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Scouting for Talent: Lessons from NYCFC

Posted on Friday, Jun 16, 2017

New York City Football Club Scouting For Talent BlogHow does a top football team source top talent – and what can hiring managers learn from their approach? As the official recruitment partner of New York City Football Club, Hays talked to Technical Director David Lee about their approach to finding talent.

How do you determine what talent is added to the team? What does a needs assessment look like?
We’re constantly evaluating team and individual performances on a weekly basis, but since we are only able to acquire players in the two transfer windows our assessment timeline regarding potential new signings naturally focuses around these times. We evaluate our current squad and all the potentially important information on those players such as contract expiry, potential departures, long-term injuries, player development pathways and then sit with our technical staff to discuss the overall squad, individual players and balance within the team. We then define the positions and profiles of the players we’d like to try and acquire and balance this against the other limitations we are provided – salary cap space, international player limitations, etc – and we prepare a formal brief which outlines what our needs look like.

What is your selection criteria for deciding who joins the team?
The most important criteria are their quality and impact on the field – we are constantly trying to evolve and improve the team each season, so we try and focus on acquiring players who can help us to achieve better results on the field. To assess this, we evaluate players from across the world who are presented to us via our scouting network that meet the brief we have prepared. These go through numerous filtering checkpoints through our scouting assessments and the ones who successfully pass through all the filters are then presented to our technical staff to review. Each of the players we sign will have been watched numerous times on video, in person over several games, have rigorous data analysis on their performances and have met with our staff in person. If the players meet all these criteria, then we begin discussions to try and find a financial agreement.

How do you assess technical skills that stand out on the field, versus the soft skills that make someone a good team player?
The technical skills on the field are usually “easier” to assess, since players we may be looking to sign will have played many professional games which we can scout to determine their suitability for our club. We know that the player’s personal character is vitally important in how they will adapt and so we always meet with each player in person before any final decision so we can discuss with them about their interest in joining our club, their career and future ambitions and to decide how they will fit into our culture. We also look to get as many references as we can from coaches and players who have played with the player in their previous career. All this information is then used to process our final decision on the players we try to sign.

How do you make sure someone will be a good fit with the team and club culture?
It is always a challenge when bringing players to a new league and to a new team to determine how they will integrate and settle but we try to have as much information about each player as possible – from interviewing them and from outside references. We also try to have a very clear identity of the types of players and people we look to bring into our team, which develops the culture we want, and so when meeting with potential new recruits it is easier to know if they will fit.
 

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