Maybe not the individuals …
or maybe so (think of all the shit that’s said about Busquets).
But moreso, it’s what they represent.
They have been exposing all of American soccer shortcomings and fallacies in a way that’s unprecedented. What they’ve been doing has gone against what the American rhetoric has been for decades.
They represent the opposite of the dominant American worldview.
But what really pisses people off, is that Spanish football has given the few in this country with their head straight, a strong platform to speak from.
And you know what that does? It introduces a second, and different, voice in the market. That brings accountabilities that weren’t there before.
Oh yes, the incumbent American soccer community secretly holds hatred for Spain (and obviously Barcelona). They’re boiling inside! They root against them, they try to identify any loose strings in the red jersey and pull. They can’t fucking wait for them to lose!
This Spanish era, is like a reign of terror for the entrenched American community.
I live near Vancouver, BC and it seems to me everyone loves Spain and Barcelona. Everyone wants to play like them and coach like them. Since the “Barca Revolution” (I am coining that one!) I’ve seen style of play, player selection, coaching approach/philosophy/development all adapt extremely quickly to the point now that people become extremely upset when they play a “route one” team whether they win, lose, or draw v. that team. It’s wonderful. And this change is being supported by a Scottish coach for our MLS team, the youth teams in that same Whitecaps system, and through the player selection for those teams, the Provincial teams, and the league (BC Soccer Premier League) that filters into them. There are always exceptions of course. In any system or league you’ll find a coach or club with a different philosophy. But overall….it’s something of a utopia now. I can safely choose smaller players and protect them and encourage them regardless of wins-losses. It’s fantastic.
Some in America may want a more traditional style, and surely across Canada. But the proper soccer people I speak with adore Barcelona and Spain and want nothing more than to be compared to them.
Cool!!! Have always wanted to visit your part of the world. Our family should go up and check out some games!
Yes it does piss them off – at all levels. The fact that it pisses them off exposes two of the problems with American soccer 1) lack of discipline 2) lack of patience. The fact that their mad just makes it more fun for me….but sad for the kids that are under the tuttelage of the dark side….
Eli Banana says
I just don’t think most American soccer people dislike Spain or FCB, what is to dislike? The commentators during the Spain/Portugal game had some valid criticisms of the Spanish tactics, seems like possession just for the sake of possession without leading to finishing chances mainly because Spain, unlike FCB or Real Mad., seems to lack that great goal scorer. Spain had 57% possession but can’t score. Italy has 44% possession but the best player on the field scores twice. Throw out lowly Ireland and they have scored 4 goals in 4 games, while averaging 59% possession with 2 wins and 2 ties, not exactly dominating results. I love FCB, but Spain and FCB are two different things.
Tiki-Taka without a goal scoring threat becomes an endless game of keep away. Sure it’s impressive, that at an international level, they can do that to any team they meet. If Ronaldo had been sharper they could of won. What were the stats? How many shots and shots on goal did they have? Just curious.
I think finals are going to be amazing. Can’t wait!
Arsenal Fan says
Eli you are right, and that difference is Messi. Although Messi for the large part of the game will go along with the tiki-taka will at many points in the game will disrupt defenses with his amazing dribbling skills and finishing. Teams can handle the possesion but can’t handle messi in that system. Spain don’t have a player with those attributes. I live in central California, and everyone likes and respects the way Barca and Spain play. The one one thing in particular I would like to see is more aggresiveness in the last third of the pitch, they seem to be happy to move the ball around in that area without trying to get something out of it. They remind me of Floyd Mayweather in boxing, everyone acknowledges that he is the most skilled boxer in the game and controls fights at his will, but fans would like to see him just knocked the sh*t out of people sometimes….
Dr Loco says
Messi wants to entertain the crowd just like Pacquiao.
Everyone forgets that sports is entertainment. That is why Mayweather sucks.
Arsenal Fan says
Exactly, I think maybe thats why it seems like some soccer fans are luke-warm about the barca or spains tiki-taka,it’s just not aggresive enough, the passing can get boring after about a few minutes ,especially when its not creating any danger. Don’t hit a boxer with small jabs when his covering up in the corner, hit him with some bombs……I’m a marquez fan, but I have lots of respect forn Manny and love his aggresive style
I was at this game. It was great. Marquez had one of his best games yet.
The difference is, for development, tiki-taka is the best because it requires the most focus, technique and tactical understanding. You can grow up playing tiki-taka and play in a direct-style system when need be (weather/field conditions/strategy), but you can’t grow up playing direct and expect to play tiki-taka because the team style/strategy requires it.
I agree. If you can play it then you’re prepared for almost any other tactic or style of play.
Dr Loco says
Forgive the boxing posts.
Mayweather is a counter puncher much like British-style teams USA, England, Canada, Australia, Chelsea, etc
Pacquiao is attack-minded like Portugal, Holland, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil. These teams are entertaining but sometimes go out with a BANG.
Maybe it’s better to take it a little at a time like Marquez and Italy.
Ah yes. I am also surprised by how many “frenemies” La Roja have here. Even in the Latin community, there are many “fans” that rejoice when Spain ties or fails to score goals in regulation time. “Oh, but they do like Spain”, please don’t misunderstand. That has been particularly disappointing to me. On the other hand, my kids get lots of shit from their buddies after every game, and frankly they enjoy giving it right back to them!
In any case, Reactions to Spain’s play are a sort of Rorschach test that reveals whether a person really understands what you are trying to teach here or not. I rather like that.
Too bad they lost to Honduras and got bounced from the Olympics. U-23 or not, what does this do to your theory of Spanish supremacy across the whole system?
Let’s throw out a euro a world cup and a euro back to back to back to back out the window and focus on the u 23 team in one Olympic tournament. Plus if that game against honduras was played over ten times again Spain would win them 9 of them the ball just wouldn’t go in even though they were clearly the far superior team to Honduras sometimes football can be a cruel game and results in one game don’t always reflect the better team. Over time they tend to but in one game you never know. I missed the Japan game so I can’t comment on that one though. If you are jumping off the Spain bandwagon because of what their u23s did in one tournament that is your loss Spanish soccer is still by far the best on the planet.
Anyone who thinks that Spain’s play in the Euro hasn’t been disappointing so far is delusional. That match against Portugal was probably the most disappointing semifinal at a major tournament I have ever seen in terms of entertainment. I feel bad for anyone who paid money to see it.
Well thats the biggest load of crap I’ve ever heard, seriously. You’re saying their playing was disappointing. Maybe to some extent from a neutral spectator’s point of view, but that is totally irrelevant. You have to look at what Spain wanted with the euros. They wanted to win. And they wanted to please their supporters by winning. Now, I know that even for the hardcore fans there’s a minimum of entertainment required, even if the team wins every match. I’m sure that Spain is satisfying those needs, dare I say to the extreme. And as far as people like you are concerned, I can assure you, their goal was never to please someone from the outside. However, I do think that many “neutrals” find Spain’s style of play very entertaining, especially in the final. The thing is that they can’t perform like that every time, because then, in a tight schedule championsship like the euros, they would run out of power…
When you think of it, it seems like we’re talking about two differents sports. You’re obviously talking about one where the teams get style points for entertainment, whereas my argumentation is actually based upon the principles of soccer.
Coach Jake says
I live and coach in a small soccer community of around 120k residents. Soccer is still new enough that their aren’t many people that detest Barca because they are a lifelong Real Madrid fans or hate Arsenal, Liverpool, or Chelsea because they adore Manchester United.
As for me, I played competitively in the 90’s and the only games I ever saw on tv were Manchester United and sometimes Real Madrid so I became very partial to these teams.
But throw in the more tv coverage, Fox Soccer Channel, and the Internet, and what I really wanted was to see beautiful soccer.
Sure, I still love United because I have been watching Giggs since he was a teenager, but now I find myself immersed in watching Barcelona and Spain because their is nothing like it.
I agree with most of the original post when I think of it in terms of what is occurring in larger soccer communities, but I can tell you that here in St George Utah we are trying to create a new “culture” within our club and I really appreciate your assistance with this new movement.
Until the video game controllers get set down and kids start watching, studying, and trying to emulate the true world class players, beginning with pick up/street/small sided games, because they love it, we will never, EVER, match the creativity and flow of these other teams. Those are the facts as I see it.
You have to remember that probably 3/4 of the people who hate Barca are Real Madrid supporters. Also, many Barca supporters seem to have a superior attitude, which gets really old really fast.
