Preparation in the MLS: interview with Pizzuto, coach of the Columbus Crew

From the mls Everything can be said from the tactical point of view, but if there is a level in which the North American league has no equal, it is in athletics. There sports training in the MLS it is at an extraordinary level and it is no coincidence that past champions who have passed through it, like Nesta and Pirlo, to name two, have always emphasized this aspect. Let’s explain the situation a bit. we interviewed Federico Pizzuto, physical trainer of the Columbus Crew and very Italian.

Tell us your story and how did you get to Colón?
In 2015 I started working in the youth sector in Porto, but I always dreamed of having an experience in America, more precisely in New York. In America, as we know, the offers are published on the official website, so I found this opportunity with Columbus, two months after sending the application they contacted me and after another 5 interviews with the performance director and the coach they offered me the position. Obviously I accepted because I had two dreams, one to work in my industry in the United States and the other to go from a youth team to a first team.

First impression of Columbus and the impact of moving from a Portuguese academy to an American academy and performance model?
The first “fear” was precisely the passage to a totally different reality. Instead, the organization amazed me at how much everything was done in the smallest details. The first impact, which also surprised me, was the analytical work, without the ball. So my advantage was trying to develop training with the ball, as was done in Portugal, versus physical training according to MLS standards. The open mind of the company helped me to do things the way I wanted, giving me the confidence I wanted.

Is it difficult to coexist this American physical work mentality with a more South American ball game mentality?
It is difficult, yes, but the South Americans who are in the Crews are very intelligent, because they do not underestimate MLS, since it is a very physical championship. For example Zelarayan or Valenzuela, from the first moment they arrived here, they know that in Mls you have to run, you have to resist contrasts so “for their own good” they have to train physically.

Speaking of this physical preparation, I ask you to tell me about the three challenges this year: the organization of the season with the Concacaf Champions League, the general challenge of preparing a season that is not like the European one but is hotter what cold months and, finally, the challenge of managing a large squad despite the Nations League and the GoldCup.
Mentally it was very difficult to organize, having finished the championship at the beginning of December, we started a week less than the others. Also in the league we played more away games from the beginning, so we were able to play a game every 3 days for 18 days, a considerable effort. Surely the very organization of the competition should be reviewed because it is counterproductive for MLS teams.

As for playing in the hot months, I also wondered without having too many answers, probably the contemporaneity with other American sports, especially the NFL, means that there is more media “space” at other times of the year. on the frozen field in the winter months is very risky for the players.

Strengthening the squad was the priority this year because despite the commitments of the national team, the team does not stop, so the players who play less must be physically prepared to face a championship match from the moment they step onto the pitch.

Listen to “MLS Italia S03 E09 – Interview with Federico Pizzuto S&C Columbus Crew Coach” on Spreaker.

Let’s go down a category, the beauty of MLS is also seeing very young people debuting in the first team. From what you have seen in Portugal, what are the differences?
The first difference, without going any further, here in Colón is that with the new sports center and the new stadium, there will be large investments in the youth sector. As for watching the youngsters play, here there are clearly much more chances to break into the first team, while with Porto the same players from the youth sector struggle to play for the same young teams, they have more chances with a team outside the Port. . .

Have you seen an evolution in people’s interest in football since you arrived?
Indeed yes, I noticed it especially on television, when I arrived it was difficult to find a European football match, whereas now the national television shows many matches during the year. The same in bars and nightclubs, where televisions were usually occupied by soccer, basketball or baseball, now there is always at least one television broadcasting a soccer game. The same in schools, they told me that soccer has been included in sports and not only in recreational activities.

Last question, who are the most “threatening” teams in the West and East this season?
Unfortunately, always Seattle and Philly, even if Philly seems to have started with the brakes on, but they had the same problem as us with Concacaf. On the other hand, Seattle at the level of talent and organization is always scary.

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