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Hertsenberg eager to take European experiences back to the States

Eddie Hertsenberg is a 26-year-old US-born footballer who is unique in the fact that he plays and coaches the game at the same time.

Having played for USL Pro outfit Dayton Dutch Lions, Hertsenberg has achieved a wide range of goals in his career to date - but the midfielder is not stopping anytime soon with a continuous education at the forefront of his thinking.

Hertsenberg (pictured) currently plays in Germany. He completed half a season of reserve team football at Major League Soccer (MLS) side Columbus Crew before playing professional indoor soccer with the Cincinnati Kings from 2008 to 2011, claiming the Conference title three times in the process.

During Hertsenberg’s time at Dayton Dutch Lions, he also took charge of the clubs professional youth academy increasing the competing teams from zero to 17 with 200 registered players and seven coaches.

It would be fair to conclude that Hertsenberg is an astute individual and his latest expedition took him to Europe whereby he completed coaching internships in the Netherlands and Germany whilst obtaining his UEFA ‘C’ license.

He now intends on returning to the States with an accumulation of priceless knowledge and to share his wider experiences with the aspiring talents of both today and tomorrow.

Hertsenberg caught up with Total Football’s Taylor Williams to talk about his career, what he has achieved and what state American soccer currently finds itself within.

You are a rare hybrid in that you currently play and coach football at the same time. Which is more enjoyable or is it too hard to say?

My initial response would be that I enjoy playing more, but when I think about it, both are equally rewarding and enjoyable to me. You can’t replace the excitement and challenge of competing in training sessions or matches alongside other great players and being in front of enthusiastic fans.

I still have so much fun playing, and I feel the same passion for the game (probably even more) than the passion I had for the game as a kid.

I greatly enjoy the competitive aspect and bettering myself as a player but what keeps me going is the excitement and enthusiasm of the fans.

I very much enjoy coaching as well, the passion for the game is still present when I coach and I incorporate many of the traits I have as a player into my coaching.

It is an equally irreplaceable experience to have the opportunity to influence kids and to pass on the knowledge I have gained throughout my life as a competitive athlete as well as a coach. I truly relish and appreciate any chance I get to entertain or influence someone through playing or coaching soccer.

What do you feel the challenges are returning to the States after your break in Europe and the experiences you accumulated whilst being out there?

My experiences in Europe have been great and have been challenging in their own right. I expect similar challenges as I return to the States and invite those challenges openly.

Coming into a new environment and establishing yourself is always challenging at every level and age, in every facet of life.

Stepping out of your comfort zone and establishing yourself with a new group of people, players, coaches, and fans isn’t meant to be easy; if it were easy everyone would be doing it.

The challenge has made me better and that is what has been great about being here in Europe, testing and furthering my limits.

Part of taking on this challenge was in order to improve myself, to play with different players, to learn different styles of play, and see different ways to be a professional in the soccer community.

In Europe or otherwise, there are always players out there working hard to get better and this presents a great challenge to myself to continue to push myself and improve as a player, a coach and individual.

I’m looking toward being back in the States, I mostly think it will be an opportunity to share my experiences and the knowledge I have gained while being in Europe. I hope to find another challenging environment in the States that best fits me and my soccer development, as a player and coach.

Tell us more about the Dayton Dutch Lions. How important has this club been to you in your soccer development?

The Dayton Dutch Lions are a USL Pro club, which started three years ago right in my back yard in the state of Ohio.

The club is centred on the Dutch philosophy of training and playing an attractive, controlled style of soccer.

The owners and coaches, being Dutch, brought what they do so well in the Netherlands (a country known for its great soccer philosophy) and in Europe and introduced that to soccer in the States.

The real focus is on the concept of training young players in the youth academy and eventually bringing them into the professional team, similar to how things work at top European clubs.

This youth academy idea and system has certainly gained popularity in the past three to five years with nearly all the MLS clubs and a few other USL clubs having now implemented it.

My time with the Lions was one of enormous personal and professional growth. I was with the club from the start of their inaugural pro season and then found myself managing the brand new professional youth academy soon after.

It was very challenging, from the pro team to the youth kids and camps, trying many new things and being an ambitious club made for sleepless nights for all who were involved.

My fellow colleagues at the Lions, and especially the youth academy players and parents, were all behind the vision and direction of the club, allowing myself and the club to continue to be successful through those challenges.

I was pleased to have been given the chance to be as involved as I was and help run and grow the Youth Academy. My few years there were important to my all around development and I gained perspective on all things soccer and business.

