Liverpool Academy’s High-Level Coaching Staff Continues To Grow
In the tight-knit youth soccer world of Southern California, there is a handful of really special coaches who have a distinct and well-respected following. Gus Castaneda is a highly respected youth coach with a focus on player development.
The landscape of American youth soccer is always changing — and as a youth soccer club grows, they can become magnets for highly accomplished coaches and talented players. Liverpool International Academy in SoCal, formerly LA Galaxy OC, is one of those youth soccer clubs that is attracting top talent — because of the leadership of it’s CEO Tim Woodcock and Liverpool FC‘s vast support for their LFC International Academies.
The top-ranking English Premier Club opened in 1892 and has earned 18 league titles, 6 European Cups, 7 FA Cups, and 3 UEFA Cups and proudly sits atop of the EPL this season. Liverpool’s famous manager, Jürgen Klopp, wants youth players to have fun and enjoy learning how to play ‘The Liverpool Way’. A great partner for the organization, SoCal’s Liverpool International Academy reaches hundreds of soccer families and is the only highly competitive youth soccer program in Orange Country with a strong grassroots recreational program.
Gus Castaneda has joined Liverpool International Academy in SoCal, as Premier Program Director and Head Coach. A former professional player who played for the San Diego Sockers, Castaneda has been coaching for nearly two decades and was the long time Girls Director of Coaching at West Coast FC.
“Gus Castaneda’s knowledge of elite-level soccer in both ECNL and DA will be a huge asset to our club as we build out our Academy program for 2021.”Tim Woodcock, CEO Liverpool FC International Academy SoCal
Tim Woodcock, CEO Liverpool FC International Academy SoCal says, “Gus is a long time friend and someone who I respect as a coach and as a human being. His experience and accomplishments over a long period of time speak for themselves. I am really excited to work with Gus again who will be Girls Head Coach and our Premier Program Director and will have direct access and influence on all the elite female players. I’m looking forward to sharing the future successes of Liverpool FC International Academy with him.”
As a youth soccer coach who has long emphasized player development over winning, Castaneda is highly acclaimed for his dedication as a youth coach.
Castaneda and Woodcock first meet in 1997 when they both coached at La Jolla Country Day and share a deep, mutual trust and respect. “I have a lot of respect for what Tim has done — he has the passion and the drive to successfully push the game forward. He is a breath of fresh air,” says Castaneda.
“I want to make players better.”Gus Castaneda, Premier Program Director and Head Coach at Liverpool FC International Academy SoCal
Castaneda believes that soccer in the Southern California area is thriving. “With so many great coaches and opportunities to train, today’s players are getting better — at a younger age — than ever before,” says Castaneda.
While kids may be dropping out of youth soccer in other parts of the country, the southwest is a vibrant hotbed of sustained growth. According to Castenada, “The sheer size of the clubs and how many girls’ teams there are — there is no dip in the number of girls playing soccer in this area.”
“I can’t remember the last time a girl quit soccer to play another sport or just drop out of the game.”Gus Castaneda
“The #1 reason a girl quits is because of an injury,” says Castaneda who acknowledges that development is heavily dependent upon quality coaching. “A coach who is coaching to win coaches differently. When you coach to develop, players become more self-confident — and have a lot of fun.”
“Players need to know that the coach and the team believes in them.”Gus Castaneda
“The days of just putting cones down are gone,” says Castenada who is a strong believer in team bonding. “For me, the role of a coach includes bringing the team together. The successful teams are the ones that are bonded and it is not always what you do on the field that makes you win.”
“It is important to achieve a sense of togetherness. If a player does not feel important on the team, it can create divisions — it is critical that everyone feels that they are contributing on and off the field, whether you playing a match or doing volunteer work at orphanages or just traveling as a team.”
“We always want 100% participation,” adds Castenada. “Coaches have to teach all of the aspects — more than the XO — to help players become successful in life. For instance, most players go through peaks and valleys in the pecking order on the team and all players can have rough moments. Coaches need to help kids learn the skills of what it takes to be part of a group.”
What does Castenada think of his new club?
“Liverpool International Academy SoCal has everything we need for players to be successful.”Gus Castaneda
“The Great Park in Irvine is a nice facility with great fields. Many soccer clubs that do not have access to soccer-specific fields,” says Castenada. “My first day of practice was great. While the final coaching assignments are not set, I have trained a girls’ team and a boy’s team and was impressed — all the players gave 100%. This is a great opportunity.”
For more information, please visit the Liverpool International Academy in SoCal’s website