Fabian Otte: “New experiences give you new energy”
Fabian Otte will be coaching the United States national team’s goalkeepers during the upcoming international breaks. We spoke to the Borussia goalkeeping coach about his expectations for the new experience ahead and how the opportunity came his way.
Fabian, you will act as a goalkeeping coach for the USMNT in the next international breaks. How did this connection with the United States Soccer Federation come about?
Otte: U.S. Soccer reached out to me a while back and asked if I had time for a chat with head coach Gregg Berhalter and sporting director Matt Crocker. We arranged a video call and they spoke to me about their plans to expand team of people behind the players and said they would like to bring me on board as a goalkeeping coach for the next international breaks. To be honest, I’m not really sure how my name cropped up in the first place (laughs).
What was their reasoning behind this new setup?
Otte: Ultimately, it’s about increasing football’s status in the USA and improving the quality in training and games with the 2026 World Cup in mind, which they’re hosting alongside Canada and Mexico. However, the focus is on the 2024 Copa América for the four international breaks in September, October, November and next March. USA will be hosting some games at the tournament and it’s only the second time that nations from North and Central America will be taking part. It’s a huge challenge for the USA, especially when opponents like Brazil and Argentina await.
What happened following your initial talks?
Otte: I took a little time to consider whether having that additional challenge alongside my work for Borussia was even possible for me. Once I was convinced that I could take it on, I discussed it with Roland Virkus and Nils Schmadtke. Both were very open and fully understood how much discovering what it was like to work with a national team appealed to me. I also think that the experience isn’t just something that can benefit me, but also Borussia in terms of player scouting and improving the club’s network in the USA.
What tasks await you with the USMNT and how are you preparing?
Otte: I had a chat with the coaching staff and they sent me some material from the video and data analysts. I also spoke to the goalkeepers that have been called up to get to know them a bit already. The role isn’t really comparable to working at club level, particularly as my main focus is on Borussia. In the few sessions with the USMNT, I wouldn’t be able to have a huge impact on the goalkeepers’ technical ability or tactical understanding – it’s predominantly about preparing for the individual matches. Something I find particularly interesting is that I’m an external pillar of support for the goalkeepers, so can give them different feedback and offer them advice about any problems they may have at club level.
What are your personal expectations for the new challenge? Being a goalkeeping coach at club and international level simultaneously is something that has been done before after all.
Otte: That’s true – my predecessor at Borussia Steffen Krebs worked for VfB Stuttgart and Turkey at the same time. It’s also typical in England for club coaches to work for national teams as well. I think that new input and new experiences give you new energy. I can harness that in my work with Borussia and help improve it further.
How will your trips to the international breaks be organised?
Otte: When Joe Scally is nominated, like he is this time, or maybe Jordan Siebatcheu in future, I will fly out to America with them and come back with them too. We’ll be heading there after the Bayern game and beginning our preparation for the friendlies against Uzbekistan and Oman. Then we have matches against Germany and Ghana in October, before the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Nations League in November.
Will someone fill in for you at Borussia when you’re away?
Otte: We have a good coaching team and will plug the gap internally. It’s also a good chance for the other goalkeeping coaches to gain experience and perhaps give the players some fresh impetus during those ten days of training. This break will see Milenko Gilic from the U23s fill in as goalkeeping coach.