FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The chance to lead the New England Revolution's academy program appealed to Bryan Scales. It just took some time for the opportunity to develop.
Scales spent the 2009-10 academy season leading the Revs' U-16s to the Northeast Division crown and shepherding the side to its first berth in the US Soccer Development Academy playoffs, and he retained other important duties away from the Revs' academy heading into the fall.
In addition to his exploits as an academy coach and his role as an assistant coach with the United States U-15 team, Scales directed the soccer program at UMass-Lowell. The Medway, Mass., native concluded 11 seasons as the coach at Cornell – where he first assisted and then succeeded former Chicago coach and current Los Angeles assistant Dave Sarachan and coached current Colorado defender Scott Palguta – to take charge of the RiverHawks in 2009.
By the middle of October, New England's director of youth development post had opened. Revolution vice president of player personnel Michael Burns – Scales' former teammate at Hartwick College – inquired about whether Scales might be interested in joining the organization full-time.
“When the full-time position became available, we had a couple of conversations,” Scales told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “I thought it'd be a lot of fun. I jumped at it.”
By early November, Scales had resigned from his post at UMass-Lowell and started up with the Revolution. There wasn't much time to waste. Scales needed to transition quickly into his new job – including a coaching role with the U-18s – with two regular-season games in New York slated for Nov. 20 and 21, and three tournament games scheduled at the US Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase in Phoenix in early December.
“Fortunately, I had been involved with the U-16s, so I knew a lot of those guys,” Scales said. “I was also involved in our tryout process last year [in May and June 2009], so I also knew a lot of players coming in. When we started up at the beginning of November, it was dribs and drabs with guys coming in off their high school seasons. At that stage, you're just trying to get a base line.”
The common ground proved fertile. New England procured two wins and a draw out of four combined matches for the U-16s and U-18s in November, and secured three wins in six attempts for the Revs' program in the high-profile tournament in December.
“We jumped into those first two games and just tried to put most of our experienced guys out there because they knew each other and they knew how to play,” Scales said. “As we went along and went to the Phoenix showcase, we were able to introduce some of the new guys and some of the young guys into the process to get them acclimated.”
The adjustment process will continue after the Revs' academy takes respite for the holiday period. Training sessions will start up after the new year as Scales and the rest of the academy coaches prepare their charges for the Development Academy season slated to start on March 5.
“It's a little bit helter-skelter with five games in a couple of weeks, and now we take a break for the holidays and then we start up again on the other side,” Scales said. “You just want to get a good gauge and get good information on the players to get them comfortable, get them to know how we train and play. For that aspect, it's been very good.”
The break may finally give Scales a brief moment or two to catch his breath after the hectic stretch. Although he is still settling into the job, he is relishing the opportunities and the responsibilities afforded by his new role.
“You tend to have to look at things with a little bit of a broader perspective and an overall youth development perspective,” Scales said. “But I'm excited about it and I've enjoyed it. So far, so good.”
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