Brian Roberts ensures network of soccer club's sites have similar look, navigation
Roberts grew up in Dublin and went to college in England, where he eventually became a schoolteacher. Of course, Roberts played soccer growing up. He also played in college, although he never was on a track to become a professional. “College sports are not as relevant in England as they are here,” Roberts said. “When I played college soccer we would be lucky to have a man and a dog watching.” While Roberts worked as a physical education teacher at Bishop Challoner Catholic Collegiate School in Birmingham, he also was responsible for Gaelic Games promotion and program development. Roberts said there were more than 20,000 Gaelic Games players from Scotland south to Manchester and London. “It was very important to have a set criteria for every location,” Roberts said. “I call it the Starbucks effect. A latte made in Seattle should have the same look and taste as one made in Chicago.” Roberts has worked full-time with the Fire for eight years, serving in multiple roles. The Fire’s former Director of Coaching, Roberts still coaches two teams (a U-10 boys’ team and a U-16 girls’ team).
Much like the work he did for the Gaelic Games, Roberts is tasked with ensuring the Fire are maintaining that “Starbucks effect” through all 11 of their youth clubs (five are located in the Chicago area, two are in Indiana and others are in Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana and Michigan). Roberts’ quality control work can include everything from the managing color of socks players wear to the curriculum they receive. Each club has its own website and webmaster, but Roberts is in charge of the mirrored content that appears throughout the network. He estimates about 40 percent of the content on each site is duplicated on all the sites. Roberts updates that content regularly, most notably a video from the main club (Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire) that appears in the upper left corner of all the sites.
Roberts had input on the design of the junior sites (they launched in January), and he insisted they had a similar look and feel of the Fire’s MLS-affiliated site. He also made sure all the call to action graphics and links on the sites matched, as did the photos and graphics associated with all the junior club's social media accounts.