How do professional clubs train, play and work in the USA? In order to find out, Ralf Kellermann, head of women’s football at VfL Wolfsburg, recently paid a visit to the Chicago Red Stars. Last year, VfL Women and the Illinois-based club agreed a strategic partnership.
At first glance, the conditions for both sets of players appear to be similar: VfL Wolfsburg Women and their American counterparts each play in a 12-team league and both compete annually in a domestic cup, respectively known as the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and the NWSL Challenge Cup in the US. Furthermore, the Red Stars, like VfL, are pioneers in women’s football: since being founded in 2007, the club has invested in the development of a professional women’s department. That has already borne fruit, given the team’s seven appearances in the NWSL play-offs, two runners-up finishes in the league and a silver medal in the cup. However, there are still many differences between professional football in the two countries, including the play-off system in the USA. The distances involved are also very different. For example, the Red Stars have to travel over 3,000 kilometres to an away game in Los Angeles, which means they are on the road for three to four days.
During his trip, Kellermann visited the Red Stars’ training complex and stadium, among other things. “I was able to get a good overview of the work of the coaching team on site and also the players’ daily and weekly routines,” he said. He also spoke to the club management, head coach, physiotherapists and conditioning coach during his visit, which lasted several days, gaining insights into match and training analysis. “There was an exchange of knowledge at all levels,” he said.