American Invited to Join La Masia

Ben Lederman, a U-11, has been invited to join FC Barcelona’s youth Academy!

This will go down as a mark in US Soccer history.

He started his trial with the famed academy Monday, April 11, and just 4 training sessions later, the Director of all 7 v 7 at the club, Andres Carrasco, had made a decision.

On the Barcelona grounds receiving some instruction

As my brother, Brian Kleiban, shared some details …

The Trial


Ben trained with the 98′s (two years up). He had a solid performance. Did some passing drills, possession drills, then played 10 v 10 on a little bit bigger than half the full field with big goals.


Ben trained with the 99′s (one year up). They started him off with the “A” group but then switched him within 2 minutes to the “B” group … looked like it was for numbers to even out the teams and nothing else. They also did a series of possession games. And then set up a regular 7 v 7 game.

Ben started on the bench, but when Albert Puig and Guillermo Amor showed up, they went straight to the coach to tell him to get Ben in. Ten seconds later (like 4 minutes into the game), he was on the field playing CM in a 3-1-2 formation for the B team – the A team was playing 3-2-1. So naturally, he got shredded to pieces in the middle vs 2 bad ass CM’s from the A squad. He had a horrific showing with the exception of one nice turn and split of their 2 defenders in the middle of the field … “a la Iniesta”.

Note: Ben was sad and quiet the entire night and the next day. He knew he was horrific. Danny [his dad] was depressed as well. We all thought he was toast.

Now we began to make noise and insisted he train with the 2000′s (age appropriate).


He had training for the first time with his age group. Series of fitness and dribbling drills where Ben thrived … dribbling at speed with the ball and turning corners with a team relay race going on.  After that, they had some juggling and then played on a tiny field 4 v 4 with 4 neutrals going to goal … 18 yard box was the length and very narrow to have the boys immediately shoot when receiving and having any type of space. He played really well. Scored, dished, worked hard, dribble. Amor and Puig watched like 5 minutes of the session too.


The 2000′s went straight to the back field (where we played the 10′s) and within 2 minutes got organized and started to play.  Ben was one of the CM’s on his team. Both teams 3-2-1 formation … Ben also had the Japanese 2001 playing fw on his squad. He is siiiiiick! Well, long story short, he played the 1st 3 quarters of 15 mins as CM and put on a show.

Dribbling, scoring a goal, dishing 2 assists, and creating countless opportunities. Running his ass off as well. His squad was up 5-3. Last quarter he got moved to left back, and did well there too. Calmly touching out of the back and attacking.

As this was going on, 2 other Barca coaches went to sit on the bench opposite where we were. Oscar was there as well. So towards the end they got up and were bouncing, I went to sniff and approached Oscar to ask their opinion …

The Moment it Happened

Oscar introduced the Director of all 7 v 7 at the club, Andres Carrasco. They asked me if Ben’s parents were present. I said yes and called them over because Andres wanted to speak with them. I translated.

Andres opened up saying that Ben has all the technical qualities that Barca looks for in players and that he had performed very well. All the coaches who had trained him were impressed with his quality. That being said, he pointed over at some of the apartment buildings adjacent to the training complex and said: “If you guys lived in that building, Ben would definitely be playing with the academy team”.

Sounded like it was heading in a negative direction but he quickly followed with the offer saying they cannot arrange their move and all that, but if they would like Ben to play for the academy and could relocate here, that he would be offered 2 years in the academy. They would help Ben get into school and assist with that.  He then went on to suggest that Danny and Tami start researching all types of things they would need to make an educated decision … go to the embassy and ask away. Whatever help or problems they encounter, to call him and he will put them in contact with a special department the club has for these types of things. He told them to take some time to make a good family decision because there is never a guarantee that Ben will make it all the way through the system. There is no way to tell … even with Messi they had no clue he’d turn out to be what he is.

It’s a 2 year process where they’ll evaluate; and if he continues to develop the right way, then he’d continue.

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      • Paul Dias says

        Hi Gary, what a great story for this boy. I have a similar story with my son, but with Sporting CP. I have a couple of links that you can view. I would be interested in speaking to either in person or via email about opportunities in Spain. We have other opportunities coming up in April 2012 with Chelsea/Arsenal & Tottenham…but Barca would be a dream for my son. He watches 9 hours of soccer a week all being with Barca that he PVR’s (that is, tapes from TV).



        • Jayne says

          I was wondering how it went with Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham in April? We are looking that direction with our son and would love to hear how it went. Thanks

          • Paul says

            It went very well. For a North Americain kid having these opportunities, it’s unreal. Gives them the drive to work harder and play harder, something that our culture doesn’t do in soccer, let alone how to just play the game properly. Tottenham and West Ham showed the most interest and thankfully we have further opportunities available to train.

          • Jayne says

            Thank you for such a quick response. I was born in England so my family lives there. I’m taking my son there next summer. He will be 11 almost 12. I wanted to put him in a residential camp but would love the opportunity to have him seen by west Ham or Tottenham. How do you get in touch with them? I have decent video of him on my you tube channel. 4mykdz. His name is Zach Benedict. Thank you for your time

          • Paul says

            My son was spotted by an agent/scout in Canada and made the arrangements with the clubs. If possible, send me the link on youtube of your son. Your son’s age is ideal, as for my son, being only 9 and 10 next year I still have some time. Regardless, I respect parents that go over and beyond for their children to allow them to fulfill their dreams.

          • Jayne says

            He is 10 in this video playing his age group. He is very tall and already wears a size 8 shoe but his footwork is excellent for his size. It’s his passion. He has a ball at his foot 24/7 because HE wants to. Let me know if this works. Thanks so much

          • Armando says

            Your son is young and a long way to go in development. My son is very different from when he was 10. I can tell you from experience that the kids who were good at 10 were mostly big players, but as they get older (U13 and above), skill and tactics and understanding how to play are more important. Focus on that and don’t worry about being noticed. If your son develops properly and has natural talents, he will be noticed.

          • Jayne says

            You are right. He does have a long way to go. He loves to play the way soccer should be played. He studies every aspect of the game. We will keep him in his premier team. He’ll go to State Cup and like you said if he’s good enough down the road hopefully he will get noticed. Thanks for your feedback:-)

          • Jim says

            This kid has good skills and could easily play on one of Gary K.’s top teams as could the kid in other video sent by Joe. Keep doing what you’re doing and take ALL comments with a grain of salt- people can have hidden agendas especially the ones with kids your son’s age.

          • LFelipeDiaz says

            Hi Paul,

            It will be great if you can share some information, because I was try to get a tryout in Europe a couple of years ago without success.

            Here is a video from him when he was 9:

            and here is another video when he was 11:

            He is 12 at this moment and we will like to see if we can find a tryout for him in Europe, any information you can send my way will be great.

          • Tim S. says

            I’m not a scout but have watched a ton of youth soccer and just don’t see very much “professional potential” in the video. This or the earlier post. I get a parent believing in their child and his/her desire to play as a professional in the future but you just can’t knock on the door of a European academy and request a tryout. Or maybe you can , I really don’t know but would think the player would need to more advanced then presentation here. No offense to the submitted video links above as these kids are probably standouts on their team and even the cream of the crop in their town. That is one of the biggest problems we face as a country going forward. If a mom or dad would watch just 1 La liga game per week they could see for themselves just how far away their little junior is from becoming a pro soccer player.

          • Jayne says

            I appreciate your feedback but actually I am one of those mom that watch all the leagues ( La Liga, League 1, English Premier and so on). It’s the only thing on at our house. My son eats, breathes and sleeps soccer. The video is of a 10 year old not a professional like on TV. However, being an athlete my whole life when I see potential in my child, and he works so hard because he wants to be better then average, I will help him in anyway I can. It only takes one person to see his video and like it. Thanks

          • Joe says

            Tough to judge a player from a short video. I think you need to watch them over several games played at the highest level for their age group. Even then it’s hard to judge who has potential to make it as a pro as a lot can change post- adolescense. In my area (Greater Boston), I can think of one, maybe two players (neither are my son, btw, although I think he has a fair chance to make a D2 or D3 college team) in my son’s U12/13 age group who seem to have what it takes. We’ll see whether they are still among the top players at 15 or 16. I would recommend going to one of these academies and simply enrolling your son in a short program (many academies offer short training programs for a fee in the summer). If he’s that good, he’ll get noticed. Most parents are not capable (either for financial reasons or otherwise) to make that big step.

          • Jayne says

            You have a very good point. We really don’t know where our kids will be when they are 15-16. Also, I agree they should be watched at a few top level games to see there talent.

          • Paul says

            This issue is not just the skill when a kid is 11 or 12. The kid has to develop physically, intellectually and stay injury free. The hard work that goes into becoming a soccer player or any athlete for that matter is not the same as when they are younger and only practicing 3, 4 or 5 times a week. The commitment is much greater and in most cases all the skill in the world doesn’t matter if the kid reaches a point and they don’t want to lead that type of life. I think it most of these videos, it does only take one person to make that difference, but from my experience, the video has to be more about first touches, vision etc; and not so much about kicking the ball or scoring goals.

          • NYC Dad says

            While Tim’s comments may seem harsh and insensitive, I feel strongly that he has inadvertently taught you (and the rest of us) a valuable lesson in reality and humility. I hope that your son fulfills his dreams of playing with the big boys, but along the way you all need to be ready for harsh and insensitive criticism. As a parent, I know this hurts. But the truth sometimes hurts. I HAVE NOT WATCHED YOUR SON’S VIDEO – I AM NOT MAKING A COMMENT ON HIS ABILITIES. I just feel that you, me, and all parents of future “superstars” need to be prepared for rejection. Its a bloody business with hundred of thousands of kids competing for dozens of spots. Academy coaches are running a business and are judged on their ability to find top talent. They have no problem shutting you down immediately if they don’t see potential. Do your best to gather constructive info from the coaches and help your son work on his weaknesses.

            Like me, you probably protect you son from harsh realities. You probably didnt tell him about Tim’s comments – why would you? But remember that bouncing back from loss, rejection, and negativity makes us all stronger. Try to find the constructive part of all criticism and learn from it. Move ahead and grow stronger.

            I wish you and your son all the best of luck. Nothing gives ME more joy than watching my boys play. I have three boys and my oldest (U13) has an amazing first touch, great field sense and vision, and is lightning fast but it pains me to say that he will never play above college level. The competition is too tough and the commitment too high and the more I push him, the more he pushes back – I don’t want him to hate the game because of me.

          • Tim S. says

            As often happens my comments didn’t read as well as I hoped and apologize if at all offended. One thing for sure is a parent must have thick skin if looking for an honest opinion of their child and not that you were, but did post a video of him playing on youtube and this blog. Let me say what i should have said yesterday, I admire your passion for this sport, the interest you have in your kids lives, and the obvious support and encourangment you have so far provided for them (your daugher could use some work as keeper :) ). What i see on the video is a bigger kid (shoe size 8) taking advantage of his size and speed and not using his ball skill enough. He is more kicking and chasing than beating kids directly on a dribble, and this is not a huge problem but could grow in to one. In the near future he won’t the size advantage and his current style will be less effective. Not that he is a giant but is bigger than most. Playing with bigger kids would encourage or force him to use skill more than physical attributes and help him develope skills and mind differently. I would consider playing up or atleast training with kids is size. Just my opinion. Again, I think you’re doing and saying the right stuff as a parent and even more impressive as a “mom”. Keep it up and i hope to one day watch your son playing on TV.

          • Jayne says

            Tim and NYC Dad,
            Thanks for the notes. No worries, I’m not offended. Constructive criticism is always welcome, however we will always stand up for our kids:-) Tim, my daughter doesn’t play keeper. Lol . I agree with what you both said and will learn from it. That’s why I like this thread. It’s nice to talk with other soccer parents:-)

          • Jayne says

            Hey Paul,
            My son got an official invite to a top academy in England next summer. Out of respect I’m not naming until he signs hopefully. I’ll keep you posted since its only a trial. But at least it’s a door opened. Thanks to everyone for all the feedback. This started from reading about Ben and how great he is doing to being in touch with lots of soccer parents. This is the video I sent out.

          • says

            This is the real new messi who scores 2, 3 goals and set up 4, 5 goals in every sunday, on a sunday league in London Harrow League and on saturdays on Regents Park Camden League London.
            Left Wing Petrit Krasniqi London UK

          • sheridan says

            @ Jayne,
            I know this thread is old, but I was hoping to see the video you submitted. I tried the link, but it said it was a private video. I have a 7 year old son who plays and practices constantly. The funny thing is he loves to practice and train for skills. He currently trains with a U9 academy team, but he is looking for more. I would really appreciate it if I could view any video that you have or especially the one you submitted.

        • says

          The problem in the UK is that you cannot play in official league games (I think).
          Ctalonia is probably the place to go for the best competition and experience; many pro teams are sending their players to the City of Barcelona so their youth players can play at the highest level.
          The Webdiste will be ready in several langauges soon (including English). The information available now is mostly in Portuguese because the used to work mostly with Portuguese and Brasilian players going to Barcelona. Now they have expanded to North America.

  1. Rivelino says

    Has your brother worked with Ben? Would really like some clues on what went right with the kid’s development.

    • Gary Kleiban says

      All credit goes to Ben for living and breathing the game, his parent’s support, and his coach of 2 years, Juan Guerrero, for decent training and trying to play the right way.

      We’ve seen the sessions and watched them play.

      More details will follow in posts…

  2. Kevin says

    Wow that’s awesome! I’ve seen this kid and his team play on youtube, they certainly play the Barca way. I couldn’t believe it was an American team, and this kid was the best player. He’s still very young and has a long way to go obviously but what a tremendous achievement to even get invited to their academy! As others have said, some video, and some details of how he has been developed would be great, but we understand that you only do this as a hobby. Thank you for all the time and effort you put in to this to keep us fellow soccer fans entertained and constantly growing our knowledge of the game.

  3. Ty says

    Wow this a very impressive feat for a young American player. Hopefully he will go far with his teachings if he decides to attend the academy. Congrats to him and good luck in his future!!!

  4. short passes says

    Gary — totally forgot to ask whose team Ben was on — I loved watching the entire team. Is that one of your club teams? If so, you need to franchise !!!

        • Gary Kleiban says

          Supposedly we have lots of video. But I am yet to see it and don’t know the quality. We’ll have to wait for Brian to do something with it.

        • says

          Great!! My son is a U11 and I’d love to see how his skills/style and his club team’s level of play compare to LA Samba and other teams in the tourney.

        • Brandon says

          We have had some success with getting Samuel seen by alot of people. Some Barca folks have taken notice and we are hoping that they will invite him to one of thier camps this summer. He is a 99 and is something special to watch on the pitch. He just needs the right teachers at this point. Please post his video on your blog incase somebody is watching. Thanks

  5. pbc141 says

    Saw the vids on YouTube, the kids were amazing saw many one touch passing with them and that is hard concept to grasp even for older kids. Good to see that Ben Lederman made the transition to Barca, which is good for American soccer and the soccer community as a whole. Good luck to Ben.

    • Gary Kleiban says

      The FC Barcelona club in SoCal has built a relationship over the years with the real Barca.

      Last year Ben’s U10 team went to Spain and played several games. One of those matches included a victory against Barca’s U10′s – something that very rarely happens we were told. Anyways that match is where Benny was first identified.

      • Danny says

        That was An amazing journey for that boy ,he works very hard at practice and try to live the dream .
        He accomplish a big thing but will need to work even harder to maintain it
        There is no shortcuts.

        • LFelipe says

          Congratulation on this achievement, this is really great for soccer in America….I am really glad for the kid and the family; I have been trying to get tryout for my son in Barcelona and there is not way to happens.

          • jdtelleria says

            Yes this is one of the better things you can do as an American who wants to play footy at the highest level. I feel like taking the MLS route cripples you for a number of reasons (pay is low, technical skill level is low, coaching technical ability is low, physical strength in the game is high, and worst of all the MLS can make it difficult for you to break away once higher level football clubs want you; e.g. dempsey and donovan.)

  6. Stefan says

    I´m from Stockholm, Sweden and I´m leaving for a 4 days visit to Barcelona on friday (13 of May) with my ten year old son. I´ve tried to find out where it´s possible to whatch matches (or training sessions) whith the 2000-boys from the Barça academy.
    Any ideas someone?
    Thanks for the story, we wish him luck

    • says

      The Barça academy training for kids that are not in their futbol base teams is a joke. Not just them, all major teams use this as a fund raiser. You have to go through the righjt channels to get to the right coaches for trials for top teams in Barcelona. Otherwise you’ll end up going to the the team’s facilities and train with low level, mostly foreign, players who want to take pictures and say they train at the Masia (but is not real)

  7. says

    It will be really grateful of you if you tell me how to get into these la masia trials?? When and where are they conducted?? What is the procedure?? Please reply.

    • Brandon Elwood says

      They will basically find you if your kid is worthy. Now if you are rich like I am not, then you can take your kids to Barca and attend one of the camps that they are running this summer and im sure if he was that good he could be noticed. I made some videos of Samuel and sent them to everyone possible. We finally got noticed by Tony Carr of Westham united and have been invited this summer to a trial that can end up taking you to England to play with the academy. I also discovered that MLS is finally getting on board and trying to do some academy stuff now. I was able to get video to one of the clubs and Sam has been invited to train with one of the teams for a week. Video is good because if your kids has athleticism than it will be hard to hide it. They dont have to all be clips of them scoring goals. They just need to show them being comfortable with the ball and they should highlight speed, quickness and technical control. These people know what they are looking for. Here is a Sample of one video of Sam.
      Hope it helps ya and good luck.

      • jdtelleria says

        I was born and raised in Virginia, and growing up I came to realize that any type of youth training did not focus on improving your technical ability, but instead on speed and strength first. Basically I feel that if you take the high school college MLS route as an american player, you end up being an athlete and not a footy player. If we have any aspirations as US footy fans, we need to teach our youth that technique is much more difficult to develop then speed and strength.

  8. says

    hello…….i’m arabian… i have 14 years and i have sklills to be player.. …..can i join “la masia”??? if i can…… can i do it……please answer on my……please…..don’t make me loose my hope……because i wish play with barca…….and if i don’t…….i don’t know what i will do

  9. Chad says

    Even if Ben becomes the next Messi at FCB, I bet Bob Bradley and his cronies will still leave him off the USMNT!

  10. Chad says

    Let me clarify that I think Ben is an amazing player, I didn’t want to take anything away from him. Kids like him are what the future of US soccer should be.

  11. Brandon says

    I doubt that Ben will become a Messi. He is more of a control player that changes the tempo and shifts the ball on the pitch. Like his video says….little Iniesta. Messi is more of the X factor. Super quick and able to move by two players in tight space easily. Kids like Ben should be the future of US soccer but foriegn academies know how to nurture and take care of any youth talent that comes along. Here in the US its still…how much money can we get our talented kids to pay for opportunities?

    • Chad says

      @Brandon, I used Messi not in the literal sense. My point was that our system would fail to recognize such a talented player. I do agree with your point about paying to play. I have seen many great young players go by the wayside because they cannot afford to pay the playing fees. Like I have said before, soccer is considered an elitist sport and until it is played in the abandoned parking lots and alleyways by our youth, the quality of our players will remain as it is now.

      • Brandon says

        There is hope, a large family of Mexicans that live in a trailer park near my Mothers house took three days by hand to clear a litterd field and array two stumps goal width. It looks third world with brown dirt and uneven surfaces. I took Sam down there just he could play on it and see what the rest of the world does. I should post some pics or video….

  12. Konnor says

    this is awesome! just make sure if he becomes a messi that it doesnt go to his head and that he’ll play for the usa team and not pull a guiseppe rossi! (:

  13. Steven Anthony says

    This is great for us here in the U.S. Hopefully he makes it to the national team one day, and helps kill the stereotype that we can’t play football in this country. Kudos to your boy.

  14. says

    This is an exciting story and following it with great interest. The US does have some excellent hopefuls. Now that the rest of the world has decided to find those young American talents and invest/risk $ on their development, their may be more kids seriously pursuing their passion. The key is playing/training at the highest level of play possible to compare to the rest of the world, and then getting seen.

    This is a clip of of a US team/player in England. (2 club owners watching in the sidelines and have offered #19 academy spots from this one game). This is just a small clip of a very talented 11 yr.

    (BTW, this US team also defeated the FC Barcelona academy in June 2010 at the Jean Dupeaux Tournie in Lemans France.)

    • jdtelleria says

      this is great stuff, thank you Ben you’re making strides for US Footy. I have a 19 year old friend who is leaving to live in Spain and find a club to play at. We play pick up all the time and he feels he is good enough to play at the highest level. He has Catalan, Dutch, and English blood, a good touch, and was born in the states so he has an American passport. Hope he makes it.

    • Brandon Elwood says

      That clip would be much better recieved if it was in normal time. You can actually get a real time feel and gauge the players athleticism much better. Not trying to knock him at all, but its just to hard to gauge in slow motion….unless its a golf swing.

      • Eva says

        Thank you all for the feedback. His athleticism was not the point of the clip. (The fact that he played an entire 90 minute game at a very high pace would have been lost in a full speed video anyway. ) The point is his creativity and technical skills to play at this level at 11 yo. If you blinked, you would have missed some beautiful movement. (Even in slow motion, you can gauge that he is moving, controlling his body and the ball while the opponents look as if they are barely moving.)

        The speed and the pace of the games at U11 and U12 overseas was unbelievable, unlike anything he has seen here in the states. The other kids around the world will catch up in athleticism when puberty sets in. Then , who is going to have the skill set to go with the size and strength?

  15. Julien says

    I have been trying to contact this organization for my 9 year old son who is also very talented. Would you happen to have the email address or the contact information of La Masia?


    • Gary Kleiban says

      As you can imagine, I can’t give that stuff out.
      Are you in the Southern California area?

    • Brandon Elwood says

      I have some contact information for you. I spent alot of time trying to get my son noticed by some clubs and after alot of time…i connected with some folks. He was never picked up by a European club but he was asked to come play with the Galaxy academy and he was invited to a west ham trial/clinic. If you think your son is good enough than you should test him out on some academy teams. They chomp at the bit to snach up any talent they can. Just be careful. At this age no matter how talented they are, they can be over shadowed by kids that are hitting puberty early. You can just wait a couple of years and see if he makes the ODP program for you area. Email me if you wants some La Masia contact or other European contacts. Just have video ready. They love video like this for example….

  16. Lalo says

    They find you. If your son has talent, best bet is to get him into an Academy Club and maybe a European tournament (that’s how Ben was discovered). If he’s good enough and lucky enough, his chance may come. And by the way, only 10-15% of La Masia grads ever make it pro (info readily avail doing Internet search). There are numerous, less high profile clubs in Europe for your son to make his mark.

    The plan for my U13 son is to try his luck in Europe at 18. He already knows he wants to do that. He has my backing to chase his dreams as you only live once. If it doesn’t work out, at least he tried and college is backup (I didn’t go to college until 23 and grad school at 28 . . . was chasing my own dreams).

  17. Brandon Elwood says

    They find you…unless you can go over there and find a way into a local game or tourney. They do have affiliations with teams here in the US.

      • Brandon Elwood says

        Ok Joe…..never said I was. You dont have to be an expert to realize some if my points….By the way are you Joe the Plumber?

          • Johnny says

            Brandon, stop acting like you are this bigtime expert on european youth academies. I just watched your sons videos and yes he isnt a bad player, but the competitition is dismal! Its horrendous! The defenders slouch around at 1/4 speed with no effort whatsoever, and the goalkeeping is awful. Pure shit! Your son shot a ball that any other goalie would have easily picked up, but instead he tried to kick the ball and whiffed it. Its easy to act like your son is going to be the next big thing when hes playing against a bunch of for lack of better word, retarded soccer players. He isnt that good, stop acting like it. Ben is on another level compared to your son.

          • Brandon Elwood says

            Johnny …you make some valid points. This forum has lead to some great relationships that helped us navigate the soccer ladder here in the U.S… if there really is one. When I first posted video of Sam I was ambitious because our area was lacking any kind of higher development. In the past year we have committed to a MLS youth academy, an Olympic Development Program, and a Player Development Program. Our ambition now simply relies less on pimping video’s and more on driving 5 hours to each of those programs practices and play dates… a couple of times a week.This on top of regular club. However via this forum I have made some good friends that have become confidants and links in the crazy world of US youth soccer. I am not an expert on anything right now except what the best stations are driving up and down I-5. I will say this Johnny….I guess only time will tell if your eye is any good when it comes to player valuation. Thanks for the thoughts.

          • Johnny says

            I would like to see some new vids of your son. Those academies are a tough thing to break into, as i have played in one before and if he is doing as well as you say, then congrats. But some advice. In the future, you should probably look into Id2 instead of ODP because it is much more prestigious. And if he is that good, you should probably look more into college oppurtunities instead of european academies. Nothing beats being able to play soccer at an extremely high level, and then get a great education for free. If he keeps working hard, then who knows. he could be an All american at i dont know, UCLA or Stanford, be on the national team, and barcelona can come along and say, “hey we were interested in him a while ago. Hes still got it! lets give him a trial”, and if they dont, hes got a top level education and a professional career on the usa national team. Keep up the good work, 5 hours tells me he is really putting the time in.

          • Johnny says

            getting into and staying in those european academies is like playing the lottery.

          • Brandon Elwood says

            Thanks to a contact we made via this particular thread, we have partially abandoned ODP in favor of PDP. Part of the reason for this is because PDP does lead to ID2. He played in the PDP play date last month and was asked to the state pool training sessions after his first game which in turn can lead to ID2. So this progression is our best option in our opinion. The reasons are two fold. They actually develop twice a month and its free. I could care less about going to a tourney three states away with no training sessions (ODP). Right now ID2 is the goal. I did take video of his first PDP game and he got the opening goal against a very solid and fast defender. I have actually given up on the overseas thing. It was over ambition and i was worried at the time. Because we were so rural I figured that there was nothing here to develop, but we are taking a leap of faith and think that the US can get it done. I have to give a big praise to NorCal premier soccer for what they are doing. I have a feeling we will see some solid talent coming out of their program for years to come. You can tell that they are aggressively taking steps to further youth soccer development on a grand scale. Not just plucking a few but many with potential and trying to better it with the fiorentina method which is very specific to each player. Thanks again for the feedback.

  18. says

    Please i need help.I am talented young player in China.I got to China through a fake agent.My dream is to play for United States in future,then i can also continue fighting against terrorism.I like US.
    please visit my website
    Last summer,i went to Spain,France and Hungary.
    I want to play soccer all my life,PLEASE CATCH ME YOUNG

  19. Hector Vega says

    Brandon I have been following the string of comments, Looks like you have done extensive work tying to get your son noticed. I have an 11 year old that is very talented is starting to get recognized in northern california, but I would like to have him try out over the summer at a club…. can you help with information to send clips of his playing…..

  20. Brandon Elwood says

    Hector, what city are you in? What club are you near that you are interested in having your son try out for? I can give you some tips. Have you recorded any video of your son yet? It all depends on how well he plays and how willing you are to travel and put forth a little cash. I have found that geographic location is very key and getting in with a good club in that location is key. We are in the sticks three hours from a MLS club. Ben was noticed because he was connected to a great club. Rhys Pak was noticed because he was connected to a great club. ODP was a great way to get noticed but many kids are bypassing ODP and just getting noticed through MLS academies because they are attracting all of the great players anyway…do to a little thing called MONEY. Why should kids that are good enough to play top level of there age group be paying thousands of dollars….it rediculous. You should try however to keep your kid playing with other good kids as much as possible and at the highest level possible depending on his or her love for soccer so I applaud your investigating new opportunities. Let me know what you are looking for and I would be glad to help. Getting into the La Masia is a combination of talent + money + connections.

  21. HECTOR VEGA says


    • Brandon Elwood says

      Hector, I prefer to give clips that typically invole a completed reception to a completed pass. Bens footage is good because it shows the whole field and how he could spread the game. Your son seems to do that also. I think that any footage is good because a person that knows the game and coaches the game at a high level can tell if a players is good pretty quick do to the demands of the game itself with regards to every touch. I would start looking at the earthquakes academy. They are having a tryout on the 28th but thats for 97, 98, 99. But maybe you could email the director and just ask if he could show for touches and you never know what. Go to the San Jose Earthquakes youth academy website. Last summer we did the west ham united international academy that ran through Santa Clara sporting. An ID camp should be coming around for that again to. I think its starts at u12. Check that website also. That is your best bet right now for the area you are in. FC Barca did have a youth thing going shortly for the bay area but that seemed to have failed and that was a bummer. It would be nice if that started up again.