I’d have to agree with most of the above comments. I like Barca but Spain, not so much. Barca has firepower that Spain lacks. I enjoyed watching someone different win CL this year. Dynasties get boring after a while no matter how good the team is.
“American soccer” hates Spain because it is really “British soccer” and the love affair for big, strong, fast, direct play. The British have had a huge influence on the game here because the game was embraced by suburban folks and the British speak English. The suburban folks want their kids to go to college and the English coaches realize this, realized that’s where the money is and we have a marriage made to the detriment of our soccer culture. We, and England, look like us. Our college game is built for the same kind of athletes the English choose/develop and we have a never ending cycle.
I’ve always wondered why there aren’t more Hispanic coaches running leagues and coaching the suburban kids – it all comes down to English and the perception that the English accent affords the British coach/player (erudite).
The Academies might kill this horror, but it will take many, many years – especially since we don’t have promotion/relegation. Promotion/relegation would allow new voices to influence the game directly, visibly and quickly… just like CALFC did for a brief time – but how many really saw that? How many paid attention and think about what it means for their worldview.
There are some English coaches that “get it”; I even know a couple… but the majority talk a good development game, but will pass up the diminutive and technical player for the big, fast, strong player. After all, they’ve got to get them into college and college wants athletes.
Dr Loco says
Tyler, I wonder how many British style coaches are on 3four3. Maybe many.
Generally speaking US soccer selects big, fast, dumb players. Spain/Barcelona players are small, quick smart players – almost total opposites. US Soccer does not want to look stupid. There are too many highly paid MLS coaches, tenured college coaches, and youth “professional” (haha) coaches that have to justify their salaries.
We can’t just fire them all. These coaches are powerful people they just might take it to the Supreme Courts.
Well, when America’s supposed hot bed of soccer (Southern California) is playing 11v11 at U11… there is a problem. This epidemic of ignorance and lack of leadership only reinforces big, fast choices… Oh wait, the rest of the world plays 11v11 at these young ages… not! — If folks can’t figure out that you can split the 11v11 field into two.. paint double lines and play width wise with fewer players… and still have an 11v11 field available for older teams… how can we expect those same brains to develop and teach intelligent soccer.
I was reading through a presentation by the FMF (Federación Mexicana de Fútbol Asociación) and they attribute to a lot of improvement in the skill level of their players to futbol rapido (indoor soccer which isn’t really indoor, just has walls) (6 or 7 aside soccer). I’d post it, but don’t can’t find it right now.
Dr Loco says
“futbol rapido” …What a revelation!
“paint double lines and play width wise with fewer players” …Really? You can do that? It sounds visually and mentally confusing.
Here is a picture for you to see. Mustang in Danville, CA has this set-up on their fields… actually much easier than playing on the football/soccer fields at many high schools.
It’s how we do in Brooklyn too. The turf needs to be replace though. This is an older shot. The field to the north being worked on was getting new turf.
Here’s a good podcast on the subject.
Have you seen the Youtube video that highlights Barcelona’s movement off the ball and their dummy moves when receiving a pass? It’s great. Showed my son. He loved it. Watched it 3 times in a row.
And it’s a British writer Oliver Kay saying that England are not good enough because they’re not finding and developing the right players.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I want my son to play like Barca and Spain, but personally I find Spain’s play boring to watch. I will not tell my son that though.
Personally I really love watching Uruguay and Napoli. I’m a big Cavani fan, and both teams have a great Arsenal of Strikers.
I agree with you guys about 90 percent of the time but disagree, to an extent, this time. The American soccer ESTABLISHMENT hates Spain because they can’t teach or develop possession-style players. My boy worships Barcelona and Spain and his idol is Xavi.
My son’s favorite is Iniesta.
Dr Loco says
THE AMERICAN SOCCER COMMUNITY IS A MONEY SCAM.
Read this from a local soccer club newsletter.
XXX Youth Soccer League invites all children ages 4-16 to register for our fall soccer season September 8 – November 10, 2012. This is a long time tradition of providing youth soccer to our community. Join the 35 year tradition by registering today on-line or in person during our walk up registration sessions.
Please Bring the Following:
Cash, Check or Visa\Master card\Debit
NOVA Mike says
The most popular international kits I see kids wearing – Spain, Brazil, Argentina … the youth part of “American Soccer” has a clear preference – and they prefer skill and ball possession (also winners).
This is from “official” American Soccer’s Youth Coaching Curriculum, in the most-important “Style of Play” section:
“All teams will be encouraged to display an offensive style of play based on keeping possession and quick movement of the ball.”
“Speed of play, avoiding over-dribbling, looking for an organized and quick movement of the ball and finishing will be encouraged in all age groups.”
“A team must be organized defensively, keeping their specific positions in the formation. However, players
will look for spaces and movements to support forward when attacking by moving away from their original positions.”
” Passing the ball on the ground with pace from different distances and receiving the ball while keeping it
moving will be encouraged in all age groups.”
“All teams must feel comfortable playing the ball from the back through the midfield and from there to the
final quarter of the field.”
“All teams must try to keep possession of the ball playing a one-two touch game. Players will be encouraged to support and move, thus creating passing options. Once the possession game is consolidated the team must learn how to transfer the ball in the most efficient way from one area of the field to another.”
“When possession is lost, players must react quickly and apply pressure to regain the ball. Once possession
is regained, players will be positioned immediately to counter-attack.”
So clearly some in American Soccer are on the right track. That document is the work of Claudio Reyna – but it was approved by the US Soccer Federation, and the choice of Klinsman and the vertical integration of the USMNTs age groups along those lines (ex – Caleb Porter) are all a part of the project that is moving in the right direction.
On the other hand, and this is probably your point – there are those who will only be dragged kicking and screaming into the light. This “anti-possession” soccer camp is epitomized by the likes of Alexi Lalas and Bob Bradley, while on the other hand you have the likes of Wynalda, Porter, the Kleibans, and the millions of voices in US Soccer (including many of us at various leadership positions within clubs) – who are absolutely fanatical fans of Spain. The argument rages on, and results will always be used as the ultimate trump card (witness the “I have one word for you: Chelsea” comment in another thread recently). When results fail, the anti-P folks are quick to capitalize on the currently popular view among the “expert’s” – in English language media anyway — that Spain has become boring to watch. Somehow the 0-0 draw in the SF b/n Portugal and Spain in 2012 is seen as more boring than the 0-0 draw b/n Italy and Spain at the QF 4 years ago (not to mention more boring than the 0-0 draw b/n Italy & England this year). Maybe it’s just the burden of being favorites. Spain is simply held to a different standard than everyone else. They score late to win 1-0 and it’s seen as a sign they have lost their cutting edge. Portugal does the same thing and it’s heralded as further evidence of Ronaldo’s dominance.
Some things have changed since 2008. Back then Spain had Villa and Torres, both in top form. Now they have neither in form, and no striker has stepped up to fill that void. On the other hand if you truly look at their play – taking into consideration how defenses have adapted – the reality is that they are really much, much better than they were in ’08. They move the ball so much faster, their passes in tight spaces so much more precise, and the fact that they can carve chances out even with compact defenses sitting deep and seemingly denying all possible space in which to work – is breathtaking at times.
On the other hand, there is no denying that this is a more conservative side than Barcelona – in large part but not only b/c the lack of a player like Messi. The philosophy of the coaches is also very different. Guardiola was clearly of the “rather lose 5-4 than win 1-0” school of thought. Del Bosque is clearly not. Personally – as a fan I greatly prefer Barcelona’s “we only know one way to play” style. You would never see them “managing” a 1-0 lead like Spain did vs France in the 2nd half. On the other hand, it has to be said that Del Bosque’s side would probably not give up a goal on the counter attack when they already had progression to the final in hand – as happened to Barcelona w/ Ramirez goal in the CL Semis.
One last thought for all of the Spain critics out there. In 2004 Greece won Euros w/ an ultra-defensive approach, and in 2006 Italy did the same at the WC. If a similar approach had prevailed in 2008 & 2010, and if Inter’s CL success w/ the same formula in 2010 had been matched by something similar in 2009 & 2011, where would football be at the moment? Look at all 4 teams in the SFs this year – the one thing they all had in common is that they came out and played football. They all competed for the ball. Would that have been true w/o the success of Spain/Barca in recent years? I don’t think so.
