MLS Director of Player Development Tim Hankinson has been named the first head coach of the U.S. Pro 40 Select team, and longtime MLS consultant Jan Osborne will oversee the team's logistics as GM.
The Pro 40 Select team will consist of players from Project-40, the joint venture between MLS and U.S. Soccer designed to develop America's best youth players in a professional environment. The Pro 40 Select team will compete in the A-League's Pacific Division this summer.
Hankinson brings more than 20 years of coaching and managment experience at both the collegiate and professional levels. He led Alabama A&M to a pair of NCAA Final Four appearances and also earned Big East Coach of the Year honors during his six years at Syracuse. The former USISL head coach and GM has continually demonstrated an ability to recognize talent and produce wins.
"We want to produce professional players who exceed our expectations," he said. "One of the major goals of the program is to create great leaders on the field. The young men who make up this team will significantly impact the future of soccer in the United States, on both an international and professional level."
Hankinson, who also directed the MLS player combines in 1997 and 1998, will lead the team into 28 hostile environments, as the Pro 40 Select squad will compete on the road against all 27 A-League teams (including twice at New Orleans).
"The extensive road schedule will only help produce a stronger player," Hankinson explained. "On the youth national team level, we currently do not host a world championship. Our ultimate goal is to win the World Cup in 2010. For our players to reach this goal, they need to become more comfortable as the visiting team, playing against teams who may take special pride in defeating them."
Osborne, who will serve as the team's general manager, spent ten years as U.S. Soccer's Director of National Teams. She will deal with a constant influx of players, who will have various roles with the 12 MLS teams.
"It will be very similar to the way we ran the national team in the late '80s," said Osborne. "We'll try to have a group of core players and make adjustments to the roster as the season progresses. Players will be called up to their MLS team and we'll adapt."
Osborne looks forward to to seeing the development of these young players and the impact of Project-40 on American soccer, and she believes the strength of the program will also be seen on an international level.
:Project-40 will enable these players to be able to compete at a higher level," she said. "This will raise the performance for our teams in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and for the national team at World Cup 2010."
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