The U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) returned to the World Cup for the first time since 2014, and College of Charleston alumnus John Bello ’10 was not only at the games in Qatar; he helped the team make it out of the group stage to the knock-out round with his oppositional insights.
Bello, who played for the CofC men’s soccer team from 2005 to 2010, coached at DC United Academy from 2013 to 2018 before launching his own performance analysis business, District Sports Consulting. He came to the attention of the USMNT through a colleague who worked as an assistant coach for Major League Soccer. His contract began in April 2021 and ran through the end of the World Cup.
Bello, who earned a degree in exercise science from the College, took some time after the USMNT’s 3-1 loss to Netherlands on Dec. 3, 2022, in the Round of 16 to talk with The College Today about his experience assisting U.S. soccer on the world stage.
Best memory from the World Cup?
My favorite memory is the national anthem for the opening game against Wales. This was my first ever World Cup game, and at that moment all the emotions hit me. We had talked about it in our team meeting earlier in the day that everything we have done with football in our lives had led us to this moment. Being able to represent my family who sacrificed so much for me to get to that moment was a special feeling.
Did all the support the team got at home surprise you?
I knew we would have a lot of support from our fans, but what was surprising was how our matches brought communities together in different ways and the support we received from traditionally non-soccer fans. The stories were all very motivating! Our staff would share stories about rotating watch parties in the neighborhoods back home or friends taking off work to watch the games. I received tons of messages from friends who told me they have never watched this much soccer and loved our team! I felt so caught up in the tournament at times that it was good to take moments to recognize all the ways we were supported.
What do you do as an opposition analyst?
I support the USMNT head coach with opposition analysis, individual opponent scouting and the delivery of opposition video presentations to the staff and players. The opposition analysis helps with strategy development for matches. I also support that data analyst by capturing multiple angles of training sessions for review with the coaching staff. During the matches, I assist in live coding/editing to prepare video for coaching staff and players at half time. I also scout players in our player pool; evaluate and prepare reports for performance review (weekly) and support decisions for roster selection.
What do you like most about your job?
Being a part of the process to assist the coaching staff in developing the match plans based on the analysis. During game opposition analysis, I enjoy being able to see the game from up top and communicate with the coaching staff on behaviors we are seeing from the opponent and discuss recommendations on game adjustments. I also enjoy presenting to the team the opposition scouting report the day before the game. To be able to stand up and speak in front of the players was a real honor for me.
What’s the toughest part?
I feel there is an endless amount of information you can learn about a team’s style of play and their individual player qualities. Therefore, it was important we have a well-defined process that we execute in preparation for every match that led us to make the most educated predictions on what to expect from the opponent. Sometimes these were spot on, and sometimes the opponent surprised us in few areas, and we had to adjust. It’s a lot of preparation and studying to anticipate those surprises.
What do you remember about your playing days at CofC?
To me it was a brotherhood. We were a very close group of guys that always liked to hang out on and off the field. On the field we really pushed each other to compete every day in training. We were a group of players that held each other accountable, and looking back at that experience, I’ll never forget some of those trainings or games where we really left it all out there.