It’s often been said when Barcelona or Spain have prevailed in major championships that it is “a victory for football”. The anti-possession folks always bristle at that, but the fact that Italy 2012 play more like Spain than Italy 2006 proves the point – and it’s a very, very good thing to watch.
I was the one word “Chelsea”. My point being, that style isn’t foolproof. I was doing a bit of trolling.
I’ve also said that Tiki-Taka is impressive and amazing to watch. But without a stinging attacker… it’s not as exciting as it could be. There’s no question that possession and patience and the skill that it requires can only make for a dangerous system, plop in a stunning striker that can play in the system and its completely dominant. I think Klinsmann wants this… his “top level” players aren’t skilled enough. Bradley seems to have gotten much better since playing for Chievo. There’s some younger players being introduced that could effectively change the style of the USMNT play. Klinsy sees the writing on the wall. Without technically skilled players with fantastic first touches and quick passing we’re doomed.
“Speed of play, avoiding over-dribbling, looking for an organized and quick movement of the ball and finishing will be encouraged in all age groups.” This is part of the idiocy of US Soccer. Before a player can become an Iniesta, Xavi, or Messi they have to be completely comfortable with the ball at their feet. To discourage very young players (8 years old and below) to not dribble and love the ball at their feet is not only against natural childhood development (parallel play rather than cooperative play is what kids do at that age) but it is distructive to their long term soccer development. If a young player is forced to give up the ball as soon as he gets it, he will never learn to control the ball under pressure, figure out ways to escape pressure (look at how many times Xavi, Iniesta, Messi and other Barcelona players actually escape pressure and find space by dribbling and NOT passing) he will never reach the highest level. This, in fact, is one of the problems with the USMNT: they haven’t been able handle the ball under pressure because they have been coached since they were kids to give up the ball quickly and not hold and move with the ball in tight spaces. That is why it saddens me to hear all these “coaches” talk about the necessity of teaching 8-10 year olds one touch passing.
You can teach dribbling and 1 and 2 touch passing. What happens too much at u10 and under is head down dribbling right into the defenders or midfield. Also at u10 dribbling in front of your own goal is a sure way to set up the other team to score. Depends on the players. My son dribbles right through a swarm of midfielders and knows when to drop off a pass.
And he loves this video…
Dr Loco says
“That is why it saddens me to hear all these “coaches” talk about the necessity of teaching 8-10 year olds one touch passing.”
I tell my players if you play 1 touch you will be sitting. Take 2,3,4 how ever many it takes to control the ball.
NOVA Mike says
Hincha – I wholeheartedly agree with that critique and it is my one major problem with the curriculum – they should have added an age-related qualifier to the avoidance of “over-dribbling”. My point was simply that not all of “US Soccer” hates tika-taka style soccer. According to officialdom, it’s actually what they are trying to promote.
An approach I take w/ our young players is that the technical SKILLS necessary to play a possession-based game (including 1&2 touch passing, keep-away games, shape, mvmnt, etc… ) should be developed and PRACTICED at a young age, but that doesn’t mean they should be expected or even encourage them to start putting those skills to use in games just yet, and we still spend MOST of the time emphasizing ball control and individual play (i.e. the willingness and ability to take players on). Somewhere b/n U7-U9/U10 there is a transition phase where decision-making during games begins to become more important, but obviously technical skill development remains critical as well. It’s all a balance but it’s not too hard to do it all as long as the kids are playing enough. For example at U7/U8, – 2 x 30 min periods of possession-based work per week during with the emphasis is on quick decision-making and intelligent movement / use of space; 2 x 15 min periods of technical passing/receiving/first touch/turning per week; but also 45-60 min of individual technical work per day (juggling / footskills/ turns/ 1v1 / striking / volleying, etc… ), 2 x 90 min structured practice sessions per week, and 2-4 x 90-120 min sessions free play street or pick-up soccer per week – during which individual play and creative risk taking is emphasized/encouraged.
That’s the plan anyway, but I’m open to suggestions. For me the goal is creating players like Iniesta, Thiago, Fabregas, Busquets. Versatile, comfortable on the ball, technically outstanding in every facet, quick thinking, but also with a little bit of bite and flair (the reason I like Thiago), and able to break down a defense’s shape w/ penetration off the dribble. I may tell the kids I want them to play like Messi – but I don’t really think players like that can be created. God’s gift that one.
And Steve – I also love that video, especially the # of times Xavi looks around b/f he even receives the ball – great example to show kids how he’s constantly thinking ….
Your post goes back to a post I had a few weeks ago. Playing 11 v . 11 at U11 is far too early. I think Spain stays 7 v. 7 until about U14 (or somewhere there). Playing 7 aside forces all players to touch and move and not hide like 11 aside. Keeping score and worrying about rankings is also a problem. Players scared to be creative, relaxed, or experiment. Frothy mouth coaches yelling at U13 and U14 players like rabid dogs because all they want to do is win.
I know parents who blog away for hours on a certain website going back and forth incessantly about who won what tournament or who is best player. This mindset is so entrenched and part of the problem.
Thank you very much Gary for 3Four3. This is the sort of website that can influence change.
Many many teams are adopting the Barcelona style of play and it’s a great thing. What will be even more exciting is seeing how new variations and even improvements evolve over time.
I think Tiki-Taka has already become the standard that most teams are trying to strive for. But I bet it’s a lot harder to coach and learn.
First of all, I think its unfair to state that the American soccer community hates Barcelona. I think Barcelona is probably the most popular team in the U.S. right now. However, a more accurate statement is that the American soccer community and larger American sports complex don’t understand Barcelona and are uncomfortable with their success. Why? Sports in the U.S. have always been about bigger, faster, taller, stronger. The big four sports: football, basketball, baseball and hockey put a premium on size. Of course you can play these sports if you are smaller but you are at an immediate disadvantage and have to “overcome” this disadvantage. This has been ingrained into the psyche of the American sportsman. Therefore, to encounter a major sport where size and strength, while being useful at times, is not the most important pre-requisite for talent in the sport is totally foreign (in more ways than one) for American sportsmen (the parents of players, the coaches with little real knowledge of soccer). They can’t escape from their pre-conceived notion that size, height, strength and speed are the most important things in determining a good athlete in soccer like other American sports, so try to fit soccer into their sports world view. It actually takes a great deal of effort from a good coach to re-educate parents, other coaches, their club and players to understand that in soccer technique, soccer intelligence, field vision, agility and speed (probably in that order) are the most important things to select for and to train for. It’s the same paradigm shift that Billy Bean had to get his scouts to do in “moneyball”, who were looking for the big, strapping athletes instead players who could just play baseball but who did not fit the American athlete model (but who were great athletes all the same).
Dr Loco says
I think the four big sports in the US now are football, baseball, soccer, basketball.
“They can’t escape from their pre-conceived notion that size, height, strength and speed are the most important things in determining a good athlete” This is a form of discrimination.
American sports are flawed!
The US only competes amongst themselves in football, baseball, and basketball. They set the rules and the standards. When they don’t like something they simply change it. These sports do not require national pride and cultural unity. US teams only compete against rival cities.
In soccer you compete against the WORLD. This is a notion that is completely foreign to Americans.
It’s not completely foreign. We have been playing in the Olympics for a while.
Dr Loco says
Olympics…sure if you are talking about gymnastics, track & field, swimming.
Do you really see national pride and cultural unity in these sports?
Moving goal posts. You make blanket statements… a lot. And when Americans watch the Olympics there is cultural pride and unity in watching the events.
I know it goes against your worldview, but even without a world class professional league, a lot of American follow and cheer on the USMNT. There is a die hard fan base for our national team. Is it anything compared to almost every other nation? Not by a long shot. There is a soccer culture developing in the USA however. And there was national pride shown when the US got out of the group stage in 2010.
FIFA could of helped the trend by having another World Cup here… but they went with the Qatar. That’s nuts to me.
it’s not completely foreign. I agree with you.
I think most Americans view soccer as a global game and see the game through a euro-centric narrative. Then there is the minority of American soccer fans that view soccer through a more ethnocentric view. These kind of fans are reactionary against anything that is a foreign concept and always say stuff like “America does it differently”
Dr. Loco, your Anti-American rants really get tiring. Did you know that one of the reasons soccer did not catch on here in the U.S. initally in the 19th century was because Americans did not like British influence and thus did not want to adopt a British game?
