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USSF hires former EPL head of performance as high performance director


One of the positive holdovers from the Jurgen Klinsmann era of U.S. Soccer is an increased focus on youth development, a focus which continued Monday with a new USSF hiring.

The federation announced on Monday the creation of a new position, as they hired former English Premier League head of performance, James Bunce, as their first ever high performance director. In his new role, Bunce will focus on developing the athletic performance of young players in a comprehensive manner, including an increased focus on performance data and research.

“I am honored and humbled to join U.S. Soccer,” Bunce said. “The Federation is an organization that continues to dedicate the right resources to high performance and development growth. I am looking forward to getting started and confident that we will be able to accelerate U.S. Soccer’s ability to develop world-class players, coaches and referees.”

Bunce pioneered several initiatives in his time in England, including national injury surveillance, physical profiling, and improved tactical analysis league-wide. Prior to his role as head of performance, Bunce served as the league’s head of sports science, belying his focus on analytics as the key to developing young talent. He also served as Southampton’s head of athletic development, where he oversaw one of the most successful academy systems in England.

“We are adding a world-class level sports performance expert to our staff,” U.S. Soccer director of sport development Ryan Mooney said. “James possesses the right balance of theoretical and practical experience that we are confident will lead to an acceleration across all of our player development initiatives.”


  1. This insistance on hiring English folk is baffling, when was the last time England won anything or produced any real talent?

      • Cool. Who else? I mean even a broken watch is right twice a day. Truth be told there really is no comparison when set side by side with Spain, Argentina, Germany, France and so and so forth.

      • Glass half empty is one way to look at it. Or half full… the guy has a history of developing young players at southampton and due to his success he has moved up the ladder quickly… I would imagine he and the program he would implement are a step or five above where the US currently are. I don’t think it is some revelation that development at the lowest levels are what keep the US well behind the the top nations. There is potential all over this country, finding it and turning it into real talent is what we need. I still have reservations considering he is leaving his most recent position after 5 months, but remain optimistic as usual.

  2. I had never heard of this guy but it looks like he was involved with Southhampton for a handful of years starting at the youth level and in a short period of time made his way to the head of sports science, then head of elite performance for the EPL… Seems like it COULD be a good hire. I do however wonder why he is no longer with the EPL, after being there only three years (just 5 months as head of elite performance). I can’t imagine someone in that position would willingly leave unless USSF offered more money… which would be shocking.


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