  22. HECTOR VEGA says

    Thanks. Noticed thay his video was posted on Sams you tube. He wanted to know about the ID2 program, not sure if you are familiar with it. Ulysses was recomended by his coach and selected to play for PDP Region 7 which is organized by Norcal Soccer. They practiced twice a month for about 6 months and had to playdates in northern california where they faced the other regions in northern california.The Region coach recommended Ulysses to try out for an ID2 state tryout that was held in August, like 12 kids were selected to attend a national ID2 try out in Frisco Texas this month. They picked mostly 1998 kids and a couple of 1999′s. I just recieved an email that next year te PDP program will include 2001,2000, and 1999 players. The intention is to pick the best 1999′s from these Regions to go to state and national ID2 try-outs… If you need further info let me know and I will infrom you when I recieve the email for the new season

  23. Brandon says

    Hector, thanks for the tip. Please keep me informed. We have been trying to break in on any US soccer or PDP stuff and its hard because US soccer is not up here. Samuel was invited to a PDP about a month ago but it conflicted with a league game. We are tempted to go to San Jose on Monday and tryout for there pre-academy. Im trying to find out details right now. They also say that they will be expanding and forming several teams in the area under coaches that they have picked to lead these teams that will play each other. But we are chomping at the bit. I have read about the frisco tx group and many of them are coming out of the San Jose Earthquakes academy. I am attaching my email and would appreciate any updates and I will do the same if I hear anything happenning in the Nor Cal region. It seems a big part of getting to that level is finding out where and when to be somewhere. The pool is so big that they seem to not be worried about attracting kids outside there region in more rural areas. Thats ok though because if you want it you gotta go get it…right…and making them travel and work harder to get there just builds character. Thanks a gain for the info.

    • Brandon Elwood says

      Update, Sam made the earthquakes academy and PDP. No problem….just a 5 hour drive to each 1 1/2 practice right…. Anything for the kiddies. Hector I lost your email. Shoot me a message. Go Benny!!! Barca camp sign ups are posted for the LA region this summer too!
      We are holding out for San Jose.

  24. David says

    How did they secure Ben tryout with Barcelona? The reason I ask is because my son would like to tryout for the youth development program at Barcelona and we wanted to know how we should go about it.

    • Hector says

      Its very difficult to secure a try-out. First your son needs to be seen by someone in Barcelona. My son attended a Barcelona Camp in December. The FBScola coaches that attended loved the way he played and requested all his information. One of the coaches emailed me back that he forwarded information to Barcelona scouts to see what they thought, but he also warned me that it is very difficult to bring someone from outside spain to try out for the team. Not only does the kid have to have the skills necessary, he also needs to be regarded as better than what they have there already… Anyways they are going to have camps this year again in California here is the link
      You can also send him over the summer directly to a Barcelona
      camp.. If he is good enough, he might have a better shot at a try-out since he is already there.

  25. Jordan Nelson says

    hey all, i’m an American doing a masters in journalism at the University of Barcelona. I’m interested in doing a profile piece on Ben Lederman and the Masia training program. Masia is rather picky on who they let in, but I was hoping that I could use my shared nationality as an excuse. So far no luck. Any one have any idea how I might go about getting in contact with Ben directly?

    • Gary Kleiban says

      Jordan, FCB suggested to all involved that it’s best for Ben if media attention were left to a minimum. Everyone agreed and is following their advice.

  26. Jayne says

    I would love some information on over seas contact information. I really feel my son has what it takes. I have a few videos of him on my YouTube page 4mykdz. It’s just getting the video in the right hands. Thank you so much. How do I email you?

    • Brandon Elwood says

      Barcelona will find you, It does not hurt to play for one of there academy teams here in the US. After our experience over the last year with ODP, PDP, club teams and MLS academy team my advise is this. Just make sure the player is having a good time. If they are then try to get on a team that plays in high level tourneys. If they are super good then they may stand out…or maybe not… depending on the team play. Sometimes a player can stand out without a great team and sometimes they wont. Samuel does not stand out as much without great teamates that can play tiki taka. This last weekend we played the Barca norcal team and our team really wanted to win that game even more than the championship. Samuel had one of the best games he has ever played…and did not score a goal. The ref’s were asking him for his autograph at the end (kinda odd). My point is this. I dont think an email contact will work. Focus on playing in high level games and you will be noticed if you are good. The Norcal Barca coach approached me after the game and we had a great discussion and even talked about having Sam as a guest player. I think thats how you move up or get noticed in the US. And that is probably the most healthy way for the kids to get noticed. I am the poster child for the sending of videos. It does work to get seen and it created some good opportunities for us, and they can be made to have some “wow” factor. But coaches from great places like Barca are not foolish enough to simply bite on a video made to only show the very best compilations of play. And it could give your child an idea that a great compilation of video clips will get him to the next level. I have learned that video clips are fun to do but they can get out of control as well. Humility and hard work are what we are trying to teach now. .I heard that Ben Lederman is extremely humble and real class act. What I have learned is that it is ok to try and get your kids to the next level. Just make sure that its not to big of a leap for them. I wish somebody would come out with a good book for parents with athletic kids. Cause I am learning as I go and most of the time I feel good about it but sometimes I question my decisions for him. Maybe Danny Lederman could use his experience and put out a good book. Best of luck to all kids looking to follow Bens steps. Just keep working hard and try and play with the best situation you can find that works for you and your family. Sacrifice is part of that on some level…you just have to find the healthy level for you kids an the rest of your family and that varies from player to player.

      • NYC Dad says

        I neep help. My son (U12) is a very talented first time player for his club. He made the third team through tryouts with NO academy experience. Mid way through the Fall season he was moved up to the second team. Now that the season is almost done, they want to move him up to the first team for U13s. Here is the problem – he is a nervous wreck and doesn’t seem to want the promotion. He’s not a showboat, he’s not loud and arrogant. He’s a quiet kid that needs a push over the hump. Once he’s on a team, he excels past the rest – as is evident by his promotions. When I told him that the club wants to promote him to the first team, he initialy jumped for joy, then he started to sink and become depressed. At this point, he doesn’t even want to go to practice. I don’t know how to handle this. Maybe its stage fright. Maybe I’m pushing him too hard. What do I do? Each time he moves up, he goes through a period of anxiety and depression, then he excels. I don’t want him to start hating the game. His goal all along was to play for the first team – now its in the palm of his hands and it seems he doesnt want it. Should I ask the club to let him stay down on the second team for another season?

        • Ken Sweda says

          NYC, you could be describing my daughter. Same issues, very reserved. I would suggest that you ask the club to allow him to remain rostered on the B team, but join the A’s for one additional practice a week. Then when he’s comfortable with those boys and knows he can hang, ask the club, then him, if he can guest play for the A’s in individual games or tournaments. My daughter is very much a “comfort zone” player, and they simply can’t be rushed. I’ve been there!

          Best of luck, it WILL work out.

          • NYC Dad says

            Thanks Ken. I’m glad I’m not alone. I’l think I’ll ease him over as you suggest. Hopefully the club will work with me.

          • Brandon Elwood says

            I agree with NYC. One thing that we have done over the last years is to go and play in unfamiliar settings. Camps, tryouts…anything unfamiliar. It shows the kids that just like in regular life…you get tossed into unfamiliar places and eventually you will get over the discomfort and pull through. So this type of experience can be applied for the rest of their lives. So the more situations like that with little or no pressure (camps) the better. If your Son likes to be comfortable to express himself on the pitch then NYC seemed to have a great suggestion. I also think that easing him into pressure situations is a good thing to start doing to build his confidence. So its a good thing that you recognize this in him and great that you have reached out for advice. That is what makes this website so awesome! am personally not a fan of kids moving up an age group. Although at times, physically it seems appropriate I think for the most part it could take them from the outier’s vantage point. Plus…why the rush? If they are good enough to play up then they should be looking in their area for higher level opportunities within their own age group. That being said I do think its alright to train occasionally with older kids but even then you have to be careful with injury. For the most part I can only draw conclusions from my own experience and cannot be called an expert by any means, however my Son is a very very small 99 and he trains weekly with 97′s 98′s with the San Jose Earthquakes regional academy. Always the smallest on the pitch…always even when it his own age group. So I guess that makes me a little biased about moving up because I have seen the benefits and downside to playing with much bigger kids. After some practices we have to ice the whole drive home and a couple of days after. Some times playing up does not mean playing better just faster and bigger. But its good to get used to a quicker and more physical game…gradually. Lastly these are only my own opinions based on my own experiences that I have been lucky enough to be a part of.

          • NYC Dad says

            These are all very helpful comments – thanks. It breaks my heart to push him into uncomfortable areas considering his personality, but I think its good for him. He wouldn’t even be playing if I didn’t drag him to tryouts.

            Here is another topic I need help with…
            I attend every practice and game – and I mean EVERY one. I never speak with him during the sessions except an occasional congratulatory shoutout during a game. I always try to be inconspicious away from the field. Do you think it puts pressure on them knowing dad (or mom) is always watching? Some parents never show up at all and I think thats sad. Maybe I’m missing the whole picture. Maybe I’m the reason he doesn’t like leaving the comfort zone because I’m watching and he wants my approval. Maybe I should stay home for a few sessions. Gary will probably think I’m just nuts. Curious to know what Barcelona USA’s policy is for parents at practices.

          • says

            I don’t think you’re nuts. We all just do the best we can with the information and experiences we have.

            Anyways, I’m not qualified to give parenting advice.
            I imagine there’s so many things to consider when raising children, and each situation is different.

            I do, however, have my thoughts when only looking through a soccer prism. I liked Ken’s advice here.

            As far as our coaching policy goes.
            We try to make it clear to parents that they are not coaches, and should not be giving any instructions from the sideline. Cheering and encouraging is great, but that’s it. Our door is always open to discussions with them about their kid. As for their soccer specific opinions (ie what they think is better/worse for the team/players or anything) … well, let’s just say I’ll listen, but I have my limits.

            Glad you popped your head in here NYC!

          • Ken Sweda says

            I’m also a helicopter parent, NYC. My “excuse” is that I know what I’m doing, and what I’m looking for so I tell myself I want to see every minute, every detail, so I can praise or correct it. But that has it’s limits, as I’m now learning. So yes, there is pressure on a kid with this personality to know his parent is always watching. I’m busy with my own training more these days, so I miss more of my daughter’s practices, and have missed quite a few of her games while coaching her younger sister (who has NONE of these issues, being a 2nd child and all haha!)

            So some more advice, start to come up with excuses to miss a few practices (have him carpool, or if you drive him, do a “drop off” and tell him you’re going to run some errands). I’d even suggest you miss a game or two. They’ve got to find their own place in the game, which includes discovering their own motivations and coming to terms with their own performance.

  27. Ewusi Kwsi Ebenezer says

    Dear sir/madam,i am a boy of 18yrs of age and it is my ambition to join your soccer development program.Sir,please i am a Ghanaian and i lives in Ghana i am fully prepare of that so i want to know what should i do before i can be part of the soccer develop program.i hope i will hear from u soon.thank u.

  28. Danny M says

    Just curious, and without giving any personal details, what did Ben’s parents do for work while staying in Spain? Are they working there, or did their jobs in the US allow them to work from abroad?


  29. Brandon Elwood says

    See if there is a player development program in you area (PDP). This program is the best thing going right now for top players. Also it is practically free and you have the opportunity to make it up the ladder via ID2. If you kid can compete at this level regionally or at a state level than they have something special. These kids are the once that did not have 1000.00 bucks to fork over at Xmas time to go to a sub par tourney full of long ballers that get recognized because of early growth and physical ability. Or look for an MLS academy. This is most likely going to be your best chances of getting noticed. Video is good however nothing compares to playing at a very high level. I would guess that most of these video’s including our own do not have most of their clips taken from high level soccer.

  30. Armando says

    I don’t recall reading prior posts what you believe are the keys to developing a great player. Can you share?

    I think the player must first have God given agility, quickness, mentality and passion for the game and to learn. Born naturals. I”m sorry, but my personal opinion is man-child do not fit this model. They are better suited for different sports such as basketball or American football.

    Then I think it’s getting player with proper coaching and in a system with a system that best fits the players characteristics. This is what I believe La Masia does.

    American system is broken from bottom to top. Visionless, directionless, leaderless.

  31. says

    What a great story — hopefully Ben enjoys his time in Barcelona and develops as a player.
    For those that are interested, my company has been working with FC Barcelona the last 5 years offering a summer camp at the Ciuatat Esportiva, the location where the club trains and where the pictures above were taken. We take about 80 boys for two weeks in July, and they will be working with FC Barcelona’s coaches. Obviously it is incredibly difficult to be selected to join La Masia, but the coaches are always looking for talent and will notify the club’s higher-ups if there is a talent at the camp they are interested in pursuing. Our website is

  32. Nurdin Masoud says

    Hit Gery my name is Nurdin I was wondering do you happen to have any contacting to Barcelona youth team I am trying to apply for the youth team
    Please help me

  33. Frank says

    This is a great blog! Glad I came across it. Above is a link to my 5 year old son’s video. I am not expecting any leads on how to get him to a certain place, I am just a proud dad! He loves to play and the smile on his face is enough for me. We live in a very small soccer community and I do wonder what is the best for him in terms for maybe playing college? I understand he is very young but Any advice would be greatful?

    All the best,


    • Paul Dias says

      The sooner you get your son out of house league and into a ‘rep’ or academy style club the better. Make sure he plays two years up as long as does not get frustrated.

      • Frank says

        Paul thank you for the advice. He actually plays for a U9 club team as well. He only plays in the pre-academy program when we are not traveling. Are there any other programs out there for young players besides “club” for advanced training etc? Thanks again!

        • hector vega says

          Frank, at his age concentrate on his foot skills, he should be good with his left and right. There are a bunch of dribbling skills in you tube. My son does play up once in a while, but I don’t think you should push it if he can’t carry the skill level. No point of just playing up for the sake of it. Many more injuries when they are not ready to push up, specially two years.

    • tim says

      I ‘m not an expert on the european academy structure but fairly confident it’s not easy to get a tryout and even harder by just video. But good luck with your efforts and continue to pursue your dream because it’s very obvious you love the sport. One concern of mine is that you’re not playing against any competition. It’s not they you are so much better but more that your competition is so terrible. You are also much bigger than most so possibly you should consider playing up an age group. You will never really know how good you are until you are physically challenged . Will you then dominate? Will your technical skill hold up under pressure? Barcelona won’t be impressed with a bigger kid running up a score on a keeper that can barely punt a ball 10 yards. Again, I think you might have something and would never want to discourage someone with so much passion but you and your parents must understand you’re playing against “rec” players so success needs to be put in proper context. Good luck.

      • Brandon says

        I really like this last post. Very true and to the point. If you think you are good enough for the La Masia then test yourself by playing against the best in your area. Sometimes you may even have to drive a little ways to climb that ladder.

        • Brandon says

          What the heck. I figured I would post some video of Sam. Its not the best camera work and its not a bunch of goals. Over the last year its been a lot of focus on passing and possession so I though I would post some shots of Sam mostly playing at a high level. The shots of him in blue are with the PDP region 6 team that went undefeated at the last playdate. The shots in red uniform are with his club team. Sam just made the ID2 national camp and hopefully he will see Ben at the next National team camp.

          • Jayne says

            It’s great seeing your son progress since the last video. He’s very fast and quick with the ball. My son recently has been invited by 2 premier teams in England for their academy. I won’t name teams until he signs. Here is his latest video. Out of 3 minutes there is only one goal scored from him. It’s all about passing and quick decision making.

          • tim says

            That is great news but have to admit sounds a bit odd. Did you travel to England recently? I can’t imagine scouts from 2 different clubs finding him at a small local pitch behind his school and against recreational competition. I don’t know very much about the international academy scene but I know it’s not that simple. Unless you’re sending him to a soccer school in England, which is completely different than a professional academy. Please don’t name the clubs but please provide additional information so we can all learn and better understand the process. Where was he seen? Was he approached at a major tournament? Has he been on trial? Are you from England and how do you plan to deal with visa issues? Thanks again in advance for additional detail and good luck with the invites. That was also a great goal at beginning of video.

          • Jayne says

            Hi Tim,
            To answer a few of your questions. I was lucky enough to be born in England which makes us dual citizens. My son plays on the top Premier team in Utah. I know it’s only Utah but there is some good competition at the top. Our plan is to move to England to give our son a better chance of playing at a higher level. He loves playing the way the game should be played with one or two touch passes. We seem to focus on goals too much and the game becomes very selfish. All I did was send out his current video and was fortunate enough to get a couple of replies back. I believe it also helped stating that we are moving there next summer. These are only trials so he has a lot to prove but in his eyes it’s a door opened.

          • tim says

            Thanks, and that much more in-line with what I’ve been reading. England is very strict on citizenship. I’ve never been over there but I’m sure he’s going to love it. Good luck and be sure to keep the blog posted on the academy structure and /or if you find any loopholes for the american kids.

    • Arsenal_Chasing_4th says

      Arlind you are in a better position than most american kids, you are in Europe. I’m sure Sweden has some great soccer youth clubs that can develop you.

  34. NYC Dad says

    Not surprisingly, Ben Lederman was invited to join U.S. Under-14 Boys’ National Team, coached by Hugo Perez. It’s obviously a great honor to be asked to play for your country, but I’m curious to know whether Gary feels this is good for his development. Gary, I’m also curious to know what your honest thoughts were when you heard the news. Or does it matter?

  35. Nuno says

    How’s the overall level of the camp?
    Could one tell the kind of player they are looking for and how they want to try to play or still too early?

    • says

      Today’s session was precision choreography on how they want to press the opponent.
      In all my years of going to National Team camps, this is the first time choreography has been done. Good sign!

      Too early on the ‘type of player’, as there was negligible action with the ball. In any case, the ultimate test is what players are actually selected for competitions that matter, not what players go to camp.

      • says

        I do hope they end up selecting quality kids like Ben.
        Unfortunately, I know a few of the kids in the pool at a much lower level that are there probabaly because they are very tall…shocker! (sarcasm)

        • Marcelo says

          I watched a video of Ben and his Alevin A team playing in one of their regular games:
          Check it out below:

          This game and the skill level is not better than the top U12 league games in my area (NYC/NJ) and frankly I don’t know why Ben was selected for this camp. His abilities don’t impress me at all. I can think of at least five kids his age in my area who didn’t get called but are much better players in all respects: technical, physical, tactical, and psychological.

          • says

            Marcelo et al,
            I beg to differ about the Alevin comments. The game you posted looks like a tournament game or a friendly. Ususally those games have teams a a mix of school players and academy players; as well as kids that are trying out and teams that are one or two years younger. In the spirit of development, teams do this as a learning experience. Below is a better look at the Alevin level in Spain:
            The Alevines in this video are now Cadetes (U14/U15/U16). Gorgious in Barca is now a national player for Germany. He used to play in E. Frankfurt, played with my son in smaller 2nd division team in Barcelona, and then was drafted by FC Barcelona.
            this is from 2011 Alevines (’00/’99). Many of these Atletico kids were the same ones that beat the id2 national ’98 team that went on tour to Spain.
            THe level is very high. It’s difficult to find these type of players in the U.S. because there aren’t enough players in a particular league that can help each other get to the next level.
            If anyone is interested in seeing the next tournament live for free on the Web, let me know so I can keep you posted. The next one is around xmas. No. you cannot pay to enter, this is by invitation only. This tournaments has served as a stage to introduce great players like Iniesta and Llorente.

          • says

            Here is a great example of what I mean by you cannot make judgements base on a short video. These were Alevines. The Barcelona player that miss the first PK, Oriol, is a fantastic player, one of the best in Spain…you will probably be using him as a model player in this blog even, but he missed the PK. I couldn’t say that I’ve ever seen a player like Oriel in the U.S…and I’ve seen this kid since 2009.

          • Marcelo says

            The videos you posted are highlights. I can put together highlights of the top goals in my area and it would look just as good if not better. Similar to your links it will show the stronger, bigger kids dominating and scoring or assisting in goals almost single-handedly. The link I posted is longer game footage (not highlights). I feel there’s just too much hype about these players while there are so many players who do not get seen because they don’t play for European academy teams. My contacts in Spain tell me that Ben is not well regarded (sorry to say) and the video I posted shows why.

          • says

            You addressed several items on your response to which I’ll try to response:
            1) perhaps you missed the part where I said if anyone wants to see the next BBVA FUTBOL 7 tourney live and for free can ask me how so I can tell them. There you’ll see the HUGE level gap between Spain teams and American teams.
            2) my comments were about the level in Spain vs the level in The US. sorry but the level is very different, and it’s better to accept that and begin improving domestic teams. I don’t know anything about Ben so I cannot give a fair opinion. One thing I know is that the team he’s in is a top team and nearly impossible for most American players to get in. I can only speak for the American kids that I know that play in Catalonia; those kids are years ahead of their peers in the US. You are only as good as your competition. The competition in Spain is simply one of the best.
            3) the system in the US has improved. Whole lot but it’s till has a long hard way to go; regardless of what system they end up using. Spain has been doing this forever; consequently, their players will be better. I think the value of foreign based youth players is overlooked in the US.

          • Marcelo says

            Thanks EdFoot. I’m not disputing the level of the players in general vs those in the US. What I’m saying is that perhaps some of the US players there are overrated and instead of bringing more U12 players from Europe here to camp why not bring in more promising U12 local players and develop them here the right way. The competition is getting much better in certain parts of the States and with the advent of the U13/U14 DAP in the Fall 2013, the competition will be become even stronger and in some cases rivaling that in the European academies.
            With regard to Ben, I wish him the best but I’m sorry, his level of play is good but not in the elite category. Btw, he’s no longer in the top team- he’s now in the Infantil B team.

          • Brandon says

            The argument you both are having is a very valid one and needs to be addressed further. But maybe to take it up a notch,,, instead of just bringing over kids that have the overseas resume… maybe they should be bringing over some of the coaches that teach the system. I know the club by Son participates occasionally for Player development is affiliated with Florentine and they seem to be top notch. I guess they are trained and train the kids in the same method as Fiorentina… I guess similar to what Barca USA does as well. So I suppose some things are going well here and maybe we are just putting to much shock and awe into the National team stuff that rarely trains together and honestly at this age… is probably just to overrated to begin with. However the kids that are in these camps are probably having the time of there lives and feel like they are on top of the world so that is good. I put more stock into the daily training on a system that is well established and in place.

          • says

            Question Marcelo why is a kid overrated or underrated? What is the criteria that the US looks for and what Barca looks for? I think they have 2 entirely different models in terms of the qualities they want in players. So according to Barca, Ben has those qualities, so don’t hate man. If your players or if you know players who are better get them out there to be seen. Show me, Show everyone. Don’t just say it prove it, through your local talents getting into academies in europe/South America etc You say they are then get them there since you have contacts.

            Barca is the top and has done this for years so me personally i can trust their valuation of players the US and MLS i cannot. So if you are talking about MLS Players and US Nat Players who are selected are overrated i can agree with you in many instances. But when the 1st American is at Barca and we know how they judge talent don’t hate. We all know in Europe if you are not good enough they do not keep you around, so as of now he’s the quality they require.

          • Paul says

            Just thought I would add my two cents. I have had some experience with European clubs and have researched ‘what it takes to get an opportunity’. I don’t know any of the kids you speak about except for Ben, but even then, I just know him because I read about his story. What parents/critics have to realize, is that, it’s not just about skill. As people here mentioned, there may be other skilled players that may have deserved a chance. The main thing people forget about his the kid’s work ethic, heart and demeanor. Skill says alot, but there are many talented kids that I have seen already not get picked up by a team because of other factors. I live in Canada, I that is also the case with hockey. For that matter, that is the case with all team sports.

          • says

            Marcelo et al:
            It’s hard for be to qualify foreign based players as “overated.”
            In any global/Olympic/pro sport, the best way to get from a high performing level to elite level is to migrate to the hubs where the best talent competes. For example:
            If you are an top level wrestler, you will get to elite level by training and competing with players from the Midwest USA, Russia, and Iran; If you want top become a top Taekwondo player you have to go to Korea or Spain; If you want to be a top tenis players you go to Germany, the U.S. or Spain; If you want to be a top Basketball player you go to the U.S.; and so on.
            The American kids playing in Catalonia in top teams in the high divisions (1st division) are in a very cut throat enviroment.
            These kids are more than just top athletes. These kids had to leave their cushy homes in the U.S., go to school and adapt to a new life, learn two new languages (kids have to speak Spanish, but school is in Catalan for most of the day); live at a dorm or with a host family; ignore the sterotype that American players can’t play and try to do better than most local kids to earn respect; adapt to a new culture. And, compete…the competition is very high; there are kids from all corners of the world -not only Spain/Catalan players; African players, Bristish players sent there from pro teams to get better; Brazilian & other LatinAmerican players from some of the best teams from that region; Asian player; and so on.
            Most parents in the U.S. would not want to move States or send their kids to another State for their kids to play soccer at a better academy, let alone send them to another country (of course there are some famalies that do but they are the exception).
            Regardless of the sport, athletes that go to talent hugs to learn and compete are, for the most part, higher level athletes than homegrown players. They also are more prepared to travel different countries to compete at the international level (they do it every weekend), and tend to be more mature and autonomus about fundamental behaviors to be a top players (eating habits, sleep, etc.)…homegrown players are simply not in an enviroment to get them ready to do this (not only in the U.S. but everywhere in the world…that’s why rookies choke at the higher level). And, at the elite level, these things matter.

          • Jayne says

            I couldn’t agree more with you. Being a World Champion 21 years ago in windsurfing you had to go where the top windsurfers were to train in order to improve. It’s still the same to this day for any sport.

          • NYC2BCN says

            Just FYI,
            Kudo plays a different position; not all kids can be forwards. And, He’s in Barca D

          • Christopher says

            I’d be interested to hear what specific factors you are considering when you make the judgement that Ben is not of “elite” quality and what qualities do the players in your area (NYC/NJ) have that he (and the others on the field) lack?

            If his abilities do not impress you, than which abilities would you like to see from him?

            I’m sure Gary could confirm, but I believe Ben is on the Infantil B team because he is 12. The Infantil A team is mostly 13 y/o.

          • Marcelo says

            Look at his touch. his speed, and movement off the ball. Touch is not of the quality I would expect, speed is too slow and movement too predictable.

            No hate here. Believe me, I would looove to have an American do well at La Masia. There will be more, I’m sure. But we have got to start believing in our local talent, first in recognizing them, and then nurturing that talent. There is so much talent in the inner city going wasted. The USSF is moving in the right direction with better competition starting in the Fall 2013 with younger age groups (U13/U14) at the regional level but we have a long way to go. U11/12 should be next but that won’t happen for at least a year.

          • Brandon says

            All good points, but everyone is forgetting one very key point with regards to players being picked up for overseas training. If you have a EU passport you will get scooped up…. period if you have the TIPS. Those other factors come into play but lets not kids ourselves hear. Obviously the US has talent at these age groups…. or the overseas clubs would not be scour the states with ID camps. Guess what one of the questions is when applying to one of those ID camps? They ask about your lineage and if any of your recent relatives are living in Europe or whatever region that team is based in. So, remember, talent is needed, but a EU passport is key.

          • Paul says

            EU Passport will help but not key. I know this first hand. If a European Club wants you they will arrange for a EU passport and make any necessary arrangements.

          • Jayne says

            I have to agree it will help. Since my son has dual citizenship, suddenly he has 2 trials with 2 premier level teams academies next summer in England which will have us move out there. I also agree that it’s not just the skills but the live, breath, sleep soccer mentality the child has NOT the parents. They have to want it more than anything for the training that is required. Here is a 3 min. clip of my son playing in his top premier league in Utah. Yes, I know it’s only Utah, that’s why we are moving.

          • says

            Paul is correct. I cannot speak for All European countries but in Spain, there are many top academies for tenis, football, and other sports.
            Players from all over the world go there to train and compete.
            There is a process for foreing players to stay in Spain legally and compete in Federated games (the league). You don’t need a EU pastport, you need legal residence.
            In fact in Spain, you need to have this to register for school too.

          • says

            Below are some videos of Avelines competing in Spain against some of the top teams in Europe. THESE ARE NOT HIGHLIGHTS. They are full games. In them, you can appreciate the level of these kids (U10/U11).
            I think it’s easy to say there are many teams just as good or better in the U.S. Nevertheless, it is easy to look this good against weak teams in local leagues. It’s anothet thing to play this well againt other elite teams. For starters, most U10/U11 teams in the U.S. woudl not have access to teams at these level and experience. I’m not putting the U.S. players down. Rather, I’m proposing that if you truly want to see if kids in the U.S. are in fact this good, the only way to cehck is by going to Europe and play againts these teams. Most likely the U.S. team will get destroyed, but as the U.S. based kids get more experience, they would catch up and eventually be at the same level. It happens in every other sport; it can happen with soccer. Going on a blog and saying the kids in the video aren’t good or your kids are better is one thing; going to Soain and actually play these kids is another. Enjoy the videos:


          • Joe says

            I agree with you but lets face it, the US is desperate for fresh talent. They are going with a lot of US born European players because (as EDFoot says) these kids are playing the best competition. So they’re betting that these players will make the cut due to their better soccer experiences abroad. This doesn’t mean they are giving up on the local talent, just hedging their bets which all good soccer coaches must do…

            There is indeed some excellent talent in the NYC/NJ area. There is also some exceptional talent in the Massachusetts area (where I’m from). These kids need to be recommended by their coaches for the camps (like id2) and should be playing in several regional events for them to get a look from the scouts. If their coaches are doing this and everything else they can possibly do via their contacts, then the kid has a good chance of getting looked at, otherwise, forget it.