“The US only competes amongst themselves in football, baseball, and basketball. They set the rules and the standards. When they don’t like something they simply change it. These sports do not require national pride and cultural unity. US teams only compete against rival cities. In soccer you compete against the WORLD. This is a notion that is completely foreign to Americans.” In fact, the U.S. competes regularly against the world in baseball and basketball (and gets beat regularly in baseball and occasionally even in basketball). The U.S. competes regularly (and does quite well) against the world in most sports (remember the Olympics?) What the hell does national pride and cultural unity have to do with playing good soccer? In fact, after all the ugly racist and ultra-nationalist demonstrations associated with soccer during the Euros I would say it is the least desireable link you could ever want. Of course, there are cultural elements that get reflected in most countries’ style of play and the U.S., being a young soccer playing nation (it really has been only playing it in any great degree for 30 years) is still trying to find its identity. Just as American society as a whole has always been influenced by those ethnic groups that have immigrated in large numbers, American soccer is changing to reflect those influences. It is just doing it a little slowly because it has to shed the anchor of long term British soccer influence that has established itself in the U.S. soccer heirarchy and which is more difficult to shed because its philosophy (bigger stronger faster is better) happens to allign with the underpinnings of other traditional American sports. But please, shed the snobbery that the U.S. will never be as good as Latin American in soccer because we are somehow culturally inferior. You are being proved wrong by people like the Kleibens. The great thing about the U.S. is that it does accept innovation and different view points much more than any other country on earth (and that includes Latin America where I lived for many years). So if you’re just here to rant about how how bad the U.S. is then you’re part of the problem and not part of the solution. but maybe that’s exactly what you want to be?
” that’s what we’re starting to see with MLS. That’s what our league and teams have finally learned, and what our supporters’ groups have shown each and every weekend since 1996. It’s never been about about being the SuperClub – it’s always been about being the Local Club.
It’s a lesson I’ve been hoping our teams would learn for a long time, because the biggest advantage MLS has on the great leagues of Europe or South America is that you can actually get to a game and watch it live, building a connection that just isn’t available otherwise. Yes, you may have left your heart in Munich or Milan, but unless you were born into it you do not have the connection to those teams the way someone in Section 8 has to the Fire.”
“When New York played D.C. United last week, that was Duke vs. UNC. The fans were into it, and not because of some giveaway or gimmick, or because Thierry Henry and Rafa Márquez had conferred legitimacy upon the proceedings since they had once played for teams that “really mattered on the world stage.”
They were into it because these two teams have been going at it for a generation. They were into it because the proceedings were legitimate merely by existing; nobody needed to confer anything (and my guess is Henry, with his keen sense of both the zeitgeist and history of the game, would be the first to agree with that).
They were into it because New York and D.C. hate each other and that’s the way it’s always been, and these were our guys vs. their guys, so let’s scream as loud as we possibly can.”
This is something the American sports fan gets. Rivalries.
I think soccer is about having ur own philosophy or theres nothing wrong with imitating a philosophy thats working … It was Fun to see more teams using the 4-3-3 formations this eurocup .. (france,portugal, grecia ect) .. Reality is spain has been playing a longer time with this style of play .. Its just great watching them play out from their defendcive third with 9-10 touches in overtime and made it look easy.. Any other team in the world not just in america would tell their players just to take a big kick up the field losing the ball …. Now thats having a philosophy and sticking with it … As for Busquets i think his one of the under rated players in barcelona since u have a messi, fabregas, xabi e iniesta … But for me his one of the best in the world he makes everything looks easy and i dont know how many time i heard the commentaror say “busquets wins the ball back” through out this eurocup…. And out of everyone he is one of the only one getting a generic name in soccer at his young age … instead of telling our players “you play stopper o tu juega de contencion” now we tell the ” tu juega de Busquets or u play the busquets possition”
You are up in the night if you think most of America hates Barcelona. I have seen more fat fucks wearing Messi jerseys in the last year than I care to. Those few Americans who dislike Barca and to a lesser extent Spain (like me) do so because of players like Iniesta and Busquets who dive like fainting goats, or Alves who whines and complains incessantly for Barca. They are great players who tarnish their game by being punks. The possession style that Spain and Barca play is great; but when lesser teams like Real Salt Lake emulate this style, they invariably make one or two stupid backpasses that result in calamity.
Real Salt Lake…who are they? Do they play football? Diving like goats, Iniesta and Busquets are two of the smartest most talented mid-fielders who have ever played the game. The diving BS is so overplayed.
I think one needs to separate the “establishment” from the “rank and file”. Older coaches, former professionals, and TV represent the establishment who definitely has a bias to hatred of Spain and Barcelona. These are the same people who reveled in Chelsea’s win over Barça and take their cues from the English soccer cognoscenti who continue to call Spain and Barça boring. It does harken back to the “culture” discussion where the American-English culture likes the frantic-violent version of the game as opposed to the skill-artful version of the game favored by the Latins.
What “boring” means is they play in a way the English can’t, or those who are nostalgic for the way the game used to be with wingers swinging crosses in for giant forwards to head in, and leg crushing tackles, etc., etc. These are people who don’t want to evolve, don’t want to live in the future, just live in the past. If you like Spain and Barça you want progress and strive something better, not recreate the past.
The rank and file knows something good when they see it. The kids and the fans are starting to catch on to the quality, and we can hope they will overwhelm the haters. Hopefully people will start to catch on to a better way to play the game where the whole thing isn’t a lottery with the odds swayed by who is a little bigger, faster and a little luckier. Honestly, the traditional view has a great deal to do with luck whereas Spain-Barça try to manage and control the game. It’s a key difference, and the essence of the what the haters can’t stand.
Listen to the English commentary on ESPN right before the Italy-England penalty shootout; they say its just a lottery, and this sums up why England loses. Italy takes it as another opportunity to demonstrate skill, intelligence and guile. Result: Italy wins, there is an important lesson there.
Gary Kleiban says
That’s a fair distinction Bill.
A bit more on the topic:
Another way to look at the issue is traditionalists, and progressives. A couple of prime examples are visible to most of us: ESPN commentators Lalas and Twellman (a Englishman McManaman for that matter too), and Gaurdiola. Each of them had a wildly successful professional career by almost anyone’s standard. The American-English commentators are all traditionalists believing that the way they played, and the way the game was played by them is the “right” way. How do you score? “put the ball in the mixer” or “put another striker on the pitch”. Roll the dice, and see if your number comes up. It is like the coach-parent who believes that the kids should do things just like they did. There is no intellect or reflection on what might be better or improved.
Contrast their take on the game to Gaurdiola. He is the most successful of these guys as a player, but more importantly, he is the most progressive. Even though his Barça was wildly successful, he seeks to improve on what Cruijff did. He wanted to produce an even better version of Barça than he played. If he had sought out to reproduce the “dream team” the greatness of the current Barça would have never materialized. He added a focus on defense and discipline that the earlier “total football” lacked to some extent. Gaurdiola didn’t rest on his laurels, he took the already great and made it better. He walked on to the field and wasn’t satisfied. He took the approach that you can always get better, always improve, always move forward. He stayed true to the core philosophy of Barcelona and rather than simply re-express the same, he added to it, and allowed it to grow even greater.
The former American and English players used for commentary on ESPN and Fox play to tradition and they are the path to mediocrity. I’m sure there are former players who are progressive, but they aren’t what TV wants.
Gaurdiola is the model for the future. His path leads to greatness.
NYC Dad says
I found myself hitting the mute button anytime ESPN cut away to the announcers during EURO 2012. I don’t know why, I just found them all so irritating. MLS games have the same effect on me except I usually watch the entire game on mute.
it’s because most of the MLS announcers no shit about football. Too many NFL games for them, we don’t need your constant yammering and color commentary. Call the game, KNOW something about the tactics. The most substance you get is they’re playing a 4-4-2. Like that matters.
And I can’t stand the Brit announcers gushing over brit players during games…. Scott Parker??? Gimme a friggin’ break. The only reason they love him is because he looks like he comes straight out of Downton Abbey.
If you think the American soccer community doesn’t hate the Spanish Era of futbol because you see lots of people wearing barca jerseys you are missing the point. “The general American soccer community secretly holds hatred for Spain (and obviously Barcelona).” Hate is a manifestation of fear. You fear because you do not understand. When you fear something, there are two distinct paths you may take. You can take the path of least resistance/ the easy way out and hate because on the surface you believe it makes you strong; or you can engulf yourself in the subject thereby bringing understanding, clarity, and no more fear.
