Top Coach in El Paso, Texas Wants To Grow Soccer
Diversity and Inclusion are big buzz words but there are several underserved areas of our country with great talent to develop. Cosmos Soccer Academy‘s Jaime Quintana wants U.S. Soccer to do more to help players in El Paso develop and meet the needs of local talent. He believes we all need to be accountable for doing what’s right if we want soccer to become the predominant sport in America.
Jaime Quintana started coaching soccer when he was 18-years-old in El Paso and has continued to build the city’s soccer culture for over 20 plus years. As the Director and President of El Paso Cosmos FC Soccer Academy, Quintana takes great pride in providing opportunities for players to reach their peak performance, even if that means exporting talent to academies and clubs outside the area.
Quintana and his Director of Coaching, Javier MacDonald, have developed many talented youth soccer players in this underserved area of American soccer. Producing results larger mecca’s of soccer would be proud of, Quintana is a leader in youth soccer and driven to make a difference.
SoccerToday Interview with Jaime Quintana
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you think of the game of soccer in America — in general?
Jaime Quintana: I think we are at a critical point in the game, domestically and worldwide, between the men and the women. Finally, the USA is recognizing the huge economic impact this sport can have, but it’s for U.S. Soccer to figure out how it can benefit everyone. The game has the ability to bring people together. We just need to be smarter about it.
Our main goal at El Paso Cosmos FC is to develop our players and help them to be noticed. We want to raise the level of our players domestically. We want to keep them playing in the USA or where ever they can reach their dreams.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you think about racism, when it rears its head in soccer? How should it be dealt with?
Jaime Quintana: Honestly, I think the only way is to tackle it head-on. I don’t think there’s any place for racism in the game at all and I don’t think it should be tolerated at all.
Diane Scavuzzo: I totally agree with you, I’m shocked at how it’s being swept under the rug or not addressed in some European situations.
Jaime Quintana:I have the utmost respect when a team in Europe shuts the game out and the fans cannot see. They’re saying aloud, because of racists fans, everyone else is not going to be able to enjoy the match.
Unless we hold our neighbors accountable for what’s right, it’s never going to change.
Diane Scavuzzo: You have been developing talented youth soccer players for years and have established a recruiting relationship between MLS’ Sporting Kansas City and your El Paso youth soccer club. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Jaime Quintana: We’ve been fortunate to have a great relationship with Jon Parry and Michel Ribeiro from Sporting KC. They actually came down to El Paso to see our players and we went up to see their academy. It is very impressive.
Diane Scavuzzo: How would you describe your youth soccer club — El Paso Cosmos FC Soccer Academy — style of play?
Jaime Quintana: We like to be able to play a possession-oriented game and emphasize the development of technical skills. We don’t place the winning before the development. We want the kids to be able to think and learn to increase their IQ and become students of the game.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is one of the greatest challenges we face in America when developing great youth soccer players?
Jaime Quintana: I think part of the problem is we’re still trying to develop an identity.
We’re trying to steal identities from other countries.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you think we have regional soccer identities?
We don’t have a true identity, we are constantly listening to others, just because they come from a country that develops their young successfully. But we are a unique nation.
Jaime Quintana: No, there are a few outstanding clubs that have a clear identity and style of play, but not many.
Soccer in the U.S. doesn’t have a true identity.
This is making it very difficult to develop our youth players. There needs to be consistency between the coaching staff, kind of like what Sporting Kansas City has accomplished. FC Dallas is another club that has an identifiable style.
Diane Scavuzzo: As a nation, do you think we’re too large to ever have a cohesive identity?
Jaime Quintana: I don’t think we’re too large, but as the case in point with ECNL and the Federation, when U.S. Soccer launched the Girls DA, I think we continue to dilute our pathways because everyone’s always trying to come out with the latest and greatest.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why do you think this happens?
Jaime Quintana: I don’t know. All I can do is assume it is money. I feel like the organizations in youth soccer are growing further apart, not more aligned and cooperative.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is youth soccer like in your area of Texas?
Jaime Quintana: The most difficult thing in El Paso is that we don’t have the size player pool that other markets have so we literally have to find and make our own players.
The problem is compounded because it is hard to find quality trainers comparable to a high-quality MLS Academy staff where everyone’s in sync with a common vision — and working together to achieve the best player development possible. Those clubs also have the financial resources which smaller, independent clubs do not.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you see U.S. Soccer as a resource?
Jaime Quintana: From my perspective, it has benefited our players more to have relationships with the MLS clubs and their Academy Directors.