We have seen American soccer grow and grow, and with some stellar foreign names playing in the MLS nowadays to aid the growth, do you think the United States can win a World Cup in the future or is it too early to say?

We have seen it grow and grow, and we will only continue to see this trend. It is true that we are playing a little catch up right now, but the US will win a World Cup in the future.

The game of soccer in the US is changing drastically. In today’s world, we have such a benefit with technology that the knowledge and high quality of soccer making its way to the US is forthcoming, even more so now than ever.

The positive influences and vast knowledge from the inventors and perfectionists of the game over in Europe will continue to seep into the game and into youth development in the US, especially with the vision of Klinsmann and the rest of the visionaries with voices in the US Soccer realm.

Those big names players in the MLS will hopefully help the media shift some attention and catch onto the movement.

The MLS, as well as the USL and NASL professional leagues, have grown tremendously and have some great home grown and foreign players from top to bottom.

Although the MLS and United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) are critical for the continued growth and success of the US program, we also can’t discount that our United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) just won Gold at the Olympic Games. It’s great that the youth in the US also have this team to look up to and to build excitement for the game.

We do have excitement around soccer in the US and on the world stage. There is no doubt that the interest and the quality of the game here in the US is growing rapidly and becoming a consistent competitor with the best across the world is imminent.

Name three key traits a good soccer coach needs to employ in his everyday practice

First, a good soccer coach has to have passion and proactively instil that passion into his/her players every day. Having passion for the game and a passion for making others successful is a key trait to begin with.

That passion brings the coach’s own drive and focus to the field and also brings it out in the players.

Another key trait is positivity. A successful coach needs to possess a good, positive energy and always bring encouragement to his/her players.

In my experience, encouragement and a positive attitude leads to player motivation which then leads players to apply their best effort and be excited to compete.

Having a positive environment at practices and games allows players to feel comfortable and to be able to thrive when obstacles and challenges present themselves.

The last trait, and the most important, is the ability to make it enjoyable for the players.

The element of fun, at every level, needs to be employed every day at practice. The ability for players to be loose and creative while competing and trying to become better players is the most important trait a good soccer coach needs.

By allowing a fun, open and positive environment, players are more likely to be successful and feel rewarded when great outcomes surface.

How key is promoting a culture of excellence in US based coaching - should others strive to mimic your UEFA licence accreditation?

Sports environments are forever changing. There will always be new ways and better ways of doing things and it is usually clear as to what the current best practices are.

Europe has consistently been at the top of the soccer pyramid and the best teams and players are playing in Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, England, etc.

It is important for coaches in the US to always be gaining new knowledge and looking to these successful countries and clubs is one good way to learn.

The UEFA license has been a tremendous experience for me personally. I have learned many new things and have gained a different perspective of the game (especially taking the classes in German!)

It was a challenging experience but I would suggest it to any coach in the US looking to further their coaching career and to gain valuable insight into the game.

Europe is producing some the best players, partly because they have the best coaching methods.

It is important to learn from the best. US coaches can take a lot away from those methods and implement them into our culture.

It won’t be the exact same model, but it doesn’t need to be and frankly can’t be. It is just important to exchange information and always be learning.

The UEFA licensing has taught me a lot that I will take back home and implement. I will continue with licensing in the US and learn from great coaches there, which I greatly look forward to.

You travelled to Europe to undertake further experiences. Do you feel the United States MNT needs a player to be playing in a top European side. Dempsey has been linked with Liverpool this transfer window. Klinsmann has previously stated this would benefit the MNT

I’m a believer that playing with and against the best players will make you better. It may not be a requirement to getting better but it is beneficial.

Playing under a great coach or trainer will also benefit a player a great deal. As I said before, currently most of these top players and top coaches are in Europe.

That doesn’t mean they are all here, but there are a lot of them! The MNT needs to have players playing with the best and against the best.

Dempsey deserves to be with a top side in Europe, he has shown that. It will make him a better player than he already is, so yes, it would benefit the MNT and US Soccer in general.

We have quite a few, and will see more, Americans getting chances to be in top divisions across Europe like the Premier League, BundesLiga, and Serie A, and the US will benefit from that.

Also, teams from top divisions coming to the US to play against MLS and USL teams like we saw this summer, the US will benefit a great deal from that.

Short term this is how it is, but the future will be different. The professional leagues in the US, the US MNT, and soccer in the US won’t be behind for too long.

There are lots of dedicated soccer people and soccer fans in the US and it will be exciting to be involved with soccer during the next 5-10 years.

By Taylor Williams - Follow me on Twitter @Taylor_Will1989 - Visit my blog - thetrickywinger.blogspot.com

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