The American soccer community at large “hates” Spanish futbol because they do not understand it. However, because of all the posers wearing Barca jerseys, the haters are rarely publicly outspoken. They are not sure who to trust, so they wait until they are behind closed doors with fellow haters to secretly bash this new/scary style of play. It is the same exact line of thinking that leads to racism. Not to say haters of Spanish futbol are racist, but they employ the same level of weak minded thought and worldview.
Gary’s point is made by reading many of the posts here. There is a crowd of cheerleaders hoping that Spain will lose today. They will say that possession is dead.
Gary Kleiban says
They’ll have to wait a little longer. 🙂
Don’t buy all the “Congratulations to Spain” crap.
It’s total bullshit and makes me want to throw up.
Couldn’t agree more about ppl hating on spain. I’d like to make a correlation to how Wenger is viewed in England to someone like Fergie. People fawn over Fergie like he is the greatest manager in the world and I’m like what????? The English hate Arsenal’s foreign brigade because they played with a style that didn’t feature english over reliance on physcial attributes. I can’t believe how many ppl i’ve heard say they love to watch arsenal play and then come back and say they always try to pass it into the net instead of shooting. I’m like do you know the type of soccer they are trying to create? This is not about being good, its about being the best, Wenger is seen as a threat to the English way of football and that’s why i always see one week he’s an idiot lost the plot, needs a plan B, and he’s hurting the english game by not picking english players etc….
But now Arsenal have developed Jack Wilshere and all of them are screaming for him to be there xavi/iniesta to save them lol. I find it laughable, they praise chelsea but arsenal for trying to revolutionize how the game is played in england
Take that haters a bunch of midgets in a 4-6-0 are the best team to ever play the game! It goes back to the main point of this whole blog: soccer iq and technical quality trumps all. What a brilliant display for the whole world to see!
Ryan Post says
This is the most ignorant rhetoric I have ever read. Not only is it absolutely incorrect, but it completely stereotypes and bad mouths Americans which is just as embarrassing. I am an American, and the people here overwhelmingly were rooting for Spain today. Just because some dissenters speak louder doesn’t mean that is how the country works. We call that extrapolation, and it makes you all look so stupid.
Ever considered that maybe the people who root against Spain have nothing against the team in general, but would like to see a different team win or an exciting new kind of story written? Italy was a much more interesting story, undeniably, and that could be bigger than the fact that Americans don’t like slow sporting. You don’t know, and you all sound so shallow for this crass assumptions.
You guys are speaking just as close-minded as those you are accusing of the same thing.
We are speaking of the American soccer community, coaches, USSF, DOC’s , etc. Of course the casual fan wants Spain, they always go with a winner. If Spain loses than the ingrained conventional soccer wisdom in the US is validated and many of us know that wisdom is junk!
And the fact that you think “Americans just want to see somebody new win” confirms it. Wanting someone “new” to win, regardless of skill, regardless of philosphy, regardless of country, regardless of performance…..that’s the bullshit consumerism that got American soccer into this mess…America is looking for the soap opera behind every game instead of the intricate details of the play….therein lies the problem. While America was looking for the “story”, some of us were counting how many times Xavi turned is head and perfectly mapped the field….
The bottom line is that Americans love a winner and Spain and Barcelona are winners. Too many people in this blog are unable to distinguish between the American soccer establishment and the American public. The ripple-down effect from this will be the American public (about 10 zillion times bigger than the American soccer establishment) demanding accountability from American soccer. You can debate this but the bottom line is the television ratings for coverage of non-American soccer is much higher than MLS’s tv ratings. As I read this thread I think it more and more resembles the ridiculous ESPN modus operandi of taking a stand that you know will piss off a lot of people and get them to tune in and respond. I live in soccer-crazy Southern California and about 90 percent of the people I know were rooting for Spain.
Gary Kleiban says
There is negligible accountability.
What has the American public done in that regard?
The American public like you say is orders of magnitude bigger than the “establishment”, but it has orders of magnitude less influence. Know why?
Because they’re lemmings. You may be an exception (why?), but the American public either parrots what the establishment sells them, become “supporters”, or are simply passive (“it’s just a game” attitude).
Besides us, who’s sticking their neck out? Who?
Without balls, without inciting emotion, what does one get? Nothing!
I publish a video of our U11’s displaying footy this country has never seen, imply nobody does the work we do, and demonstrate something special is possible within our system. Did it piss people off? Fuck yeah. Why? Because I wasn’t a robot in my presentation?
That’s the problem … robot culture.
Well sorry, I won’t be a robot.
Dr Loco says
I won’t be a robot either. Call me racist, anti-American, or just LOCO.
The evidence is in the inner city/suburban kids I coach. If other examples exist that is great but I know what I know and it works.
That, in my opinion, is still the best thing that’s happened to youth soccer in so cal this year. U11s playing futbol in a manner that speaks volumes for the methods used and most definitely not coached in the robotic way.
Oh, and I am a Brit. And I can’t stand watching England. Spain boring? That logic defies belief. If keeping the ball from your opponent and making them change tactics and if playing without a recognized striker and instead utilizing 3 extremely gifted players that interchange positions and get the job done is boring then, well, long may it continue. When encouraging the kids I coach to watch and immerse themselves in soccer, I don’t use the EPL and England as a benchmark…Painful. Viva Barca, Viva Espana!
Spain is dominant and people are told that Spain plays possession or “tiki-taka”. Most of those people are jumping on a bandwagon and only know the word tiki-taka because someone on TV used the word. Gary has is right. Most people involved in soccer in the US are just lemmings with no real brains of their own. After rooting for Spain they will go back to paying their local club thousands of dollars in support of a win now approach to soccer.
Oh wouldn’t it be a nice day in the daisy garden if a new team won! This mentality is destroying our country the whole shame on you for being the best and being mediocre is nice fuck that man! A bunch of geniuses just played a great team with a long tradition off the park. An absolutely brilliant display in front of all the world showing all of us it’s genius that prevails over all else! The better team won and we should all be honored we were able to witness this brilliant group of ballers host another trophy! If any other team won this tournament they would have been little more than an answer to a trivia question. Spain has made history not only with results but how they played getting those results, they have changed the game forever with what they have done. Anybody who is tired of Spain winning should be extremely ashamed of themselves and realize what their missing out on! There is no story for Italy the only store is the brilliance of this Spanish team!
I’ve been joking with another subscriber to your site for the past few weeks about comments made before the Euro opening round Spain-Italy game (among other commentary throughout). Along with the hilarity of Ballack talking about Italy playing a 3-5-2…”Michael [Ballack], what do you think about 3 in the back? [Michael] It’s new, it’s totally new, so nobody knows what’s happened.” LOL!
Then, even more memorable was Lalas saying “I think you are going to see the start of the withering of Spain starting in this game.” The sad part, he justified this same comment during the award ceremonies stating that Spain wasn’t at top form [so he’s still right] – even after saying they were the best team ever. Such crap. So, the “withering” allowed only one goal [ to a team that made the finals], played technically superior and entertaining football in every game, leaving me wishing I only had more close-ups/slow-mos of the footwork and amazing passing.
Lalas is an idiot. So tired of his mug babbling on the TV. I’m more interested in what Klinsy was saying over on the BBC during their coverage.
I wish someone would do a documentary or a training film that isolates every player on Spain or Barcelona for an entire game on camera. I could think of a brilliant interactive experience where you can watch what each player does in the build up to a play or how they shut down the opponents. Track their field movements. And I really want to see them “dribbling in the phone booth”… when they get around 2 or 3 players who are within a step of them.
I found the finals a bit frustrating because most of it was just a midfield long shot. Couldn’t see much of the skill involved. The most we got were close up of fouls or dives. I really wish the Italians would ease up on the theatrics just a bit.
By the way I was in a pub in Brooklyn, packed with Americans watching the finals, I’d say the crowd was split 50/50 on who they were routing for, but most of the fans for Italy were in fact Italian. The place went nuts after the first goal and even nuttier after the 3rd.
At half time a woman in her late 50’s wearing a Spain shirt came over to my son, he was wearing an Arsenal shirt, they had a conversation about their favorite Spain and Arsenal players, she asked him if he had been to the Emirates yet, she had, saying all Arsenal fans need to make the pilgrimage. She was not a casual fan. She was American, female, knowledgeable and passionate.
