What follows is an initial list of 25 things obstructing the US from becoming a soccer powerhouse.
The “what’s wrong” topic is always around and maintains a certain level of attention. Then, when our national teams flounder, the topic spikes and dominates the discussion.
And of course everyone and their mom has an opinion. Errrr … I mean verdict.
Well, the truth is nobody (at least that I know of) has mapped out all the issues we face. It’s not one, or two, or six. There’s a whole bunch of them with varying degrees of influence on each other, and on the final product that is our professional soccer player and teams.
So to get us started:
- Poor player selection at the professional and national team level.
- Low-level professional and national team coaching.
- College soccer is the main pipeline to MLS.
- No sporting accountability for college soccer coaches.
- Shortage of powerful player agents with a credible global network.
- European and south american clubs do not shop for players here.
- College soccer season is short.
- Coaching at the youth and collegiate level is pathetic.
- Pay-to-play at the youth level filters out much, if not most, of the talent.
- Parental influence at the youth level.
- Coach employment and club prosperity at the youth level is overly dependent on winning records.
- Business objectives are not aligned with player development at the youth level.
- We have people with no real soccer DNA occupying influential positions at all levels.
- The American soccer media, from match commentary to bloggers, lacks a rich understanding of the game.
- Thin scouting network.
- Unsophisticated scouts.
- An obsession with statistics.
- A docile fan base.
- Logistical problems due to US geography.
- MLS operates under a single entity structure.
- No promotion/relegation at the pro level.
- No significant MLS reserve league.
- No 3rd party ownership of players allowed within MLS.
- “Speed, strength, and power” is preferred over “technical, intelligent, and tactically rich” players.
- “Popularity” of the sport.
Again, there is no singular answer to the “what is wrong” question. They can all be supported or rebutted with anecdotes and, in rare cases, with pretty convincing data points.
This is going to be my base – the place I’ll be referencing in an attempt to map out the pathologies that keep us down. Each one of these items needs to be thoroughly dissected on its own, and its influence on the others understood.
It’s not simple, but I like challenges! How about you?