The Colorado Rapids will be without assistant coach Wilmer Cabrera for the next few weeks, but for good reason.
Cabrera was invited by FIFA, world soccer's governing body, to be part of the exclusive Technical Study Group (TSG) at the 2013 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Turkey.
"I'm honored to receive this invitation, and I'm also pleased and honored to represent the Colorado Rapids, soccer in the United States, and Major League Soccer," Cabrera told ColoradoRapids.com before departing for Europe on Monday. "And I'm really thankful to Oscar (Pareja), our technical Director Paul Bravo, and President Tim Hinchey for supporting me. I'm thrilled and obviously going to try to do my best."
For every world championship FIFA brings together a group of experts to analyze the technical aspect of the every match in the tournament.
"The goal is to analyze the tendencies, the formations, the tactics, the emphasis on what the team is trying to do with the ball, second balls, set pieces," Cabrera said. "All those pieces that if you go to watch the game, you wouldn't analyze, you would try to enjoy the game. The FIFA Technical Study Group studies and analyzes the national teams and their approach to the games."
According to FIFA, the information is collected in a report made available to FIFA member associations afterwards as a development tool. The compiled reports and videos aim to enhance and promote day-to-day activity on the training ground, with the objective to raise quality thresholds and promoting individual player development. The reports are also made available to the public. (FIFA TSG ARCHIVES)
Cabrera is scheduled to observe and analyze 12 group matches in Turkey, including the U.S. U-20 Men's National Team group match against Ghana on June 27 at Kadir Has Stadium in Kayseri, Turkey.
For Cabrera, the match will give him the opportunity to watch Colorado Rapids' 19-year-old defender Shane O'Neill, one of nine MLS players on the U.S. roster. However Cabrera also has ties to other players on the U.S. team. As the head coach of the U.S. U-17 team from 2007-2011, Cabrera also coached current U-20 players Kellyn Acosta, Luis Gil, Kendall McIntosh, Cody Cooper, and Mario Rodriguez.
And aside from his role for FIFA, Cabrera is looking forward to tying this opportunity to help the Rapids.
"I have to watch every game, even the ones I'm not assigned to," Cabrera said. "That is fantastic because it's also going to allow me to scout the top under-20 players from all over the world."
Cabrera has had success on the world stage as both a player and coach. He was a member of Colombia's World Cup teams in 1990 in Italy and 1998 in France, while missing out on the 1994 tournament with a knee injury. As a coach, he guided the U.S. U-17s to Round of 16 appearance at both the 2009 and 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cups.
Following the group stage Cabrera will also work a round of 16 match, a quarterfinal game, and both semifinals.
"It's going to be very interesting," Cabrera added. "Hopefully I can use what I learn for us as a club: how (FIFA) approaches the study, what kind of parameters they use, what kind of charts and reasons, what they put emphasis on and how it can help - and apply that to the Colorado Rapids."
The 2013 U-20 World Cup begins on June 21 with the final set for July 3.