Thank you Gary! The first thing I told my son following Spain’s victory was “they [Spain] have proved that the route 1, big, physical play of USA is not the right model”. Or words to that affect.
Most our youth coaches don’t give a shit about future of American soccer. Their short-term “win now” attitude is a cancer. They are part of the “system” and can’t affect change. They’re just “following the program”. USA needs a Cruyff to change things. Klinsmann was promising, but he doesn’t seem to get on his soapbox and shake a stick. We need someone to kick ass and take names. And Gulati sure ain’t doing that.
If USA wants to even come close to what Spain, USSF needs to make decisions now. But unfortunately those outcomes won’t come to fruition for 10 – 20 years. It’s taken Spain about that long. It didn’t happen overnight. Mexico is about 10-years into their re-birth of player identification and development philosophy.
I don’t think we have the people in high places to put us on the right course. Either a grass roots revolution needs to happen or a coup.
There are good youth coaches in USA, but far too many USA coaches at all levels are are zombies who put 5’10” twelve year olds on ODP / Pro +. Morons! I see this year in, year out. These same morons turn blind eye to skillful smaller players.
Amen!!! Awesome post!
Even if the Spain Euro victory created ripples, it will be a long bumpy road to get even 10% of the way there. They “system” is setup against it.
At U11 and below, there isn’t enough focus on ball mastery. Then at U11, kids move on to 11 v. 11 but majority are still mediocre to average ball skills. We should expect a standard of a required level of ball mastery by U11 to play in highest levels of youth soccer. But we don’t.
Then by U13, ODP / Pro + steps in and the size-mongers perpetuate the Marvelle Wynne types. And this is partly fueled by the constant stream of monthly youth soccer tournaments and the corresponding desire to win and get soccer ranking points.
And then High School is all about getting a college scholarship. Clubs funnel biology majors to the bastion of Route 1, bigger is better soccer. Can you imagine a Messi, Cavani, or David Villa going to an American college and turning out the same? Heck, could you even imagine college developing supposed grade “B” players such as Pedro Rodriguez or Juan Mata who barely got playing time in Euros? Don’t fall off your seat laughing. Yet we expect US Soccer to compete with rest of the world.
And then the select few are off to MLS, armed with a degree in Accounting and a dream of playing for Barcelona or anywhere in Europe.
To affect change in US Soccer, there needs to be a seismic shift at all levels. And who’s doing that? Gulatti? College coaches? Club soccer DoCs? Good luck with that!
Remaking US Soccer in the image of Spain is an opium filled pipe dream. We got lots of coaches and clubs marketing “we teach Barcelona style soccer”. All marketing hype. Who taught them Tiki-Taka principles? It’s just not quick 1-2 passing. Did these coaches learn Tiki-Taks as part of the coaching “E” or “D” license test? Did they go to Barcelona and watch and learn from the experts? And once you find the handful of American coaches who can claim real knowledge of Tiki-Taka football, is the DoC willing to forego winning at expense of developing smaller, more skillful players? Is ODP / Pro + onboard? How about college scouts? And most importantly, is MLS interested in a league filled with Tiki-Taka type Spanish players? As Hincha pointed out, most casual fans are of big, tall, strong mindset of the American sports fan and that is precisely who MLS wants to attract.
I agree with everything you say except that its a pipe dream to change. Every revolution started with a small dedicated determined group of people who refused to give up when everyone else said their goals were a pipe dream. Luckily they didn’t listen to the naysayers and slowly but surely got more people to join in until it hit critical mass. I see the same thing happening here in the soccer realm. The Kleibens and people like them are the vanguard and despite the seemingly intrenched powerstructure that needs to be overcome, there are small cracks appearing in the American soccer landscape that the determined will diligently continue to widen until the dam crumbles. Look at the attention that the Kleibens are starting to generate. Don’t give up. It’s a marathon and not a sprint.
I would be happy if all we achieved were a small but significant soccer subculture here in the US. Not dominant, but large enough to be viable, to provide those players with the characteristics of a modern possession-oriented footballer an alternative to develop the right tools and ascend towards a professional level of play, either foreign or domestic. If a fragmented or segmented market is all we can get, that is not a totally bad thing.
As for the US Soccer demigods, they will look at the reality of what is going on in the international game and decide for themselves what to do. They may choose to change radically, or they may say all the right things but change very little. That is normal for large, cynical bureaucracies. Even if they listened to what the American grassroots-level is saying, I am not sure they would be getting a clear message as to what type of system to implement: as many of you have pointed out, the American grassroots speaks out of all sides of its mouth.
Dr Loco says
Curious, what have those from top clubs said about the Kleibens?
I’m a long time reader, but my first post.
I think the biggest problem we have is linking playing style / philosophy with player identification. Klinsmann and Reyna have touted a new “attacking style”, but it’s not in our DNA at the U5 pee-wee ages all the way up to college and into MLS. Playing an attacking style requires certain player attributes.
As far as I can tell, club soccer and USSF aren’t identifying players best suited for “attacking style”. A classic case of an idea far ahead of the structures, people, and processes to enable it. Spain and Germany for example have their style of play firmly rooted in their DNA, their “culture”. They know the kind of player that fits their system and they find them.
For example, Kenny Cooper or Marvelle Wynne (he seems to be picked on frequently) don’t have the fluidity of skills, movement, touch, range of passing, or ability to play interchangeable positions that are hallmarks of Tiki-Taka. Square peg in round hole. ODP, D1 colleges, and MLS drool at Marvelle Wynne. But any club in Spain, Germany or Argentina wouldn’t have passed on him certainly by U14. I’m sure Wynne didn’t have skill then either, but ODP and UCLA loved him anyway.
Finally, things like incredible ball skills, intelligent movement, superior passing, vision, and ability to play interchangeable positions is something US youth soccer is poor at. If Spain gets an A+, USA gets a D-. Donovan is closest example we have to Spain’s gold standard. And if you don’t have these skills, you’re not playing Tiki-Taka. That’s why we play Route 1 soccer.
Tiki-Taka takes more thought, patience and time and a certain kind of player to be successful. And coaches need different methods to make it happen. Route 1 is so much easier. Until MLS or USSF starts true Academy type setup, where they have financial interest to develop a certain breed of player — we are spitting into the wind. Club soccer isn’t doing it because they funnel players to college and there’s a constant stream of paying parents to fuel their payrolls. In every other country, pro teams have this vested interest and they make damn sure they identify players who have best probability to provide a return on investment.
People think that Barcelona has always played the way it does now and that it just came naturally. It could not be further from the truth. It was a gigantic fight by a few that totally transformed the type of play and player that Barca was looking for. 40 years ago, Barca played english long ball and looked for big strong players. As translated from the book, “Senda de Campeones” (Path of Champions) a first rate book by Marti Pararneu details:
“Laureano Ruiz is the grandfather. Discreet and silent, never looking to be the focus, but the first that arrived in Barca and said that the priorities were talent and technique was him. Almost 40 years have passed since that knock that shook the younger categories of the club, the uptake of players and the method of forming them for the first team. When he arrived he had to tear a poster from the clutches of the technical secretary that said, “if you come to offer me a youth player that is less than 1.80 meters (5’11”) turn around and leave”. Rondos in Barca? Laureano implanted them, pioneer of position and passing game and it was he who prioritized the technical quality of the player, his speed of reaction and above all other factors, his intelligence to learn and comprehend how to play.
It was like that, when in 1988, Cruyff said, “Here It goes”, much of the people in the club and already heard the music because it sounded much like what they had heard from Laureano Ruiz in 1972, the first that searched for talented players without giving importance to their height and weight. He wanted players that could control the ball from the start, who could pass it rapidly, protecting the ball, creating superiority behind individual technique and collective inbred movements. Laureano’s task in the 1970’s was epic, battling against the established rules that prioritized tall and strong players although they might be slow and had feet of clay. It was a titanic fight in which he only obtained partial victories. But he planted the first seeds in the club, or at least, sowed more than reasonable doubts about the traditional concept of play. Almost two decade later Cruyff returned enveloped in his mystic aura and found this fertile ground: the Barca academy that gave off a certain football aroma that conceived the “Flying Dutchman”.
