With such a shock there no wonder Rosie has her reservations. But it is great to see her sister giving her a helping hand and convincing her to take the job. Now it’s time to prove both Maddie and the US setup right!
July 2nd 2019
It was the day I would officially sign my contract as well as the presentation day for the press. Not a lot of people knew about my appointment. Besides the people at the USSF it was just my sister who knew. I arrived at the USSF early in the morning, trying to keep my identity a secret from the group of reporters already there. My presentation would start at noon, with me signing the contract in front of the cameras before an interview. The last few months I was busy studying as well as busy looking for an apartment. Both were going quite well, the studying was going great and I just moved into a small home.
I was preparing myself, when I suddenly caught Chloe in a conversation with Mr. Jones. I couldn’t hear them, but I saw Chloe holding a laptop. It took little while before I could see what it was, but I managed to work out that it was some sort of article. I took another look and I thought I saw a picture of myself.
Naturally I wanted to find out and see, I had some time to kill, so I picked up my phone and googled myself. Immediately I found a story titled: ‘Roselynn LeFleur, Who?’. I decided to read the article myself and it was a complete witch hunt against me. The article was full of questions about me, about why I got the job.
I got both mad and sad at the same time and threw my phone against the wall and ran towards the toilet. I was there looking at myself in the mirror. Questioning myself, questioning everything else. A few minutes later Chloe walked in and stood next to me:
“You want to talk about it.”
“No, not really.”
“Wasn’t I clear enough, I don’t want to talk about it.”
“You can tell me.”
I didn’t respond, splashed some water in my face and was ready to walk out, when Chloe stopped me:
“You can trust me, Roselynn.”
“What if they’re right?”
Chloe looked at me confused: “Who’s right? Right about what?”
“Everyone seems to think I’m not the right person for his job. Everyone”
“Does that matter. I know you’re the right person, Mr. Jones knows you are. The most important thing is do you think you’re the right person. That’s what truly matters.”
The time has come, I was officially the manager of the U20s of the USMNT. First it was time for a few pictures, I officially signed my contract and then it was time for the interview. The interview would last 30 minutes and it did. The interview reminded me a lot of the article. They were clearly questioning me. I just took a deep breath and reminded me of what Chloe told me.
1 september 2019
2 months were gone, 2 months of preparation. A week from now I would be in charge of my first game. Of course my first real job was to put together a quality team which could represent the United States. I travelled the country and even made some trips to countries such as Brazil, Germany and England. A beautiful journey, but more importantly one that taught me a lot.
The squad features mainly players who play in the Unied States, but has also a few players who play in Europe. The key players are expected to be Haji Wright. As well as the back pairing of Trusty and McKenzie, who have impressed at Philadelphia Union.
The opposition will be Chile in a home game, followed by an away game in Colombia. The United States are tipped slight favourites for the Chile game, partially due to the home advantage, while a draw is expected for the game against Colombia.
I think Roselynn will need some time to grow a thicker skin to learn to deal with potential criticism. In a sport that is fuelled by opinions, it's vital. Best of luck to her in her new role though. She's certainly been thrown in at the deep end with tough games against Chile and Colombia.
Rosie seems to be struggling slightly with the pressures that come with modern day management, however, once she gets a few games under her belt I am sure she will start gaining the confidence required.
The criticism will be inevitable due to the unique situation around her appointment, but the best way to counteract the criticism would be to show the people that she is fit for the role in men's football
3 september 2019
Today was my real start as manager, I flew to Texas yesterday, where I would meet with the 23 players in order to train for 2 days in preparation of my first game in charge. Chile would be our opponent. Chile has some very talented players as well as the ‘South American Spirit’. It would be a tough match either way. It will be the first time I’ll meet the team. Of course, I had spoken to some players, during some scouting trips, but this is different.
I arrived early in the day and slowly some players started to find their way to our hotel. The squad was complete just before dinner. We sat down, got a delicious meal and I got to finally introduce myself. The response of the squad was very different to the response of the media. There were some questions of the squad of course, but the treatment was so much better than the one of the media.