          • Travis says

            It’s great that these American kids are playing in Europe. My hats off to them. But just because you play in Europe among top competition does not make you one of the best. I too am not impressed with the video footage of many of these players including Ben. My guess is these US coaches want to see it for themselves.

          • Paul Dias says

            Dr. Loco

            “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

            You are absolutely right! This is what I have always said to my son and now at Sporting CP this is what they said to him. When big academies look for kids they obviously look for skill, ones that work hard at it and the ones that naturally have it. It is harder for a natural talented kid to sometimes make it as they are not mentally prepared and never fought for something. The hard worker knows nothing else, but to try and try again. So in the end, whether your talented or work hard, your work ethic will determine if you are talented and become special or skilled and become an excellent footballer.

          • Paul Dias says

            U10 (2003 boys) We are from Canada and he flies out 6 weeks to train with them. He will represent them at the Mudialito 2013 which is from March 23rd to 31st

        • Brandon says

          This is a very good point and the last few post’s on this thread are really insightful. It would be interested to see how many kids in the past that made the u14 or u15 national team camps remained on the radar and were picked up by quality clubs over the years or even made it to the USMNT. Imagine how many kids are left out of a list of 36….36 at this age, how many others are going to go on and develop, grow,,, and become excellent players. I can only wonder how many will excel just because of the chip on there shoulder, which is a good thing sometimes if its used as a positive re-enforcement tool. But this game is a game of confidence, so I also wonder how many will question themselves and flat line that did not make it. US soccer has to ask itself constantly if it can do better. Can we hold more camps? Can we invite kids that have not hit puberty yet or do not have dual citizenship… allowing themselves to be scooped up by a foreign academy? I know I said it… and its not meant to be a knock… honestly. But it just seems like if a kid is with a foreign club, they automatically get a ticket to one of these camps. Who pays for them to come to these camps? How many other homegrown kids could have come that may have been just as good if not better with out the shiny resume. This age is just too young to be looking at a kids portfolio to me. Obviously Ben is an amazing tactical player and deserves to be recognized by US soccer, however he is a 2000. I personally think that we should only have age pure camps until they are u17 or u16. He will have a sure spot next year to be developed by US soccer and right now it just seems like he is taking an age pure spot. Its way to early to be bringing in kids (not in Ben’s case) that just happened to mature early. So I hope they are picking them because they have the T.I.P.S. and not because they are already 5′ 4″ at 13 years old. Many of these kids have peaked size wise because if you look at there parents…..well, you can just see it. I don’t know… I am certainly not an expert at soccer tactics but over the last couple of years, while trying to navigate this crazy, nutty landscape of American youth soccer, I have seen many, many things that need to change if we expect to develop quality players that can consistently compete in leagues around the world. This is by no means a knock to Ben or any other player getting a shot at an overseas club. Its a bit of a swipe at our process here at home though and how we are looking to the future.

    • says

      Nuno these players are selected through US Soccer scouting. They are mostly U.S. Soccer Academy players (MLS academy teams and et al). They also try to track youth players who compete at higher level leagues in Europe. (E.g. Catalan Federation in Spain, like this kid Ben). Ultimately, the national head coach for the age group chooses who he’d like to invite. The other foreign-based player is Vincent Borden, plays for the youth academy of Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb. I wish US soccer would invite other American players currently playing at the highest levels in Spain for each of the age groups. For example: Sandor Xavi Bustamante (99) at Cornella ( plays in the same division and group as Ben). In Barcelona Sandor is know as “little Maradonna” which says a lot. And, there are others in other age groups. Bringing more foreign based players in all the age groups will only make the U.S. teams better; and it will help reach some of the goals US soccer wants for the U.S. Soccer academy players. Just a thought…
      The pool players at this camp will play against Pateadores, United FC and So Cal Select.
      Here is the full camp pull:
      U.S. U-14 Roster:
      GOALKEEPERS (4): Carlos Avilez (FC Dallas; Dallas, Texas), Xavier Kennedy-Reed (New York Red Bulls; Montclair, N.J.), Ethan Koehler (New York Red Bulls; Maplewood, N.J.), Eric Lopez (LA Galaxy; Westminster, Calif.)
      DEFENDERS (11): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; Wappingers Falls, N.Y.), Vincent Borden (Ithaca, N.Y., Dinamo Zagreb), Khai Brisco (Highline Premier FC; Renton, Wash.), Bekele Dowty (Blackhills FC; Olympia, Wash.), Mckay Eves (Las Vegas Heat; Las Vegas, Nev.), Kyle Gruno (PDA; Saddle River, N.J.), Antonio Nava (De Anza Force; Redwood City, Calif.), Matthew Real (FC Delco; Drexel Hill, Pa.), Cody Sundquist (Placer United; Lincoln, Calif.), Samuel Vines (Pride SC; Colorado Springs, Colo.), Carson Vom Steeg (Santa Barbara SC; Santa Barbara, Calif.)
      MIDFIELDERS (11): Ateno Ajeakwa (LA Galaxy; Gardena, Calif.), Colin Brezniak (Potomac; Hanover, Pa.), Jose Carranza (NVSC; Manassas, Va.), Taylor Davila (Real So Cal; Sherman Oaks, Calif.), Martin De Leon (MN Thunder Academy; Brooklyn Center, Minn.), Christopher Goslin (UFA Elite; Locust Grove, Ga.), Roberto Hernandez (Texas Rush; Houston, Texas), Milan Iloski (San Diego Surf, Escondido, Calif.), Ben Lederman (FC Barcelona; Barcelona, Spain), Nicholas Taitague (FC Richmond Magic; Midlothian, Va.), Juan Torres (GSA; Lilburn, Ga.)
      FORWARDS (10): Jonathan Amon (SC United Battery; Summerville, S.C.), Lucas Del Rosario (CASL; Durham, N.C.), Omir Fernandez (BW Gottschee; New York, N.Y.), Jonathan Gonzalez (Atletico Santa Rosa; Santa Rosa, Calif.), Jeanpaul Marin (Downtown United SC; Rego Park, N.Y.), Jose Ortiz (LA Galaxy; Hawaiian Gardens, Calif.), Ryan Palmbaum (Estudiantes De La Plata; Roseville, Calif.), Daniel Sanchez (Tecos Hayward Club; Hayward, Calif.), Adolfo Trujillo (De Anza Force; Livermore, Calif.), Timothy Weah (BW Gottschee; Rosedale, N.Y.)

        • says


          Yeah, Sandor made an impression in the scene already. Many people are talking about him. Infantil is a tough age group because so many kids get dropped by a lot of coaches because of size…I know a lot of people in the U.S. think that doesn’t happen in Barcelona, but it does :) that’s why Victor (Zaragoza Rockie of the year) and Jordi Alba (now in FC Barcelona) got kicked out of FC Barcelona and Espanyol when they were younger. Jordi Alba really developed at Cornella -even though everyone outside Spain say he’s a product of the Masia-
          So you have to be REALLY GOOD; WORLD CLASS GOOD to be in any of the top teams in Catalunya; specially the Barcelona based teams. He and my son got a chance to hang out in Barcelona over the summer he was first darfted by Cornella. My son is a Cadete year one (just turned 14 last week) playing with Year 2 Cadetes (U15-U16) in 1st division in Catalonia.
          It’s funny because so many people in the States are always running their mouths about how much they know about soccer but miss out on talent like Sandor and other American kids playing in the top teams in Barcelona. And, they don’t really know about the soccer scene in Spain, let alone Catalunya; they think it’s just FC Barcelona, and maybe RCE Espanyol. When in fact mid level teams in Barcelona are top teams any where else in Europe. For example, so many European top teams from all over Europe go to Barcelona to play with these teams because they know they will get better. They bring their A teams and loose against C teams.

          • Brandon says

            Can you contact me please. I have been trying like crazy to learn more about the overseas training options… especially in Spain. I don’t really expect to get involved with FC Barca but I would like to know more about the possibility of getting on with a good club in Spain.

          • says

            that’s good to hear man. I remember when my team played against Sandor’s (LMVS about 4 years ago) and I was like “who the hell is this???” Ha the kid was a different level from what I had seen in the states during that time.

          • says

            Sandor’s team is a top Catalan pro team. The U12s beat the US id2 team ’98 last year when they went on tour. These were suppossed to be some of the best kids in the U.S. But most of them were just very physical and tall.
            I think he’s going to go far if he takes care of himself. If not in the U.S. for sure in Europe.

          • Brandon says

            Interestingly enough, many of the kids that were on the ID2 team are also now on the U15 BNT. They kind of go hand in hand. I really like your perspective on the bigger more physical focus by our developmental system. Can you enlighten us on the requirements for kids to play in Spain in these academies. Do they have to have dual citizenship or a EU passport? Is it even possible for a kid around Ben’s age to be scouted and asked to play if they only have US citizenship?

          • says

            Yes it is possible. There are many variables (mostly dependent on the kid’s level). But in a nutshell, they have to be in Spain legally so they can go to school and play. Of course they have to tryout. Usually for 15 days and for more than one team to increase chances of getting picked by one. Check this out for more info:
            But it is only worth it if the player can get in, at least, in a top 2nd division team to work his/her way up to 1st divison and so fort. Having the level to get in 1st division is always better but it depends on the player’s style and level.
            I hope this helps.

          • tim says

            Unfortunately you have to figure out a way to get to Spain on your own dime and figure things out. Save, save, save, ! ! and make it happen. Please don’t sit here in the states hoping some club will see your son and whisk him away for a magical trial, it will never happen and that’s 100%. It’s never happened. Every kid currently playing overseas has made the financial and family sacrifice to get over there and play in front of decision makers. Your son is good and can possibly make it on a team but you’ll never know if you don’t try. Hoping the system was different or id system included smaller kids is just that, a hope. You’re a smart guy so I know you’ll figure it out. But the passport thing is just an excuse to not go. Like a previous post said, if the kid can play everything else works itself out. Also, knowing the language will certainly help. Don’t live with regret, just make it happen.

          • Brandon says

            Thanks Tim, I appreciate the pep talk cause right now I’m just about out of ideas. I tell you what… if I could get him a confirmed trial… I would get him there. Even if I had to sell a testicle on the open market…. just in case anyone is looking??? JK. By the way Samuel did make the ID2 camp taking place at Grande sports complex at the start of Dec. Several of the boys in this National camp are also going to the ID2 camp. I was shocked that he got picked because usually he makes it to the high level cut, however he does no typically get picked because as some folks on this post already now and have seen… Samuel is almost always,,,, guaranteed… the smallest kid on the pitch. I was told that he was given high marks at the trial. So for those out there talking about the US not paying attention to kids cause they are not there physically…and believe me… I have been one of those people…this could be good news for other kids as well.

          • Rossi NJ says

            EDFoot- the id2 team you mentioned that lost to Cornellà also beat Barcelona during the same tour. These boys were U14/98s? Did they really play u12 teams in Spain? Not saying that they were more talented or better, but they were at least competitive. And you can see from the videos that the size and physicality between the US and Spanish sides was minimal which was also true for the previous tours to other European countries (especially if you are comparing U14s with U12s). The potential and talent is definitely here- even more so if we are to believe that we do such a poor job of identifying the elite players in this country.


            Its one kind of opportunity to visit a country to play soccer when you are 10, 11, 12, etc but its a total different thing to move to and live in a country just to play soccer. I wonder how many of these boys would have stayed in Europe, assuming they were good enough, to sign a club contract and give up friends, home, comforts, high school proms, college ball. Or hope that the system they return to will help them achieve the best of their individual and collective abilities.

          • says

            Rossi NJ:
            There are a couple of things to consider about those games:
            The id2 players were Cadetes playing Infantil kids.
            The tourney was won by RCD Espanyol. But even that was not important. And, when the id2 Team played the infatil kids from Atletico MAdrid, they lost too (granted that team was probably the best Infantil teams in Spain at the time).
            I’m not putting down the program. I think it’s important to have programs like this, more inclusive and with better opportunities for players. Nevertheless, a more appropriate test would have been competing against the regional teams like Catalunya, Euskadi, Valencia, Madrid, Andalucia, etc. These were selected players from a whole country playing individual teams. Not the best team from each region playing the best players from the U.S.
            There was one foreign based player in the id2 team (Ithink he plays in Germany).
            I agree that there is talent in the U.S. Otherwise there wouldn’t be AmericanS playing in Catalonia and elsewhere (stress on the plural; it’s not just Ben playing at a top Barcelona team).
            However, I think there’s a lot of work to do in the U.S. to develop the insfrastructure to have a true competitive level that can rival the world powers in the sport.
            I think id2 makes an honest effort to reach out and be inclusive in their scouting efforst. Nevertheless, there is still a good number of talented players who don’t get identified to because of their size. This has more to do with coaches set in their old ways than an organizational problem (at least I hope).

          • NYC Dad says

            Americans?… “The entire family relocated to London to enroll the boys in FFC’s system in January of last year, a move made possible by their mother Cheryl’s British citizenship and the fact that both boys were born in England.”

          • ThePremierLeague says

            I think their dad is American though and they have been living and playing in Maryland for most of their lives. They moved to London in January 2011

  36. Brandon says

    CHICAGO (Aug. 10, 2012) – A new crop of U.S. Under-14 Boys’ National Team players have started the new cycle on the right foot with a win and a draw against local California club competition during their first training camp at The Home Depot Center.

    The new cycle of players earned their first experience playing for the U.S. U-14 BNT side on Aug. 8 in a scoreless draw against Cal South ODP 98s. In back-to-back matches, a second group of new U-14 players earned a 3-0 win against the U-15 Fullerton Rangers.

    Kyle Gruno opened the scoring for the U.S. in the 19th minute and Nicholas Taitague added a second goal in the 33rd minute before Jack Beer closed out the scoring in the 70th minute as the U-14s eased to victory.

    The next matches for the U-14s in a camp that runs until Aug. 12 are on Saturday, Aug. 11 against Pateadores and FC Golden State 98s.

    Earlier in August, the final group of U-14 players born in the year 1998 completed their final training camp at The Home Depot Center with a win and a draw.

    The U-14 (98s) defeated the Downtown SC Premier 97s 3-0 on Aug. 1 on goals from Isaiah Young in the 23rd minute and Juan Manuel Albizar in the 37th minute. Charles Wehan added the final tally for the U-14 BNT with a strike in the 42nd minute.

    Later on Aug. 1, another group of U-14 BNT players took on Arsenal 97s and the match ended in a 2-2 tie with Luca De la Torre scoring in the 34th minute and Josh Perez knocking in the game-tying goal in the 69th minute as the U.S. battled back from a two-goal deficit.

    • Brandon says

      Wrong post… they had an update on US soccer earlier. I though this was it. It looks like they took it down. They tied there first game with Ben and the other youngsters 1 -1. The next game they won 5- 1 with Jonathan Gonzales getting two.

      • Brandon says

        Update….. Here it is from TDS…

        CARSON, Calif. – U.S. U14 Boys National Team head coach Hugo Perez was pretty clear with his takeaway from a pair of scrimmages against local clubs at the Home Depot Center on Wednesday night.

        The performance was good from his group, but there is still a long way to go.

        The U14 BNT playing against players one to two years older faced a real test in both games. In the first fixture, the youth national team coughed up a late goal in a 1-1 draw against Pateadores. The second game was more comfortable with a 4-1 victory over United FC.

        U.S. U14 Boys National Team 1-1 Pateadores

        The result may have been a bit sour with the late goal conceded, but coach Hugo Perez was really happy with the performance considering there were seven players born in 2000 that featured in this game.

        Behind the midfield trio of Ben Lederman, Martin De Leon, and Christopher Goslin, the U.S. dictated the speed of play from the opening whistle.

        Lederman, the Barcelona Academy player, showed his class from the first touch with his ease to work away from pressure and provide an outlet for defenders. The 12-year-old nearly had the opening goal in the first 15 minutes of the game when he got on the end of a pass into the 18-yard-box, but his effort was comfortably saved.

        The opening tally came in the second half when Daniel Sanchez had a go from 25 yards out that sailed over the keeper and into the net. Striker Lucas Del Rosario supplied the assist with a carefully crafted back heel.

        The older Pateadores went on the attack for the last ten minutes of the game in search of the equalizer. Substitute keeper Eric Lopez came up with a couple of key saves before one finally got past him in the last minute of the game.

        “Overall, I liked that first game,” Perez said. “All those little guys [can play] – I mean the guys who just played [against United FC] are strong – but it was good to get the little guys out here. Again, it is going to be good competition for them.”

        U.S. Starting XI:

        Xavier Kennedy-Reed; Samuel Vines, Cody Sundquist, McKay Eves, Bekele Dowty; Christopher Goslin, Martin De Leon, Ben Lederman; Timothy Weah, Lucas Del Rosario, Daniel Sanchez

        U.S. U14 Boys National Team 4-1 United FC

        Jonathan Gonzalez capped the night with two goals and an assist for the youth national team in a commanding victory over local club United FC.

        The U14 BNT put pressure on the opposition from the opening whistle and nearly had the lead in the sixth minute following a defensive miscue by United FC. Adolfo Trujillo picked off the pass and hit the shot, but United’s keeper made a great save to temporarily keep the U14s at bay.

        Seven minutes later, the U.S. broke through twice in quick succession. Jose Carranza scored the first on a shot from 20 yards out after U.S.’s high line of defense created a golden opportunity for the midfielder.

        Following the kickoff after the goal, FC Richmond Magic’s Nicholas Taitague intercepted a pass across the back and doubled the lead for the youth national team.

        A minute before half, U.S. made it 3-0 when Gonzalez scored his first of the night on a header after a shot bounced off the crossbar, which the striker nodded home.

        United FC came out with renewed energy in the second and looked to be getting back in control of the game with a goal in the 43rd minute following a defensive lapse by the U.S.

        However, United FC could not sustain the pressure for long and Gonzalez put the final nail in the coffin with a goal nine minutes later. This time the striker ripped a shot from just outside the box thanks to a nice layoff from Jeanpaul Marin.

        U.S. Starting XI:

        Carlos Avilez; Matthew Real, Tyler Adams, Kyle Gruno, Antonio Nava; Juan Torres, Nicholas Taitague, Jose Carranza; Jonathan Amon, Jonathan Gonzalez, Adolfo Trujillo

        SR MF
        4 Andre Blake SO GK
        5 John Stertzer SR MF
        6 Carlos Alvarez SR F
        7 Scott Caldwell SR MF
        8 Eriq Zavaleta SO D
        9 Steve Neumann JR F
        10 Walker Zimmerman SO DView complete list >>

          • Kana says

            Watched about three-fourths of the video. I didn’t see anything spectacular. Many soft passes. They did try to focus on passing and possession, more so than most U14 teams. But I can think of several U14 teams (UFC Gold, Pats Costa Mesa, Sporting Santa Clara, Tecos to name a few) that if you changed the jersey, they would look the same or possibly better as a team and individually.

            Maybe I had to have been there?

          • g92 says

            Completely disagree with Kana. I watched the first half vs Pateadores and the U-14 NT completely outplayed in terms of possession and movement( and some players were underage). They only lacked a little bit in terms of penetrating the defense (understandable since they don’t practice often as a team). However I have to say that Ben is on a completely different level from the rest of the other kids.His reception, awareness, and vision was far better than the others.

          • Travis says

            g92 and Kevin,

            Are you kidding me!!! You are shamefully promoting Ben and I have to call you out. Agenda?? SEVERAL players on this US U14 team that played the Pateadores are MUCH better than Ben. Starting with #28, #22, #20 and several others.
            Ben makes some nice simple passes and has good movement but is very inconsistent. Look at minute 2 in the second half for example. Also somewhere in that game he gets an amazing pass after a great hustle from #28 – he was like 10 yards in front of the goalie, no pressure, and he shoots a weak ground ball straight to the goalie. Sorry, lets be honest here and stop this nonsense. He’s a good player but nothing special right now. Maybe after a year or so he may show dramatic improvement but at this time no way is he the kind of player you are trying to portray him to be.

          • Kevin says

            Sorry Travis but if you honestly think that you need a lot of help and guidance on identifying talent. I live in Florida and have no tie what so ever to Ben, I’ve never seen the kid in my life and never been within 200 miles of him. Not one player on either team is anywhere near Ben’s quality, and if you can’t see that then I don’t know what to tell you other than to watch what the best players in the world look like. Ben is as special as it gets!

          • Mike says

            Yeah, he has quality but nothing special or “different level” than the other players. But lLets give him the benefit of the doubt – maybe he was nervous or just not having a good day- he’s only 12 after all.

          • g92 says

            I don’t know ben either. Ben is not a player like messi who is going to dribble everyone or show flashy skills like Ronaldo. He is a player who has exceptional awareness, vision, and ball control. Those who actually know about soccer can see that Ben is completely comfortable with the ball while others have trouble with their first touch. He also knows how to set the tempo of the game(please the kids from the other team most times than not wanted to played vertically). He may not be special in Barcelona, but he is on a different level compared to the kids in these videos.

          • Kana says

            I’m sorry g92, but there are dozens of kids in SoCal and several dozen more across the US who are good enough to play on U14 National team. Luck, circumstance, good fortune all play into getting noticed and having a chance. This is true in soccer and any walk of life.

            I’m not trying to diss any of the kids, just making honest feelings that I don’t see any special players from the video. I can see similar level just about every weekend in SCDSL Flight 1 from top 2 – 3 teams of North / South brackets. Go to any big tournament across the USA and you can see same level of play from top players.

          • Dr Loco says

            Most good players around the world 14 years and under are very similar in quality. Player differentiation does not happen until 15-18 years of age. It can take 10 years of training before a player finally wakes up and blossoms into a “star”. There are exceptions but those are very rare. The lucky ones are in the proper training environment and have a good “chance” of hatching (remember probabilities?).

          • g92 says

            I agree with you that there are other players(although not many) in this country who are actually better than Ben and most of the kids in the U14 NT. That is the #1 reason why Gary created this blog so we can identify players using the right criteria. It also depends on luck. However what I don’t agree on is that you are saying that most top club teams in the U.S play the same way or even better than the U-14 NT played in this video. The U-14NT were connecting of up to 13 passes in some occasions. If what you’re saying is true, then we would be better than Spain. Please, if Ben wasnt special, no way he would be in la masia.

          • John says

            “Please, if Ben wasnt special, no way he would be in la masia.”

            He showed promise, that is why he is at La Masia. It does not necessarily mean that he (or anyone else there) is special. Like him there are many players out there who *could* be in La Masia. . They just didn’t not have the luck of circumstances that Ben had to get himself picked (see GK blog just out today for more). btw this is the last year in his contract. If he is still liked he will continue his contract otherwise he will be out like hundreds like him before.

          • Kana says

            I do see teams at U14 levels who can (at times) connect 13 times with passes. I happen to agree with Dr. Loco in that special players don’t really separate themselves until about U16 or even later. Rare ones do, but atypical. Just because you are in an elite program doesn’t mean you are “special”. Few players at any age are “special”. Messi, Ronaldo, Falcao, Xavi, Iniesta are “special”. I’m sorry but U14 players aren’t “special”. Some very good ones, but speical . . . I humbly disagree.

          • g92 says

            If only that were true then Barcelona nor Ajax would hold tryouts and form teams at the ages of 7-14 because almost everyone is at the same level. Why they bother to spend money on those youth coaches, fields, administrative costs, etc, if they are all the same until 14? Lets recall that Montoya and Alba(hopefully you know him) started at 8 and are now in the first team. However they are not considered special by any means. Another example is Sneijder, started when he was 7 at Ajax.

          • Kana says

            I think you’re missing my point and too focused on proving this or that player is special. Pro clubs should have tryouts for youth. The ones they select will be in right environment develop. Did they select right playes? Yes and no. Time will tell. Were others overlooked? Yes and no. Time will tell. Depends is always a good answer.

          • Dr Loco says

            “Why they bother to spend money on those youth coaches, fields, administrative costs, etc, if they are all the same until 14?”

            Exactly! If I could get all their rejects I would have the best team in the US (after Gary’s of course).

          • caradepau says

            Well Travis came on here to make a point didn’t he? I agree that #22 played well. Nice touch, decent vision, but he labored a little to pressure at a high rate much like Ben did and he closes off the field with his positioning a little too much. Not a huge knock, but I think he played well overall with Ben in the midfield. I would like to know more about him (age, team, etc…). #28 had a strong work rate and finished a shot nicely from distance, but #10 was eating him up back on D. I imagine that he is a younger as well with his size (if not he has no business being on the team). Enjoyed how he changed up his runs.

            #20 – well that is a whole other story. You have got to be kidding with this one. Just watched the whole Pateadores match and he is fast. That’s it … fast. Poor awareness and horrible first touch over and over throughout the match. I think you must have mistyped this one so I’ll give you a break.

            As far as Ben this is about what I would expect from a younger, weaker, slower player that possesses high skill and vision. I would have been sorely disappointed if he was trying to take players on 1 v 1 and 1 v 2 all over the field. Watch the matches and point out another player out there that creates more possession for his team and at the same time more scoring opportunities for several different players. It’s true his open shot on goal was a fail, and that he got knocked off of the ball a couple times, but his positives were far above that. In the end it was just a couple of games and you can’t make a firm stand on that, but I was overall impressed by #7 and his response to this challenge.

          • Kana says

            The team from Hayward? I saw them play almost 9-months ago and a few of their players at Surf Cup. They are very good.

          • arsenal fan says

            Edwin Lara: U14 National team, ID2 spain, will be playing for Pachuca also played for Tecos

          • Kevin says

            I can’t find any rosters and I’m only 5 minutes into the first half of their game against Pateadores, overall for a youth national team it was pretty underwhelming and something I wouldn’t be shocked to see from a top club team, not acceptable from a national team. However in about 3 touches you can tell number 7 is SPECIAL! That’s gotta be Ben, it has to be him, true class, head and shoulders above everyone on the field this kid, it’s blatantly obvious from the first second he touches the ball, checks his shoulders, smooth as can be on the ball, and plays a perfectly weight and technically sound pass into his outlet. If that’s not Ben I’d be very surprised, can anyone confirm?

          • Mateo says


            What do you see that is special about Ben in the 1st five minutes of the Pateadores game? @0:57 he makes a simple 5 yard lateral pass @3:08 he makes a good tackle and make conservative pass back instead of to #20 making a run near the center with boatloads of space in front of him.
            @4:06 and @4:17 simple one touch passes- yes these are nice passes but no different from those made by other players. You use strong words to describe this player’s performance in these 5 minutes:”true class, head and shoulders above everyone on the field..” Sorry my friend, there is NO way Lederman’s performance especially in the first five minutes anywhere near your description. G92, you say similar things as Kevin. Again, he has a nice touch and makes simple passes. He is no young Xavi as you seem to imply. Like other kids on the team occasionally he made some excellent passes. I have no doubt that both of you are either clueless, or relatives or good friends because your analysis is way over the top.

          • Paul says

            He seems to make the other players do the hard work by always passing his way out of a situation. I did not see him run at a defender even once at any time the entire game. As an attacking mid, he needs to show a variety of capabilities. (He needs to have an arsenal of tricks when attacking not just passing all the time). From what I can see in this game, he seems afraid to take on defenders and create the gaps himself when he has possession and his finishing needs some serious work.

          • NOVA Mike says

            Other players sometimes make some good passes too, but they also make really poor passes, receive and turn right into pressure, try and take people on – unsuccessfully, and other things that cause a loss of possession unnecessarily (i.e. – not counting situations where players take a risk that might result in a chance). Ben rarely causes a loss of possession. Consistency is important. 114 out of 117. That was the passing accuracy of Xavi Hernandez against Real Madrid in a game a couple of years ago. In isolation very few of them were anything other than simple easy passes, nothing spectacular. Yet there are only a couple/few players in the world who can come that close to perfection over 90 minutes.

            Another thing to keep in mind is that if I’m not mistaken Ben is a ’00, playing with ’98s, against ’97s.

            As for Paul’s comment: “He seems to make the other players do the hard work by always passing his way out of a situation.” That seems like something I might say — to a 6 year old who is still developing his basic skills. By age 12 (sooner, actually) I would expect players to know their strengths and weaknesses and make intelligent decisions. There are probably thousands of players Ben’s age in the US who have more of “an arsenal of tricks” than he does, just as there are certainly thousands who are faster, stronger, etc… The reason he belongs in that team and they don’t is they don’t have his technical ability or game intelligence.

