Commonwealth Cardinals FC
From Fußball to Fredericksburg – Max Rihm is Ready to Help the Cardinals Fly
Interview by CCFC team
Article edits by: Jacob Moore
“Love at first sight.“
That’s how German scout Max Rihm says he felt about the Commonwealth Cardinals Football Club and owner and coach Gilberto Baez‘s vision. When he first heard what Baez’s intentions were, he instanly knew he wanted to be involved.
The values of CCFC closely align with Max’s and he was able to quickly identify with the goals and purpose of the club. The idea of building a platform for players who are willing to work hard and give it their all quickly had him hooked.
With every meeting, more ideas and more possibilities came to light. No thought was too big and the desire to help our Cardinals fly high hasn’t stopped growing.
We got a chance to sit down with Max and get an exclusive insight into his journey, advice from the scouting point of view and his thoughts on the future of Commonwealth Cardinals FC. Keep reading to find out what he had to say…
German Scout Max Rihm sits down to tell us about his hopes for the future of Commonwealth Cardinals FC
To get to know Max a little better, we asked him to tell us about himself and his path to soccer:
“At the age of 6, the Bundesliga club Karlsruher SC approached me which led to me switching to their youth team. I played there until Under-17 and had numerous offers at that point. I signed with 1. FC Kaiserslautern and played there for 3 years in the youth league.
After that, I received several other offers and decided to sign a professional contract with Hannover 96. At the age of 20, my body unfortunately didn’t want to play along anymore. I tore my cruciate ligament, dislocated my shoulder, and had to have groin surgery. Sadly, my professional career was over way too soon. Thankfully, when I was young, I didn’t only play soccer but also approached my schoolwork with full vigor.
After my time at Hannover 96, I decided to move back home and joined Karslruher as a youth scout. I quickly gained a foothold and then was appointed Head of Youth Scouting. After a few years, the current sports director Oliver Kreuzer (a former Bayern Munich player) pulled me up to the pros as a senior scout.”
Knowing more about Max, we wanted to hear what his first thoughts were when he heard about the Cardinals vision:
“Super exciting! I want to be a part of it. I think it’s great that someone has founded a club for young US talent which could allow their boys to turn their dream into reality. That’s why the CCFC vision convinced me from the very beginning, and I want to bring myself and my network into this.”
Digging a little deeper, what exatly was it that inspired Max to be a part of it?
“I like that the focus here is on the person. The Cardinals want to offer the boys a platform which allows them to reach the next level. I share this same mindset and I think it’s great. We want to turn dreams into reality and to accompany the boys in that journey is what drives me. Gilberto’s passion and vigor is positively contagious, so I want to involve myself 100% and show Europe that there are many top soccer talents in the USA.”
Speaking of involvement! What will Max’s involvement with the Cardinals look like?
“I have numerous contacts within Bundesliga clubs in Germany but also many contacts all over Europe. I would like to bring those contacts in so we can organize trials with clubs for the boys in Germany and Europe. In addition to that, I would also like to arrange trial training sessions in the US with those responsible for the Cardinals so that we can find talents in those trials for the Cardinals directly and then. in the second step, for the European soccer market.
I can also imagine that we will eventually start a partnership with an MLS club for this to happen I already have contacts with the US national team. I will also establish partnerships with 2 or 3 German clubs so that Cardinals players will always have the opportunity to go to those cooperative clubs for trials.”
What does he think are the most important attributes in a soccer player?
“Self-discipline, will, motivation, talent, good nutrition, never doubting yourself and always having your dream in front of your eyes. Also being determined to follow that dream. Another important attribute is being able to learn from defeat and always being willing to grow.”
Future-talk - Where does he see the Cardinals in 5 years?
“As a club who is known for bringing individual players, but also the whole team, to a higher level. Being able to help them grow so that the players thrive in the MLS and at European soccer clubs.”
Max attending TSG Hoffenheim - FC Augsburg U19 match hosted at Dietmar-Hopp-Stadion Hoffenheim Germany
USA vs. Germany - Where does Max see the differences between the German and American soccer market? In what ways can the Cardinals help build a bridge between those two?
“I think the biggest difference, especially in the youth sector, is the level and the opportunity to be trained in a youth academy. Unfortunately, youth academies don’t exist in this form in the US. In Germany, boys have all the opportunities you can wish for through youth academies – opportunities which are essential to becoming a pro soccer player.
This is where we want to develop the Cardinals – with a clear philosophy of what the Cardinals stand for and how they want to develop players. In addition, of course, an attempt should be made to close this gap completely by bringing in top training conditions, nutrition experts, fitness and athletic trainers and physiotherapists. We also want to train the players in theory using video analysis. All these measures can be used to optimally prepare the boys for the European leagues or MLS.
I experienced all of the above points myself for years as a player and the Head of Youth Scouting at Karlsruher, so I know exactly what adjustments will need to be made with the Cardinals to close this gap.”
Good influence can take us far in life. What soccer players have influenced the German scout throughout his years?
“In my youth I had no classic role model in this sense, but I always liked to watch players who were known for the special moments in the game. Players who today would probably be called street footballers. Of course, it is important today to be tactically trained in different systems.
Nevertheless, I like players who stand for a special wit. To give recent examples of players I would put in this category: Leroy Sane from Bayern Munich, or Jack Grealish from Manchester City.
But I also like players like Marco Verratti from PSG who has an absolute will. Additionally, I admire players like Sergio Ramos or (Robert) Lewandowski, because at an older age they still reflect on themselves and keep trying to improve. For example, Lewandowski recently bought blue light blocking glasses so that he perceives less blue light while he’s awake in the evening and this naturally initiates sleep. This shows that you can always improve and should never rest on your laurels.”
For those preparing for your next scouting event or open play, here are some tips from the experts on how to have the best possible performance:
“Be yourself. Don’t try to be perfect, just try to be you! Be free and always remember that it’s just soccer. Don’t be nervous. Just trust your talent and your own will. It’s also important to understand that a trial or scouting event isn’t a one-man show. You also have to be willing to help your teammates and let them shine.”
Last but not least, we wanted to know which philosophy has accompanied Max throughout his life. Warning: Some great inspiration is coming your way with this one!
“Be diligent and honest and treat everyone with the same respect, whether it is your coach, teammate, the bus driver, the cleaning lady or the president. We are all equal and we all want the same thing in soccer – success. With all the effort that you have to put in to becoming a professional soccer player and all the obstacles that you have to overcome, the joy of soccer should never get lost.”
Wow! There really isn‘t much more to add. The Cardinals are ready! Our German scout Max is ready! Are you ready!?