President of Soccer Operations Javier Leon speaks about recent trip to Pachuca
Sometimes out of partnership comes opportunity.
See the recent trip of a Fire delegation to visit the headquarters of Liga MX side CF Pachuca as a good example, a visit all setup by Quaker North America President Jose Luis Prado who had previous business ties to Tuzos President and Owner Jesus Martinez.
“Jose Luis was very proactive in arranging the visit,” explained Fire President of Soccer Operations Javier Leon. “He mentioned that he had a very good relationship with Jesus and thought it was a good opportunity for us to connect on a number of exchanges.”
As Leon explains, Hauptman and Martinez made an immediate connection.
“[Jesus] has a number of businesses that really have come about from owning the team but their passion is the game and I think Andrew really connected with that. It really is the source of his passion.
"That was a really good starting point in terms of the people that share the passion and are very open with one another.”
The Fire group toured the FIFA Soccer Hall of Fame which interestingly calls Pachuca its home before spending an intense day learning from the robust structure set in place since Martinez first bought the Mexican club in 1999.
“We learned how the first team is structured,” said Leon. “We learned about how their youth development is put together, how they recruit and scout and how they think about health and measuring performance.
"From that standpoint it was very useful and it’s an opportunity to continue to learn/grow with them.”
The most immediate takeaway Leon saw was the more integrated approach that the club’s Academy had with the first team.
Beyond the fact that the Tuzos Academy has approximately 180 kids that are housed in dormitories on the club campus, the Fire President of Soccer Operations said he was impressed with the First Team’s involvement in the Player Development setup.
“There is a really good link between the First Team and those players to the point that the First Team coach (once every two weeks) will participate in coaching one of the Academy teams. That allows him to get to know the players well and the players get to connect with the First Team.
"I think that’s something that would be very smart to implement. It would establish a stronger link here with the Fire, especially with the continued focus in MLS on developing more homegrown players.”
Along with exchanging best practices and getting the opportunity to connect with the Fire’s jersey partner, the trip also built a relationship with the club for possible future exchanges. Representatives from Pachuca will visit Chicago later this year and Leon pointed to the similar relationship the Fire have held with Club America (which helped with the acquisition of midfielder Pavel Pardo in 2011).
“We know that Mexico is an important export market [because of the level of technical capabilities and fitness]. Now there are more Mexican players going abroad and I think this relationship with Pachuca will allow us to identify a player in the future that could help us.”