Photo courtesy of Phoenix Rising FC/Ashley Orellana.

Phoenix Rising are missing something. Or rather, someone.

No players – other than young goalkeeper Brandon Keniston, Jason Johnson, and Alessandro Riggi – are out injured and separated from the team. Riggi was actually more present than ever. The Canadian midfielder was out running laps around the practice fields north of Casino Arizona Stadium and playing some one-touch passes with a staff member.

Phoenix aren’t missing a player. They are missing a coach. Rick Schantz is absent from the team this week while he finishes up his U.S. Soccer C License course in Seattle, Washington.

According to U.S. Soccer’s website, the C License course involves “coaching training sessions, coaching games, leading players, leading the team, managing a performance environment and more.”

U.S. Soccer’s coaching license pathway is intended to educate coaches in the United States on the federation’s preferred methodology. As coaches move up through the United States’ youth and professional ranks, high-level licenses are required to land full-time positions. After the “C” license comes a “B” license course, then an “A” course, and then finally an invite-only “Pro” course.

Like many other coaches, Schantz is getting his C License to further his own coaching education and to open up opportunities to pursue further licenses in the future. A source told that while Schantz is in Seattle, he is also planning to speak with various technical directors to learn more about how other clubs structure their youth development pathway.

Phoenix Rising is still evaluating how to best operate parts of their youth program, so Schantz’s conversations with others who are involved in youth development around the country could have an impact on how Phoenix choose to operate their own youth system.

While Schantz has been learning and networking in Seattle, the rest of Phoenix Rising’s technical staff is in charge of preparing Phoenix for Friday night’s game against Reno. Though assistants Blair Gavin, Peter Ramage, and Corey Robertson all typically play a big role in running training sessions and sifting through film before each weekend’s game, Schantz’s absence is still definitely being felt.

“Rick not being here is challenging because of his charisma,” Gavin said after training on Tuesday. “He’s the leader, right? We speak regularly while he’s gone to make sure he gets what he wants out of it [the week’s training and film sessions], but you’re down a person and you’re down a big person.”

Still, Gavin said he is trying to “keep the guys focused on the weekend and not make too much of it”.

Schantz plans to be back in Phoenix on Thursday afternoon and, barring any unforeseen circumstances, will coach the team on Friday.

7 thoughts on “Phoenix without Schantz this week

  1. I’m aware of the US soccer coaching ladder but it seems nonsensical that someone who is already a professional coach is required to run the gauntlet of levels. US Soccer could offer some kind of “executive” path that combines A, B, C into one session and awards all at once.

    As Joe mentions though, it does seem like a good opportunity to network if nothing else. Just a shame it’s not in the off season.

    1. Taking a step back, I think US Soccer requiring professional coaches and top-level academy coaches to work through a series of unified coaching courses is a good thing. It makes sure that there aren’t people masquerading as coaches that really don’t have the knowledge or skills to coach. Could the courses be implemented better? Sure. But as far as timing goes, I think having one part of the class run from Sunday to Wednesday or early Thursday is a decent window of time to allow the coaches to return to their teams.

  2. I hadn’t realized he didn’t hold high-level licenses. That’s pretty interesting (though obviously it hasn’t prevented him from being an excellent coach).

    There’s no way he can finish an A license by the end of next season (you have to hold a B license for 12 months before you’re even eligible to begin the course). Phoenix is going to have to have some sort of coaching shakeup, given the head coach is require by PLS to have an A license within two years of appointment. I would imagine he can stick around, but they’d have to hire somebody with an A license (like Pittsburgh had to do entering last season).

    I don’t really know where I’m going with this (possibly nowhere!), but at the very least it’s extremely interesting.

      1. USSF Pro League Standards require all head coaches in a professional league (Division-1, Division-2, and I believe also Division-3, though I would imagine USL League One gets a bit more of a grace period with meeting the standards as a new league) to have a USSF A license or foreign equivalent within two years of appointment. That’s how Bob Lilley ended up at Pittsburgh – Dave Brandt didn’t have the appropriate license.

        I would imagine there are likely waivers – possibly even pretty lenient ones – for a guy who’s working up the licensing ladder, but that’s just a guess.

        1. I wasn’t aware of that situation in Pittsburg, but it’s absolutely very similar to the one here.

          I was thinking about a possible waiver as well, but only time will tell. I’ll try to get to the bottom of what the club has planned for when this situation arises in the future.

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