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Steve Bushre named inaugural USL Academy Head Coach

By Jon Sicotte, 02/12/24, 9:15AM HST


Bluffton University Head Coach moves from the first team to the academy

The opportunity to launch a Toledo Villa FC Second Team squad was an exciting proposal and Steve Bushre jumped at the chance to take the lead in helping create this new squad.

“I think it's a great concept in trying to develop an actual structured pathway to the First Team,” said the new head coach. “I think it's going to be a really good opportunity for a lot of local guys and younger guys who are wanting to play at a higher level.” 

Bushre, who is the head coach at Bluffton University during the college soccer season and was the goalkeepers coach last season for Toledo Villa, will man the new USL Acadamy squad this coming season.

The USL Academy works diligently with each USL club to accelerate its strategic plans in the youth development space, with the ultimate goal of creating academies across all USL clubs. The USL Academy League provides elite youth talent from across the USL landscape an additional opportunity to compete at a high level.

“It's going to be geared to U17s up to U19s,” Bushre said. “We will have a couple overage guys come in and play from week to week but ultimately, we want guys that are wanting to make more of this than what they'd had experience with from high school or club.”

The USL Academy League establishes a high-level pre-professional training environment, with a direct connection to the local USL senior team. It provides meaningful games to aid in those players’ development and to provide all clubs an opportunity to compete amongst each other in regionalized competition.

“My expectation, and my goal is to structure it in such a way that some of our guys can jump in if need be,” Bushre said. “We had quite a few injuries last year (to the First Team) along with guys coming and going by the end of the season. 

“I hope it's going to be real helpful to the First Team that have a group of guys that are training every day and that know the systems and know how we like to play.”

Tryouts for the Villa Acadamy squad will take place on Sunday, February 18.

“The biggest thing is I just want guys who are hungry to learn and hungry to compete,” Bushe said. “Guys that are looking for that next opportunity, that next step. 

“If we can identify a group of guys that are going to come in and work hard every day, I think we're going to be in good shape.”

In addition to his collegiate coaching experience, Bushre is the founder and head coach for Old Bhoys Soccer Club, an adult-amateur club competing in national and regional leagues. He's also served as a youth development coach at USAi, Indy Premier SC and Hoosier FC since 2012. 

When talking about involvement for this year with the club, coach Matt Johnson brought up the idea of Bushre taking the helm of the Acadamy squad. 

“To me, it sounds like a great opportunity to continue to build a club, and that's what I've done in years past,” he said. “I missed being involved with the adult game and being involved with the summer-ball type of clubs. 

“When he brought that up, I thought it was a great fit. And I jumped at the chance to help out.”

Bushre feels there's enough similarities between his style and Johnson's style when it comes to how to manage these squads. 

“At the end of the day, I want to develop guys who are able to jump in at a moment's notice,” Bushre said. “I'm sure it will do some things a little bit differently, but the basic structure and the principles of play will all be the same. I hope we'll have some opportunities to potentially train against them and see how we match up. 

“I think it's just to be a good opportunity for guys to jump into a little bit more competitive and serious environment where we train every day. We played against some very good club competition as well. So I think it'll be a little bit unique to the guys and I'm looking forward to that aspect of it as well.”