Q&A with Alfonso Mondelo
January 28, 2007

On the heels of former Metro youth player Gabriel Ferrari signing with Sampdoria, MetroFanatic talked to MLS Director of Player Programs and former MetroStar head coach Alfonso Mondelo about the one that got away and the system that allowed him to do so.

MetroFanatic: What does your role as MLS Director of Player Programs cover?
Alfonso Mondelo: Amongst the duties of my department is the technical evaluation of MLS, also setting a centralized scouting network that can serve as a resource for all of our teams. We are also looking at ways to make our initiative for professional youth development work with in the current landscape of youth soccer. There is a close working relationship between the Player department and the Department of officiating to better serve the quality of MLS.

MF: Did RBNY make an attempt to sign Gabriel Ferrari? Was there a contract offer? If not, why not?
AM: I assume that this is the player that is currently playing for Sampdoria, I am personally not aware of any attempts to sign Ferrari.

MF: In the case of Johnny Exantus, when will he be allowed to join the first team?
AM: Provided he satisfies the youth development requirements for 2006 and 2007 he would be eligible to join the RB from the beginning of the 2008 season.

MF: Are there other youth players in the RBNY system that could merit first-team consideration?
AM: This question you should be addressed to the NYRB, as it would be the club that evaluates the talent of the players in their system and makes those decisions.

MF: Why is MLS forcing RBNY to put its youth system on par with the other teams, as opposed of reaping benefits from the investment in youth the MetroStars made a number of years ago?
AM: MLS's recent youth development initiative imposes a variety of minimum standard requirement on teams to ensure that home-grown players are being provided with real training and development, an appropriate number and standard of games, full-time coaching attention, etc. Although these standards were only announced recently, they were widely discussed during the 2006 season. Therefore, in order to implement the new system as quickly as possible, the league decided to allow training satisfying the requirements during the 2006 season to count towards the home grown player timeline.

Certain MLS teams already had some form of youth development program in place. However, (1) it was not clear that these programs satisfied the minimum requirements (there had been no monitoring system in place) and (2) the system was implemented to clearly set out an incentive program on an equal basis, not to reward those teams who had some form of youth program already in place.

The teams who had these programs in place did so on the clear understanding that they would have the advantage of being a step ahead of the others if we ever got the system up and functioning, but would not be able to claim credit for past years' efforts.

I am sure that the players involved with the MetroStars/Red Bulls youth development program have and will continue to benefit from the experience and instruction they received since the inception of the program.

MF: What states does RBNY's "Home Territory", as outlined in the Youth Development Initiative, include?
AM: The Home Territory for the NYRB as currently stated in the Youth Development Proposal will be within 75 miles of the team's training facility. They will also be allowed one player from the Non-Home Territory but the NYRB must be involved in the day to day running of the players club of origin.

MF: How big of an obstacle are the NCAA and the potential loss of college eligibility when dealing with youth players?
AM: Teams will have to set up a separate youth division and make sure that the NCAA requirements are being met so as not to jeopardize eligibility, there will be some challenges to be sure but nothing that is insurmountable and at the end of the day the players will benefit as will the college game.

MF: Can you tell us an interesting story about Marcelo Vega?
AM: Marcelo was one of the most talented Chilean players of his generation, unfortunately during his stay in MLS he was not in the best form of his career. He will probably be remembered for being the first player in league history to be red carded for applauding a referee decision.

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