4 September 2019
The first training day. We would wake up early together, have some breakfast and hit an early jog together. After the jog we would start with some physical exercise. I believe the most important thing in modern day football is to have a physically fit squad. I didn’t have to look for long, before realizing that wouldn’t be a problem at all. We would end up doing some team exercises, before going to sleep early, to work at our tactical game.
5 september 2019
The difference between day one and day two were big, really big. Where the physical part was fantastic, the tactical side was quite poor. It may have had a lot of different reasons. The difference between my game plan and to the game plan of their former manager or their club manager. Maybe the fact that these guys haven’t played together all that often or maybe it was just my poor tactics.
Luckily the USA is a football or as most would say soccer nation on the rise and that was very obvious. Some fantastic trainers and analysts accompanied me and the squad, to make sure we would be tactically sound. We worked a long time, but progress was made. Unfortunately that is the biggest downside of international football, the amount of time you have to make the squad play just the way you want to, but I was very happy with what was accomplished in 2 days.
6 September 2019
The day before the game, I spend most of last night analysing some of the Chile games. They were exactly what I expected, a fantastic mix of great skill as well as some determined individuals. We have of course made great progress in the 2 days we had, but beating this Chile side wouldn’t be an easy task at all.
The day began with a nice practice as well as a few more exercises, before we stopped early on the day to take some rest and prepare for tomorrow. I was really happy to be able to enjoy a team which started to really gel with each other. I didn’t expect to be able to say after two and a half days of training that we were ready for the Chile game, but we were.
7 september 2019
I can’t really pretend like I slept much, if I even slept at all. I was quite nervous for the game, but I remained confident in the squad. I was the first to wake up and grabbed some breakfast. It didn’t take long until Chloe, who was the team manager, sat down next to me.
We talked for quite a while, until slowly most of the boys got up and were enjoying their food. I decided to make use of the opportunity and talked to the boys. Praising them for their hard work, but also warning them that the work isn’t over.
A few hours had passed and my bags were packed, since we would be on a plane to Colombia a few hours after the game ended and slowly but surely I started to become more and more nervous. Two hours and it’s here, two hours. I stayed in my room alone, to process everything and to fight the nerved, unknowingly making the squad wait to leave for the stadium.
We arrived with a bit over an hour and a half to go and it was time to announce the squad. Frankly, it was hard to only pick 11 players, all 23 of them deserved to play, but only 11 were allowed to start. I wrote down a million of different starting XI’s down for myself, before finally settling one. I wrote down the team for the squad to see and went to the field, I greeted the Chile manager and was waiting for the squad to start their warming-up. During the warming-up I saw the first few fans getting seated and as time went on the stadium filled with at least 2000 people. Some Chileans, but most were there for us, although a wonderful feeling, it put the pressure on a bit more.
Time was slowly ticking, the warming-up finished. Some last words of encouragement were spoken. The squad was on the field waiting for the whistle to blow. It was time, my first game as manager is on its way.
7 september 2019
The whistle went and I sat down in my chair. I closed my eyes for a few seconds to process everything. It seemed like seconds, and well it was, before I heard some cheering next to me. I opened my eyes and saw cheering all around. “Did we score, did we actually score?” is what I managed to get out of my mouth. The entire bench looked at me, questioning why I wasn’t paying attention.
A few seconds I saw confirmation. We scored, 30 seconds into the game. It was the start of a wonderful first half. Not even 15 minutes into the game we scored our second. We managed to grab a third, soon after. Unfortunately Chile showed they can actually attack and grabbed their first quickly after. When the first half seemed to end, the fifth goal was scored and once again we were the ones to score.
As the first half came to an end I walked back to the dressing room, with the team following soon after. As everybody walked in, I sat down and waited for everyone to come in. When everybody was there I stood up and applauded. “Guys, I’m proud. The way we played, we have been together for a few days and I saw a real team out there.” The dressing room was undoubtedly, understandably pleased.
