The 11-person graduation class from the U.S. Soccer Federation's Pro License course at their graduation ceremony this past December. | Photo courtesy U.S. Soccer
CHICAGO – A trio of coaches from the USL Championship and Super League were among the 11 graduates announced on Friday of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Pro License course, the highest soccer license recognized in the United States.
The Charleston Battery’s Ben Pirmann, Super League Carolina Philip Poole and former Phoenix Rising FC Head Coach Juan Guerra were each honored in a graduation ceremony in December after completing the year-long course.
“Embarking on the Pro coaching course is a journey that transforms passion into expertise,” said U.S. Soccer Director of Coaching Didier Chambaron. “It's not just a certification; it's a commitment to mastering the art and science of coaching at the highest level, and a testament to the dedication of coaches who strive for excellence, pushing boundaries to elevate the standards of soccer coaching across the US.”
Pirmann has become one of the top Head Coaches in the USL Championship over the past three years. Voted as the 2022 USL Championship Coach of the Year at Memphis 901 FC, he joined Charleston last offseason and subsequently earned nomination for the award for a second consecutive year after leading the Battery to the largest increase in points in league history in a single season, earning a top-three finish in the Eastern Conference. Pirmann then led the Battery to the Eastern Conference title in the 2023 USL Championship Playoffs before the side fell in a dramatic penalty shootout to Phoenix Rising FC last November.
Rising FC’s first league title run was guided by Guerra, who completed the course while serving as Phoenix’s Head Coach. The former Venezuelan international – who’s coaching path began in the Championship as an assistant coach at both Indy Eleven and Phoenix following the completion of his playing career – rejoined Phoenix as its Head Coach in August, 2022 from the same role at Oakland Roots SC and this past year helped lead Rising FC back to the postseason. The side became the first team to win four consecutive road games on the way to lifting the trophy at the USL Championship Final. Now an assistant coach at Houston Dynamo FC, Guerra became the youngest Head Coach to lead a side to the USL Championship title.
Poole’s graduation comes as he prepares to league Super League Carolina into its inaugural season in the new women’s professional league this August. Most recently the Goalkeeper’s Coach for the United States Women’s National Team, Poole has worked as a coach for U.S. Soccer since 2012. In 2020 he joined the USWNT program and helped lead the side to an impressive 2020 Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where the team took home the bronze medal. This was followed by four She Believes Championships (2020, 2021, 2022, 2023), and the 2022 Concacaf W Championship which qualified the team for both the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The full graduation class included coaches from Major League Soccer, the National Women’s Soccer League, MLS NEXT Pro and the U.S. Soccer Youth National Team program.
2023 PRO COURSE GRADUATES
Medhi Ballouchy (Assistant Coach, New York City FC – MLS)
Ricardo Clark (Head Coach, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 – MLSNP)
Freya Coombe (Assistant Coach, KC Current – NWSL)
Juan Guerra (Head Coach, Phoenix Rising FC – USL Championship)
Sarah Lowdon (Assistant Coach, Portland Thorns – NWSL)
Shannon Murray (Head Coach, Portland Timbers 2 – MLSNP)
Sean Nahas (Head Coach, NC Courage – NWSL)
Clint Peay (Assistant Coach, New England Revolution – MLS)
Ben Pirmann (Head Coach, Charleston Battery – USL Championship)
Phillip Poole (Assistant Coach, U.S. Women’s National Team)
Natalia Astrain* (Former Head Coach, U-17 Women’s Youth National Team)
*Completed course after beginning with the 2022 class