As mentioned earlier, when Laureno Ruiz arrived at Barcelona in 1972, he found a model that only looked for tall and strong players. “That’s what they did. I chose small players with talent, but, my lord, what a fight. The coaches thought the players had to be big and strong. I always have believed more in my instinct…Within a few days of establishing this, team’s youth coaches came to me and said, “your players never run. What are you doing? They have to run to be strong and have condition!” I told them, “if we dedicate our time to running, when are we going to learn to play?” Because if they didn’t know how to play, how were they going to be able to control the ball?”
I think what Gary has been saying in this regard… and I can be completely wrong… is that without a world class league with a world class club, the national team can’t represent the nation and and world class. Spain’s team is essentially Barcelona and Real Madrid players. Their clubs are more responsible for their development than the national system.
It took Barcelona to lead the way for Spain to become the legend that it is. Del Bosque has the fortunate task of having to choose from players that are already play together and train together every week. I don’t think any other nation ha that advantage. Not one that anyone can really emulate.
Eventually we need our best youth players to want to play for MLS, but that takes a club that is much much better than the rest. The MLS sets it up so there are no super clubs. LA and NY being as close as it gets because they can afford 3 DPs. And even then they can’t afford or attract any player that wants more than 5 million a season. Part of the reason is the finances of TV rights…. where most of a lot the super clubs get most of their funding, If not billionaires.
The MLS is just trying to attract an audience that loves the game and is willing to watch a local club, even if they aren’t that good. It’s frustrating. Not really a formula for national team success.
My hope is that at least some of the clubs will see the advantage of having good academies… developing and signing their own players and keeping them from going to college.
It’s a mess. But I could see pockets of greatness coming from dedicated youth clubs and possibly… just maybe an MLS academy with the right structure and vision. The example is available for the world to see.
Thank you for making my point more eloquently and better researched. It saddens me when clubs and ODP go for size and power that works at U14 and forego true skill and ability by some smaller player. I see it all the time, even at my son’s USDA club.
USA is fighting a battle with thousands of Laureano’s and a system headed by Laureano-like leadership.
“He wanted players that could control the ball from the start, who could pass it rapidly, protecting the ball, creating superiority behind individual technique and collective inbred movements.” This is a concept lost on 90% or more of US Sosccer coaches.
Sorry, I misspoke in above post. We need more Laureano types. Meant to say we have thousands of his predecessors who like English long-ball stacked with tall, big players.
Dr Loco says
“Playing an attacking style requires certain player attributes.”
Yes it requires players that grew up playing in tough neighborhoods. Typically, kids are from urban areas or suburban kids that seek to play in tough areas. Kids must want to fight and show off their dominance, similar to kids in neighborhood gangs. Kids must be willing to shed blood and tears to play the game.
“Tiki-Taka takes more thought, patience and time” These are qualities lacking in America. These concepts are anti-American.
You’re full of it. More blanket bullshit statements. Have anything to back this up with other than an opinion or gut feeling?
Dr Loco says
Let me take a dump.
“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind, there are few.”
Exactly as I thought. Lots of bullshit.
Dr Loco says
My job is not to educate you. Be self-motivated, open-minded and seek the answers. Sometimes I feel like I never stop coaching little kids.
“Where Do the Children Play?”
Suburban communities can be isolating and children tend to be more involved in indoor activities or structured outdoor activities.
Lack of unstructured outdoor play results in a lack of imagination, says Robin Means Coleman, professor at University of Michigan.
City Children Enjoy Healthy Play
In city neighborhoods children still walk to school and walk to the store.
I do not enjoy wasting my time on 3four3.
That’s a long way from… “Kids must want to fight and show off their dominance, similar to kids in neighborhood gangs. Kids must be willing to shed blood and tears to play the game.”
It’s macho bullshit. Unstructured play for any child in modern America is hard to come by. Unless of course they’re being neglected or supervised by their teenage siblings. Roving gangs of 8 year old football players loose in the city are never going to happen.
In NYC is illegal for anyone under 12 to go anywhere in public without an adult.
This comment is completely incoherent and contradictory. Did Messi, Iniesta, Pique, Xavi, etc. etc. walk around the ‘hood with a switchblade in their back pockets? Your blurry stereotypes are not flattering to anyone.
I grew up in a tough urban neighborhood. Why didn’t I win the fucking Golden Boot?
Dr Loco says
“I grew up in a tough urban neighborhood. Why didn’t I win the fucking Golden Boot?”
I’m sure your parents would know.
R10 fan says
Dude your perceptions are crazy and come with no proof. You say you are wasting your time on here. Then why are you here? Go troll on youtube claiming this “white” kid can’t play because so and so. Not every Latino from the bario will be good at soccer. That’s like saying every black kid from the ghetto/hood will be good at basketball. It’s complete shit and I wish you would disappear because your posts bring nothing constructive to the table. Only confrontation and arguments.
Xavi, Iniesta, David Villa, Pique, Puyol, SIlva, Jordi Alba and so on . . . did not come from gang banger territory in Spain. They grew up on La Masia (except Villa) where they preach proper attitude and respect. Part of the reason they has such few fouls in a game. La Masia looks not only for good ballers who have prerequisitie skills to play their style — they bring in kids who can represent the club properly and are good, respectful young men. Do a little research and learn for yourself.
It doesn’t fit his worldview that a great footballer or striker could ever come from the soft suburban American youth. Meanwhile I’ve seen youtube videos of suburban kids who spend their afternoons doing nothing but trying to learn how to kick the perfect “knuckleball” freekick. Or post videos of them balling in a game to have their comments fill up with trolls who sound a lot like Loco.
Jimmy Conrad @JimmyConrad_com
Just ran into someone who said that Spain is boring to watch. Yeah, I hate watching great players play the game the right way, too. #Idiotic
Has US SOCCER ever promoted anything like this before?
U.S. SOCCER @ussoccer
Almost gametime! Watch the US Futsal team kick off qualifying vs Panama at 8pm ET on #CONCACAF.com http://yfrog.com/oeph3fgj
Just a note for all of you out there. Roberto Martinez (Wigan manager and the only good thing on ESPN’s soccer coverage) has leveled a severe critique of the English youth development system. Basically, too defensive, and too focused on size+power. Players like Xavi and Iniesta would have been overlooked because of their size.
The exact same observations apply to the USA’s youth development system. Yet another example of why we need to stop paying attention to how England does it. We need to focus on Spain, and Germany who have shown the way. Italy and Netherlands have been doing it right for decades.
I have a feeling… and it’s just a hunch, Klinsmann has no desire to play “english style” football. He’s been in charge for only a year, I don’t think we’ll see any changes he’s implemented for another year at least. I would like to see him bring in younger players, and I get the feeling he’s looking at a wider player pool than Bradley did. I have hope that he wants to be America’s Cruyff.
A great article (as usual) by Tim Vickery on the importance of a national footballing identity. http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/timvickery/2012/07/what_best_sides_share_is_a_sen.html#more
As he alludes to, Spain, Holland, now Germany, to a certain extent (but lesser so) Argentina all have a clear futboling identity that goes from the National team through its leagues and coaching curriculum. I think that Klinnsman is trying to bring this to the U.S. scene and I think his vision is at least in the direction of finding technically great players over size and strength. You have to understand that he can only work with players he has at his disposal at the USMNT level and the pressure to win in the short term rather long term results puts him sort of a bind, but if you look at his comments about youth development I think he is, at least, on a better path than previously, if not as far as I’d like to see it go.
And this is why Cruyff is smarter… he started with the Club and it filled the Spanish National Team… too many variables, especially in the giant USA to influence. An ODP coach has a kid for a couple weekends a quarter… but the Club has the kid everyday. Even if we had a group of coaches in, say Colorado, do it the “right way” at ODP, are the right kids getting to them from the clubs, from the “regional” selection? No.
Regional selection is made up of the region’s coaches. Those coaches select the players to go to the State tryouts; you can’t tell me the first filter isn’t choosing kids for political reasons…
Too much cronyism, too much politics…
I think there is a way to force it top down. Klinsmann’s staff start picking the kind of players they want. If you’re a youth coach and they stop picking their “best” players, meaning the type that they were choosing under Bradley, then those coaches lose the prestige they thought they had. Different coaches and clubs will garner attention. I think Klinsmann probably could care less about college soccer, it does nothing for the national team. Hopefully his staff are stirring things up a bit and not leaving it up to the regional club coaches.
There’s a reason Backe doesn’t think much of the draft too. He’s gone for smaller more technical players, which aren’t that common in the draft.