          • Paul says

            NOVA Mike,

            You miss the point. An attacking mids main job is to create scoring opportunities around the oppositions 18 yard box and to score goals. Here are the facts:

            1) How many goals did Ben help create in this game: ZERO. In fact, he almost allowed an own goal thru a bad pass and if it wasn’t for good defending, they would have conceded a goal and lost the game.

            2) How many direct shots on goal did he have:1 and it was a great opportunity (1v1 with GK) which he squandered with a weak shot straight to the GK.

            3) How many accurate crosses did he have into the box: NONE – all his crosses did not reach a teammate.

            On the positive side he did have a few great thru balls to the striker including one brilliant left footed one and his passing percentage was about 80%. These in my book do not make him “Special” or “head and shoulders above everyone on the field”. I think many of you have fallen for the huge propaganda around this player and need to be more objective and honest in your assessment.

          • tim says

            I don’t think many here are saying he’ll have the Freddy Adu type hype surrounding him but would agree that it appears he’s been held out there as a “standard”. Does he move the ball well? Yes, but so do so many at that age. I also believe “special” must do more than make the same pass 85% of all center mids would make. Did he at any moment “change the game”? I don’t think so.

          • John says

            The game changer was #28 not just for the goal he scored but the many exceptional plays he made, including an unbelievable play winning the ball on the right attacking third and crossing it to Ben who was 12 yards in front of the goalie with no defenders near him. Small player too, which makes it even more interesting.

          • NYC Dad says

            You are all way too harsh. Your points are all true, but we are talking about 12, 13, and 14 year old players, right? These boys have been playing as a team for FOUR days at the time of this video. Four days. Sadly, they’ll never have a full season of competitive games against other competitive teams to to grow as a unit and live up to all of your expectations. Comparing any of these boys to top flight players or top flights teams is ridiculous. I see player mistakes in the video but I also see so much promise…but I’m no expert.

          • Mog says

            Ben is a solid possession player but to me did not exhibit attacking mid qualities, more of a holding midfielder. While his touch and control was very good he was more apt to play the ball back or wide rather than finding the through ball or pass that takes their midfield out of play. Defensively he was poor. Best of luck to him though, he’s only 12.

          • caradepau says

            #28 was hardly a game changer. He made a couple of quick touches in tight pressure that created an open chance, but missed his own open chance at the 7:30 mark. His work rate was high and changed his runs, but his goal was all the work of #17. I would like to see more attacking skill out of a forward. #10 for Pateadores was eating him up pretty consistently on D. Perhaps with his size he is a younger as well and can do that against his own age???

            What other mid was making passes to all 3 levels like Ben was?

          • Kevin says

            I have not fallen for any propaganda, I don’t know Gary, I don’t know Brian, I don’t know Ben, I just know quality when I see it. His awareness off the ball, and his precision and smoothness on it set him apart from the rest. He even picks up good positions and defends with intelligence. There are a lot of “good” players on the field, but nothing I wouldn’t expect to see at a club showcase tournament or anything like that, aside from Ben, he truly is on another level. Nitpicking one or two plays is missing the big picture, he’s not perfect, Messi’s not perfect. Messi gives balls away from time to time, Messi misses easy chances from time to time, does that make him any less special? Ben consistently keeps possession really well, moves extremely intelligently to find space, is clean as can be on the ball, understands the rhythm and tempo of a game through possession and can tell when to pull it back and keep it compared to when to be decisive and look forward (he played a few tremendous penetrating balls into forwards). As for the lack of 1 v 1, he consistently attacked space, he didn’t attack 1 v 1 a heck of a lot but that’s because he chose to penetrate by linking up instead of dribbling solo, Xavi hardly ever takes a defender on 1 v 1 for example, and he is an amazing attacking midfielder. I have no propaganda, and I don’t know what you’re looking for in a player, but there’s a reason he wears the number 10 shirt for Barcelona’s youth academy team.

          • Mog says

            If he was special he would have done something special. He didn’t. If our standard is to just NOT lose possession then our standard is too low. Barcelona goes beyond just possession soccer. They are a great attacking soccer team. I didn’t see anything special from that video.

          • Tim says

            um… #28 scored the only goal of that match – great left footed shot from 25 yards – yeah that’s a game changer- there should be no argument there. In addition he set up many plays the most spectacular being setting up the cakewalk goal that Ben missed .

          • caradepau says

            Good deal Tim so anyone that can shoot from distance is a game changer? If #28 can do that consistently then it becomes something substantial, but the question is this:

            How many boys that age can bomb from distance? The answer is MANY. So , yes there is argument there. It was a good finish, but I was more impressed with his work rate and his changing of his attacking runs … still not a game changer in my mind, but I would like to know more about him. I asked you a question earlier. What other midfielder made connections with all three levels during the camp like Ben did?

          • Tim says

            It’s amazing how many are blinded just because the big B took him in for two years. Look, he has good qualities as a central mid (and no other position) but nothing “special”. caradepau, passing all three levels is a great quality too but , but many do it – just look at the other videos from this guy at the camp. Again, he may blossom to a great player but right now he seems to lack versatility and depth.

          • NOVA Mike says

            If that is the type of player you were expecting to see, it’s no wonder you were disappointed. This is the player Barcelona saw when they gave him the opportunity:

            The video title calls him “little Iniesta” and against weaker competition his own age he did play that way but against older faster kids he obviously doesn’t have the confidence to penetrate off the dribble so he plays a little more the Xavi style.

            In this environment at age 12 Fredy Adu certainly would have had more created more chances, took more shots, probably even scored 1 or 2. Thus the hype. All the while, more knowledgeable football people preaching caution, citing his lack of game intelligence, propensity to make bad decisions and cough up the ball in bad areas, etc. …. and saying don’t believe the hype. They were right. Yet at 12, he was considered “special”.

            I’m not saying Ben is the 2nd coming, but it does pose an interesting question. By the criteria you’ve mentioned above, how “special” would you have thought Xavi at age 12?

            I guess another way of putting it is there are really 2 possibilities here. One possibility is that you are actually a better evaluator of talent than the coaches at La Masia. They made a huge mistake by giving young Lederman a chance and then compounded their error by actually letting him play regularly and even giving him the #10 shirt. The other possibility, however slight, is that the folks at la Masia might be pretty good at seeing things that most of us in the rest of the world aren’t too good at noticing right now, and maybe it might be worth another look at this kid with a more mind more open to learning what it is they see that you don’t.

          • Kris says

            Nova Mike,

            That video you linked does not illustrate your point. The team they were playing was god awful! My grandmother would look good playing that team.

            Like some one said, picking a player is highly subjective until post puberty. After puberty settles in, it gets less subjective. Until then, people will have very different opinions as the boys will not have the technicals, tacticals and physicals at a certain level or consistent. And when they play up they will most times struggle. Ben looked like that in these videos but in time he should grow to be a fine player.

  37. Nuno says

    Have you guys ever seen Guardiola in action?
    The player, not the coach.
    Have you heard the story of how he got picked to Barca’s first team?
    Just curious

  38. Arsenal Fan says

    Ben is a very skilled player, you can tell easily by the ease of which he handles the ball, it’s effortless. He is not of course going to dominate, because he is going up against players that are up to 2 years older than him, and at this age, the speed and strength differences are very noticeable. If he is at Barca, its is because he has the qualites to be there. Ben’s story has certainly motivated many young soccer players in the USA to persue joining big clubs abroad. Not everyone can get to la Masia, but they are not the only club in the world producing professionals . I’m just glad he is getting picked for National Team Camps, this will no doubt also give exposure to the other skilled players in the that team, because there are some fantastic players in that pool..

    • Hall97 says

      great point. Ben is a skilled and simple (smart) player. Something the US is in short supply of…or are we?

      However, I’m curious if he would have been invited to camp if he wasn’t at Barca?

      There’s a huge bandwagon effect among the ‘powerful’ coaches in this country. Where you play your club ball is often the deciding factor of who makes it and who doesn’t.

      Player id in this country is still overly dependent on physical maturation instead of technique and iq. Personally I’m not against ‘athletes’ but if they can’t control the ball and otherwise keep possession (brains) then it is worthless.

      Oversimplification perhaps. But when i saw a coupl eof players giving the ball away time after time, with horrible touches (even for a defender…)it leaves me scratching my head.

      • Arsenal Fan says

        Hall97, I don’t know how they are identifying kids in other parts of the country, but based on what I have seen in northern california they are seriously giving all the worthy players ample opportunities to prove their qualities. They have a mix of kids of all sizes and they are adhering to skill first. My son was there for the last camp in August and I did see some very technically flawed players, which leads me to believe that other parts of the country don’t have the same process and critirea. Ben is from around the area of L.A. and the club from were he came from is playing some great soccer, I think that if he would of remained there, he would of still got picked, but maybe till next year when he would be a year older.

        • Arsenal Fan says

          And no, I don’t think the USA is short of skilled players like Ben, there are many in northern califronia that given an opportunity would thrive in that type of envrionment. Many of the players of north will probably end up south of the border, Mexican clubs are agressivaly seeking out the best prospects from norhern california. Many have left to like pachuca, america, santos, morelia, and a couple on thier way to chivas. If these clubs have good youth systerms, Im sure they will be professionals some day.

          • says

            Thera are many American kids playing in top youth leagues. Some are going to Mexico, some are going to Spain and the rest of Europe.
            I think this is great for the sport and US Soccer should make an effeort to follow ALL these kids and call them to these National camps.
            Also, it takes two to tango and 11 to play modern soccer. I thing folks are being too hard on this kid, Ben. He has level but he used to palying with other kids with higher level and against kids with higher level. I know this because I’ve seen the academy teams in Catalonia…the level is decades ahead of the U.S.
            Consequently, the kids at the camp mighjt not be able to connect 100% with what Ben is trying to do. This is why is soooo important to follow other kids playing utside the U.S. If these players were called at the different age gorups for the BNT, the homwgrown players would learn mor and play at a different pace and with a better understanding of the game.
            When I saw the two game videos, my first impression was that several of these boys don’t below there compared to other American kids playing overseas. For example several of the defenders had poor peripheral vision and poor individual skills. Other kids had a hard time connecting successful passes.
            I know people can argue that they don’t knoe each other but a good player should be able to play well in any team and adjust fast to the plan the coach is trying to accomplished. I’ve seen trials for teams in Spain where kids who never play together go on the field and look like they have been playing together forever.
            Perhaps Ben would have looked better had he had other ’99 and ’00 players currentky playing in Barcelona and other parts of the world where the level is higher.

          • Mateo says


            You said “Perhaps Ben would have looked better had he had other ’99 and ’00 players currentky playing in Barcelona and other parts of the world where the level is higher.”.

            Well, the videos I’ve seen of him playing with his Alevin team are not impressive (one was discussed in this blog). I’ve yet to see any with his Infantil B team.

          • Brandon says

            Can anyone point out the Son… of soccer great George Weah? Id like to see him playing on the video.

          • Brandon says

            Can anyone point out the Son… of soccer great George Weah? His name is Timothy and he is a 2000.

          • Arsenal Fan says

            Brandon I believe his #22, he plays in second half of first game of B team. He plays central defender right below defensive midfielder.

          • tim says

            I again agree with both sides of this debate concerning this kid. Nothing special , but then i can see special traits. The crazy thing about soccer is it is subjective. It’s not like tennis or golf as a score easily decides level of skill and a winner and loser is obvious. One thing for sure is momentum is important and moves both ways. Get in favor with the right minds and everyone loves you and conversely on the wrong side and you’re never getting out of the basement. Ex. Freddy Adu doesn’t have enough years left to convince some he has the talent to stay on the field for a Div 1 team or our National team for that matter. Because Ben got a chance at Barcelona at 12, it is likely he’ll be given the benefit of doubt for a very long to come. Even if its not deserve, and not at all saying that. With that, Good luck to him and his family as it’s a great sacrifice to do what they’re doing. God bless him and keep him healthy. He is paving a way for our kids and to allow them to dream and know it’s possible to play in Europe , and for that we should thank him.

          • NYC Dad says

            Agree with Tim 100%+++. How does crapping on the “first ever American invited to La Masia” help anyone? The boy has good skills, great skills. Are there boys out there that have better skills? – probably safe to say yes. Does that matter? – probably safe to say no. He was lucky enough to be at the right place (Barcelona USA ) and to have champions (Brian, Gary, Mom, Dad) to support his cause and he made it to the BIG SHOW. Now its entirely up to Ben. We need to get behind this kid with the attitude of “if you like him, you should see the rest of U.S.”…pun intended.

          • says

            Just an observation regarding your comment.
            Ben is hardly paving the way for American players dreaming about going to Europe. There have been many American players playing for top teams in Europe, and in Catalonia before him. More importantly, in older age groups too -which is often harder to continue.- I would say he and other American players (as well as the children of expats playing in top academies like Real Madrid Castilla) are indee a great example for other with level willing to go the extra mile for the sport.
            Nevertheless, it is important to celebrate ALL American players making the sacrifice to go to Europe to reach new level in their learning (specially the ones playing in Catalonia). We need to think of American players getting ready to face the world, and not the team next door on Saturday.
            I think its easy to tear apart any player in any given game for any mistake they make. I’m disappointed at some of the comments I’ve seen about Ben -and I don’t even know this kid!- Sure, he gets more publicity than other American players in Catalonia, but it’s because of the brand recognition. Instead of doging him, we should be ask “how many more kids can we sned to Spain to raise the level of our National teams?” And, I don’t mean go to tournaments where you are paired up with third tear temas or in the summer when all the top players aren’t around or are in camps only “federated” (players currently playing in the Catalan league) players can attend. I mean going there to live and compete in 2nd and 1st division. It’s counter productive to say that there are kids in the U.S. better than other kids playing in Europe. Others in other countries have noticed and are sending kids there. I know kids that were playing at the highest level in top pro-team academies from Mexico, Brasil, Korea, Japan, England, and others that have moved to Barcelona to play with any of the top teams there to get better. They put aside provinsial pride and went to where the best are currently migrating to.
            U.S. soccer needs to follow these kids playing at the higher level in Europe and specifically Catalonia to raise the level in the National teams (B).

          • says

            Mateo et al,
            I’ve seen that video of the alevin games. Those were friendlies and don’t count. Coaches use this to tryout players and play younger wants, etc.
            For example, that version of Barca Alevin was playing CE Sant Gabriel, one of the most important cademies on Barcelona, but those kids did not look good either. Teams in Catalonia truly look at development in a diffrent manner.
            I have seen CE Sant Gabriel A and B teams and can asure you that they are way better than that.
            Also, I swas Ben’s infatil team by chance when they play against Cornella. I actually wanted to see Snado Xavi Bustamante from Cornella. A ’99 American player who is making a big name for himself in the scene. Both team played great. And, you can see that when you put truly talenyted players together, the game is fastere and smater.
            It’s like fighting with one hand tied to your arm and a ball and chain on your ankles; you might have a great jab but you won’t look as good. Ben has level but he needs to play with his with more level than many of the players in the U14 BNT. I think is Ben and Xavi wre in the BNT together, it would have looked even better. Sorry folks, those kids are simply playong a totally different game than the ones in the U.S.

          • Mateo says


            If these Catalan coaches are so good at training kids from a very young age, why doesn’t someone start a club with locations in different parts of the US and lure these coaches over here (on H1/work visas)? Instead of Americans pretending to know the Barca way why not bring in the real thing? Americans will pay big $$ to get their kids trained under these guys and if Barca helps fund this, maybe there will be a decent financial aid program for those kids who cannot afford it. What do you think?

          • says

            Mateo at al,
            Fortunately, Catalunya is not just one team. RCE Espanyol de Barcelona has been opening schools all over the workd and have been drafting players to go play in Spain.!/photo.php?v=10151082377707035&set=vb.222212487909937&type=3&theater
            They are known as one of the best academies in Spain. I think the reason their first team does not do as well in the LFP is because they always have to sell all their top players. They have a marketing company that represents them in the Americas. So far they’ve opened several schools in Brasil. Two kids from there made the 2012-13 draft.
            They offer a program to open an academy in the U.S. where they teach and monitor their system but it is demanding:
            While this is great news for serious academies interested in raising the level, it is not enough. The U.S. needs a better infrastructure. But IT COULD BE a great enhancement. Don’t you think?
            I think the problem is that Fc Barcelona follow the money, big money like Qatar…their school Aspire has a lot of top developement experts form Catalonia including the former scouting coordinator for futbol base for Barca…for them money talks. And, to open an official Barca Escola, they requirements are very expensive. If you don’t belive me I can send you the Request for Proposal. Cornella has some school in the Americas, but not at the levelk of RCD Espanyol.

          • Mateo says

            Thanks, EdFoot. It’s too bad that Barcelona “follows the money” and does not try to “make the money”. If they can take advantage of their huge power and influence in the world to start little La Masias all over the world, I believe they can MINT money while nurturing (and finding!) great soccer players in nations with huge pools of players and higher level of income so the chances are very good of doing so. They are in the lucky position of offering a tremendous value proposition to the soccer crazed world but unfortunately they do not seem to be interested. As a side effect, this venture will also help Spain’s economy greatly as many of these coaches and administrators from Spain who would be working overseas would send their money back home to their families. Barca has the opportunity right now to become a huge money making enterprise – orders of magnitude bigger than what they are now but for some reason they are shy to take advantage of it.

          • Jim says

            @ about minute 10:12 in the first half of the Pateadores game. Ben gets a great ground ball cross in the box. He takes it with his left when he should have taken it with his right. What are they teaching him in Catalonia? This is very basic stuff. He should be using his right in this situation and not wait for the ball to go to his left.

          • says

            Mateo et al,
            Perhaps RCD Espanyol is a great alternative for American Academies to learn the Catalan brand of football. And, they are willing to open competitive development academies in the U.S. It’s funny because people in the U.S. don’t realize how good RCD Espanyol Academy teams are. For example RCD ESpanyol Juvenil (U16/U17) were Liga champs last season. Equally their Female teams are some of the best in the league. Last season they were only stopped by power house CE Sant Gabriel which defeated both FC Barcelona and Espanyol decisively in the Copa Catalunya final. It is equally difficult (level wise) to make it into an RCD Espanyol Academy team as it is for Barca. But if a player has level, it is a great place to develop and possibly make pro.
            While top players from the UK, Brasil and other South AMerican countries; Europe, Africa and Asia are taking advantage of Espanyol’s academies, so many American players and their parents are blinded by their ilusion of FC Barcelona (as if that were the only top team in Catalunya)…Barca might be “more than a club” but Catalonia is more than just Barca.

  39. Kevin says

    Did anyone catch that Joe Corona started at CM in a Mexican Cup Final and won?!? (And played well!) Why the heck isn’t this guy an automatic choice for the USMNT??? Edgar Castillo started as well, and deserves more playing time on the US.

  40. Alberto says

    I am relieved to see there are others who don’t agree with all the criticism of Ben. First of all, he is just a kid playing a game. Lighten up. Less Tonya Harding, more Dali Lama, everyone. Second, I presume that one of the best academies in the world, currently fielding a legendary first team, would know something about recruiting and player selection. Ben has been chosen for his long-term POTENTIAL, and just because YOU don’t see it by watching Internet videos of his play, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Whatever the outcome for Ben, I am certainly rooting for him and his family to succeed. The are among the pioneers, the originals, and I hope their risk-taking is rewarded.

    Third, I am kind of surprised that many contributors who have been ready Gary’s blog for some time now do not seem to have retained anything learned here, or at least are not able to apply it. What I mean is, if you are watching these videos and don’t agree with Gary’s or FC Barcelona’s assessment of Ben’s abilities, why do you automatically criticize? Instead of looking within and asking yourself something like, “shit, I just am not seeing it! What am I missing here? What do I still not know? Why haven’t I learned it? Am I just not capable of learning these things? (After all, I don’t really enjoy watching Barcelona play, they are boring and kind of whimpy. EPL is more exciting, but hey, I don’t want to miss out on the bandwagon, either.)”

    I am not saying to follow Gary’s every word blindly; there is too much of that already. I am suggesting that you THINK about things here before reacting. Blind faith, or reflexive deconstruction of every proposition, for that matter, do not lead to truth. Truth ultimately comes to you from reflection. And it takes some longer to learn than others.

    The truth is that much of what is needed to operationalize Gary’s principles has less to do with things like copying Barcelona’s staged positional training practices, and more to do with learning how to be a good, effective, detail-oriented, authoritative coach, regardless of the footballing philosophy you espouse or the style your team plays.

    To me, these discussions about Ben and about circumstance are like a mid-term exam, and I think we as a group are in danger of failing. Because all many people really care about is how to move their own kid ahead in the rat race.

  41. Brandon says

    Look at his first touch!!! Look at how he crisply and efficiently takes his second touch!!! Sorry for the exclamation override but clearly we have some ID issues here. Ben.. very, very, good and top shelf.

      • Brandon says

        Not to be argumentative, but do you have a point? I’m sure that I do not need to remind you that he plays for Barcelona… and they happen to embrace smaller players with technical ability and high processors for a reason. And the evidence is quite clear. Not to say that Large players don’t have there place in Soccer. They just happened to figure out several years ago that a game played with the ball on the ground could possibly be manipulated really well by players with a low center of gravity. And a player lower and quicker tends to be able to cut quicker as well and can take advantage of another players mass in motion. Pointing out small size in this game in my humble opinion should be looked at as an antiquated and negative remark…. and will continue to weaken our idea of what a players should look like as a top criteria in player identification and development. I’t not saying that physical specimens do not have there place in the game because that would be ridiculous. But honestly, if I hear Taylor Twellmen comment on Josey Altidore’s “big physical presence” anymore ,, then I’m going to mute his commentary… I’m sure you were only making a observation.

        • says

          Well said, Brandon!
          And speaking of Altidore, when he played in the LFP his “big physical presence” did dick for him…he could not get any minutes with Villareal. And, when Villareal figured out that he was just a big guy with little technical abilities, he got dumped as a lend player to Xerez…a 3rd division team!

  42. Kana says

    While some may not be impresse with Ben, he is getting a soccer eductaion and experiecne most of use would mortgage our home for and our kids would drop to their knees and cry for the opportunity. From today’s online version of “Marca”: “In the Barcelona second team I learned a lot. At Barcelona they work quite differently to the rest of the world. I came from Argentina, where I did whatever I liked; mostly it was running and little more. Here I really learned to play in a team”. (Leo Messi).

    At least Ben is in a structured, disciplined environment with expectations and consequences. I see players on my son’s team (about half) who over dribble, don’t follow coach orders. They do what the f*&k they want! This is something Gary has spoken about. I hate to keep going back to it, but the book “Barca” talks a lot about player cognitive ability to follow game plan. We have way too much freedom in USA soccer. Kids who don’t do as asked need to ride the pine, but they don’t. I’ve had many experience where those kids continue to play week after week, mostly because a lot of them are man-child types. The sorry little scrawny boy who actually listens is overlooked. WTF!

  43. Mark says

    Thought Ben put in a solid performance. Not quite sure what people are expecting to see from him. I get he is at La Masia and we all want to see someone taking on other players and doing crazy stepovers blah blah blah. A lot of give the impression that you want to see a Messi type performance from him otherwise he is not any good. That is not at all what he is, or ever is expected to become. He looked extremely tidy on the ball and you could tell that his first touch and technical ability is superior to the other players out there. When I watched him play, I instantly thought of Nuri Sahin. He found pockets of space well in the midfield and received the ball and got rid of it. Remember, like many others have already stated, he is paying against guys up to 2 years (maybe 3?) older than him. That’s a huge difference physicality wise.

  44. Nuno says

    MLS Academies seem to think they can’t protect or get compensated by their investment in a player’s development…= child labor laws…young talent leaving to Europe & Mexico will only intensify…until something gets sorted out with American player development incentive system…if ever

  45. shannon coleman says

    My son, Tyler Coleman, would love an opportunity like this. He is only 6 years old but shows much talent, drive, and persistence. We live in Maryland where he plays for Thunder Soccer Club U9. He is very disciplined and works very hard, listens to the coach, etc. He possesses many skills and is focusing more on his passing and first touch. Here is his most recent soccer video. He would love any constructive comments. As I said, he would love an opportunity like this when it is time for him.

    • Brandon says

      Right now the best thing you can do for Tyler is just get him with a coach that will let him play. Dont worry about tactics or put to much emphasis on passing. If he is a natural passer it will happen that way otherwise that will come gradually as the game develops around him. Allowing him to play his game will give him confidance and keep the game fun. If he has high asperations and makes high level teams, camps, etc. His confidence will trainslate on the field. Great coaches will get ahold of him and then teach him tactics. The tactics are much more easily learned when you can do anything with the ball in most any situation.

    • tim says

      Nice video and you and husband obviously have passion for the game and your son. Good luck with helping him develop. But I have to say its so hard to watch anything a 6 year old does if they’re not your own or related in some way. I vote for a ban on video links on kids under 9 years old. It’s just honestly hard to watch and comment on. I’m a crazy dad and thought my 6 year old was special too but he’s not getting scouted at 6 and whisked away to England or Spain (not that you thought that). As you have probably read on this blog the age of 12 is the imporant age to be noticed and/or recognized. He’s got a great start but only half way there. My only parenting tip is to not use soccer as punishment tool. He may only care about one thing in life and it’s soccer, so take away everything else possible before his soccer ball, i.e. sleep overs, desert, tv, computer, ……. again, goodluck

      • shannon coleman says

        Thanks for watching Tyler’s video and commenting. I agree that it is hard to make any real comment on a video of a 6 year old. He does have a great start on things and now we are just looking ahead. The soccer ball is always the last thing to be taken away when it comes to punishment. Soccer is his enjoyment and his outlet.

        • Frank says

          Shannon, continue to teach him to love the game. It is by the way just a game. He needs to continue to have “FUN” and learn FUNdamentals! I however do disagree with Tim on the fact that it is hard to watch/comment on a younger player. The reason I say this is “technique”. It is rare to see a young player exibit a locked ankle for example whem they strike the ball or have vision, poise when they are in posession. Most kids this age are still chasing the ball around the pitch wacking it. I am not saying that they are ready to move to Spain by any means but remember that Messi at the age of 5 began playing for Grandoli, so I kind of think he got his roots at a young age? I do however think a lot of parents wear rose colored glasses (maybe myself included) and post videos of their next superstar. But all players who have went on to greatness began somewhere. Just my thoughts :)
          All the best

          • shannon coleman says

            Tyler has always shown a natural ability and confidence when he plays. Other coaches, etc. who have seen him play in person always comment on this. The video started out as something fun for family and friends to see. Tyler likes watching videos that other proud parents, like myself, have posted of their “superstar.” I am definitely proud of what he has accomplished and the hard work he puts into it each day. Like I said, we are just looking ahead. He is having fun now but he definitely sees soccer as more than just fun and rec for his future. He is only 6. He has time on his side. Thanks for commenting.

          • ThePremierLeague says

            Look….he is ok…and he looks like he is enjoying himself which is most important. But to say he has ‘natural ability’ is an overstatement as the kids he is playing with look like rec players and nothing more. Parents who have no back round in the game at all..or are relying on some coach (who is being paid by the way)…is no way to assess a kids ability. From the video you can tell the parenst are WAAAAYYY over the top. And now because he is scoring some goals against kids who (with all due respect) can’t walk ad chew gum at the same time, now he is a great player…at the age of 6 ????? LOLOLOL…please…get real!

          • Paul says

            Probably a bit harsh ThePremierLeague? lol. I do agree with some of the comments you make but the important thing is that he is having fun. My son who is now 9 was obviously 6, three years ago and what I learned pretty quickly is to try and test him against good competition while having fun. My son at 6 was able to compete and gain confidence by playing two years up at the highest level (Rep in Canada). I did learn very quickly, that coaching from the sidelines is not in the kids best interest. Lucky for me I had a coach that would bench him if I ever coached my son from the sidelines :) I know now that you need to leave him alone on the field and whether he has a good game or a bad game, it’s important to have them figure out what needs to be done on the field. You will realize how quickly they will develop. For now, let him enjoy playing soccer day by day and don’t worry about setting him up for the future. That to me, will be sure failure. Enjoy watching him play day by day and nothing else. Some other recommendations….don’t laugh at this, but give him the responsibility of taking showers by himself at home, tell him to get dressed by himself and prepare his soccer bag and carry it to the game/training. I wouldn’t drop this responsibility all at once, but trust me, if he eventually gets noticed and gets trials in Europe, this will mature him much quicker when he goes over at 10 or 11. European kids are more mature than North American kids and by doing things now it will help for an easier transition if the time arises.

          • shannon coleman says

            @ ThePremiereLeague..I didn’t ask anyone to comment on the parents, the coach or the other teammates and soccer players (who are enjoying themselves). Your comment could have been stated in a much more mature way. As the mother I do have a background in soccer. I am not a professional but I still continue to play. And I enjoy watching my son play and cheering him on. Nothing wrong with that.

            I understand that we will hear just as many negative comments (ThePremiereLeague) as we will hear positive. I am a professional musician and it took me many years of hard work, auditions, etc before I earned the job I now have. I heard a lot of negativity but it only drove me further in my quest to reach my goal. This is a great lesson I can teach my son.