I think there’s a complete disconnect with U.S. Soccer and the underserved communities.
Larger clubs don’t have any reason to work with the Federation — and, the Federation doesn’t seem to work with the smaller clubs. I don’t mean that in a bad way, that’s just the truth.
Diane Scavuzzo: If you had a magic wand, what would you want to change in El Paso or change in general?
Jaime Quintana: I would like for the Federation to be a little bit more open to creating something in the Southwest region and to work with underserved areas. There’s nothing in El Paso, Albuquerque, nor a lot in Phoenix or even all of Colorado.
We have exported so much talent from El Paso — there’s a crazy amount of talent here.
U.S. Soccer is not doing enough. They can do more, especially with helping develop the hidden talent and the diamonds in the rough.
Diane Scavuzzo: Everyone agrees there is talent in underserved areas, but you believe U.S. Soccer’s Talent Identification program is not working in your area? Are scouts coming to El Paso?
Jaime Quintana: I’ve been coaching here for over twenty years coaching and U.S. Soccer was more supportive of El Paso in the past than it is now. We are on our own.
Everyone asks me if we want to join an affiliate program. I can tell you we’ve been approached by anyone and everyone to do an affiliation. But there are real benefits not being married to a specific club or affiliate program — you can get your players into different MLS clubs.
Right now, we have several players training at San Antonio and in Real Salt Lake.
Diane Scavuzzo: That is very impressive.
Jaime Quintana: If we’ve been able to do this on a small scale with our limited resources, can you imagine what could be possible?
Diane Scavuzzo: Absolutely. The parents at your club must be impressed as well.
Jaime Quintana: People know that we truly work at developing and teaching the kids to play the game and we have a proven record.
Diane Scavuzzo: What does your training focus on?
Jaime Quintana: It is a complete program. We teaching the kids how to play and reduce space, how to play out from the back, how to resolve situations, and to think even before they have the ball. We might not win everything, but we’ll lose on technical errors or tactical errors. There’s real respect from the coaches, players and the families.
The problem is, not everybody can afford our fee. I can’t scholarship everybody. And, trust me, I do everything I can to pump money into this program.
Diane Scavuzzo: How many kids does your club provide a scholarship to or can you give me an estimate of what percentage of players receive financial assistance?
Jaime Quintana: 30% of our kids are given scholarships.
Diane Scavuzzo: How much does that add up to in potential revenue that you do not bring in?
Jaime Quintana: Approximately $25,000. This is an investment in our community.
Diane Scavuzzo: Impressive.
Jaime Quintana: Thanks, but that’s just it — you can imagine what we have to do if we had more money. It would be great if we could get someone to invest money in El Paso’s soccer.
We need to bring together the different youth soccer clubs in El Paso. El Paso doesn’t have a choice but to tier the talent here. Unless we, as clubs, come together, to work together, we’re never going to see the real impact we could have.
Youth Soccer Players from El Paso, TX that Jaime Quintana has helped develope include:
- Cienna Arrieta — Selected to U23 U.S. Soccer Women’s Team. Plays At Texas A&M
- Rocky Perez —Selected to U17 U.S. Soccer Men’s Team. Currently at San Antonio FC
- Emily Alvarado — Played U17 World Cup and U20 Mexican National Team in CONCACAF World Cup
- Emily Alvarado — Upcoming Goalkeeper on the Women’s Mexican National Team. Former ECNL, Nike Id2 Camp player who we recommended to Houston Rush
- Christopher Garcia — Selected to U19 U.S. Soccer Men’s Team. Currently at Real Salt Lake DA
- Nicolas BarreiroR— Currently at Real Salt Lake DA
- Azaf Castaneda — Currently at San Antonio FC DA
- Dylan Mendoza— Currently at San Antonio FC DA
- Seth Stewart — Currently at Chicago Fire DA.
- Andres Zavalta — Currently San Antonio FC DA, formerly at Barcelona Academy DA
- Luis Mario Bautista—Currently at Bravos Academy In Liga Mx, Ciudad Juarez Mexico.
- El Paso’s Notable Players who Play Professionally include:
- Omar Salgado: MLS #1 Draft Pick By Vancouver
- Alejandro Zendejas: Plays For Chivas Of Guadalajara In Liga Mx.
- Mikey Ambrose: Played For MLS Atlanta United Championship Team, Now Playing For Miami.
- Ricardo Pepi: Playing For MLS FC Dallas
- Hector Montalvo: Played In Tigres For Liga MX Academy.