As the second half started we kept playing like we were in the first half, dominating Chile in every way possible. Despite our continued domination it was Chile to grab their second in the game. Our continued domination did finally result in something as we grabbed our fifth goal in the 71st minute. That would also be the final result as we closed out the game with ease.
We celebrated our victory. But we knew we had a plane to catch in a couple of hours. The atmosphere was fantastic . I’ve been in winning dressing rooms before, but there was just a big difference. The pride the players seemed to feel to defend the American colors for the first time. The desire to defend them, that made me proud and it made everyone proud.
As the final celebrations were put behind us, we were ready to prepare for Colombia. We were on our way to the airport for our late night flight as I started to look into our opponent. I was watching some footage of their game against Paraguay, which took place a few hours before our game. As Colombia were 1-0 behind and I was desperately making notes at the airport, suddenly my laptop was shut down. “What was that good for” I screamed, not knowing who was responsible. “Roselynn, stop worrying about everything. You need to calm down. This can wait.” Chloe said, revealing herself as the culprit.
“Come, let’s have a drink together, to celebrate.” she continued. I nodded and decide to follow here. Despite the time a few shops were opened, and we walked towards a little bar. We sat down and Chloe ordered two beers. While she was ordering I pulled her shirt to remind her of the fact that I’m not allowed to drink.
Chloe knew what I meant, but refused to change the order, so we went and got a seat and started talking. “See, this is way better than studying some random football game.” she said, with a big smile on her face. Slightly annoyed at her remark I told her how it was important to study those games. “Of course it is” Chloe replied with a slight sarcastic tone as she downed her beer and stood up: “We’ve got a plane to catch.” “But I’m not finished with my drink.” “You weren’t allowed to even start it in the first place.” Chloe responded.
8 september 2019
As time passed we reached the South American country, where we would have one day to try to prepare for the Colombia match. As we reached the hotel, most of the players went on to enjoy the Colombian sunshine and make most of their day off. I had different plans, I needed to fully prepare for the game coming up. As I didn’t work on it last night I had to work all day and night to fully prepare for the game against Colombia.
I must’ve watched the Colombia v Paraguay three times before telling myself I had seen enough. All I could think about is what Chloe told me. I wanted to prepare for the game so much that I forgot to enjoy myself. So I decided to take a day off myself too and enjoy the wonderful Colombian weather.
10 september 2019
After a wonderful day off and a day of training we were ready to take on Colombia. I wanted to see the same plan as the Chile game, executed to perfection. Unfortunately Colombia didn’t want anything to do with it.
As we were looking for early control it was the South American side who took the lead after just 3 minutes, as well as doubling that lead minutes later. Despite being 2-0 down, we showed courage to keep attempting to control the game. Those efforts paid off as we secured ourselves the goal to keep us in the game soon after.
Despite our fantastic play it was Colombia, who undeservedly grabbed two more goals before the end of the first half to go into the break leading 4-1. While the scoreboard said Colombia were all over us, I couldn’t help but see a dominant US side, controlling the game.
That exact thought is what I took to the dressing room, telling the squad that our play was fantastic, and we were just lacking the luck in the game. As the second half started it took seconds for Colombia to score their 5th. Despite our continued domination it was Colombia to grab their 6th, after a clumsy tackle was penalized and the penalty was put in.
While being the better side looking at the statistics. It was Colombia to give us a lesson in effectivity and despite the scoreline. We continued to try to play football the way I want us to, resulting in two goals in the second half against a Colombia who knew they had the game won.
“Quite simply, we weren’t good enough in front of goal. While also not being good enough defensively. We created too little top tier chances in their half, while conceding goals which could’ve easily been prevented.” I told the squad, while also expressing my happiness as the team played pretty well, despite the scoreline. A lot of work has to be done, but I was happy with the progress made in a week time.
A massive difference in results there, you clearly performed to perfection in the Chile game, however, there is never an excuse to concede 6 goals in a game. The clear focus needs to be on defense in the next set of games, as you can clearly score goals at will.