            He is 6. He plays with other young kids that he ENJOYS playing with. Maybe they can’t chew gum, pat their heads and rub their bellys at the same time…but they are all learning a wonderful game.

          • tim says

            Let’s not forget you made a video of your 6 year old son playing soccer, title of video was Young Messi, absolutely stunning!, and then post it on this site and youtube. Did you think everyone on this blog or youtube would go gaga over his skill? Do you realize the “real” messi is still talked about badly so a few negative comments about your son and video should be expected. I encourage you to continue making and posting videos but when he’s held out as a prodigy and/or the “next” then you will get backlash and negative feedback. Good luck and the for the record I think he’s very very good for his age.

          • shannon coleman says

            Agreed. Of course, negative comments are to be expected and we all have our own opinion. As I said, I am a musician and heard many negative comments along the way. It keeps things real. lol…hundreds of videos of kids made by proud parents are titled ‘young messi’ ‘young ronaldo’ ‘next mia hamm’ …it goes on. Those are attention grabbers as we all realize. Sounds pompous. I know. But, people watch those videos.
            It is good to see so many young kids these days in the U.S. inspired by these great soccer players. Some kids imagine they are batman or spiderman, My kids, your kids are imagining they are the next messi.
            The advice from this blog is all well taken.

          • Cactus Taino says

            Hello Shannon,

            I just wanted to thank you for posting a video of your son playing soccer. My son currently plays U6, but just like Tyler, my son seems to be ahead of his peers in terms of athletic ability, game awareness, and some of the other skills necessary to excel in sports. I have played sports (mostly basketball) all my life, but I have no soccer background so I have no way of knowing how good his skills are relative to his age, as I can only compare him with the other kids he has played against so far. I’ve used your son’s video as a measuring stick to compare my son’s progress, in a good way (Tyler is a bit older as my son is only 4 and half). Keep up the good work with Tyler and keep cheering him on as loud as you can, that is our job as parents anyway, isn’t it ;-)

          • says

            I can see that you are the only one here who know something about real football talent, but please see my video on youtube and tell me my son has some talent or not. in every game he score 2,3 goals and set up 4,5 goals. last sunday he scored 7 goals in one game Sunday League London UK. petrit krasniqi

  46. Cactus Taino says

    Hello everyone. Before I go on with my question let me say that I found this blog about a week ago when doing a search on the web for information on La Masia. The title of the article was interesting enough to grab my attention. I enjoyed reading Ben’s story and I wish him the best. I’ve read this post and several other posts on this blog, along with all the comments on them. I agree with some things and not others, but overall I have gained valuable knowledge.

    My question is the following:

    Will a 6-year old really benefit (technically and skills-wise) by attending one of the summer camps sponsored by the “big clubs”? To be more specific, I am thinking about signing up my son for one of those FCBarcelona Summer camps, but I am not sure if it is going to be worth the sacrifice and the expen$e. I would like to know what is your take on those camps, can a 6-year old that seems to be ahead of the curve when compared with his/her peers benefit in some way from an experience like this?

    Now an observation… I don’t come from a soccer background, but it seems to me that soccer requires a real commitment at an earlier age compared to other sports, specially here in the USA. For basketball, baseball, football and other sports, the general culture (and country’s history) supports those other sports, and for the most part, you can find what you need to make it to the top level right were you live, but with soccer, it seems that you have to be willing to travel and go to far places early in the player’s development, if you are serious about reaching the top level. Plus the player development should start as early as possible as well, to make sure you have a well rounded player by the time he/she is exiting high school (but for the other sports, the development process can be extended thru college, and sometimes even further). Is this your perception as well?

    • NYC2BCN says


      It is better to send kids to the soccer schools or courses where the local kids playing in the top teams go.
      Also, unless the kid is very high level for a 6 year old, it might not be worth taking him. What I mean by high level is a good individual skill foundation with: passing, ball control, dribbling, shooting, and (when older) heading. I say this because even if he gets to go to the right summer course, he won’t get to train or play with the good players unless he has the level.
      I prefer taking kids when they are 8 or 9 for training because they have a better foundation. Plus, when they are very young, kids don’t see the difference between being in Barcelona or Timbuktu.

      I think is better if you put your energy in learning more about the sport (foundations of education, current development programs, etc) and find a good coach for your son based on your research. This will give your child a better foundation. And, it will help you decide where best to take him when he’s older. If you still want to take him to a camp, you can take him to an MLS academy one; the level will be more or less the same than in Spain and it will cost you less. In what state do you live? maybe I can give you a recommendation.

        • NYC2BCN says

          Probably DC United camps in Maryland or DC proper, or Moravek school in Virginia
          Also, check out Cerritos acdemy; although he also teaches at DC United Academy (RFK), he might have his own thing going in the summer

          • says

            Hi Shannon…we do conduct summer day camps in Virginia for beginners and a residential camp for elite players. The residential camp is scheduled for the end of July at Frostburg State University in Frostburg Maryland. Your son is a bit young yet but maybe we will see him in a few years.

          • shannon coleman says

            I have heard great things about the Moravek Soccer School. One of Tyler’s past coaches, Nick Zaron, told us about Moravek. Ty has watched the videos of the 6,7, and 8 year old technique… Very inspiring for him! Give him a few more years as you said and he would be very interested in attending one summer.

      • Cactus Taíno says


        Thank you very much for sharing you insight and for your suggestions. I was leaning towards waiting until my son was a bit older to take him to one of those camps. On one side, to make sure it is something he wants to do, and two, to make sure his game is a bit more “mature” and “sharp”, although I was willing to take him there earlier if it was beneficial and worth it. Your feedback just confirmed what I was thinking.

        Oh, and by the way, let me clarify myself a bit better. I was thinking about the FCBarcelona summer camps that are offered here in the States, like the one in Los Angeles or the one in Florida. (I wish I had the money to take a trip to Barcelona :-) What about those? Are those better than the MLS academy camps, or do you still recommend the MLS camps over the FCBarcelona USA-based camps?

        My son is only 4-years old at the moment, but he has already played three recreational seasons. His game awareness and game smarts, and his dribbling and overall soccer skills are definitely well above average (for example, he can shoot for goal with both his right and left foot already, and he already knows that you pass the ball with the inside of your foot, not punting it, among other things). He is the kind of player that you see at this age that can dominate, for example, he can run down the field, stop the opposing player from scoring, get the ball, making his way around all the kids with his dribbling, and then running up the field and scoring. (We are already working with him on his passing skills and when to pass and when not to, but from what I read, that will take some more time for him to understand, based on his age).

        From comments made by other parents and feedback from his previous coaches, he has been the best player on all the teams he’s played, and one of the top player on the leagues he has played (when compared to the kids he has played against, although I do recognize I have so far a limited pool of players to compare him with). As far as physical attributes, he is usually one of the youngest players on his team (his birthday is in the summer), and he is not the smallest, but compared to other players, he is small and skinny, but he is definitely one of the fastest ones out there, so he has to definitely use his skills and smarts if he wants to succeed on the field. To sum it up, I am not saying he will be the next big thing, but I can see he has some potential and I want to make sure I take the right steps as a parent to give him the opportunity to develop that potential and see how far he can go.

        Once I saw my kid playing, and I saw his interest for the game, I’ve spent the last year and half immersing myself in the soccer world. Watching as many matches as I can, reading as much as I can, and watching videos on youtube on skills I can practice with him (I even agreed to be his U6 team coach this season ;-). I am at the point that I watch more soccer than basketball (and basketball is my “first love” as far as sports). I’ve come a long way, but I know I still have ways to go as far as soccer knowledge.

        As far as finding a good coach, there is no competitive leagues in this area until U10, so for the next 3 to 4 years, we will be stuck playing Rec leagues. I will appreciate if you let me know which coaches and/or clubs you recommend for my state/area. We live in Southern Arizona. Also, if you can let me know if you recommend an MLS academy/camp vs the FCBarcelona USA-based summer camp.

        Thanks in advance !

        • Brandon says

          Camps are great. After my Son has attended some of the highest level camps offered from ID2 camps to some of the lowest … British soccer camp. I can say confidently that they all offer one thing that your Son will need if he does continue on and raise his game to a level that will put him with the best no matter what age…. that would be confidence and the ability to acclimate to foreign situations. To know that everything is going to be just fine and that they will walk away intact. I that respect… they can come away more confident on the ball which can translate to better touches and better or easier decision making from knowing that no matter what they do… its just a game and all will be well. Secondly, hopefully they come away with a renewed vigor for the sport. This comes from being surrounded by kids that have the same passion and desire to play. This typically comes from camps that are difficult to get into and that require you to valuated before being allowed to attend. Kids get a chance to see that other kids are obsessed with the ball as well… hopefully. Overall the most important thing you can do for your little soccer player is to make sure they are having fun with the ball. Have fun with them. Play back and forth and games in the front yard… whatever it takes to keep them touching the ball and having fun. Keep that going and if they end up loving the ball… juggling… kicking it against a curb etc etc etc then there playing will do the talking no matter where they are from. It will stand out clearly.

          • Cactus Taíno says

            Brandon, thank you for taking the time to share your experiences and perspective on camps. The confidence that they gain can be useful on the soccer pitch as well as on their everyday life situations. I hadn’t seen camp from that point of view, so thank you again, it was very helpful.

          • Cactus Taíno says

            Yes, it is. That’s where I am originally from ;-) I don’t expect many people to know that, or even make that connection, so I am just curious as to how do you know and/or why do you ask?

          • Brandon says

            While I am a Heinz 57… my other half is full Puerto Rican decent… via Hawaii as many are. I have looked at Sams history and try to teach him about where his ancestors come from… part of that is also because every ounce of his soccer/athleticism I owe to his Taino ancestry. I even think the game they played called batey was closely related to soccer. As a matter of fact we had ponadias and pasteles for new years eve last night… ;)

        • shannon coleman says

          “To sum it up, I am not saying he will be the next big thing, but I can see he has some potential and I want to make sure I take the right steps as a parent to give him the opportunity to develop that potential and see how far he can go.”

          I agree with you on this and feel the exact same way for my son. Although, I feel he my son is quite skilled, it is hard to compare his actual ability because of the lack of competition in our area for his age group. This winter we are playing with another club that seems to offer more competition for him and opens up his eyes, and ours, to the level of talent around him. We are also doing Futsal. For 6 years old, he is doing very well against the tougher competition. He has a great attitude and has enjoyed working and learning with new coaches and players.

          In the past I have always signed him up for many different soccer camps offered by clubs in our area during the summer. As Brandon said regarding camps,
          “that would be confidence and the ability to acclimate to foreign situations. To know that everything is going to be just fine and that they will walk away intact. I that respect… they can come away more confident on the ball which can translate to better touches and better or easier decision making from knowing that no matter what they do… its just a game and all will be well. ”

          Going to many different camps has helped Tyler in this regard. He has learned to play with many different players and to get along with them. Just giving him as many opportunites as possible has helped him along the way. From learning techniques to making friendship amongst other campers, Tyler has always walked away with more confidence.

          • Hall97 says

            My suggestion is a simple one.

            Lighten up! He’s 6 years old. Keep that in mind. I don’t care what anyone says, even at 12 it is waaayyy too soon to start thinking about a pro career.

            Plus, it is the fastest way to put too much pressure on the kid.

            If you looked at the statistics, you would find that generally half of the kids in these elite academies never end up earning a living from the game as players.

            9 times out of 10, the best players at the youngest ages are not the best players when they are older…and where it really matters.

            Yes, by all means nurture his love and talent for the game. But stay grounded.

            Occasionally find opportunities to put him in environments where he is not the most talented player. Also bear in mind that most kids that start out as center mids and strikers will be converted to defenders at some point. Especially if they are good athletes.

            I wouldn’t worry about finding the most competitive league for him right away either.

            if it was all about competition (at the earliest ages) we’d be seeing alot more American players at the very highest levels. Of course, that’s just my personal opinion.

          • NOVA Mike says

            “I don’t care what anyone says, even at 12 it is waaayyy too soon to start thinking about a pro career.”

            Yet how many high-level professional players do you think didn’t start dreaming that dream – AND working very hard to achieve it — well before age 12? [Note: by "high-level professional players", I mean to exclude most American and MLS players. Think top flight European or SA players.] For most I’d bet age 6 was about the time the dream started. By 7-8 most started gravitating to the youth academies of a professional club, sometimes starting at lower level (2nd or 3rd div) local teams b/f migrating to better and better clubs. They may not have been re-arranging their entire lives around the dream yet, but they were definitely thinking about it.

            “9 times out of 10, the best players at the youngest ages are not the best players when they are older…and where it really matters.”

            Again, I’m not so sure. When I read the the bios of a high-level professional players, 99 times out of 100 (at least), their talent was apparent from an early age, and they worked very hard to develop it, and their families did everything they could – from an early age – to maximize their opportunities to fulfill their dreams.

            My friend Kephern reminded me a while ago of a question he once got from a parent skeptical of all of the work he did with young kids: “What, are you trying to win the World Cup or something?” As long as attitudes like that prevail, we will never come close. The same goes for developing top professionals. If we are afraid to allow kids to dream – and to encourage them to do what is necessary to fulfill those dreams — we will continue have a mediocre system that produces nothing but mediocre players.

          • Kana says

            If you read about childhood of many top players, they were prodigies at young ages. Some turned into superstars, others became journeyman players, and others didn’t make it. Matters of circumstance plays a role, but isn’t always the entire reason. And of course many weren’t on the radar screen and now superstars. Same true for any sport or walk of life. Have fun, build relationships to open doors, put yourself in situations to get noticed, and do your best so there are no regrets or don’t look back at your past when in 20s or 30s and say “should of, could of, would of”. That’s best advice!

          • Scott says

            I’m going to go with you on this one- and need some help. Colby is a gotsoccer juggling finalist and now needs votes to win. i’m unable to post a direct link but it can be found under his video here, . He loves soccer and I know winning a competition would mean a lot to him. It takes only a few seconds. Thanks in advance for your time and effort.

          • Hall97 says

            Nova Mike, I never said it wasn’t important to dream and put the work in. I mean, shit, that is a given!

            I have read, seen/noticed from many interviews that even top players were not necessarily the “BEST” players when they were coming up. Certainly they were discovered or judged to have an incredible aptitude and raw talent for the game at a young age.

            My point is that, as a parent, you can’t start talking to a kid in those terms…not at 6 or 7.

            There’s a huge difference between having “dreams” and working toward that dream than hyping a kid and otherwise joysticking their development.
            Plenty of players have been moved up and down the hierarchy during their youth.
            Kids develop at different rates. I’m not saying that the world class, creative players (especially) didn’t show exceptional ability as children. But it isn’t always a linear path.
            Plus, I take exception that every ‘example’ someone brings up it is always a creative attacking type. Again, you can’t look at a 12 yr old and say, “he is going to be a world class central defender”. Because more than likely that kid doesn’t play central defense at 12…or even 15…or even 18.
            Granted it depends on the club and the system.
            it’s also very easy in hindsight for a coach to say, “we always knew he would be a world class player”.
            Beware the hyperbole!

          • NOVA Mike says

            From the English version of Ajax’s website: “Ajax’s youth academy is world famous. The goal of Ajax is to form talented young players into top football players. Only the very best will reach the top after a difficult and often long road.”

            “The first time I visited De Toekomst [Ajax's youth academy - "the future"] happened to coincide with the arrival of 21 new players — 7- and 8-year-olds, mainly, all from Amsterdam and its vicinity — who were spotted by scouts and identified as possible future professionals. … One man, Ronald de Jong, said: “I am never looking for a result — for example, which boy is scoring the most goals or even who is running the fastest. That may be because of their size and stage of development. I want to notice how a boy runs. Is he on his forefeet, running lightly? Does he have creativity with the ball? Does he seem that he is really loving the game? I think these things are good at predicting how he’ll be when he is older.”

            “Like other professional clubs in Europe and around the world, Ajax operates something similar to a big-league baseball team’s minor-league system — but one that reaches into early childhood. De Jong, a solidly built former amateur player, is one of some 60 volunteer scouts who fan out on weekends to watch games involving local amateur clubs. … He’ll observe a prospect for months or even years, and players he recommends will also be watched by one of the club’s paid scouts, a coach and sometimes the director of the Ajax youth academy. … For those that make it, Ajax puts young players into a competitive caldron, a culture of constant improvement in which they either survive and advance or are discarded. It is not what most would regard as a child-friendly environment, but it is one that sorts out the real prodigies — those capable of playing at an elite international level — from the merely gifted.”
            “When the boys start at the youth academy, Rooi said, they are attached to the ideal of Ajax, whose senior team packs in 50,000-plus fans for its home games and still occupies a mythic place in world soccer because of the innovative style it established in the 1960s — a quick-passing, position-shifting offensive attack that became known as Total Football. “The little boys drink their tea out of Ajax cups,” he said. “They sleep in Ajax pajamas under Ajax blankets.” As spring approaches, he continued, they get nervous about whether they will be permitted to stay for another year. “This is when they sometimes start to get bad school grades. They don’t sleep. They wet their pants.”

            “Over time, though, the academy hardens them mentally as well as physically”.
            Full article here:

            That is what we are up against. Age 12 is not way too early to begin thinking about a pro career. It may be way too late.

          • Dr Loco says

            “the academy hardens them”

            This is something the US is culturally not prepared to do. American kids are spoiled brats where few if any have had to really fight for anything. Where is the pain, suffering, sacrific? Culturally we are a bunch of babies. Immigrants/foreigners show us how soft we really are. We need players that are hardcore leaders on and off the field. In all my youth teams (soccer, baseball, basketball) I have seen none.

          • NYC2BCN says

            Dr. Loco,
            I think U.S. players that move to Europe or Latin America to compete at the top level in the youth divisions increase their chances for success in the sport. All that hard work builds character

          • ThePremierLeague says

            how may they hardened when you have parents here in the USA constantly hyping their kids amongst kids who can’t do anything…AND…are paying thousands of dollars a year to even be in team. Furthermore, these parents in most cases have absolutely no basis or foundation to judge as they have no background in the game at any level. And lastly…if you are living in affluent areas I don’t think it is possible to become passionate about anything as everything is handed to you on a golden platter. Without passion and heart you have nothing.

          • Kana says

            “Hardening” players is a missing ingredient in USA. Lack of discipline is a problem. Pay attention in practice. Look at the coach when he talks. Do as he asks. If they can’t do it in practice, they will lack the discipline on the pitch. If they can’t execute, sit them on bench. Make them earn it.

            I was in the military for a few years. A good way to harden is being strict and rewarding desired behavior. In soccer, maybe that’s palying time. I’m not recommending military boot camp, but there needs to be some discipline and reward system. Far too many teams reward big, strong players (personal experience) who don’t do as asked They need to struggle, get pissed at sitting the pine.

            Call the coach “coach”, not his first name. So much of youth soccer (even in USDA clubs) is fairly “soft”. Doesn’t harden anyone.

          • Dr Loco says

            “So much of youth soccer (even in USDA clubs) is fairly “soft”. ” That’s what happens when mommy and daddy are paying customers. It’s called customer service.

            Our society does not value discipline and respect — the key building blocks of a team. It’s only about the individual (gun controls, politics, education, taxes,…)

            One of the best experiences of actually watching Gary/Brian’s team play was to see how “hard” the coaches and players were. They have created an environment that hardens players.

          • NYC2BCN says


            Are you talking about a specific USDA Team? which one? it’s difficult to take you seriously when you make a statement without any facts to back it up. I’ve seen many of the 80 USDA Teams training and competing, but I have not witnessed any spolied players or parenst with attitudes. Do you have any players currently playing in a USDA team? can you elavorate on a specific incidents in a USDA team training session or competition where you have seen this? and, if you have, have you seen enough incidents to identify a pattern in USDA teams?
            I have seen many teams that see themesleves as “top” teams or “ranked” teams because they go to a bunch of tourney a year and bump their “status” in gotsoccer by virtue of spending more money. Those teams do have a lot of parents and players blinded by their pride for their “less than perfect child.” They pay a lot of money to increase their throphy collection but very little talent comes out of those pools. I guess some people like to drink their own bath water. Hey, look at this self serving blog…

            Dr. Loco,
            Are you under the impression that kids in Europe playing in academy teams don’t pay fees?
            And, does paying fees equates to being spolied and not good enough?

          • Dr Loco says

            Having the ability to “pay” can spoil you. Why work so hard if you can just pay for it?

            my toliet broke…pay a plumber
            my car broke down…pay a mechanic
            my carpet is dirty…pay a cleaner
            my kid is failing…pay a tutor
            my kid sucks…pay a trainer

            Youth sport organizations which ever way you want to dress it up are still a Small Business ($100k-$1M/year). Customer service is very important if you want to maintain your business.

          • Arsenal Fan says

            NYC2BCN, well said. Don’t understand why the generalization about the american soccer player being soft, spoiled, and not capable of working hard. I personally know many of the U14 national team players and many that are trying to get there. They are nothing of what your are talking about here, maybe it’s just the area you guys live in.

          • NYC2BCN says

            “Having the ability to “pay” can spoil you. Why work so hard if you can just pay for it? ” Dr. Loco

            You are still not addressing my question. Are you under the impression that kids playing at academy teams in Europe (and Latin America for that matter) don’t pay to play?

            Your statement links income with low level. Do you charge your players? Does anyone here, including the blog owners, teach their teams for free? I don’t mean a few scholarships to those that help you win games. I mean, do you have system where no one pays? If so, are those players not good enough?

            Some USDA have programs where players don’t pay, do you think they are not spolied?

          • Dr Loco says

            NYC2BCN, you are missing the point.

            Our society is spoiled just look around everywhere you look.

            BTW, I do not charge players because I do not run a business. Do you charge your children for parenting?

          • ThePremierLeague says

            nyc2bcn….are you joking lol??! Are you really going to compare the little fees that ‘some’ places in Europe or South America pay …to the USA?? those places may pay a small annual fee but nothing compared to what they pay here..not even close. I once spoke to someone whose kid was with an academy team here in the USA…who with flights, meals, fees etc etc was paying $6000 a year approx. Now I know not all USDA are like this…but many are…few are free. That is a huge problem…anyone paying fees in other countries are NOT paying anything like this…AND most academy programs pay nothing…fact. In terms of toughness and income levels etc etc…Yes..Kaka and a few others have bucked the trend…and I am not saying you have to come from the Ghetto…BUT…you better have some ‘TRUE’ adversity at some point in your life…not some manufactured crap or you have no chance

            Off topic… in terms of the U14 national team…Anyone who thinks that this kid Ben is not the real deal truly does not know Football. He was the best kid on the park by mile in the videos I saw. Sure matters of circumstance may have helped him along…but you need quality to sustain and stay where you are like he has obvioulsy done. How many other kids are over in Europe at the moment doing this? I would say not many

          • NYC2BCN says

            “AND most academy programs -in Europe and Latin America-pay nothing…fact” The Premier
            Do you have examples in large number to back up your statement? I can only speak for Spain, specifically in Catalonia. There are only 3 clubs that don’t charge for their academy players: FC Barcelona, RCD Espanyol, CF Damm. Barca starts charging the Infantil Category forward. The rest of the top academy teams in the whole region charge from 600euro and up.
            The huge difference is that academy teams are suported by their first teams’ sponsors (even 3rd division teams). So things like paying for fields, locker rooms, etc. is subsidized by the first team. Also, the teams have their fans registered as members who pay fees too.
            Moreover, with the economic crisis, teams have been forced to ask parents to pay for more things like transportation, and meals or cancelled some sporting engagements for the year.
            It would be difficult to come out with these type of subsidies in the US for academy players for several reasons. The two that come to mind is the lack of support MLS and other academy teams have in the US by the people who live in their markets. It’s a vicious cycle: low support=less money for academies= parents have to pay more=less kids can play= less inclusive=not the best talent develops= lower level players in the MLS= less support.
            I’ve seen cities in the US with stronger fan support and consequently better level players. For example Washington State, Southern Cal, New York/NJ and DC. It appears that when people decide to be part of the solution, things improve.
            I think people in the US should spend more time improving their system than putting it down.

          • NYC2BCN says

            “BTW, I do not charge players because I do not run a business. Do you charge your children for parenting?: Dr. Loco
            Dr. Loco,
            I am not currently managing teams, but when I was, I did charge parents. When you provide a service, that service has value. Consequently, you have to charge for that service.
            You can’t hope to produce players with professional aspirations and demonized those who run a business developing those players.

          • Dr Loco says

            NYC2BCN and PremierLeague like your comments. I will reply later but let’s get you two out of this topic and more current…follow me.

          • says

            Also loved that article. At Hall97, we talk to our players everyday about pro soccer and what’s needed to make it. As young as 7 yrs old. Why? Look at the environment we are in and compared to the SA and Europe. We are taking on the whole world in this game, we rightly get excited about talents making to europe at a young age but in around the world that is expected. The former head scout of FC Groningen is now a Joga Scout and he mentioned they are watching 6-7 year olds and making notes. Just like Nova Mike mentioned, we must start to prepare our players for that environment.

          • Kana says

            Completely agree w/you Kephern! But as Dr. Loco points out, USA kids are mostly spoiled and don’t know meaning of sacrifice. Hard for them to understand, not in their mental makeup. I’m not from USA and can tell you first-hand my struggles. It pushed me.

            My son is a rare exception in that he practices at least 30-60 minutes a day on his own for a few years now. But he is in fact “soft” in that he doesn’t know struggle. Soccer is largely philosophical as Gary said. Is personal struggl the main ingredient to making it? Yes and no, it depends. Lampard, Pique, Kaka, many others . . . came from upper-middle class families. There are triggers, different life experiences, or natural psycological traits that either drive us or hold us back. Sometimes is overcoming poverty, sometimes it’s desire to be the best, sometimes it’s the love of competition, and so on . . . . As a parent and one time coach, I think it’s inherent on us to find what motivates each player and push them to be their best. I know it sounds corny, but maybe 1% of all kids are naturally motivated, driven. It’s one thing to “like soccer” and “want to be a pro”, but whole different to have the deep down desire, drive, motivation, passion, sacrifice, willingness to struggle to make it happen.

          • Hall97 says

            I’m not disagrreing with your main points. I agree that American kids generally lack discipline and a work ethic. I get all that.

            But I still say there is no way in hell that anyone can accurately predict a future world beater.

            You have to understand that that is Ajax’s business model. if they don’t cast a huge net and get the kids early…someone else will.

            The only thing you can determine is aptitude, raw talent and competitive drive at 7 years old.

            Notice the barca method differes from Ajax. Different clubs use different approaches.

            In the end, a proper environment and quality instruction can make the difference. But a player either ‘has it’ or they don’t.

            Accepting one philosophy or method as ‘dogma’ is very myopic.

            Again, I agree we need more discipline and player accountability with American players. professional is only a ‘dream’ to a 7 or even a 12 yr old.

            You can’t treat children like ‘little professionals’.

            A generation ago, the players emerged from ‘the street’…not the academies. Granted times have changed.

          • NYC2BCN says

            Just make sure they don’t look like these kids :) what a horrible mess…European style jungle ball
            Fulham FC U13 vs. Kappa Mondial

          • NYC2BCN says

            More crap from the other side of the pond…reminds me of that movie kicking and screeming
            Chelsea U14s

          • Kana says

            @Arsenal fan. I humbly disagree. American players are “soft”. Not a failure of them personally; more a product of their environment.

            In Europe and SA, players (even at 2nd and 3rd division sides) sign one-year contracts (and bravo to FC Barcelona USA for doing this). Each team has 2-players per position to ensure competition yields best. Practices cannot be missed. Players won’t even suit up if they miss training (I personally know youth players in Mexico and same policy). Don’t call the coach by first name.

            For many players, they live away from home. They mature faster, lose comforts of home, away from family, pressure to perform and renew contract, and high level competition at every position. Practice 5-days a week. In a professional club environment with eye on first team.

            USA players aren’t soft because they lack the mental toughness; more they are soft because they are in less competitive, less demanding environment than their European and SA counterparts.

          • hector vega says

            Kana, completely agree with that. Just did not seem that is what was being talked above. There is nothing for young players like that in the USA. The ones that are leaving are going to Mexican clubs because those are the only clubs seeking them out aggressively. Some that have left are being selected for the younger mexican national teams and doing very well in these type of settings. The players are here, we just don’t have the system to help them reach their full potential

          • ThePremierLeague says

            Thank you…someone speaking sense…the other gentleman was going on about a 4 year old…the next thing you know we will have someone saying there 2 year old is the ‘next Messi’

          • Cactus Taíno says

            Premier, now that you mention 2-year old, my daughter is about to turn 2, and she has already shown some good skills with the ball as well. Do you know of a good camp for that age… ;-p

            Just kidding, you can relax now and go to bed knowing that nobody is trying to get their kids to sign pro next week. We are just parents planning ahead and trying to get as much information as we can so when the time comes, we can make an educated decision on what kind of soccer opportunities we want to make available to our kids. Whether it is just to keep playing recreational soccer, or something else if they turn out to be good enough. No different than researching schools ahead of time to see which ones you may want your children to attend. If you have kids, I am sure you can understand this.

