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A Conversation With U-18 Head Coach Paul Shaw

The Orlando City youth coach talks about his team and the season so far.

Orlando City SC

Orlando City SC U-18 Head Coach Paul Shaw has an impressive resume.In addition to coaching in academies at Ferencvaros (Hungary) and Rotherham United, Shaw also served as head coach of USL Pro side FC New York in 2010-11. As a player, Shaw took the pitch for 23 years as a pro in England, Hungary and the U.S. for the likes of Arsenal, Millwall, Sheffield United, Gillingham and Ferencvaros. He has served under the tutelage of managers such as Arsene Wenger, Neil Warnock and former Hungary National Team coach Csank Janos.

We caught up with Shaw recently and the one thing he stressed more than any other during our interview was player development. The message was that the U-18 players are developing before heading out to college. They are having a good season as a team and have even seen an international call-up amongst their ranks.

How long have you been a coach with Orlando City SC?

Paul Shaw: "This is currently my third season with the club."

How did you become a youth coach at Orlando City SC?

PS: "I was coaching in New York when I got the opportunity to come down. I came in really when the youth academy started at the beginning. It started in the summer of 2012."

What teams do you work with and what is your official title?

PS: "I work with the U-18s, mostly. I am currently the U-18 head coach. The other title I have is as the Boys Academy Director."

How often does the U-18 team practice together, and do the guys play high school as well?

PS: "We practice about four times a week together. The U-18 guys do not play high school soccer."

What is the team's preferred formation, and do you ever use any formations that differ from the senior team?

PS: "No, you know we really only use the formation employed by the senior team, the 4-2-3-1."

Who is having a good year, who should we watch out for on this team?

PS: "Well, many of the guys are having a great year. Allen Sexius is one. He is an athletic midfielder who can go a long way. Mason Stajduhar, who is a goalkeeper, has impressed a lot so far. He was called up for national team duty. Overall this is a good group of guys."

Are there any players in your opinion that may be close to breaking into the first team, whether for OCSC or elsewhere, like Louisville City?

PS: "Not yet, these guys are just developing right now. The goal is to develop these guys to make the Orlando City first team eventually. Most of these guys will go on to play soccer in college after their time with us. They can continue to develop and get their degree. After college, we will figure out where to go with them from there, whether that is USL PRO/NASL, the first team, or the U-23s."

How often do you work with Head Coach Adrian Heath regarding the youth teams?

PS: "We speak very often. The youth coaches get to watch his training sessions, which really helps us to grow. We try and watch as many as we can."

Is there anything you want to convey to our readers? Highlight any players, tactics, tournaments, etc.?

PS: "We just had the Academy Showcase a couple of weeks back. There were about 80 of the best youth teams at the Showcase. We played three really tough teams. They were real tough and we really tested ourselves. We played against other MLS academy teams as well. We won all three of our games. It's always a great feeling, to win. You want to win and that is the nature of the sport -- we are all competitive -- but you also want to see development. You have to find the perfect balance between winning and developing the guys."