer coaching convention in the world, was packed with the brightest minds in soccer this past weekend. The Brotherly Game caught up with Sebastian Dremmler from Bayern Munich to get his thoughts on U.S. Soccer and find out when a player from America might be brought to his club.

Sebastian Dremmler, Head Coach of the International Program at Bayern Munich, speaks at NSCAA Conference
Sebastian Dremmler, Head Coach of the International Program at Bayern Munich, speaks at NSCAA Conference

The fact that Bayern Munich coaches are in the U.S. training American soccer coaches may come as a surprise to most. But Sebastian Dremmler, former U-16 coach for Bayern Munich and current Head Coach for the International Program, was doing just that last weekend. Global Premier Soccer, a U.S. based organization, and Bayern Munich launched a partnership last year, and the purpose from Bayern Munich's perspective is to train American coaches in the hope that they'll develop a player to eventually bring to Munich. The Brotherly Game caught up with Sebastian to get his observations of soccer in the U.S and to peek behind the curtain of one of the best clubs in the world.

BG: Describe your responsibilities as Head Coach of the International Program

SD: I am responsible for the GPS partnership on the sporting side. We have a partnership on the marketing side in the U.S. We have an office in New York, and they will do a lot of work for us as well, but I am responsible for the sporting side here.

BG: Does this program exist in other parts of the world?

SD: It's Asia as well, we'll be starting a program hopefully soon. We don't know which direction right now, but we will do the same with a youth partnership in Asia.

BD: What is the goal of the Partnership with GPS?

SD: The main goal for the future is to bring one player to Bayern Munich. We know that is not so easy because we are talking about the next generation. We are talking about the U-9s to the U-12 and...we have to wait until 15 or 16, but we can help their developing and then in 5 more years we might be able to bring them over.

BG: How does this partnership fit in with the overall scouting process at Bayern Munich?

SD: We want to scout first Munich, then Bavaria, and then Germany. [In terms of the partnership] U-16 is the starting point because then you have the qualification games for the U-17 European Champsionship and you see all the best players internationally as well. Players like Pierre Hojbjerg we'll bring in or David Alaba, an Austrian national player. We saw him when he was 15 or 16. I have a goal too to find the best players around us.

BG: How many U-16 players do you expect to make the first team?

SD: A lot of people ask that question. It depends on the quality in the group. We had in the past an age group with only one player, Julian Green, this kind of player that can reach the highest level. And we also had groups where we had seven players who could reach the highest level. It's not so easy to play all players in Bayern Munich.

BG: With Pep Guardiola leaving does that change the approach at the youth level?

SD: No. Definitely not. It's also a question I answer a lot these days. We have our own philosophy at FC Bayern Munich to every time play with the ball. Ball possession. That philosophy was under Jupp Heynckes and Ottmar Hitzfeld a couple of years ago. We've had a lot of very good coaches and these coaches stood for this quality.

Pep Guardiola was in the last two three years a special point. He topped the level 75% to 80% ball possession each game. We know that's not a possibility every time.

BG: How do the talented players get selected to train with the first team?

Note: In this response Sebastian recalls the process from his prior role as U-16 Head Coach.

SD: Together. I will ask Mattias Sammer. He is the Sporting Director, the Board Member on the sporting side. He is finally the man who says 'Okay, the quality is good enough'. He is very close with Pep Guardiola, and of course we have the assistant coaches for Pep. It's a circle. They all know of course the good names, and when there is an international break in the Bundesliga, the national players are away, so we have a lot of space to bring the young players in. This is what Pep Guardiola made really very good. He invited then 5 to 10 players to see them during a training session.

BG: When do you start tactical training versus technical training?

SD: We start the tactical things with the U-13s because it depends on the structure we play. U-12 we play 9v9 which is the structure that will come here soon, and the younger ages will play 7v7, so I think it's not important to talk about the tactical things. They have to get the basics, and that is absolutely what I say every time to the coaches in the U.S., focus on the basics: Technique, passing, first touch, ball control, these things are absolutely a must. Technique before tactic.

BG: How much interaction is there between the youth teams and the professional team?

SD: A lot. We are very close to the professionals. Our youth field is right next to the professionals, so we see them and they wave a little bit. Thomas Muller knows us of course because he has been with us for a long time. Philip Lamm and Julian Green, they say hello. Its a very good relationship. That's the advantage that we have with a small facility.

BG: What are your observations on soccer in the U.S.?

SD: Basically good. In the last two years I've seen the Philadelphia Union's Youth Academy. I saw a lot of clubs in Florida and California as well. I think for the young age groups, U-9 and U-12 for example, that could be the sport  #1 here, and that's a big chance for the U.S. to make something with these kids and bring each club to a higher level. To achieve the higher level clubs should not spend a lot of money. To achieve the higher level they need to focus on the 8 and 9 year olds and you need coaches who wants to do this. That's a big point. We had the same situation in Germany 15 years ago. Coaches didn't want to train U-10s because they were saying the U-17, U-19s are interesting to me for my own career. It changed a little bit in the last 15 years, now we have a very good focus on these younger age groups and we have very good coaches there as well. That's important for the U.S. The good coaches have to go down to the younger age group and then to learn exactly the passing, the first touch and then coach the grown ups. It's a big big chance for the U.S. because there are a lot of good players here.

BG: Impressions of the Philadelphia Union Academy?

SD: First of all there were unbelievable facilities for an MLS club. I saw the U-10s, U-11s, and U-12s train and that was also a very good style of coaching and very good players, they had very good ball possession. There was a very good feeling on the field. That is something grown up.

Note: This interview was edited slightly for clarity