GoPlay Sports recently caught up with Duke men’s soccer head coach John Kerr to ask him about his recruiting process.
Kerr, who was on a whistle-stop trip to the United Soccer Coaches Convention in Chicago, revealed he was en-route to Florida to take a look at some players at the US national team camp.
“We’re a worldwide university to so we recruit from all over the place. We have nine foreigners on our team we’re lucky enough to have the pick of the top foreign players and the top domestic players in the United States,” said Kerr, who is in his 12th year with the Blue Devils.
Where do you recruit from?
“Everywhere. Anyone that available and is interested in our school and has the right academics. We figure out their playing profile and do research on them.
How does that work?
“A lot of the foreign guys are in touch with us and recruiting agencies, who I have a good relationship with, they recommend players that they know will be suitable options.”
How detailed are the profiles?
“It’s very deep, it comes from their academic transcripts. Recommendations from their teachers and playing videos etc. And then if I see a guy in a video I really like I will go and see him in person.
What do you look for?
“The first thing we do is see if they can qualify academically – that’s first and foremost and then after that I try to work out whether they are a good footballer and make good decisions on the ball.
“There’s a minimum standard of physicality they must have and can they adapt to the American game? It’s a bit like the Premier League – it’s fast and furious. We want to good citizens and kids and we try to get as much information as possible.”
Are there any major differences in the foreign recruits to those from the US?
“Usually the foreign guys from professional clubs are very savvy and understand the game and they come from a culture where it is understood that every single day you are going to play or watch or listen to a coach who is going to help you.
“In our country it is getting like that and the players we are interested in are like that and have the capacity to be ‘soccer junkies’ and they love it and want to play it and want to be exposed to it and those are the guys we want on our team.”
What benefits do the US students get from mixing with international students?
“Great to be exposed to different cultures and see how they go about their business and a lot of the foreign guys are very professional. They have different approaches to the game and different off-the-field approaches and have positive habits and it’s good for my guys to see that and vice versa. The foreign guys get a kick out of learning from the Americans and appreciate the culture they come from and trying to integrate together is a blessing.”
What do the international students think of the US game?
“Sometimes they don’t know how physically demanding it is and it is taxing for them when they play more than one game a week. In America in the college season we’re playing three times a week and that is difficult to get used to initially.
“Then there’s the daily grind – it’s hard work to play, recover, play, recover, so they have to adapt to the US system.
“The substitution rules are different to Europe. So there are a lot of things that take time to get used to.”
Where you heading next?
“I’m going down to Florida to watch the national team play. They have a camp down there with the U19s and U20s.
“I’ve got one guy who is already committed and three other guys who are very interested but I cannot share their names unfortunately.”