LONDON -- For former U.S. international and current Spurs keeper Brad Friedel, improved coaching education is the next frontier for U.S. soccer.
Having just started the process of securing his UEFA Pro coaching license, Friedel is of the belief that coaching education is one area that still needs to be addressed.
"There's a lot of things that still need to happen, but [the U.S.] really needs to hammer down on the coaching," Friedel said from Tottenham's training facility ahead of Friday's friendly against Colombia, which is set to take place at Craven Cottage. "They need to implement more strict structures on coaching licenses. They need to have better teaching for coaches."
#INSERT type:image caption:Former U.S. international Brad Friedel said U.S. coaching education needs to be addressed. END#
He noted that in the U.S., the game has made huge progress in several areas. MLS is now a stable, well established league. There have been significant strides made in youth development as well with the advent of youth academies, some by MLS clubs.
Friedel's hope is that over time, the U.S. development system will emulate that of Europe to a degree, whereby youth coaches are every bit as knowledgeable as those in the professional ranks.
"That's the next big step for the U.S. when you start developing these kids at younger ages," he said. "We have so many kids over [in the U.S.] in that generation who are following soccer. We should be developing more players at a quicker rate. That comes with teaching them in the right way."
Friedel said that it has taken him four years to get his UEFA-A license, and that the process has exposed to aspects of the game that go well beyond just tactics. It will be another 18 months until he receives his UEFA Pro license.
"That doesn't mean once I get my pro license that I'll be able to go in and manage Barcelona. That's not what it means," he said. "But you learn about what happens in League Two. You learn about training methodologies. You learn about what happens if you're not at a fantastic club like Tottenham and you don't have all these resources at your disposal. You learn other training techniques that you might take little things from. You definitely learn organization. You definitely learn scheduling."
Friedel added that the best part of the process has been finding coaching "confidantes" who have more experience and who he can call up and share ideas and experiences.
"[These contacts] are non-agenda'd, and you can say, 'I'm having a hard time. I've got this player who is causing me grief,'" he said. "Or the fans are causing me grief, or I've got someone in the media who every day is just sticking the knife in me. How would you deal with it? All that is invaluable. And if you go into this on your own straight from being a player, sometimes those can all be overwhelming. I hear those stories too. 'I thought I was ready. Too early.'"
U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann has stated previously that coaching education is an area he wants to see improved. Friedel believes if he does, it will be a huge benefit to the game.
"You just learn different things and these are what these coaching badges and licenses can do. It can happen in the U.S. as well because it doesn't matter what country you're in as long as the coaching and the teaching of it is done in the correct way."