Spotlight Profile: Steve Myles of the Murrieta Surf
In a career up to now that has seen him work in the MLS, the English Pro Leagues and Youth Soccer on both sides of the Atlantic, Steve Myles has coached every level of player, from a World Cup winner to an England captain to one of America’s most exciting young strikers.
But he is taking his SoCal Club, the Murrieta Surf, right back to basics in a concerted bid to help create the kind of well rounded, technically superb footballers he hopes may provide the missing X factor that could push the US game to the next level.
The Surf’s focus on teaching key fundamentals of the game to young club players – some as young as 4,5 and 6 – has already proved hugely successful for the girls younger program under the expert guidance of Hector Garcia Cabrera. Indeed, results of the development program have included the girls U12’s playing in the finals of President’s State Cup for the last 3 years and winning 2 out of the 3 finals.
The same focus has also been put into the boys program and that program is already showing impressive signs, both in results and in the development of playing skills, under the guidance of Coach Nick Soto.
As Director of Soccer Operations Steve, a former Assistant Coach with the MLS New England Revolution and Academy Coach at the LA Galaxy US Academy, together with his coaching and administration team has helped transform the Murrieta Surf Club since taking over the reins 3 years ago.
From being an under-achieving club, now with all the hard work and effort of the Board, the President, Rob Hawks and girls DOC Cyndi Goodwin, as well as all the coaches of the Club, Murrieta Surf now regularly competes for Presidents Cup, National Cup and plays in the top flights of the Southern California Soccer League.
“The players and the coaches have ALL worked extremely hard,” he said, “and the improvement in player and team performance has been well received by all.”
Steve, who holds a UEFA “A” Coaching License, has made sure his soccer philosophy, honed through his professional playing and coaching experience, filters down to every level of the Club.
“I don’t mind someone doing a trick in the right place, but more important is – can you receive a ball with or without pressure and pass it?
“Can you do it well and more consistently than anyone else? Those are the questions I ask,” he explains.
“I think it is important for the fundamentals to be taught at the younger age and for players to work hard and repetitively in practice, not just at organized training sessions but at home in their spare time. It is no coincidence that the worlds’ best players, like Messi & Ronaldo, are the ones who spend hours practicing their skills long after others have left."
The Murrieta Surf has grown to more than 600 kids in the Club program with another 1,000 in the recreation program. We don’t recruit just for the numbers, we don’t want 300 teams in this club.
“We are more interested in quality than quantity,” he says. “Four times a week we hold free skills sessions and regularly attract around 120 kids each session who work hard for an hour on their ball skills. It is so encouraging to see the same kids turn up for the sessions because they are so keen to learn."
Although he concedes it is bound to be a tricky transition, Steve a former member of the USA National Staff for Scouting, understands why US Soccer is changing teams to calendar age groups, which falls into line with most other soccer systems around the world, and Surf is working hard to adopt the changes quickly and as smoothly as possible.
“This wasn’t something US Soccer just decided to try overnight,” he says. “There were a lot of studies and thought about the changes. There are so many good players here but there is still something missing, and US Soccer is trying to figure that out.
“It is all about bridging that cultural gap – but I think we will get there”
Here, Steve tackles our Football.com Q&A:
1. Can you sum up your Soccer Philosophy?
STEVE: Learn the fundamentals. The game is very simple and should not be complicated by coaches. We are looking for players to be able to control and pass the ball and read the game.
2. What are the most important attributes you look for in a young player?
STEVE: Attitude – Having a good attitude is one of the most important things along with being passionate and committed to being the best they can be.
3. Who is/was your favorite player and Pro Team?
STEVE: George Best / Sheffield Wednesday.
4. How would you sum up your background in soccer?
STEVE: There are 5 FA Cup Final medals in the family so you can tell soccer is in my blood. I became a youth team coach at Sheffield United then assisted in first team duties whilst at the Club from 1991 – 2000. Amongst the number of players brought through the youth system at Sheffield United we had Phil Jagielka who recently went on to captain the England National Team along with Nick Montgomery and Michael Tonge, both Premier League players.
After moving to the USA I was assistant coach at the WUSA Club – San Jose Cyberrays - where I was privileged to coach amongst others Brandi Chastain, Sissi, Tisha Venturini, Pretinha and Amanda Cromwell (the current UCLA Coach). I then worked at the LA Galaxy where I coached the U16/U18 and U20 Academy teams where we had a certain Gyassi Zardes who came through the ranks. His determination and passion to become a professional soccer should serve as an inspiration to ALL young aspiring American players.
In 2010 I joined MLS New England Revolution as assistant coach to Steve Nicol spending just over 2 years in Boston, MA before coming back to Southern California.