There's still a long way to go before St. Louis City SC kick off their MLS expansion season in 2023, but sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel has already established himself as one of the league's most interesting characters.
During his playing days, the German became known as one of the most well-traveled players of all time, suiting up for 27 different clubs and becoming the only player to play in all six FIFA confederations. Between that and his time in his post-playing career as a coach, scout and front office executive, Pfannenstiel has quite the perspective to bring as he works to ready St. Louis City for its much-anticipated launch.
Pfannenstiel joined the Futbol with Grant Wahl podcast for a lengthy interview released on Monday in which he discusses some of that perspective, as well as his philosophy and approach to building an expansion roster from scratch. Regarding the club's search for a first head coach, Pfannenstiel said his expectation is to bring someone aboard in "early 2022," and that he's willing to look from within the United States for candidates.
"I'm very open-minded about that," Pfannenstiel told Wahl. "I believe you have lots of coaching talent in the United States. One thing I definitely do not want is to create a style or create a DNA which is all based on simply European knowledge. I'm extremely modern, I'm extremely international, so I don't see that as just trying to bring in people from overseas because they know better. That's not the case. There is plenty of knowledge of coaching, there is good academy plans here in the United States.
"So we want to not just focus on developing our own good players, also coaching development, to have in a way our own St. Louis City SC coaching academy, coaching philosophy. This is something that we're also working hard on. We've started it already."
St. Louis City represents a new challenge for Pfannenstiel, who most recently worked in Germany in the Fortuna Düsseldorf front office before making the move stateside. As for his motivation behind the move, Pfannenstiel said it's the growth of the league and the game in the US as a whole that piqued his interest.
"For me to see the growth of soccer in the United States, having worked myself to take Zack Steffen from Man City to Dusseldorf last year, it showed me how much potential there is also in young players," he said. "The league is getting better. The teams are moving away from just bringing older big names and bringing in younger, hungry guys. That's also a route I am completely convinced we will go for as well. So seeing that the league is just simply getting better, more competitive, is a great thing."