I’ve said it before and will say it again:
We have only just begun the discussion on what’s wrong with soccer in the States.
This discussion always surfaces, and rightly so, when we flounder on the international stage. Perhaps most recently when the US women lost to a lowly Mexico side, and subsequently limped in to the 2011 World Cup.
The concrete and overarching diagnosis?
“The youth system here puts an undue emphasis on winning at the expense of individual player development.”
No! This is just one issue in a systemic disease that is yet to be fully characterized.
No one has completely outlined the issues; and as a result, we get hung up on just a couple mainstream ones, like “winning vs development” and “pay to play”. Are these problems? Absolutely! But they only scratch the surface.
Hell people use to talk all day about how the biggest problem was lack of athletic depth since kids opted to play the other big sports instead. Such stupidities like; “Imagine if Lebron James played soccer instead” were commonplace. Yes this argument continues to circulate and is still reflected in our player identification and selection, but more and more people are coming around and beginning to understand this is a non-issue.
The same will happen with other soups du jour.
You see, implicit in this argument is that if winning and competition were placed in the back seat, or even abolished, that would solve our big development problem.
Ok, so let’s just suppose for a moment that winning was erased from the equation and coaches could focus on development. What makes you think that our coaches can develop technical ability?
Here’s a little secret. There’s only so much a coach can do to develop technique (especially with just 2 to 3 team sessions per week). The biggest responsibility is on the player to live with the ball 24/7 on the streets trying to mimic his footballing idols. What a coach could be helpful with is in live demonstrations of quality. Guess what; chances are your coach has horrific technique. And even if a kid had a world class coach, with world class drills, that alone can not manufacture world class technique.
This direct causal effect being attributed between competition and development in our youth ranks is not black and white, and it is most certainly not the fundamental reason for our international failure.
The superficial or the obvious, not the underlying pathology, is usually the first thing that crops up. That’s what we have here folks – America’s most recent soup du jour.
I know you must have some objections or comments, I can feel it! Please share your thoughts …