            As I already mentioned, I am new to soccer, so I am just trying to understand how youth soccer works, specially here in the USA, so if my son wants to keep playing and enjoying the sport for years to come, I can help him do so.

            Plus, you don’t want parents out there without soccer knowledge, do you? I thought it would make you happy to see parents reaching out for information. Are you going to be part of the solution and help those parents looking for guidance, or are you going to be part of the problem and push them to the side and make them feel unwelcome?

          • ThePremierLeague says

            No problem with what you are saying…however…what I do have an issue you with are parents posting about how great their little jonny or sally is and have no idea what they are tallking about or looking at. Then get bothered because they are hearing cold hard truths Furthermore…putting videos on youtube claiming to be the next Messi or whomever is just ridiculous. But me saying this should not be a problem…I am not going to blow sunshine up someones backside. going to camps is great…but won’t make or break anyone and they are pretty much all the same. Just go to one near you that is enjoyable and they get alot of touches on the ball. Simple

          • Cactus Taíno says

            PremierL, thank you for sharing your take on camps, very helpful. But what worries me is not if it is going to make or break my son’s future (I am new to soccer, but definitely not new to sports). For me the concern is more like, if any of you know of a camp that is definitely not worth going to, then I want to know that, because as you know, everything here costs money (and sometimes lots of it), so I don’t want to sign up for a camp that may not be worth all the investment that goes into it (time, gasoline, money, etc.).

            In regards to little jonny or sally, I am not sure if that is because of the comments I made about my kid, but in any case, let me tell you why I posted that. Since I never played the game myself, I can’t put in perspective the skills I have noticed on my son. I don’t know if they are below average, above average or just right on-track for his age. I can only compare him with the other kids I have seen him play against. So I decided to open up and share that information with this community to see what have been the experience of other parents when their kids were this age, or that of other players they may have known. I thought this was supposed to be a place to help each other up.

            And yes, I know, he is “only” 4 (as if being 4 makes you unable to excel at things, but anyway). By the way, do you know that kids this age can show advanced skills in things such as music, arts, math, and yes, you guessed it, even sports. So as a parent is important to try and recognize those things. But I am sure you don’t want to hear about stuff like that, because he is “only” 4. But I digress…

            Now, as I said before, I don’t know how far he will go, or if he will even want to keep playing the sport, but I can recognize certain qualities that seem to be above his age, so I want to be diligent and do my part as a parent in case he does want to pursue something more in this field.

            And you know what, let say I get carried away and call him the next Iniesta or Ronaldinho (which I never did, but let’s pretend), that is just me being a parent, that is what parents do sometimes. Do you know how hard it is to parent? I mean, let me enjoy this bit of success with my son because in the end, I may not even mean what I am saying, it is just an exaggeration and nothing more, and on top of that, life is short, sometimes too short, and who can guarantee me that I’ll have another one of those moments with my kid.

            To wrap up my rant, if you allow me to share a piece of advice with you it is this, most of the time what bothers people is not what was said, but how it was said. In other words, is not that you tell them the cold hard truths, but how you tell them. We want to hear the cold hard truths, so by all means keep dishing them out, but they can be delivered with respect… respect for the game, and respect for the individuals, like they way you did on the last three lines on your comment above. Thanks for the help, I really appreciate it !

          • NYC2BCN says

            Cactus T and others,

            I think everyone thinks their kid is awesome; anyone who says otherwise to come across as the misundertood genious is full of crap.
            I am indifferent to parents putting videos of their kids and saying they are great; it doesnt bug me. If I don’t think is worth watching, I simply move onto another video. I don’t take the time to put it down so I can feel better about my little part of the world.
            I think its is important to show respect, specially when we are talking about someones kid; whether they are playing 1st division or just starting in their backyard.

          • ThePremierLeague says

            My point was directed at parents in general…you didn’t come on here spouting off saying your son was the next messi…or he was the best ever….it wasn’t directed it at you. However…he is 4 and the next step with some parents is what I am speaking about in terms of all the hype. I have been around the game for a long time..and at a very high level….and I can tell you, especially in the states, you see this way to much. In terms of respect and respect for the game….this is nonsense. I wil not go into my background on here as it is not needed but the last thing you need is someone telling you what you want to hear and how you want to hear it as to worry about your adult no less. The footballing world is a hard often times callous environment as is the world. I choose not to mince words. If you are offended…I apologise. But this is the the real world

          • ASO says

            Cactus (and other parents)-
            As a parent I completely get where you are coming from. It is an amazing yet unsettling experience to see your child excel at something at a logarithmic degree over his or her peers. Seeking out the best ways to nurture those talents is a natural response. On first glance this blog seems like a great place to get specific advice. It is not; just look at all the coach-commentators on other posts looking for specific drills to turn their teams into mini-barca’s. It is rare that their calls are heeded.
            Instead, I view this blog as an extended conversation/meditation/psychoanalysis of the factors that create a quality environment that leads to both individual and team success. Remember that that Gary is of Argentinian heritage and they have the highest per capita number of psychoanalysts in the world! I read this blog to learn what successful soccer coaches “sound like” so that I can recognize their kindred spirits in my own community and steer my son in their direction.
            In that is the crux of my advice for you. At 7 and under most any camp will give your son what he needs-touches. What they give YOU (if you have time to watch a few hours of each camp) is an opportunity to watch the coaches and see who is quality and who is not-not just with developing technical skills, but with motivating young players to work hard and love it. THESE quality coaches are the people you should seek to get advice specific to your son and your region. They will have seen your son beyond a youtube video; they are likely the coaches of local clubs with a deep knowledge of the local resources; and if you son has the package of skills, desire, and “a nose for the ball” they will be recruiting him like mad to join their clubs as he gets older. By that time (3 more years in analysis with Dr. Gary on 3four3) you will feel more confident in making the choice of the right club for your son.

          • Brandon says

            I’m glad that you brought up parent involvement with regards to soccer in the US. Soccer is growing at such a rapid rate right now that there are many people out there that are building programs and more importantly …resume’s. The industry is making money and parents must be savvy. As a parent you can be treated many ways. From what I have seen… some systems treat you like you are going to be the parent on the u6 sideline yelling at Johnny to “boot it”. But I think as you work your way up the ladder to higher lever programs, you will see that parents are treated with a little more respect. Part of that is because, I believe by the time they get to a high level… they have done there research. Another part of that is because as you navigate your way up the ladder… you should be getting better at choosing your situations. By that I mean in those situations you will be with coaches that are what I would consider to be akin to a master craftsman. A person who has most of the answers… unbiased and clear. Not afraid of a parent with a low soccer IQ and ready and any moment to clarify. I by no means consider myself to have a high soccer IQ. I will say this… with regards to developmental programs.. its your business to pry and poke and prod. With all of the people coming out of the woodwork right now trying to cash in on youth soccer… parents are the only ones that are going to keep the system in check.

          • Cactus Taíno says

            Hello Shannon, thank you for sharing your experience you have had so far with your son. Good job supporting Tyler and his passion for the game. Every kid is different, and some will do better than others in a fast paced, high pressure situation. Push him as far as you can, I am sure he will let you know what his limits are. You are his mom, so you know him better than any of us would.

            The only thing I will recommend is to watch for soccer burn-out. You probably already have this in mind, but wanted to mention it just in case. I would say, give him a chance to spend some time away from soccer and doing other things, so he has a chance to rest physically and mentally from the game. Get him involved in another sport, or some other extracurricular event (music, art, etc.). I believe that well-rounded individuals will result in well-rounded players.

          • Shannon says

            Great advice for any parent and something I am always cognizant of. Kids need to be kids and enjoy their childhood… Art, music, scouting, sports, etc. and try many things and be well rounded. My son loves art and takes art classes and loves that as well. If he decides later on that he has had enough of soccer then so be it. For now, I see his love for and enjoyment of the game and want to nourish that.
            While I was in College earning my Masters, there was a 10 year old in my same music studio earning a degree as well. I always wondered if he would burn out or if he had missed out on his childhood. There are Hours and hours of practicing and extreme dedication needed to become a professional musician.. Not unlike sports. It was his choice and it was something he loved. That 10 year old is now one of the most accomplished classical musicians today touring all over and still enjoying it as much as he did as a child. Just an example of a child that wasn’t pressured to practice but merely loved what he did. The parents new this and gave him opportunities to succeed.

        • NYC2BCN says

          I really don’t think there is a difference between one camp or another when run professionally. But at your son’s age, the important thing is that he’s having fun and loving the game.
          Also, the level of any camp will depend on who ends up going to th ecamp and how well a particular coach sets up an enviroment where the young kids are having fun and learning.
          I think right now the most important thing as a parent is to ask your kid if he’s having fun. Kids get bored if they are not learning.

          • ThePremierLeague says

            This is from your post abvove about fees….without going into the ‘how I kow’, most PRO team academy programs in Europe do not charge anything to those kids….especially at the older age groups. Perhaps a few may charge a nominal fee but most do not. The clubs you mentioned in Spain are amateur with exception of the two obvious. So yes..they do charge a fee.

            Until the USA stops charging these exorditant fees to play they will always be on the outside looking in at the elite of the world. How can you charge thousands a year for a top club? $500-1000 for a camp? ODP? REgional ODP? Trips for ODP overseas etc etc etc….the list is never ending….how can you expect to get hungry youths, players with desire when all you can attract are the middle income to rich kids to the game. This is why the inner citys have never truly been tapped in terms of their potential and often overlooked. You are eliminating a massive part of the potential the USA has (and the USA has a ton of potential of course) by these excessive fees. Ok…charge a fee…but be reasonable at least. If it is a person or persons running a camp the fair play as it is a business…but for ODP and USDA academy programs etc to be charging thousands is horrible.

          • NYC2BCN says

            The Premier,
            The id2 program is free and very inclusive. Players can be recomended to be evaluated but they don’t have to be in a USDA or US Club Soccer Team.
            I think this is a step in the right direction.
            Nevertheless, unless people in the US begin supporting their local MLS teams and stop putting them down, these teams will never have enough money to seriously invest in youth academies and not have to charge parents.
            This is a great example of the importance of development over winning. In the U.S. people love to win but don’t really like to invest on development; people don’t have the patience.
            For example, small 3rd division team (what you would call amateur) like Oviedo (formerly 1st division in Spain) can pack their stadium with 20K-30K people; numbers many MLS teams could only drean of. Maybe this is why small teams like Oviedo can produce great players like Santi Cazorla (who just scored his first hat trick in the Premier league this week with Arsenal).
            Also, no charging is just part of the equation. Teams need to start adopting successful models like Spain and Portugal. Otherwise they’ll end up like the UK, a buch of big brand names throwing a lot of money into their money pit academies that has not produce any decent national team since the 50′s

          • ThePremierLeague says

            I agree about supporting the MLS teams…and USL teams etc. should also be added to that. ID2 is a good start….but not enough as that is not a program where there is continuity of training etc. for an entire year…also…it appears the international trip they go on you have to pay for as well…could be wrong on that. But there are so many fractions within US soccer with different programs competing against eachother for players, ie USDA, US club Soccer, ODP etc…..and much of that is because there is a lot of money to be made and everyone wants a piece of the pie. In terms of Oviedo..3rd division is not amateur….but…cornella, Damm, San gabriel to name a few from the region are amateur. By the way…I have seen video of U14s it looks like…from San gabriel I believe…that someone posted on here and the level was atrocious. So let us not get to carried away with what Spain is doing. Just because a club is in Spain does not make them good…and Portugal I wouldn’t even put them in the same class as Spain. Sure, Spain are doing wonderfully at the moment…play beautiful football….but 10 or so years ago France were the big thing. In terms of the UK…I agree…haven’t done anything in years….but who knows…with all they are doing now they could be the next big thing in the next ten years lol ;-). Agree with many of your points though..but don’t lose sight about the monies being paid out by these parents….and promises of scholarships when they get older…this is very real. All those thousands of dollars these parents are spending year in and year out could be put into a college fund among other things.

          • NYC2BCN says

            Yeah, I’m not sure why parents invest so much money for football if the goal is to get a scholarship. It would make more sense to save it and pay for college yourself.

          • ThePremierLeague says

            nyc2bcn…..if that is crap european jungle ball then what do we call the US stuff we see? most teams here in the US would get murdered by one or both of those teams…I am assuming the one team is Marseille. Also…there were a ton of people watching so it must have been a cup final or something with alot of pressure. I know typically those tournaments have very short games of only 8-12 minutes in length…total…so the games are fast and furious. Stil alot of pressure for little 12 year old kids…but not bad in most of the game but some very sloppy play in there agreed. Certainly better by a miles than the crappy san gabriel game I spoke of earlier. With Chelsea or any youth team in Europe (including Barcelona…look at some of those youth games on youtube..not all great) is not always going to be perfect what you see…they are young and not playing like first teamers just keep that in mind :-).

          • NYC2BCN says

            I guess I proved my point that anyone can look crappy on a YouTube Video :)

            And yes, many teams would get their asses handed to them in the US by these teams

          • NYC2BCN says

            Speaking of first teamers that were developed at Sant Gabriel,
            Here is one of the many that have come from that “crappy” team; one of the hundreds of players developed outside the UK, Champions league winner with Liverpool Luis Garcia Sanz, who also played with Atleco Madrid, Spain National Team, FC Barcelona, and currently playing in the Mexican League. People still sing his song at Liverpool games.

            Here’s another video highlight where he spoke about his years there, Liverpool and Barca:

            This is one of the problems with American soccer fans, they don’t really understand the youth development system in Catalonia

          • Brandon says

            International trip is totally paid for as well as the camps. The only thing you have to pay for with regards to the camps are the travel cost’s.

          • ThePremierLeague says

            Dude…enough of pushing San Gabriel all ready lolol…man you are sensitive ;-) ok…they have developed a couple players geesh….happy now? Just because Jordi Alba spent a couple years at Cornella doesnt make Cornella a great club…same as San Gabriel..and they both have had some players come through there..but few from the younger ages right through to the formative years. But I guess this all goes back to the newest topic of who deserves responsibility for developing a player.

          • NYC2BCN says

            Premier, it;s not jsut them or Cornella. There are so many other academies with that for years produce great players. Another great example is Santes Creus:

          • ThePremierLeague says

            But I never said any of these clubs were ‘crappy’….all I said was that the ONE video I saw…of what looked to be U14s..from San Gabriel was atrocious (which it was). Who said that all the amatuer teams or lower division clubs in Catalunya were ‘crappy’…certainly wasnt me. sounds like you have child in one of those teams or a relative because you are being very defensive from one statement about a video. just sayin ;-)

  47. rh says

    Firstly, good luck to the US player at La Masia.

    Secondly, it is sad that there are so many posting “get me a trial at La Masia, here’s my email”. But it also points to the fact that as a U10 player, Ben was overseas playing soccer in front of Barcelona staff. That’s a pretty high level team. There are teams in my area (near NYC) that go overseas, but none start that young. In fact, they push that no statistics should be kept at U10 and younger ages. I knew there had to be some kind of hook that most people can’t access, and that is being on a top team that traveled overseas with 9 and 10 year olds.

    Thirdly, I have trouble spotting him in the video, and that’s a bad sign. That shows what attending a real live game can do for a player.

    And I don’t understand why there aren’t EU issues – I thought FIFA was 100% against academies associated with pro teams taking in players from other countries, if it is purely for soccer. It sounds like the player was identified, they knew he was foreign, and they encouraged the parents to move to Spain.

    • Brandon says

      You should read Gary’s post…. Matters of Circumstance. Its only my opinion but I think Ben plays excellent. Its possible that part of the reason you have a difficult time spotting him is because he rarely takes more than two touches on the ball. The way he takes the ball with his head up and on a swivel clearly stands out in my opinion. I would like to get a more clear perspective on the EU issues with regards to playing overseas specifically with regards to kids from the US that have NO dual citizenship. In my opinion if you are a US player and you have dual citizenship, plus you play pretty good ball… then its a ticket to an overseas academy… furthermore a automatic two way ticket back to our YNT. It would be nice to get a clearer picture about the terms of playing overseas and not in lawyer talk….

      • says

        Hi Brandon….I can comment on the UK part of this. In order to play for an academy in the UK you have to either have been born in a country in the EU, have one of your parents born in the EU or have a grandparent from the EU. With regards to the grandparents you may not go any further back than second generation and not great grandparents. For senior players they must have all the above or have played in 75% of the USA’s senior national team “A” games. If you are not from the USA the country must have a weighted average ranking of 70 (this may be 50 now) or above over a 3 year period.

        In regards to quality. You need to be a special player regardless of nationality to be selected. The quality in Europe is extremely high and therefore difficult to break in. It is hard enough for players who are from here to get in to one of these academy programs let alone someone from outside the country.

        Hope this helps and all the best in your pursuits!

        • Brandon says

          Thanks, can you elaborate a bit more on the 75 percent rule. To me that sounds like a senior player (18 or over) must be playing with the US National team before even being considered. Can you tell me 75 percent of what? Games in a year? Also… what if the parent gets a job in Europe and moves overseas with kids. Are they eligible then?

          • says

            No problem Brandon. With regards to the senior national team, this is for senior players not youth players ie. U14, U17, U20 etc. you must have played 75% of the Senior national teams “A” games over a certain period of time in order to qualify. This was how Clint Dempsey and a few others were able to qualify to play in the UK. The rules for the rest of Europe can be somewhat different and some countries are more stringent than others but the UK is certainly the most difficult.

            It is highly unlikely that a professional academy in the UK would offer academy places for players just because their parent may get a work visa. It is not worth their while to invest monies in a youth player who will not qualify to play potentially with the first team when they are older if they do not qualify for the reasons I stated in the previous post as they are still not EU citizens etc. Again, there are many quality players in Europe fighting for positions in these academy teams and it is very difficult to get in. The rules to play in the UK and the rest of Europe can be quite complex. Hope this helps..all the best and good luck!

  48. Brandon says

    “First, many clubs use the exception under Article 19(2)(a), which allows
    minors under the age of eighteen to transfer internationally if the child’s
    parents move to the country for “reasons not linked to football.” Clubs have
    resorted to creating local jobs for parents and even bribing them so that their
    children can register with the club in accordance with the FIFA regulations.
    Two Norwegian reporters, Madsen and Johansson, who conducted an
    investigation of the unspoken and often illegal practices of European clubs
    regarding the transfer of minors, found agents and clubs who admitted to
    offering parents jobs. One father was given a position as a gardener in the
    stadium; another as the team bus driver.”

    I personally don’t see a thing wrong for a kids parents to be offered a job so that kids can fulfill his dream. Plus when you thing about it. How are we over here going to get better if our kids can’t go over and play with the best. I have a feeling many more of our kids would be playing overseas if you did not have to have so many guidelines that are really out of most peoples hands.

  49. Brandon says

    Here is just one other little nugget that I found interesting about obtaining a “International transfer certificate”.

    FIFA Regulations for the Status and Transfer of Players (2009)
    In October 2009, FIFA implemented the newest Regulations for the Status
    and Transfer of Players. According to FIFA Circular No. 1190, the vast
    majority of the amendments “relate to the protection of minors as well as of the
    clubs investing in the training and education of young players.” RSTP
    (2009) defines a minor as “a player who has not yet reached the age of 18.”
    Articles 19(1) and (2) of RSTP (2009) are the same as Articles 19(1) and (2) of
    RSTP (2005), generally prohibiting international transfers for players under the
    age of eighteen and including three exceptions. The regulations also now
    apply to “any player who has never been previously registered with a club and
    is not a national of the country in which he wishes to be registered for the first
    time.” More importantly, FIFA added Article 19(4), which requires the
    Players’ Status Committee to appoint a subcommittee to examine and
    approve or reject each international transfer of a minor player.
    The subcommittee also oversees every registration of a minor “who has never
    previously been registered with a club and is not a national of the country in
    which he wishes to be registered for the first time.” This review is limited to
    players between the ages of twelve and eighteen, however, because under
    Article 9(2) “an [International Transfer Certificate] is not required for a player
    under the age of 12.”

  50. NOVA Mike says

    From an article on yesterday: “Although it is too early to predict how far he will go in the world of football, it can be said of Ben that he has all the technical fundamentals required for a Barça midfielder. He possesses a polished technique, has a good vision of the game and rarely loses the ball. And when he approaches the area, he assists the forwards with high-quality inside passes.”

    Read more:

  51. Jayne Benedict says

    Well, it’s official! My son received his British Passport today and has been invited to a couple of trials. So we shall see how it all really works. We are giving a 2 year minimum there. HE wants this more then anything. We will just support him. This is a wonderful opportunity for him. If interested I will be happy to leave feedback on what happens over there. This blog has been excellent. This is his latest video.

  52. Garrett says

    I am a 14 year old goalkeeper. I have read quite a bit of the conversations and I know that it is unreasonable to think I can get try outs for any team by just sending out an email with a video attached. I missed the recent ODP try outs because of a concussion. I also play on the second team of my club that is in division 2. Does anybody have advise for what I should and need to do if I want to get recognized.

  53. Dennis says

    I work as a coordinator and youth developer in a European small club (Semi proffessional first team).

    I’ve been working on the education program for 7 years, when I finally got a break with a club that desided to hire me to implement the program I’ve created.

    The program is based on scientific reports regarding “talent”, physical, coordinative and mental development among kids.
    What’s extremely obvious, is that it’s impossible to pin point who and who’ll not succeed as a senior player. The difference in physics are often mistaken for “talent”. There’s only one “talent” that are prooven to be important for future (senior) success – Ambition, and the will to train, and honest joy of playing the game. Another thing that’s important in this matter is that some have a hard time to separate individual skills from tactics – more hard to notice for laymans – tactical skills.
    I know of proffessional players who can’t for their life do tricks with the ball, but do possess a deep knowledge and understanding of the game – in practice.
    On the other hand, I know of many many players that posess amazing individual skills, can do pretty much any trick in the book, but does’nt even play semi proffessional football/soccer.
    But, I have never in my life seen the opposite.
    The core problem in this sence is that when we watch the news, or highlights of football games, we get fed with amazing shots, runs and dribbles. But the truth is that those things are only 1% (if not less) of the game. In 99% of the game, the thing that matters is tactical understandnig, vision, and the ability to react, and react correctly.
    Many young players these days tend to believe that football is about performing top runs, drbbles, the opening pass, or score amazing goals, when truth is pretty much the opposite. When a kid understand the true secrets (ofc not secrets, but it’s often refered to as that since it’s harder for a layman to note) of the game, only then can he have success. And only then can great runs, dribbles, opening passes and amazing goals be counted for.
    As I said previously, to pin point talent at young years is impossible.
    It’s all about having understanding (as a parent and coach) that kids develop differently, and that the true ability of a young player won’t show until he has passed the mid teens (can vary depending on the individual). At 17-19 years old is when you can start judging for real, because the physical, ccordinative and mental development of the youngsters are now much more on par. As a side note, some individuals need to reach 21-22 years of age to develop fully. And brain research actually show that it can even take up to 23-24 before the brain is fully developed (this was just a note, and does’nt have as large impact in comparison to the other things I’ve talked about.
    As a fun facct, I’d like to present numbers form Swedens U15, U17, U19, U21 and A national teams.
    Studies show that in the U15-17, the % of the squad born in Jan-March was as high as 50%, with a steady decrease all the way to December.
    At U19, the pattern is the same, but we can see that the differences is leveling out. And in the U21, it’s almost 50/50. And in the A-team, it IS 50/50.
    Fun note: Swedens 3 biggest players in modern football is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrik Larsson and Thomas Brolin. None of them was born early in the year (Nov, Sept, Nov respectively), and none of them represented Sweden at ages below the U21′s.
    And imagine all the payers that stoped playing football because of us grown people who put so much focus on results and performance, which leads to selections, which lead to young players, perticulary who are born late in the year to quit playing. This also have an effect on the kids mental health, and how he will tackle problems in the future, way outside the football world. It leads to low selfesteam.
    Imagine how many more good players we would develop for our national team if we let the kids be kids, and let them devolop in their own pace, while still learning them how to play football with well educated coaches, that understand what I’ve just explained above. Not to mention the people health aspect, and less youngsters that feels like they are not good enough – in some clubs as early as 7 years old.
    Keys to becomming a proffessional football player:
    * Have fun
    * Good coach that understands that development of different attributes occur at very different ages (note, among 13 year olds in Sweden, the difference in hight can be 49 cm (17 inches roughly))
    * Practice the game – THE GAME. Individual skills is good, but are worth nothing without the true understanding of the game.
    * Don’t (as a parent or coach) focus on results or performances. Let the kid have fun and develop in his own pace.

    In Sweden, players become seniors at the age of 19. And at this age, the results are ofcourse important – the most important. The games need to be won. The best players play. It’s a tough world. But kids don’t need this world when below 15-16. They need to practice and develop.
    But at or around 16, the results and competition (both between the players about positions, and against the opponents) will ahve to make it’s way to them. To learn how to play competative football is the last part in the educational latter. Whne the kids reach the senior team, they should be well educated in every aspect of football.

    • Jason says

      I think discussion of the issues you raise is important to any footballing nation. If you are new reader of this blog, you may not know that you won’t find much sympathy here for the notion that competitive results don’t matter until late in the teen years. While I have found pockets of discussion about the issue of winning vs. development here, I hope Gary and all of us who follow this blog will take note of and give full attention to a discussion of your apparent view that there is a connection between an emphasis on winning and the seeming worldwide systemic failure to develop players who are not rock stars out of the gate. As some have pointed out (see the book “Outliers”), this phenomenon effectively cuts pool of potentially elite players in as much as half. In fact, I was surprised to read that this is not the case in Sweden. What is different about their youth system that has produced a 50/50 disbursal of birth dates among players on their men’s senior roster (and should we even care what they are doing, meaning: have they produced a result that is measurably better by virtue of the fact that they have achieved this birth date disbursal). I’m not criticizing your view, I’m actually very interested to hear your defense of it, but I have to admit, it seems a bit of a stretch to assert a causal connection between emphasis on winning and this problem of ignoring players who develop at a below average rate compared to their peers. Can you help us understand where you are coming from? And more importantly what you would propose that we are to do about it?

      • Dennis says

        I’ll try to evaluate on what I previously wrote. As you might’ve noticed, my english is’nt the best, but I hope it’s at a good enough level to be understood.

        In Sweden, every single (pretty much) club, as well as our football association state on their websites and development/policy programs about the importance of how to develop kids, that everyone, no matter how “good” or “bad” is welcome, and that picking out the best at sertain ages (below 16) is only contra productive.
        So far so good.
        But those words are just words. What goes on in the clubs, dressingrooms, coach meetings and pitches is something totally different.
        It’s contra productive for several reasons. I’ll get back to this later on.

        I know very well that this blog (in some cases), the majority of parents and youth coaches all around the world try to force the adults perspective of sports on to the kids.
        Cause to us, sports is about competing, and winning.
        That is the true essence of sports (I’m very awere of that), and that’s one of the reasons it’s so hard to get rid of the competative aspect when it comes to the kids, and how they think, feel, and develop. This is where the differences are.

        My background as a player, when it comes to the junior years is a perfect proof that the scientific reports I wrote about earlier is true.
        I was excluded from my team at the age of 15. Cause I was’nt good enough. I was lucky, and still am that I had the energy to keep on believing in my self despite the setback. I was the only one who kept on playing, while the rest who got excluded (8-12 other players was) did’nt continue.
        No more than 20 months later, at 17, I was picked for the first team in my new club, that play in Swedens 2nd league (Superettan). At this time, I was still a junior player. Also, everyone who “got the opportunity” to stay in the team that excluded me, was passed by me. They played junior football still, and I had already signed my first semi-professional contract. And even more interesting is that out of that group who got selected to the team I was excluded from stopped playing, and does not take part in football at all except for watching games a little now and then on TV.
        I’m not trying to blow my own horn. I just want to tell you that I’ve been in the eye of the storm, and seen what I read in reports in reality. From a very close distance.
        Do I need to say that I’m born in late December. :)

        Take any skill you as a person develop to something you’re really good at.
        Either you found it really fun from the very beginning, or you find it fun once you saw that you was good at it.
        If you was excluded before you had developed that interest, you would’nt continue, and one individual who would’ve performed really well never got the chance.
        And as a “bonus” (sarcasm), the poor kid who was excluded develop lower selfasteam which will effect him thru his entire life.
        This fact also puts light on the peoples general health aspects both physicalky and mentally (I won’t go deeper in this area here though).

