Willy Sagnol, the former Bayern Munich player, assistant coach under Carlo Ancelotti, and interim manager has taken on a new and perhaps somewhat surprising role: serving on the Board of Directors for Rush Soccer Club. You may be asking Rush who? Based out of Colorado, Rush Soccer represents over 85 clubs and over 34,000 youth soccer players across the United States.
It was announced in November that Rush Soccer had partnered with the Harrisburg City Islanders of the United Soccer League, now rebranded as Penn FC, to become the official professional branch of Rush Soccer.
As reported in SB Nation’s The Brotherly Game,
It’s [the partnership] a significant step forward that will be beneficial to both groups. Rush now has a professional team that their best players around the world can aspire to join and Penn FC has expanded their academy exponentially.
Rush Soccer has big plans for its newly acquired professional team, and that is precisely where Willy Sagnol fits in. According to an official press release,
Now that Rush Soccer has a professional team in Penn FC, they are now following the European model having a large youth academy below the professional team. This is something that Sagnol is very familiar with, allowing him to influence the younger players heavily and guide them in the right direction.
Sagnol was apparently lured to the project by Rush Soccer chairman Jérôme de Bontin, who previously served as Director of Ligue 1’s AS Monaco and general manager at Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls. De Bontin had this to say of Sagnol:
He is an architect of the game and a man to reckon with when focusing on the future of the sport. I am very grateful for his commitment to and his future support of the Rush Organization.”
The partnership between Rush Soccer and Penn FC is being watched closely by those who follow the intricacies of youth soccer in the United States. Penn FC is planning on giving the vast majority of minutes to players that come through Rush Soccer, although the transition may take some time. This template is what many are clamoring for in the United States as young players often are overlooked in the domestic game, losing minutes either to veterans, internationals, or both.
Having Willy Sagnol on Ruch Soccer’s board of directors provides instant credibility to the project and a proven leader on the field and in the front office.
I will be watching—will you?