Soccer News: Inside Cosmos Academy West with DOC Chronopoulos
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS, Academy Director at Cosmos Academy West has played more than 400 professional soccer games and was a two-time Major League Soccer (MLS) All Star.
SN chats with Teddy Chronopoulos who played for two years in Greece for Panionios FC. Teddy also attended Cal State San Bernardino from 1990-1992, San Diego State University in 1993 and was a Member of US National Team as well as a professional soccer player in the MLS with New England Revolution and NY Metrostars and also played for the Charleston Battery.
You have amazing soccer experience. What do you think makes a great team?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “Passionate players who are dedicated to getting better as individuals, day after day and to working as a team to achieve a common goal, what ever that goal is – That is what makes a great team. Of course, this is also a description of great players.”
What do you look for in a player at the Cosmos Academy West?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “We have a 4-3-3 system. (4 defenders, 3 mid-fielders and 3 forwards.) We look for players that fit into the personality of the system, and the team. Players make the system -- the system does not make the players.”
Can you be more specific?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “Sure. We look for players that are creative, have personality on the field and are not afraid to take chances."
Does a player’s size make a difference?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “It's important to have a big center forward who can hold the ball. Our two center backs need to be big and strong in the tackle and good in the air.”
“I believe a team’s leadership role comes from the goalkeeper and the center backs. This is the strength of the team. The defense sees the field better than anyone else. The center backs play in the back and can see everything. That is the last line of defense.”
How important is bonding for a soccer team?
|Ted Chronopoulos (pronounced: kron-op- O-los), The former MLS All-Star defender and Charleston Battery player going up against Freddy Adu.
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “Team bonding is very important. Cosmos West does a lot of things to build team bonding. Camaraderie, players supporting each other, this is all essential for a successful team. All our teams try to participate in the same tournaments so the players can support each other.
How often do players leave Cosmos to change soccer clubs?
“There is always turnover in club soccer. But what we offer is different, and players see that. Remember, we get to select the players in the beginning, when they are young kids. It is very easy to break bad habits on a ten year old and much harder with a 14 or 15-year-old youth soccer player. It is our job to mold these young kids into the soccer players we want to see in our system. It is much easier to model players when they are younger, when they are eager to learn, young kids are like sponges and they have good attitudes and want to get better.”
“We have created a positive environment in the Academy, one that it is very competitive and filled with games, and our soccer players enjoy that.”
What makes a great soccer coach?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “To be a great coach, you have to be passionate about the game, and believe in what you are doing. Our coaches believe in the Cosmos Academy and what we are trying to accomplish with our players.”
What do you look for in your soccer coaches?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “We want our coaches to be willing to learn, new things come up all the time, new philosophies arise… You ask your players to go out and get better and we expect our coaches to so the same. For instance, we encourage our coaches to get the highest license possible. There are a lot of good coaches that do not have the highest license but have lot of experience. While not all of our soccer coaches have an ‘A’ license… they are all striving to get it.”
|Ted Chronopoulos in 2002 with the NY Metrostars
Is there a difference between coaching younger and older soccer players?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “There is a different demeanor about you when you coach youngers than when you coach an older soccer team. You want to set a standard with the youngers and leave your footprint on your team…to help the players learn what to expect in the future. If you are too lenient with the soccer team, then you loose kids. You have to be tougher on the younger ones. The goal is to provide discipline and build confidence. Laziness is the worst habit.”
What is the difference with older soccer players?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “Often older soccer players believe they are better than they really are. Sometimes you need to place them in an environment where they are up against bigger and stronger players. This is what it's like at the professional level.”
How can a youth soccer player become a pro?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “A lot of soccer players want to become professionals but do not work hard enough. I believe players must work hard. They should touch the soccer ball everyday. I did as a player. I wasn’t the most gifted or the most technically advanced but I stayed late and practiced and worked hard and made it. Hard work pays off.”
Why do you coach?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “Because I love the game. Soccer has done so much for my life and I want to give back to the game as much as it has given to me. I want to share my experience and my knowledge of the game."
Did you think you would become a coach?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “Absolutely not! I did not like most of my coaches! As a player, you do not think about those things, you only think about how much you can bring to your team. It was not until my career was winding down that I had thoughts about coaching. As a young player, I thought I would play forever.
As a coach, you are training youth soccer players to become professional players. How is this different than coaching Club soccer?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “The biggest difference is the players commitment.”