        To learn how to play football (or any skill for that matter) requires joy, interest and ambition. It does not require results!
        Once you have developed the skills required to compete, competition to meassure how good you are takes place (what sports is all about).
        In no way, have any kid developed good enough skills to compete at ages below 16.
        Yes, we can see in some sports that 16 year olds compete in let’s say the Olympics. In most cases, it’s sertain individual sports, and in most cases it’s from countries like China, Korea, Russia etc where the view on peoples rights are different.
        They are so many, so to exclude does’nt hert the peak performances. But how many young lifes has it destroyed?
        This is from countries that thru history have shown us that quantity over Quality is the way to go. When we all know that combining them would be the best.
        To evaluate further on some 16 year olds that compete at the highest level in individual sports, is that individual sports does’nt require as much practice as team sports since the complexity of team sports is much much higher. Everything you do in a team sport have to be in line with what your opponents and team mates are doing. The decission making is at a much higher level, and therefore, team sports rarely see 16 year olds dominate like in individual sports.

        Back to football.
        - How do you become good?
        You have joy and love playing the game.
        How do you develop?
        By the joy and love of the game, you’ll notice improvements (no matter at what rate), which feed your interest.
        Why not focus on results?
        Cause every individual develop at different rates from 6-19 years of age. Results will only force kids who are not on par at a given age away from the sport, when the reason for that the kids are not on par are directly related to physical, cooffinative and mental development. It’s not related to what many label as “talent”.
        - The aspect of competition and results?
        Yes, these are what sports is based on. No doubt. But competing when leanght can differ up to 17 inches (13 year olds in Sweden) is like saying Lance Armatrongs wins was fair.

        I need to leave now, but look much forward to more discussion.


        • Dennis says

          Now I’m back and can evaluate further on my previous post.

          I’m going to answer how I think we as coaches should work to get the kids that at a given age (below 17-19) are not on par physically, coordinative and mental compared to the bulk to still feel joy, still develop, and keep on playing the game..
          I’m going to evaluate around the kids that are ahead as well.
          I’m also going to try and make one of my favourite comparison when it comes to talent, and also when it comes to how to play the game.

          So how do we as coaches handle groups of kids with a wide spectra of physical development (or “talent” as some would label it)?
          It’s all about you as a Coach.
          With the right instruction points, right attitude (no result focus), and right type of drills, I can create a session that are as good for the “worst” kid as for the “best”.
          It’s very important that a coach see everyone. Not only the “best” one. One tool that I use in these cases are that I give the “better” player different instructions (when the drill is ongoing) to give him an extra challange. And the second after, I go to the “worst” kid and simply push him to keep on practicing, as well as give him positive feedback.
          I know some here might say: “but the better kid won’t develop at an optimal rate if he have to do a passing drill with the worst kid”.
          Yes, the above is true. But again, a skilled Coach can work around that issue as well. Let’s say you got 10 kids in your group.
          Let player number 1 (a number that indicate if he’s the “best” or “worst” player where 1 is the “best”, and 10 is the “worst”), do a drill with number 4. Let player number 2, do a drill with player number 5.
          Let player number 10, do the drill with player number 6 and so on. And each practice, you change the order slightly, so you can “hide” your intention when you say the pairs, so the pairs are different from one practice to another but without it beeing an obvious pattern for the kids. The only thing you need to do is keeping player number 1-3 separated from player 8-10 (depending on the parity of the group ofcourse).
          One even simpler way is to let the kids pair themselves up. If for any reason the “best” and the “worst” kid end up doing the drill together, it’s because they are friends and are having a blast together. These problems are mostly noticeable at ages below 12. After that, all kids (that have had a proper Coach and love the game) know how to pass a ball correctly.
          And if a kid simply not like the game, he will quit on his own. No need to exclude anyone.

          -The “better” kids.
          Firstly, to pick kids to a special development program as a result if a selection process will put pressure on him. A pressure that will not help him to develop at an optimum rate. The pressure will to some extent create a pressure to perform. Don’t do that. Let him be a kid. Studies also show, which is perfectly in line with the reports regarding Swedens U15-19, that “talents” stop playing the game at a much higher grade compared to the “non talented” players who kept on playing despite the selectionprocess. Which indicates that 1. either the player felt too much pressure, 2. either the kid did’nt really have the love for the game, 3. either can’t handle the competition.
          The 3rd point is a very common reason. A player is physically ahead, which make him think that football is easy. So far so good. But as the kid climb thru the ages, the bulk of kids are starting to close in on him in the physical aspect. Leads to loss of motivation, since this player did’nt ever experiance setbacks, and simply don’t know how to deal with it.

          On to “talent”.
          Imagine a race with 2 cars.
          I drive a Ferrari.
          And my opponent, named Fernando Alonso (F1 driver) drive a Toyota Corolla.
          The race is one sided, and I win by 10 seconds.
          Is this because of my ability as a driver, or is it because of the car I drive?
          You can say the same thing about “talent” in football.
          Does one kid win because of his “talent”, or did he win because of his physics?
          The next day.
          We put Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari for the 2nd race, and I drive the Toyota Corolla.
          Ok, I lost. And the gap was 20 seconds this time.
          What was so hard to say after the first race is now, when we’ve both have driven both cars obvious.
          Fernando Alonso, the F1 driver is more talented than me.
          But it required that we had the same aspects to be judged by to be able to tell.

          -Vision, the “secrets” of football.
          I’m going to take the car example again.
          To be a good driver, you need to keep your eyes on the road, close to the car, in the mirrors, way up the road and read traffic signs. All this wile you’re driving the car.
          If you can’t drive the car properly, and need to look at the shift stick, turn indicator sticks etc, your vision will be sacrifised, and your driving will be worse. Hell, you might even run someone over.
          This is exactly what football is about. It’s about everything but the ball. Without the proper knowledge of what opponents and team mates are doing, you won’t take a good decition ones you recieve the ball.
          Practice the game.
          The vision and understanding is key.

          Oh, and while I’m at it. In my previous post, I talked about how complex the team sports are compared to the individual sports.
          I’d like to evaluate around that a bit further since I felt I left a few strings hanging there.
          The brain keeps on developing up to around 20-21 (as I said in my first post). One thing that is obvious from scientific reports about the human brain is that the ability to do proper judgements are one of the last things that develop in our brains. Ever thought of why youngsters often end up in car crashed etc?
          Cause the ability to calculate the risks are lower compared to an adault. So what does this have to do with football?
          Football is a game where you in every second of the game have to judge and evaluate. And to become really good, your judgement must be close to perfect.
          A proffessional club would never sign a player that posess the best technical skills ever seen, the best physical skills ever seen, the best mental skills ever seen, the best agility ever seen etc, IF the player can’t make correct judgements. The player mentioned above would try to pass his opponents on every occasuion, but since the opponents can outnumber this player, he will loose the ball, and depending on where on the pitch he looses the ball, the opponents can start an attack, or in worst case, even score.
          The more misjudgement that occur, the more counterattack opportunities you give your opponents, the more likely it is that your team looses.
          Look at FC Barcelona. Not saying that every decition is 100% correct. But it’s close. And that’s why they are so good.
          Just to demonstrate that everyone can misjudge his ability on a football pitch, I’d like to share one example from last years Champions League game between Barcelona and Chelsea.
          Barcelona totally dominanted the game. But suddenly, the best player in the world (yeah, Messi) try to nutmeg Frank Lampard in a central left position.
          4-5 seconds later, the ball was in the net behind Valdes (FC Barcelona keeper). That’s what happens when judgement and decition making are not at a desirable level.
          Football is all about decitions and vision.

          • says

            Interestingly, I just finished a draft article 2 weeks ago on the possible FOOTBALLING implications of targeting your coaching to the best, average, or worst players on the roster.

            To be continued once I publish …

          • Dr Loco says

            “I know some here might say: “but the better kid won’t develop at an optimal rate if he have to do a passing drill with the worst kid”. Yes, the above is true. But again, a skilled Coach can work around that issue as well.”

            I will admit I am not so skilled. Typically the worst and best kid will voluntarily leave my team and solve the problem.

            Share the studies!

        • Dr Loco says

          “Cause every individual develop at different rates from 6-19 years of age.”

          I have definitely seen this first hand. Parents and players complain that I unfairly treat players in practice and games. I respond it’s because they are all different. I sometimes give my weakest players more playing time because they need it and that pisses others off. I see lot’s of potential in our weaker players and less so in my stronger players…but but he scores the goals…I don’t care!

    • Dr Loco says

      Dennis please share your scientific reports. I have been waiting a long time for information like this.

      “But kids don’t need this world when below 15-16. They need to practice and develop.”

      This is the approach I have been forced to take for many reasons.

      Players have little skill.
      Players lack fundamental mechanics.
      It’s expensive to compete at a high level.
      Players don’t dream of being professionals.
      Parents don’t want their kids to become professionals.

      I plan to reevaluate things at 14.

      • Dennis says

        Dr Loco.
        You are doing the right thing.
        Try to develop as a coach when it comes to the drills and how to instruct players of different “skill”.
        A simple way to force a kid who normally can run with the ball past all defenders to start playing the game is to limit his amount of touches. If he’s only allowed to touch the ball twice on every occasion, he need to use the understanding of the game rather than physical supriourity.
        And you must ofcourse tell him why you do that.
        Understanding is the key to motivation.

        Here are some studies that you asked for.
        They are in Swedish, but perhaps someone can help you to translate them.
        I found one from the FA (England), but it’s not a study. More a ducument in which direction the writer want England to go when it comes to youth football.

        And this last one is in english.
        It’s not a report like the ones above.
        It’s more a proposal in which way the writer want youth development to go.
        Everything in it is not in line with the high Quality reports, but it’s a step in the right direction.

        I’m sure you’ll be able to find reports like the ones I’ve linked done in the US.

        The reports are excellent “weapons” against parents that want to focus on winning rather than the education.

        If the “best” players leave your team, don’t let that get to you.
        A system like you and me want to run will not show short term results. And that’s not the goal either.
        The goal should be to educate players and nerce their joy and love for the game.
        Exactly what they do in FC Barcelona I’d might add.

        This is a rather bad way of communicating about these issues.
        If you want, you (and anyone that feel interest) can email me at:

        Keep it up!

  54. Brandon says

    “They are so many, so to exclude doesn’t hurt the peak performances. But how many young life’s has it destroyed”
    “when the reason for that the kids are not on par are directly related to physical, cooffinative and mental development. It’s not related to what many label as “talent”.

    Although many want this to change and we are starting to see just a little of it, many kids are getting rejected for high level camps/teams because they are not physically at the same level as other kids. Some of these 13 year old kids are 6 something right now. Some have legs the size of tree trunks… and these are the vast majority of kids that are making the National teams… and other high level development teams. I dont think its going to change so we have to just make sure they are running in the same groups until they catch up physically. But like you are saying… is it going to hurt there confidence if they keep missing the final cut every time. Its tough to here you didnt make a team and the first thing in your exit interview is that you are physically not there yet…. I dont have the answers,
    I just read a US soccer post which Tony Lepore states that kids will not be excluded from the BNT camps if they are not from a development academy. It would be interesting to see how many kids invited to this next camp in Feb are not from a DA. Also… is it just by coincidence that the BNT camps change dramatically when it gets to U17… Thats telling me that they did not pick the right kids those critical first years because they were looking at the wrong things. The wrong things mostly being shock and awed physically. To bad Gary could not make a Barcelona USA all star team here in the US somewhat similar to the ID2 team. Im not sure what type of team he would pick but I would assume it would be kids that are super technical with quick processors. He would just need a sponsor…

    • Dennis says

      Good post.
      Reports show that excluded (below 17ish) players (that quit) develop bad selfasteam and deceses at a much larger degree compared to the ones who keep on playing.
      This is a health aspect that goes way beyond football and sports.
      The key is to have coaches that can handle a wide spectra (when it comes to physical, mental and coordinative aspects) of kids. Education and knowledge is the only way.
      The problem is that we (all around the world) constantly try to judge the kids from an adaults perspective. Let the kids be kids. Let them develop at their own rate. Skill will START showing at 16 and above. But to see the full potential can in some cases not happen until 22-23 years of age. There’s no need at all to select a group with “talents”. Just make sure the Coach is well educated and that he know how, why and when certain drills should be implemented/scrapped. See every kid.
      To compete at U15 to U17 even at international level is frowned up on from the reports.
      It’s the adaults sport we’re trying to force on the kids. Don’t!
      Football is a huge sport. The biggest one in the world. The worst part with that is that there are so many “experts”. And this influence how we treat the kids, and how we force them to compete.
      I have huge troubles with parents that think I’m way too soft. That our club don’t know what sport is all about.
      I simply show them the reports I base my educational plan by, and kindly ask them to show me a report that are in favour for the selection route. Still have’nt recieved one.
      But one thing that I’m not soft on, is how hard I push our coaches. I constantly criticize and questioning why he did this or that. How he could do it in S smoother way. I’m responsible for the education of our coaches. And that’s where I use my competative side when it comes to the kids.
      But don’t mistake a softer approach with the lack of demands. To constantly push, but to not push too far is probably the hardest part with beeing a youth coach.
      As a fun fact. Our club have youth teams competing at the absolute highest level in both U17 and U19 domedtic leagues.
      They travel with plane, bus or train to awaygames and sleep at hotels etc.
      All the other clubs that are represented are the biggest (high level senior teams) 27 clubs in the country.
      Our club is very small, and don’t use the selection process nor do we focus on results or use the word “talent”. Howcome we can compete with all these major clubs that use this process and have budgets that are 3-10 times bigger than our own?
      And this is just the result of the last 2-3 years of work.
      I’m thrilled to see where we’re at in 4-6 years when we’ve hired a better group of coaches.
      The energy should go to education of youth coaches instead of pin pointing talent.

      • Dr Loco says

        “There’s no need at all to select a group with “talents”. Just make sure the Coach is well educated and that he know how, why and when certain drills should be implemented/scrapped. See every kid.”

        I accept all players who are serious. I know something is wrong with soccer in our area when I don’t have the option to send kids away.

  55. Garrett says

    One major thing is coaching. If you had 2 kids at age 8 both at same skill level but one gets the proper instruction and direction he will become the better player over time because the other isn’t being taught what to do. Most scouts would say that you don’t need money to get noticed you just need to put in the time, but to put in the time you need to pay someone to train you. Which requires money and if you want the quality teachers you need to fork over lots of dough.

    • Dennis says

      Partly true.
      But the love of the game, and the joy to play it can “compensate” bad coaching to some degree.
      So to say that 2 equally skilled (are they? ;) ) 8 year olds would end up at the potential reflecting the coach is’nt entirely true.
      We need to know that both players have the same ambition, joy and love for the game from 8 all the way up to the seniors.
      We also need to know what will happen to both kids socially as well since that aspect also have major impact on how good someone will become.
      A really good coach can develop and nurce the joy and love the players feel though.
      It’s an extremely complex subject.

  56. Garrett says

    I completely agree with the statement that they have to love the game, and if they loose the love they won’t play as good as if they are enjoying it. I’ve seen it happen before. But you need the coaching which requires money. Then again if the coach puts too much negativity on them they will completely hate the game because of one person. I’ve seen it where kids have been afraid of messing up so bad that they mess up even more. Then leave the team because of it.

    • Dennis says

      I totally hear you. And I also said that a good coach can nurce the love and joy.
      So far so good.
      But there are a lot of other aspects that can lead to a decrease in interest. Family, friends, school all play major parts in this.
      The coach (no matter how expensive) can only do so much to nurce the love and joy.
      But with the right money to hire a good coach, good and solid social structures and an never fading love, joy and eventually a deep understanding of the game will, after 7-12000 hours of practice result in a proffessional career.
      10000 hours is 2 hours/day from 7-22 years old.
      This might frighten you. But the reports that state this number does’nt go in too deep on what kind of practice.
      Just playing catch with your son for 1 hour is concidered practice in the 10000 hour study.
      Playing with friends as well etc.
      And to go in a bit deeper on the 10000 hour rule, it’s not a must when to do these hours.
      Since the golden learning years are from 8-12 it can be easy to think that kids must train every day in that age. But that’s not true either.
      Kids that train that hard often get injuries, which ofcourse will kill the dream of becoming a proffessional football player.
      This is so complex.

      • Brandon says

        “To compete at U15 to U17 even at international level is frowned up on from the reports”.

        Interesting point. It seems unrealistic and more for grandstanding to have national level teams from u14 to u17. With the patterns of development being so random… whats the point. Especially when the results have been the way they are. Not to mention the fact that it allows for excellent players to be rejected.

        • Dennis says

          And not to mention that the bulk of kids representing U15-U17 will drop out from the sport as well.
          Partly cause of the pressure to perform.
          Partly cause of not having the joy and love for the game.
          And partly cause the competition is hard to deal with if you’ve always been number one. And motivation drop due to that.

          The absolute best way to deal with a young kid who are ahead in the physical, coordinative and mental development is to let him be a kid. But give him more detailed and complex instructions. Make sure to always push him. Don’t let him just run around and score goal after goal.
          It won’t do him any good.
          It’s all about the coaches. And the patents to not force the competative aspect on the kid.

          • Dr Loco says

            “Don’t let him just run around and score goal after goal.
            It won’t do him any good.”

            That’s what I told a player and so the parents left the team. More problems solved but now I have an even smaller roster. We still manage to compete with no subs.

      • Dr Loco says

        I won’t start training 4-5 days a week until kids are 15. It’s just doesn’t make any sense to me with my group of recreational players. Perhaps at that age parents and players will start to wake up and make a serious commitment to excellence.

  57. Garrett says

    Obviously Spain (particularly Bareclona) don’t care about making sure the kids are having as much fun as making sure they are the best. With Barelona and Spain winning competitions it means that they must be doing something right. I think we should try to follow their example. We haven’t even had a MLS team to win CONCACAF.(the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football)

    • Dennis says

      Having fun is ofcourse a very wide word.
      It’s about education. And thru the proper education, nurce the joy and love for the game.
      It’s not like they are playing catch on the pitch.
      La Masia is one of the academys I’ve been looking in to – in detail.
      It’s very obvious that results are not priority.
      Firstly, the team have to play fair.
      Secondly, the team have to play proper football, with every player taking the most correct decition in any given situation.
      Only when the first two are in place, the result is “important”. But since priority is about playing proper football, the results come as a result of the way they educate.
      There’s a huge difference in achieving results the proper way compared to if the 11 biggest and most developed kids just go out and completely crushes the opposition with methods and a way of play that won’t help them once their physical attributes are on par with the opponents.
      This is where the differences are.
      It’s important to understand that the way to a win can be done in several ways.
      To play with the kids that are ahead in the developing latter without the demand and expectations of playing football in the correct way with proper judgements are not at all what Barca is doing.
      So to win a game just because one player can do whatever he wants is not ok.
      To win a game with elements of unfair play is not ok.
      To win a game because the players are ahead physically is not ok.
      It’s all about the education of the game, and to play the game according to the “priciples of football”.
      Barcelona P98 was in Stockholm last year for an annual tournament.
      In an Interview with the FCB coach, the reporter asked: Are you confident that your kids will win this tournament with ease (teams participating was Ajax, Juventus, Barca to name a few)?
      “I’ve never expected or demanded wins from the kids. What I demand is that they play proper football”
      And this is so important.
      One huge problem that Barca avoid by educating the way they do, is that they don’t educate youth football. Cause youth football and proffessional football are 2 very different sports.
      To educate senior football, with focus on decition making is what they do.
      In many other clubs, what’s educated is youth football, which won’t help the once they reach senior/professional football. Cause the 2 games are widely separated.

      • Dr Loco says

        “I’ve never expected or demanded wins from the kids. What I demand is that they play proper football”

        Dennis agree with everything. The problem in the US is 99% of players and parents have a recreational mentality. The players and parents tend to control the teams and how they play. The coach is nice to parents and players but doesn’t really coach. They are just the adult responsible for putting the players on the field otherwise it would be a ‘pickup’ game. In fact many times if the coach doesn’t show up another parent takes over coaching in the game. If a ref doesn’t show up the game is canceled due to liability issues. The US game is primarily an expensive pastime to keep families active on weekends, traveling and spending more disposable income.

      • Jake says

        Dennis, I agree with much of what you are saying, but I think you are glossing over/misapplying the La Masia mentality/philosophy to a great extent.

        First, a coach is going to give a polite, respectful and politically correct comment to a reporter prior to a tournament. He already expects that they will play proper football because of their selection, training and club philosophy.

        The entire foundation of La Masia is based on results. Players are scouted based on results prior to even being extended an invitation to try out. Their try out process involves many factors, but ultimately it comes down to a players performances during the scrimmages at the end of training sessions. Do you think Ben Lederman would have been selected, if he had not produced results in those last two days of scrimmages?

        Sticking with Ben Lederman, he was offered 2 years at the academy. Results will play a large role in whether or not he is offered an opportunity to continue there. If those players do not perform in games, they will progress from not starting to off the roster to out of the academy.

        Barcelona and the kids in residence there have a different idea of fun and Barcelona is all about selection, I don’t think they fit in the softer Swedish model you are describing. Ajax, while they don’t care about wins keep their kids in constant fear of being released…

        • Dennis says

          Jake, I’m glad you took the discussion to the next level.

          I know perfectly well how it works at La Masia. And I can assure you that the results (as in the final standings) is not priority at all. The coach did not say that to be politically correct. What is important though, is that the players make progress in how they take decitions in the game.
          Firstly, in contradiction to what’s the case for 99,999999% of young footballplayers clubs all around the world, La Masia get 1000′s and 1000′s of requests each year for places in the academy.
          They have to select players somehow. They can’t take everyone. But I can assure you that they know what they are doing when they pick the players. And what’s the reason kids get in is everything but physical development – cause they know what to look for.
          In contradiction to what’s the case in clubs all around the world that somehow think that just because a kid is fast and can do whatever he wants at the age of 12, he will keep on doing that once he reach senior age (there’s academic and scientific reports that clearly show that as well. It’s not just my personal opinion. It’s well stated and cold hard facts.).
          In senior football, there’s no way a player can perform good without understanding the game.
          In contradiction to what’s the case in youth football.
          It’s very VERY important that you do not look at Barcelonas academy and think that “we can do the same”. Cause their experiance and knowledge is at a level that’s hard to understand.
          When I refered to La Masia, I was on about how they educate. And what skills they teach. That’s something every club in the world can copy. No problem.
          But when it comes to exclution and “development teams” or whatever it’s called, what I say is true. Just because the reality in La Masia is what it is does’nt make it a good way in Yorkshire FC.
          It’s important to see the differences. What can be adopted from La Masia, and what can’t.
          It’s all based on the knowledge, education and experiance of the coach.
          Parents and coaches simply don’t know why this or that happen in a U12 game. They think they know, but they have no clue (generelly speaking).
          When we look at how the US and Sweden U15-U17 are biased towards physical superiority rather than the understanding of the principles of football, I truly doubt even coaches at the highest international level in our countries knows shit. Or they do, but if so, the focus is winning rather than educating.
          The reports have pointed this out in the last 5-7 years. But the problem is that the tradition and culture in football does’nt change that fast or that easy.

          And just to make one thing totally clear that might was misunderstood. In my club, we let everyone play. We do not point out “talent” below 17. We do not give sertain players extra education.
          What we do, is to give everyone a good education.
          This means that we do not run a recreation program.
          We play and practice football.
          If a kid joins to play catch, or to just build sand castles, he’s out. So in that aspect, we’re pretty hard. But for everyone who want to play and learn football, we provide high quality coaches (even though it can get much much better), and make sure the coaches understand that the kids are different physically, coordinative and menally thru education.
          By doing this, we get a much wider selection once the kids are 18 and are knocking on the door to the seniors.
          We get higher peak levels.
          We reduce the negative impact the selection process can do to a rejected kid mentally.
          The kids are having a blast.
          It’s a win win win situation.
          All it takes is to read up on youth development, and understand that a kids game is a kids game.
          Let them be kids.
          The competative aspect will eventually get to them. But let them learn as much as possible, let them grow and age past 16 before we adaults demand results.
          We, as adaults do not need to force our view on sports on to the kids too early.
          The kids will eventually get there.
          Let it take some time. Don’t stress it.

        • Dr Loco says

          “I don’t think they fit in the softer Swedish model you are describing.”

          Perhaps a “softer” model will work better for our softer US kids playing recreational soccer in the local suburbs and traveling to US Club tournaments to compete.

          • Jake says

            Dr. Loco,

            Are you speaking of our true local recreational leagues or intimating our “select” or “competitive travel” leagues??

            I could see the concept being applied to true recreational leagues and then feeding the late bloomers back into the competitive system, but…

            That doesn’t fix the “recreational” competitive system and it creates the problem of finding a whole new group of warm, fuzzy coaches to replace our psychotic uber competitive volunteer coaches.


            How many kids do you have in your youth program?

            How many teams do you have and do they all play at one level per age group?

            How many professional and/or national team players have been developed because of this system?

          • Dennis says

            I have about 700 kids, in 55 youth teams at the ages of 6-19. About 500 boys, and 200 girls.

            Some age groups are devided in several teams cause of the mount of players. In Sweden, the leagues are devided in “easy”, “medium” and “hard”. It’s important that the team pick a series that suit their skill level. What skill level that is does’nt matter. It’s all about playing games that are evenly matched to nurce the development. Winning every game in a year, or loosing every game in a year does’nt do much in terms of development when it comes to games. It’s all about knowing your teams level, and pick series accordingly.

            As I’ve said before, the system I’ve implemented has only been in the works since the beginning of 2012.
            Alltough, the club started to go this route before my education plan was implemented. But before the implementation of my education plan, the club started to look in to these issues. They removed to word “talent”, and started to go the same route that my education plan say, but they did’nt have the knowledge and the structure that I, in the role of youth coordinator can provide.
            So for now, I have’nt had any kids that have been going thru the entire program.
            However, after just a few years, we can see improvements on in many areas.
            I’m thrilled to see where we’re at in 4-6 years.

            What’s important when it comes to education of football players is that we have to teach the game as it is played in the seniors.
            In other words, put focus on how to play according to the principles, as if your opponents are as fast, as strong, and as smart as yourself.
            In youth football, the reason that someone is good at the age of 12 is in most cases directly related to physical development.
            This is the biggest problem. That the kids think they understand the game, but it will become brutally obvious once they reach the seniors that the game is now not what they have been tought in all those youth years.
            Look at any senior game, and study how they play. It just won’t happen that someone outruns a whole team and score as he please, which in youth football is’nt as unlikely.
            Sure, Messi, Neymar and a few have done it. Very occationly, but that’s not what we should to the youngsters. Teach the (senior) game, and let the eventual amazing solo runs come as icing on the cake, rather than the other way around.

          • Dr Loco says

            Dennis, went to see the best U13 boys in our area get trained by an international academy director. Based on his observations he made it seem like they were 2-3 years behind European top players the same age. Again these are top player at age 13. How do you raise the level of the players so they can catch up to their European counterparts by a given age like 18? Is it even possible from a developmental standpoint?

            Example if two student are in 8th grade (EU) but one is operating at a 5th grade (US) level how can both students be performing the same by 12th grade?


          • Dennis says

            Dr Loco:
            First of all, sorry for the late reply. I did’nt see your post until know.

            It depends a lot on which skills are 2-3 years behind.
            If we take the share base techniques (ball control, passes, and similar), it’s related to the number of touches to the ball. A good number to aim for during practice for 6-9 year olds are 1000 touches/practice/player.
            You can always “catch up” in that aspect. But there’s one problem – motivation. 6-9 year olds can have loads of fun just running with a ball thru a cource 1 and 1. But 10 year olds and above don’t find that fun. If you can somehow (depends on your group) motivate why you need to do it (don’t say that they suck, say that even Messi does this type of training. He does’nt ofcourse, but when it comes to isolated passing drills he does. So you’re not lying, you just don’t say everything ;) ), it will keep them happy for a bit longer during practice and you’ll be able to sqeeze out 1-200 extra touches from that before they get fed up.
            If they are behind in how to play the game (decition making), it’s on the fence. I’d say that if you don’t develop a deep understanding of the game at 15, it’s in most cases too late. Or it will at least put them on hold for a proffessional career at the age of 18. To understand the game and act correct on the pitch takes time. In my club, we implement that aspect at 9 years of age. But it’s very basic from 9-10. At 11, the main practice content is to teach how to play according to the principles.
            So I would’nt say it’s too late. But it’s defenetly time to start moving.

            If you could give me a more detailed picture of what type of skills that was falling short, I could try to help you out more concrete.

            And by the way, something that’s very important is that many “academy coaches” (don’t know the one you mentioned, so I’m not saying anything about that. This is just a general opinion from my point of view and experiance in Sweden) are’nt as good as they say. Youth football and the families are a group that spend money. And we all knows what happen when there’s a lot of money involved. It attracts *cough* different kinds of coaches. And the parents and families are voundrable for several reasons.
            1. “The coach knows much more than me”.
            Probably. But is it at a good enough level to justify the price?
            It’s hard to say, right? In contradiction to what’s the case when you buy a book, car or whatever, you know exactly what you get once you’ve started to read/drive what you just bought.
            But with kids, we won’t see such obvious results in a day, or a week.
            2. The other aspect is sadly enough very common in Sweden. It’s academies that hire good coaches. But the coaches only see it as a job. So he’ll just “stamp in” at work, and only does what he need to do (make it look good). In many cases, these coaches are travelling all over to hold sessions with different groups all the time. It’s hard work to teach football. And to hold 3-4 practice sessions/day is impossible with good quality. It’s not the coaches fault, it’s the fact that they have to hold so many sessions/day to afford the rent. Which sadly enough affect the quality in the sessions.

