nwsl

New Angel City braintrust plans to build talent from within

Angel City Football Club
The first technical director for Angel City FC hopes to help the club grow along with their recently promoted coach in the NWSL.

LOS ANGELES — Becki Tweed always wanted to become a professional coach. But in 2023, that opportunity came much faster than she expected at Angel City FC. 

Tweed was serving as an assistant coach under Freya Coombe, but as Angel City struggled, the team parted ways with Coombe, and she took over as interim coach. She was tasked with learning the ins and outs of being an NWSL coach while leading a group that was second-to-last in the standings. 

At the same time, Tweed’s Angel City finished 8-2-5 (in all competitions), making the playoffs for the first time in club history. After, Angel City removed the interim title, and Tweed became the club’s head coach. 

Despite the change, Tweed still craves learning. That is where Mark Wilson steps in.

Wilson was announced as Angel City’s first-ever technical director in mid-May. The 45-year-old stepped into a pivotal role where he will aid in the development of the coaching staff, among other duties. Wilson’s lessons could be valuable for Tweed, one of the youngest coaches in the NWSL.

“This opportunity and job came around for me so much faster than I ever wanted. I never want to stop growing,” Tweed said. “You can get caught up in the day-to-day of where we need to be and what we need to do every day.

“I want to be challenged and pushed. I want to be better. I want to grow. The players do it, and the staff do it, but to have somebody that I can go and sit with and ask for true, raw, honest feedback is really, really important.”

Wilson’s role involves providing resources to the coaching staff to ensure they are growing, as Tweed desires. He will evaluate the training environment, hold the coaching staff “accountable,” and offer ideas. 

Beyond the coaching staff, Wilson will develop a “strategic vision” for the club. That “long-term plan” includes creating a second team and academy. He will also be involved in “data-informed” recruitment.  

Professional academies are useful because they focus on player development. Some NWSL teams have academies. However, the American clubs rely more on players from colleges and universities across the country instead of homegrown talent.

While colleges have produced much of the NWSL’s top talent, Tweed said the academy system offers a “sustainable model” for the league. 

“Something that’s really important in this country is creating an ecosystem where there are development pathways,” Tweed said. “Now you are seeing U-18s coming into the league at an earlier stage, and that allows for what I would call a European model where academies exist.

“You are able to develop players from homegrown and from your city in your town that you’re in and that’s something that we don’t have a sustainable model right now in this country. We always talk about being at the forefront of things that is a long-term plan, I’m sure, for the NWSL, not just Angel City.”

Angel City Football Club

Wilson’s background as a player and beyond prepared him for the Angel City role. In his playing days, he spent time in the environments of top clubs like Manchester United, learning how top managers operate. 

Wilson mentioned Sir Alex Ferguson, Steve McClaren, Brian Kidd, Mike Flanagan, Howard Wilkinson, David Platt, José Mourinho, and Louis van Gaal as coaches to whom his exposure helped prepare him for the Angel City role. 

“I’ve been around the same managers at two different points in my life,” Wilson said. “I’ve been around them as a player and I’ve also been around them as I’ve been re-educating myself towards taking on a role like this for the past 12 years.

“What I take from my playing days is methods of instilling that resilience, discipline, habit forming, desire, passion, and purpose that was ever present at a club like Manchester United. While I only played 10 games in three years after making my debut, which is a terrible ratio of games for years, the time I spent in that environment is one that built some really key characteristics that have helped me be this version of me today at a ripe old age of 45.”

Wilson was ecstatic when he joined Manchester United as a player. Now, he is taking experience from those times with similar excitement to Angel City while looking to create a sustainable model for the club’s growth.