“It is easy to be lenient on a soccer player who might be interested in different sports, a lot of clubs allow players to play multiple sports. At the Academy, we are investing so much time and energy into these kids and we are here to make these players into the best soccer players possible. If a soccer player is playing other sports, then his commitment to soccer is not where we think it needs to be. Remember, less than 1% of youth soccer players make it as a professional soccer player.”
|In 1997, Teddy Chronopoulos' LAFC GU12 won its third tournament of the summer defeating South Bay Force to win the NHB Cup in Huntington Beach.
As the Director of Coaching (DOC), how to you select your coaches?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “I look for coaches who are very passionate, who always want to get better, and desire to inspire players. We also look at their educational levels and how many years experience they have. I want coaches that are going to challenge me as a director. I want coaches who have creative and innovative ideas.
How do you select your new players for COSMOS WEST?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “Only the U9 and U10 teams have tryouts. We tend to have two U10 teams, so that they fill out our U11 roster the following year."
“We are committed to each players development for one full year. Through-out the year we have multiple evaluations with each player and their parent. For new players to join the Academy, they have to be better than who is on the existing team. We look for a player who fits within our system, and we try to keep the kids within the club, if possible. We are not going to give up on a player easily.
Is our youth too competitive today?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “Competitiveness is a good thing, but when the focus is on winning, the players' development suffers.”
How important is winning?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “In the Academy we are not emphasizing winning. As the soccer players get older, for example, at the U16 level, winning does become a bit more important.”
“Players tend to migrate to winning teams. This happens at all clubs. We are trying to change that mentality.
Is winning too important in youth soccer?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “In Southern California, we have created a ‘Win’ at all cost mentality and I think it is destroying the development of our players.”
Why is the desire to win so contagious?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “People want to be a part of winners, especially Americans. We don’t want to take that winning mentality out of our kids. Americans have a never-give-up-attitude that the rest of the world envies.”
What is key for success as a soccer player?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “Dedication and hard work.”
What does the U.S. need to do to compete on a global stage and win?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “America needs to restructure the pyramid from top to bottom. Claudio Reyna has been hired to do this and will do a great job. It takes time, more time than most people realize, perhaps five or ten years.
“Everyone talks about Barcelona and how good they are now, but these players have been part of their youth system for years. You are just now seeing the benefits of their youth academy curriculum.
What is the most critical time for a soccer player?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “Most critical ages is 5 to 12 which is called Zone 1.”
What do you think about the "pay to play" paradigm?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “It is what it is, we live in a society that is a pay to play model. This model does not not exist anywhere else in the world.”
One last question, what is your favorite non-American team?
TEDDY CHRONOPOULOS “Always been a big fan of AC Milan, but Chelsea is probably my favorite team.”
Related Article on Cosmos Academy East meets West and More on Great Coaches on Great Soccer
Teddy Chronopoulos Soccer Achievements:
• 2005-2003 Charleston Battery 1st Division
• 2005-2004 Chicago Storm Major Indoor Soccer League
• 2002 Major League Soccer NY Metrostars
• 2002-1996 Major League Soccer New England Revolution
• 1998-1997 Member of US National Team
• 1996-1994 Greek 1st Division Panionios FC
College Soccer Experience
• 1993 San Diego State University
• 1992-1990 Cal State University San Bernardino
Soccer Coaching Experience
• USSF ‘A’ License
• 2005-present Flyers FC
• 2005 Assistant Coach Charleston Battery 1st Division
• 2005 Trainer for Charleston Battery Soccer Academy
• 2002 Trainer for NY Metrostars Soccer Academy
• 2002-1996 Trainer for New England Revolution Soccer Camps and Academy
• 2002-2001 Head Coach for Inter FC U17 Boys in Boston, Ma
• 2001 Head Coach for Greater Boston Eagles Boys U12,U16 Boston, MA
• 2001 Assistant Coach Newton North High School in Newton, MA
• 1996-1994 Trainer for Panionios FC Youth Academy
• Over 400 games played at a professional level
• Two time Major League Soccer All Star
• Ten time Major League Soccer Team of the Week
• MLS’s Player of the week May 2000
• 2003 1st Division Champions Charleston Battery
• 2003 Offensive Player of the year Charleston Battery
• 2003 Second Team All 1st Division
•1st Division Player of the week June 2003