Photo courtesy of North Carolina FC
Dewan Bader has been doing this for years, and he is ready to do it again this Premier Development League regular season.
Bader is set to begin his 10th season in charge of the Under-23 program with North Carolina FC. The North Carolina FC U23, who are one of 16 new franchises this year, will take part in a stacked South Atlantic Division this year, which includes 11 teams this season. While he is excited for the opportunity and eager to fight for titles, he also wants his side to play an attractive brand of soccer day in, day out.
A graduate of North Carolina State University, he played professionally for more than 10 years before deciding to coach, and after serving as the Director of Coaching for Triangle Futbol Club, Bader joined North Carolina FC. Helping college-aged players on their path to the professional level appealed to Bader, who jumped at the opportunity to lead the club’s U23 program.
The North Carolina FC U23 begin PDL play against Tobacco Road FC at 7 p.m. ET on May 10. Based in Cary, North Carolina, the franchise will its home matches at WakeMed Soccer Park.
The highest level of amateur soccer in North America, the PDL will kick off its 23rd campaign on Friday. A total of 72 teams across the United States and Canada, including 16 new franchises, will take part in the 2017 regular season.
PDL: As a former player in North Carolina, what made you want to stay in the state to coach? Do you have any desire to move out of the state?
DB: I received my degree from NC State after a successful four years of playing and then left the area and played professionally for 10 years with indoor and outdoor teams throughout the country. During my playing years, I would always come back to Raleigh to see friends, for weddings, or sometimes to train with NC State to prepare for my upcoming season. My wife and I had decided that when finishing playing we would look for an opportunity to come back to the Raleigh area. As timing would have it, I was offered the job to become the Director of Coaching at Triangle Futbol Club by then club President John Rennie just before winning my second straight MISL Championship with the Baltimore Blast and decided it was too good of an opportunity to pass on. My wife and I now have three kids, all of whom play youth soccer, and absolutely love living in Apex, North Carolina. At this time, we are very happy here and are not pursuing any opportunities that would take us away from North Carolina.
PDL: You’ve served as a scout for the New York Red Bulls and Chicago Fire. Do you currently serve as a scout for other professional teams or organizations?
DB: Well, I am the head assistant coach for the North Carolina FC pro team. Within that role, I have a number or responsibilities, including scouting for talented players. As the landscape of professional soccer has changed, I no longer scout for other professional clubs; however, I do scout for the United States Soccer Federation and have worked as an assistant with the U20, U18 and U17 U.S. National Teams.
PDL: A total of seven teams, including the North Carolina FC U23, will take part in the PDL this year. What are your thoughts on the rise of PDL teams in the region? How does this benefit the region – on a soccer-supporter level and for the many talented players in the Carolinas?
DB: A big reason we decided to move back to the PDL was because of the quality of teams in the region and their proximity to one another. In the early years of the U23 program, we participated in the PDL and had a great rivalry with the Carolina Dynamo. With Tobacco Road (FC) being located between Raleigh and Greensboro, they will also very quickly join that rivalry with the two teams as well. When you add an experienced organization like the Wilmington Hammerheads, as well as Charlotte (Eagles) and Myrtle Beach (Mutiny), the division is set to be very competitive and fun for the fans.
PDL: The PDL focuses on helping the development of players. Specifically, how do you help that process? What sort of coaching philosophy do you try to use and employ with the NCFC U23?
DB: My coaching philosophy is to provide a fun and challenging environment in which we help the player progress with their development and build their confidence to play. I have an incredible staff of assistant coaches who have either played or coached at the professional level, and we provide a demanding yet positive training environment. As for the soccer philosophy, we believe in a possession style of play in which the team looks to create one-v-one or numbers-up situations in our attacking half to exploit defenses with speed, creativity and confidence. However, the more you attack, the more disciplined and organized you need to be in defense. We teach our players to position themselves into areas when they are not involved with the play so that we can transition into defensive shape quickly in an effort to win the ball back when we lose it.
PDL: Can you explain how you identify talent? For a player wanting to know what it takes to make it to the next level – to move from college/PDL to the pros – what is required physically, technically, psychologically?
DB: That is somewhat of an open-ended question as each player has different attributes that may make him stand out. A player could have excellent technical ability but not as much physical ability and still play at the same level as someone who has an extreme amount of physical ability but not as much technical ability. When scouting, you need to first have an understanding of what the level is that you are scouting for. Then, you assess the player and try to figure out how high of a probability the player you are watching has of succeeding at that level. Most often it is a combination of physical, technical, and psychological aspects and overall speed of play that distinguishes the better players.