            What’s VERY important (except for the knowledge ofc) when it comes to teaching kids is the passion. The coach need to “feel” the kids. He need to get in to their brains. Discuss and instruct with passion. Nurce their love and understanding of the game.

          • Jake says

            Jason asked in a earlier post what results Dennis could point to and it sparked the discussion on the impact of standings in the junior ranks. Dennis discussed the 10,000 hours being accumulated between 7 and 22 with game results/standings gaining importance after U17. There have been many other discussions on the site that relate to the 18-22 age range.

            The result that keeps coming to my mind is player development, specifically elite player development. We want to compete on the world stage and develop those elite world players that compete in EPL, La Liga etc.

            So i did some brief, highly unscientific research and found an interesting number.

            Seventeen (17), that is the average number I found the elite player started their professional careers. For the larger players, typically center backs and keepers, I found that number increased to about nineteen (19).

            Not fact, not scientific but if you go online and play with it, I think you will find it to be pretty accurate. This isn’t necessarily the age they blossomed, but the age they started competing at that level.

            I’m not an expert but it just seems to me to be a very american way of thinking to believe we will consistently deliver elite world players at 22.

            In my opinion, that is the importance of world class competition at the U15-U17 level. I’m not saying all bets are off after 17, but there must be a system in place to produce talent (not just the giant corn fed beef kind) at that age.

          • Kana says

            I don’t know your research, but I just know from being an over the top soccer guy all my life, 18-22 is the magic age where players need to participate in high level training and competition to have any hope of being on a top class European side.

            In Europe and SA, if you aren’t in a top pro academy by 16, you’re pretty much done. It’s well known that clubs like Barca whittle out players by 22 if they aren’t good enough by then for firs team. In USA, college grads are no where close to that standard. Even if you played 4-years reserve at 2nd or 3rd division side in Europe.

            The recent announcement of partnership with MLS and USL is huge step. But let’s see how it’s executed.

          • Jake says

            I’m basically on the same page as you. You are saying in a top pro academy by 16, at what age do those players make their pro debut. I’m not discounting the top level competition between 18-22, I’m just saying that most elite players are maturing at the pro level.

            Play around with the roster of your favorite club and check the age that they made their pro debut. As I said, highly unscientific research, but it was eye opening for me.

          • Jason says

            I don’t have much knowledge to add to this discussion. However, if you listen to the Football Garden Podcast interview of Jon Burklo he talks about his playing experience pretty extensively. After he finished playing at Liberty University, he got a chance to train and have some trials with teams in Oslo. He said a really interesting thing about that experience: That even though he was probably better than many/most of the players on the teams he was on trial with, the coaches were turned off, and he wasn’t offered a contract, because at age 22 he was too old. He said that all of the players on these teams were 18 and 19. Maybe if Jon is following this blog entry, he can give us a little more background/insight on that.

            I think this raises the culture question again. It seems that the first step is for the bulk of American youth players to recognize that most players can’t play college ball and expect to be truly elite on a world stage. The second step, once this is an accepted view, is to actually take the step to say no to college if a pro-contract is offered at 17, 18, 19. It is so ingrained in the general culture (at least the one that I am part of) that college is just part of what you HAVE to do immediately after HS. But, the bulk of American players and importantly, the parents of players, who have a shot to “go pro” during or shortly after HS, are going to have to have a cultural paradigm shift in order to say NO to college, EVEN IF THEY ACCEPT THE NOTION THAT IT WILL DIMINISH THE ULTIMATE TRAJECTORY OF PLAYER DEVELOPMENT. I know that would be a pretty hard decision for me as I think about what I would want for my son if he has an opportunity to delay or forego college to play professionally at a young age. It just goes against the grain of what I have grown accustomed to thinking is “normal.” This raises some really hard questions for me along the lines of which camp I am really in. Just being honest. I think of myself as pretty fanatical about the game. Certainly I am compared to most of my suburban middle class soccer-parent peers. So if I am struggling with what it REALLY takes to produce an elite player, the shift required in the thinking of the “general population” is enormous.

          • Jason says

            It just occurred to me that there is maybe a major flaw in what USSF is doing with some of it’s youth initiatives. For instance, you have MLS teams who are required to participate in the USDA program, presumably to increase the pool of highly developed players. But how many of those development academy teams are vertically integrated in any serious way with the MLS teams to the extent that it is becoming a legitimate career path for a HS aged student to go directly to the reserve team or first team at 16, 17, 18, 19? My guess is that for most youth players (and their parents) who make it onto a USDA team, their thinking is “sweet, this probably means that I am going to get to play for a great college program, maybe even on a scholarship.” My guess is that a very small percentage of these players/parents are even thinking along the lines of even wanting, or hoping for, or working hard towards the goal of going pro with their own club’s MLS team or overseas prior to completion of college. So would it be much of a stretch to assert that the whole USDA program will have little impact on the quality of our senior national team until U16-18 players start leaving the program to go places other than American colleges and universities? Am I off base or does it sound like maybe I’m just starting to actually grasp the magnitude of the cultural change that is going to have to occur?

          • Jake says

            I’m going to go with grasping cultural change. Two great comments by the way, because I think you hit the nail right on the head.

            I had an idea, but it wasn’t until I started checking the age of players at their pro debuts that I really understood.

          • Kana says

            You are not off-base Jason. As a parent of a child on USDA club, the mentality of coaches, DoC is college. Read most non-MLS USDA Mission Statement and it’s all about college. MLS Academy is the only place where the goal is to get players onto first team. Non-MLS USDA clubs need to consider alternative path for those interested in pro career. Like team agreement with MLS, USDA, NASL. I know a handful of clubs have partnerships with Mexican, English, and European sides. And USA kids have been slowly trickling into oversea opps in last 5-years. Lots of articles on the Internet on those kids but don’t get much press coverage.

          • Dr Loco says

            “It is so ingrained in the general culture (at least the one that I am part of) that college is just part of what you HAVE to do immediately after HS”

            Not sure why this is so baffling. Most professional athletes don’t go or finish college. College is for academics period. After HS, a person has to choose a professional track whatever that is. Why do people waste their time doing other things unless of course you don’t know what you want?

          • Jason says

            Actually, Loco, most professional athletes in this country DO go to college. And I think that is part of the cultural problem. We see lots of athletes who end up being among the best professionals in our most visible, popular sports who played college ball and received great development as a result. NCAA football is the only farm system the NFL has. And it apparently does a pretty good job producing top NFL talent. Sure some of the best players come out early but many don’t. So in our culture’s way of viewing the world, we don’t understand why soccer would be any different.

          • Jason says

            Correction: NCAA football is not the ONLY farm system. I am aware of CFL, arena football, semi-pro football, etc. But NCAA dwarfs all of these.

          • Jake says

            The NFL only uses this farm system because they want the kids to layer on muscle for at least a couple years.

          • Dr Loco says

            Do some research and get back with some numbers.

            90+% NCAA athletes go pro in something other than sports.

            Most top pros that went to college never finished. It’s just for visibility and marketing of colleges…big money!

          • Dr Loco says

            “the best players come out early but many don’t.”

            The earlier you come out of college the more you can develop as a top player. We need stats. Do they exist?

          • Jason says

            I’m not going to take the time to look for stats because I don’t think they are necessary to make my point. Even if you are right, I think I am on good ground with the assertion that the general understanding in our culture is that the career path to the NFL goes through the NCAA, that college football is a good and necessary part of a future pro’s development, and it works well. Maybe my point is best made by asking a question: would the average American think that playing college football is bad for a football player who aspires to playing in the NFL. Obviously not. So why would the average American conclude otherwise when it comes to soccer?

          • Dr Loco says

            NFL, yes. Not so much in MLB, NBA, NHL.

            Here it is. If you want to play in the US then do it the American way.

          • tim says

            It’s almost scary to read you last post as if it’s what I battle on a daily basis. The idea of “normal” and “expected” unfortunately drives conversation at every soccer practice, game, and social gathering. A parent of a talented, hard working, passionate soccer player can easily become an outcast or at the very least a target for others. The idea of delaying college a few years to some and most borders on child neglect if not abuse. We discuss the lack of soccer culture in this country as a challenge and hurdle but its just one of many. Our view on education and the “timeline” to earn this education must also change so kids can feel comfortable with their decision to pursue their dream and passion. My son was recently told by another parent of a team mate the avergae salary of an MLS player was $32,000 , the same as a manager at McDonalds. He encouraged him to focus on school and grades as this will be more important later in life. My son is 10, makes straight A’s, and dreams of playing professionally some day. It’s so sad when so many are willing to kill the dreams of young kids or push thier personal agenda on others. Question- Can an American sign a professional contract in Europe at 18 ( 3rd division in Italy for example) and then come back at age 22 to scholarship if things didn’t workout?

          • Jason says

            I come from a family that for generations has valued and sacrificed for education. And, I have a 9 year old son that has the same aspirations as yours and who is the same kind of student. Because of his early signs of having potential to actually live out his dream, my wife and I have been talking about what it would actually look like for him to pursue a professional career. My “revelation” of what this might mean in terms of the timing of his college education will undoubtedly become a major sticking point. Even if my son, my wife, and I are on board with a move to Europe as a teen or pre-teen, or delaying college, etc., I can’t even begin to imagine what my circle of friends and my extended family will think of us if that is allowed, tolerated, supported, or God forbid, ENCOURAGED! Honestly, it’s all just kind of hitting like a ton of bricks right now.

            I think you are onto something though…the 22 year old college freshman! Unfortunately, I doubt NCAA rules would allow for a previously paid professional player to play college soccer. Maybe someone who actually knows the answer about those rules will enlighten us. At any rate, that is a path that I think I could “sell” as legitimate to those around me. It would go something like “He’s going to give this a shot if the opportunity comes and regardless of whether the “pro-player experiment” ends quickly or results in a long career, college will be waiting for him when he is done.” Lots of hurdles, no doubt, but I think the point is that when people in our shoes start thinking along these lines, progress is being made, regardless of whether our particular boys are good enough to actually make it.

          • EDFoot says

            Jason, Dennis, Jake, et al,

            You are raising very interesting points. At the risk of being ALL over the place with my comment, I’d like to address several points that intrigued me most. I hope this makes sense:

            Someone stated that USDA are not focusing on developing players for their first team and instead are looking for College Scholarships. While I can not make a blanket statement to deny that claim for all the USDA, I can tell you I know two USDA that for sure are developing players for the purpose of using them in the first team. Also, I think it’s much too early to quantify the effectiveness of the USDA program as a feeder program for MLS teams. Moreover, it is important important to note that there have been some MLS teams that are now contracting 16 and 17 year old boys. While this is just the beginning, it is encouraging.

            The discussion about going to college first and being a pro after 22 makes little sense in the context of soccer as a world sport. All sports have different peak ages. For example, female gymnast are mostly done by 25 while male gymnasts “bloom” at a later age. The same can be said for other sports. It all depends on the sport. Parents and athletes need to adapt to the peak age to the sport rather than looking at the NFL model and the American way of thinking. This is not that hard, people! America produces great athletes in almost all other sports; parents and athletes have adjusted to those sports which are mostly government by a World Governing Body and not a closed system/corporate organization like the NFL.
            While I don’t know enough to give an evidence-based opinion about when I players should go pro I can share a story which I have witness many, many times. Last summer/early fall, I brought three young men to a team trial for a pro team in Europe; ages 15, 16,17. These players were not trying to get into the reserved squads and receive a contract. In the first two week of the trials, there was an American player. I think he was 22 or 23. He was stronger that the younger players. And, he did have the level needed to tryout. Nevertheless, the consensus amongst all the kids trying out was that while he was good, he was too old and would not be able to keep up with players his age in that team. He did not make the draft. Just as a side note, the kid that made it to the final draft and got a contract was the 15 year old.

            I have had conversations with many families with kids with professional or Olympic prospects (in different sports) about “the future and what it holds” and whether or not is worth pursuing. The advice I give people (both form my own experience as an athlete and as a parents) is that it comes a time in every athlete’s (with level) life where they have to decide which path to take. If an athlete is serious about becoming elite, they have to give up a lot of things other kids their age will experience; mostly mundane things: going to the mall every other day, eating whatever they want, drinking alcohol, dating, doing competing in 3 different HS sports every year depending on the season, and so on. While those experiences might be romanticize in movies and by HS coaches and weekend warrior parents to reminisce of what couldn’t been. It is not what a serious athlete does. If you want a “traditional American experience” you don’t want to be an athlete. Kids go through this all the time, in all sports, in every country. You need to invest the time to become a competitive hopeful; talent is not enough. If you aren’t willing to do that, it doesn’t matter how good you are or how good your country is in that sports; you won’t have have what it takes, period. You are better off enjoying life and telling your friends you were good ones.

            Moreover, just because you do everything you are supposed to do, it doesn’t mean you will make it. You have to do it because as a person you needed it in your life (I can’t quantify this; this is something I think only athletes can relate to). I think a big challenge American parents that have not being real athletes have is that they have a sense of entitlement and feel they deserve a “reward” for their hard work. You can have your goal set in becoming pro, but you also have to be realistic and know that there are no guarantees. But only people who really commit have a real chance.
            Regarding the question of whether or not an athlete should skip college or not, I wonder why that is even a topic of discussion. You can go try to become a pro at age 16 or 17 -a player with a contract in a pro team; not Messi so relax :) – and pay for college yourself with whatever money you make. Many people do this in other countries. Not all teams are going to offer you $1M at age 16, you need a plan B.

            In fact, getting pay to play soccer at age 16 or older and paying for college on your own is better than a scholarship. You get to live your dream of doing what you love and get some money for it; and go to school. With a scholarship you get screwed. The term “student athlete” is a tern Universities use to make money off your talent and not pay you. If you get hurt, you get no benefits, no workers comp, nothing; just a bill for school if you want to continue studying. A scholarship doesn’t give you the same protections other workers have because you are not getting paid.

            I think many of the “issues” are just excuses. If you really want to make it, you have to have a plan to achieve your goals. If you want to be a college grad and a pro, all you need is hard work and a plan. One doesn’t have to supersede the other. You are not that special, other people have do it before you, just learn from them :)

          • Kana says

            EDFoot — The distinction is USDA / MLS Academies (Galaxy, Colorado Rapids, etc.) and non-MLS Academies (e.g., Arsenal, Nomads, Surf, etc.). MLS Academies are developing for first team. Non-MLS (e.g., Arsenal) are developing for college. The non-MLS USDA acadamies need to get affiliation with an MLS team or elsewhere outside USA.

          • Kana says

            “The discussion about going to college first and being a pro after 22 makes little sense in the context of soccer as a world sport.”

            Exactly the point!

            If you want to be a pro, try your luck in USL, NASL or overseas then go back to college if it doesn’t work out. If you’re not risk averse, go to college but understand it affects professional level develoopment. Choices, choices!

            As of now and maybe for some time to come, the best option if you want to be a pro is outside USA (Mexico, South America, Central America, England, Europe, Asia). College is the safe, normal path. And this forum has talked about “normal” and “average” quite a lot. Risk, reward. It’s each player’s decsion. LIfe choices!

          • NOVA Mike says

            Tim and Jason –

            Here’s a thought that may play help give a little perspective to those who think starting college at 22 is not “normal”. There have been hundreds of thousands of Americans who have entered college at 22, after spending the 4 previous years of their life doing something else they really wanted to do while they were young enough to have the chance. They didn’t go to college on a scholarship though. They went on the G.I. Bill.

          • Dennis says

            “I’m not saying all bets are off after 17, but there must be a system in place to produce talent (not just the giant corn fed beef kind) at that age.”

            That system concist of 2 parts.
            No 1: We do NOT run a recreational kind of club. Kids that don’t wan’t to play football, at any level should not join. If a kid joins cause he want to do what he’s friends are doing is not a problem as long as he plays football.
            This is very important for a starters. We do not want to set the bar according to kids that don’t want to play football.
            And in this aspect, we’re strict. Very strict.

            No 2: coach education. The coaches are educated by the Football Assosiation firstly. Then, I educate them once they are in charge of a team in our club.
            Cause the FA does’nt educate according to the studies. They educate according to tradition.

            I’m really glad this discussion start to shine some light on things.
            It’s complex, and to discuss different views are of great importance.

            Best regards

  58. Garrett says

    I completely agree 100%. When a team is playing proper football, the kids will be having fun. Because there coach is happy with the play and you will probably be winning. When kids are in that environment where they understand they will probably be having loads of fun.

  59. Garrett says

    I am raised the same way. After high school you go to college. I think you raise a legitimate problem with that. Have any of you heard of someone named Louis Gil? He plays for Real Salt Lake and joined them at age 16. I don’t know about in Europe but here in the US that is fairly uncommon because most players go to college then go into the MSL draft.

    • Dennis says

      To become a proffessional player at 16 is very very rare. And it does’nt matter if it’s in the US or in Europe.
      And that’s directly related to the complexity of the game, and how the brain develops.

    • Steve says

      But that’s only because, until recent’y, there have been no academies. College to MLS will not be the best route into MLS or NASL 5-10 years from now. If the USL Pro leagues/MLS Reserve Teams become the proving grounds for young players, 17-21 years of age, college’s non-fifa 3 month season will hurt a player’s chances rather than help.

  60. Armando says

    College is inefficient, ineffective for pro player development. Need high SAT scores and GPA to get into most D1 schools. By default, some of the best players are immediately removed from consideration. You end up with middle-class kids who are good students; not necessarily quality footballers. You could be the next Messi and want to go to UCLA, but if you had a 2.0 GPA or 500 SAT, you better apply for janitor. This is not an efficient process for developing pro quality players!

    Meanwhile, counterparts in rest of world get into pro academy based on footbal skills. Yes, football skills! Go figure! If you’re the next Messi but dumber than a doorknob, you still have a chance. The process is set up to reward footballing ability, not ability to solve an equation.

    This is why MLS and USSF need to push for better NASL, USL and PDL league. They are the viable alternative to college. No, it is the only solution if we want to improve pro quality development for promising professional footballers and MLS stars. But soccer in USA is too immature to make this a reality for maybe 10 – 20 years.

  61. danny lederman says

    It has been long time since i read that thread. lots of you think that ben need to be messi for him to part of the barca cantera but in our life time we will see only one messi and we better appreciate it.
    you can call it lucky ,you can say he was at the right time at the right place or whatever and i am sure all the is correct ,in life you have to get this break trows to be successful or have the opportunity to be one.
    i like the way ben is DEVELOPING in barca and i see him growing as a player and a person .
    No metter what will happened in his following years to come he is getting the best soccer education he could ever get on and off the field.
    I am also sure that being part in barca will open him doors that other can get but the end of the day he will have to prove himself after it will be open.
    You also need to understand the scarifies him and the family made to make this happened (not that we regret it for one min) just saying it was a long adjustment period to all of us.

    Ben is not messi and we not compering him to no one ,not the fastest or strongest player out there and i am sure and know that there so many good players in the us that have the same skills ,i can only say he is for sure different on the way he think and see few step ahead then most kids his age and i believe that what barca saw in him.

    i really like his performance in the last us national camp ,i like his filed positioning and awareness .
    he really like the camp and like hugo perez and the way he want them to play.


    • says

      I can appreciate everything you have just said in this post. We arrived with our two sons to Fulham FC in London 6 months prior to you all going to Barcelona. We had the choice between Arsenal or Fulham but felt Fulham was the better choice as living and them going to school in south London was more appealing. It has been an incredible experience for us as a family and our sons so far…with many sacrifices. William is a July 2002 and Michael is a January 2004 and both, just like Ben, had a period of adjustment. All you can you do is go year to year…let them understand the special opportunities they have, work hard but have fun.

      You are right..there is only one Messi, one Iniesta etc etc. Let them look up to..learn from these players but let them be themselves. There are many great youth players around the world and I think the USA has some of these players. The future IS bright for the USA..and hopefully your son and my sons will some day have the very good fortune of playing at that level when they are older.
      All the best for your family and Ben’s development and hopefully in the next few years we may see you at a national team camp.

      • Jayne says

        Hi Bill,
        I have a son who has been invited to the Arsenal trial. What did you like better at Fulham? We are packing up and moving to Braintree for his career. Just playing at a higher level will be great for him.

        • says

          Hi Jayne,
          As I am sure you are aware, clubs generally invite players they are interested in on 6 weeks trial. After this time they tell you yes or no. It is very difficult to get in and even harder to stay in as competition is extremely intense for places. Our situation was similar to Bens though in that clubs saw our sons prior to a move. We have been here now for two years so far. Over the past 3-4 years Fulham’s Academy has really established itself as one of the best Academy programs in England. Our younger teams regularly go on tour in Europe and do very well against the continental teams. In fact we have had a couple of our younger teams play Barcelona in these tournaments and get favourable results. Our U18s won the national title last season and were finalists the year previous. But more importantly they are now finally seeing some of these younger kids come through the system and get into the first and U21 teams. We are also in a good area with good schools and very close to the training ground as well which is good.
          It is tough to get in though at the top clubs and very difficult to stay in. Clubs in England and Europe can be very quick to release players.
          Good luck to you and all the best.

          • Jayne Benedict says

            I agree with you about the level of competition. Zach was also invited before we even considered moving. He is an 01. He has 3 different trials coming up then he’ll weigh his options. This is all his choice so he knows how hard he has to work. I would love your email in case he gets asked for Fulham. Here is Zach playing last fall.
            Good luck with your two boys as well. It’s great to hear about US players getting a chance over seas. Of course with a little help from citizenships doesn’t hurt.

          • says

            Hi Jayne,
            When I said our situation was similar to Bens, we were offered a spot with these academy programs…they were not trials. Coming from someone who has coached and scouted at a high level, I would say you are better off moving to a larger footballing market in the USA like Los Angeles, Wash. DC, New York, Dallas, etc. Trials in the UK and in Europe are not easy. It is not like a tryout for a travel team in the USA. You have to displace another player to get in and show that you are better than them by a significant margin. It is great to pursue dreams but you need someone to guide you down the correct path and tell you how it really is as well. If you haven’t experienced being over In this kind of environment before it can be brutal.
            All the best

          • Brian says

            Thanks Bill for your input,
            You were very kind and comments far more politically correct then necessary. I find this blog attractive because of the brute honesty and origianal ideas always shared. Saying that, do people believe they can just show up at the gate of an elite european academy and get in line for a tryout? It doesn’t work like that and your being lied to if it’s been presented that way. Jane, I watched the video of you son and believe you believe he is playing at a high level. You must understand he is currently playing with recretional players on a large field. Nothing in the video demonstrates he is at all prepared to compete against the best young players in England. The video was kick and chase, no pressure, and played at such a slow pace. Not sure how you were invited to these “tryouts” or “trials” but it’s very possible they are the club teams similar to what we have in america and not the academy. You need to quickly lower your expectations and his because he has absolutely no clue what he’s in for. It is my opinion you have been misled. Please seek an outside and objective eye to evaluate your son. There is no way he was invited to trial based on the video link you provided. I think its great you want to follow his dreams but please get him some help.

          • says

            My son is 11. Just finished first 2 trials in Denmark with 2 of their professional clubs. He will be training at 2 EPL clubs in the summer. He was also selected as Chelsea’s youth football ambassador for China as part of the “Dream the Blues Campaign. (He is American but has grown up in China due to my job)
            My advice, European clubs are very high level, we trained with a top 5 European club with wins over AJAX, and AC MIlan at the U12 level. My son, was only average on their club. Long term , his speed, coordination, and movement should help him develop past these guys but keep in mind you are going against kids who have had 10-15 hours a week training since 5 years old. I calculated we have only done half of that. Before 14, it is very difficult to get picked up by a European club. Personally, we have been offered to come over at 14 for the first official youth contract. assuming he keeps a high level. But in Europe , they are getting better every day with strong competition, not easy to find outside of L.A., Dallas, or N.Y.C.

            Youtube” TCOLLINS FOOTBALL” Player: Tycho Collins

          • Brandon says

            I would have to say that it is only hard to get picked up by a European club if you do not have a EU passport. On the contrary… if you have a passport or dual citizenship, from what I have seen it is not hard at all to get picked up by a European club if you have some skill.

          • says

            @Bradon. Yes, your right. There are clubs virtually on every block in Europe. Finding a club is easy, but getting on a professional sides academy is more difficult.

            We are U.S. passport holders only. So yes, makes it even more difficult without the EU passport.

          • tim says

            Congratulations on your sons progress. I’d like to see more video. The video doesn’t indicate a high quality of competition. How did you get these trials? Was he scouted or found? Did you call and arrange. Just curious. I’ve seen many 11-12 year olds with equal to better touch on the ball. Good luck and hope to one day see him wearing his favorite color.

          • says

            @Tim- Posted an updated BIO with Euro trial footage. The previous bio was from 9 and 10 year old games. Euro trial footage is playing with Yr 2000 and Yr 2001′s. Europe goes off birth year system as opposed to U-age. Difficult for my son as he is a very young 2001.
            He was scouted by a former Budesliga leading scorer with club connections into Germany and Denmark. My son was leading scorer several years in Shanghai league and that is how they found him.

    • tim says

      Thank you for sharing and well said. Much can be said in a blog format and often written words taken out of context. Saying that and I’m sure speaking for the entire group here, we’re all wishing Ben success and safety in Spain. Good luck with everything and please stop back in from time to time.

  62. says

    Fantastic level of soccer. Are you using small side games a lot? My experience is small side games, very small fields will develop the technical and passing abilities. I like to do a lot of 1v1 and 2v2 as well.
    Dan Collins

  63. Brandon says

    So I just got an email back from Liverpool about my Son after I sent them his CV and some video clips. I was really excited but of course when I read the second sentence I knew it was all for naught. Of course they wanted to know if he had any relatives in Europe or a European passport. Its frustrating because the National team almost automatically takes people into there camp if they are an american in an academy like Liverpool or Barca and both have shown interest. Although I am European Heinz 57 to the bone… it looks like Sam could be doomed to American style soccer which does not bode well for a diminutive player. Can anyone help or have suggestion as to how to overcome this visa issue?

    • tim says

      There are many higher level clubs for your son in Spain, Germany, Italy,.. 1st division programs he has a chance to make without this visa issue. Why are you only chasing the biggest names like Liverpool and Barcelona? But you will need get on a plane, try out, and show really well for the invitation. I think you’re looking at things backwards. I thought the idea was to make the U.S. National Team so he has exposure to International scouts and clubs. The plan should be to get out of here and stay out of here, not to get out of here so he’s invited back in. I realize it’s an honor to play for your country but not at the expense of future development. What am I missing

      • Brandon says

        I guess I am chasing those names because they are the most well known to me and they seem to provide the most available information about there program. With regards to the backwards approach… I actually do look at the process backwards. Honestly, until a kids is over 18. I’m not sure how much good it is developmentally to be on the National team does. Other than confidence building but that can be subjective and could be overconfidence building as well. The plan actually is to get out… and stay out, like you said. I cant wast valuable time with him here because he cannot break into an already stable squad of 30 or so players. That squad has been picked and is tight. He has already be been to training’s with the squads coach Hugo Perez and he must not have shown well to him. But we are not going to give up and
        stop trying to get him with the best because one coach does not see his potential. I say that respectively. Sam probably would not shine and would get knocked all over the place anyways right now if he was on the National squad and I’m sure that was taken into consideration. Its my feeling that if you have a player… which I have been told I do… than keep on exploring options. I also think that Europe or England has a rule that applies to bringing over only players that have spend 75 percent of the last year involved with the national team. I wonder if this applies to NTC or only actually National team camps? Either way its kind of a bum rule because again… kids are being denied easier access to
        European soccer academies where they may be looking for kids that just don’t fit in here.

        • tim says

          I wouldn’t even consider England for a smaller player. I’m assuming smaller or light if he’s getting knocked around. If you watched germany destroy Laliga las month than stay away from there too. I’m not saying it’s a change in dominance but they obviously like bigger men. Don’t give up. Reading thru your posts you are trying your best to help but where you live will not support his talent level and getting passed should be a real concern if not a reality. Don’t listen to the local coaches. I watched his video and he’s not exactly playing with the caliber of player that can challenge or play with him. This will be your most difficult challenge. The day to day training with high caliber soccer players.

  64. Arastou says

    Does anyone have any idea on how someone can get noticed by any European academy in canada??? I’m 14 and unfortunately, European clubs don’t come to Toronto to set up academies or camps. Can anyone give me any details on what I’m supposed to do to get a trial at least?


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