This guy is an Academy coach for the Red Bulls, he says it’s indicative of the entire organization.
Great insight Hincha
Klinsmann is definitely doing some good things. I like some of the play he has been able to achieve. He definitely has a tough job as qualification for WC is a MUST while he deals with making the necessary changes to how the USMNT play the game. Added to that is the challenge you point out of a player pool even when he expands it that does not have all the qualities developed that he really needs. I am really rooting for Klinsmann to hold down his job long enough for him to trickle his changes down to the local level and remove most of the filter problems that Steve points out.
Do you have a link for this Martinez interview?
But I gotta ask – Why was Martinez selecting players like Caldwell if his main concern is technical ability?
It is the same ole, same ole… coaches talk about needing to select the technical over size, but when they are presented with the choice… they choose size here. I was talking to a coach who happened to be 5’7″ about a slight U14 girl. He said, “very good technique, nice vision, great off the ball movement, but she can get bumped off of the ball too easily sometimes.”
This, after he talked about how he was a “technical” player and had to be because of his size. If coaches that represent the “little” guy can’t even see the hypocrisy in their choices… how will it ever change?
Isn’t there a a requirement to have a minimum of UK players on the roster?
Stories on ESPN and Gaurdian:
Coaches can’t teach what they do not understand. Picking size and speed in US gets a coach wins. Parents want their kids on teams that win, not teams that play beautiful soccer. Coaches who win move to the biggest clubs and make the most money. The clubs that win the most, hire coaches that win and make the most money. Their is no incentive to develop players in the US, only win games in order to maximize profit.
In those countries that are frequently mentioned on this blog, there is a youth coaching culture to develop players for the highest possible levels. The premium is on developing players and playing beautiful soccer. Other than a few SoCal teams, especially Barecelona, US teams do not play beautiful soccer. A goal is a goal in the US. There is no appreciation for build up, possession, good touch, breaking a defense. Just win, win, win, and at any cost.
It’s a long way to the top, if you want to rock and roll.
We KNOW! We’ve been saying this for days, weeks, months… what are we going to do about it?
If there’s pushing from the youth club level from parents… and pushing from the top from the national team level… maybe we can squeeze them out. The reason my son is playing “travel” soccer is that the coach recognized his skill on the ball, and recruited him. It’s a new club and he’s trying to do something different. This will happen more and more, but we have to stop having our kids play for clubs that do them a disservice.
My son plays for a USDA team in San Diego. They have some U14 players who are 5’10” who play up to U15 and pre-Academy and on ODP. They are decent players, but far cry from fulfilling an end goal of playing futbol anywhere similar to Spain or Argentina. There are smaller players at my son’s club who are far more skillful, quicker feet, fluid motion, versatility – yet they don’t get a look because they are small. Get pushed off the ball or can’t win headers from a man-child as someone said earlier. This is the USA problem in micro. I’m just a dumb-ass parent but there are lots of us because we see this happening before our eyes and smart enough to recognize true talent over brute force.
Or how about coaches borrowing players to win tournaments. They want size and power added to the team. I’ve had a coach tell me and other parents that was his plan, but he didn’t tell anyone that include sitting smaller, more skillful kids. This is commonplace and we accept it. Again, USA soccer problem in micro. Like politicians who steals from taxpayers, their selfishness hurts everyone in the larger soccer community.
Are you considering pulling him from that team? What do you do? What are the alternatives?
Paul, your story sounds very familiar. The difference in our story is that we DIDN’T accept it. Here is what we are currently doing in our community to combat this type of “soccer ignorance” in our local club. First, we bit the bullet and started our own team. We found out there were some highly skilled kids who were going to be pushed out or riding the bench due to the tactics you are describing. The other advantage we have is that the parents are 100% behind us…they get it. These kids have a lot of heart and know they are playing the “right” way. We told these kids, “you are not the problem-the establishment is the problem”. Now, they will have leadership that appreciates their talents and knows how to enhance their skills. This all happened because a great coach stepped up. My advice is to network with other parents and see if they are committed at this level. If so, then seek out a coach – and I don’t mean the list on your State’s website, I mean a real coach. There is probably someone in your community that has played professionally or semi-professionally, or even coached, preferrably in another country. That’s who you want. Be a change agent, man!
For those who didn’t follow link provided by BillR, some quotes are provided below:
[Roberto] Martinez is convinced that Spain’s success is down to placing an emphasis on skill rather than results at youth level and believes that technically proficient English teenagers are being ignored in favour of players who are more physically imposing.
“I hate it when people say English players cannot be as technical as Spanish,” Martinez said. “The English player is technical. It’s in the age of 18-21 we have to improve.
“Iniesta and Xavi would never have made it six years ago in a British team. The first selection is, ‘Not tall enough, not strong enough’. That’s not right.”
“It’s in the age of 18 to 21 we have to improve because, up to 18, we are as good as anyone in the world. But from 18 to the first team, there is a gap that only a few make.
The above quotes echo what Hincha, Steve, Tyler, Kana, Paul are saying. The solution isn’t so simple as a change of focus on player identification, but it’s a huge leap for US Soccer!
Lets get this right, the way the Spanish and Barcelona play is not a completely new way of playing, just a new buzz word for it – ‘tika-taka’, plenty of great sides have played like this in the past, Ajax of the 70’s (anyone remember ‘total football’?) the great Brazil sides, Holland etc.
I am British and whilst i agree the English premier league has become obsessed with 6ft athletes that can run like Usain Bolt for 15 miles per game, i don’t think everybody should dismiss these attributes in a player and start teaching every kid to be a Xavi or Ineista. You have to have a blend in my opinion. The England team are crap because they can’t keep possession for long enough which means they ball keeps coming back at them and inviting pressure, if they could find a way mix it, keep the ball another 10% and still use explosive pace and counter attacking they would have a chance.
Different styles will come and go in football, there really is no right way, or wrong way to play. You can however have too much of one thing like in England, and eventually the Spanish and Barcelona will be worked out. As for everybody hating Barcelona and Spain, this is happening in my country, but only because its natural for people to want the underdog to win. Also the cheating element does come into the hating, its an absolute cancer that is ruining the game – and the Spanish and Barcelona are one of the worst culprits, i coach u/16’s and regularly see kids diving because it works and wins free kicks – they have got this from the ‘stars’ they watch week in week out.
I do enjoy watching Barca and Spain play to a point, but i can see where the criticisms come from, i also really watching the Arsenal – even though I’m a die hard Evertonian.
Carles Folugera (La Masia Director) speaking with BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/europe/9393966.stm
“I think it was born out of the attempt to dominate play by keeping possession of the ball. We’re always looking for a type of player who’s not physical but a very good thinker, who’s ready to take decisions, who has talent, technique and agility. Physical strength is not important.”
“Up to the age of 16 we don’t do any fitness training with the boys, just practice with the ball. Then we add the fitness training, but always incorporated into exercises with the ball.”
And from DailyMail.uk speaking to various La Masis staff. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1265747/Inside-FC-Barcelonas-football-academy-churning-future-Messis–free.html
‘Unlike in England, where size, strength and the ability to throw your weight around is highly prized by many scouts, Barcelona apply different criteria’
‘Size is not important,’ says [Albert] Capellas (youth director at La Masia). ‘Most important is that the player has talent, that they can play with the ball, not that they are the strongest or tallest.’
‘From the age of seven to the age of 15 everything is about working with the football,’ says Capellas.
‘With the very small boys, the most important thing is to control the ball very well, to have the ability to run with the ball and to think very quickly and execute their passes very well. We spend so much time on passing and on tactics, to understand our style of play, which is the same from the eight-year-olds to the first team.’
‘It’s not luck,’ insists Capellas. ‘It’s work. It’s our model, which has been honed over many years by lots of people providing specialist skills and all working in the same direction, with the same objective: to prepare players for the first team.’
Here are the problems in America Soccer:
Problem #1 Money, Money, Money!!! = The US system is based on pay to play. To get to the highest level in soccer, the US select from a player pool from those who can afford to play at that level. How can you get the best players in the country if not every kid can afford the weekly training fee at ODP? Let alone the registration fee at some of these youth Clubs. Its ridiculous! On the administration side: to make this change, it would require a revamp of 99% of all youth, college, and professional coaches to be fired or tell them to change styles. Firing them would be easier and quicker, but where are you going to find coaches that know how to develop this system? Besides, who doesn’t like to get paid to teach nothing?
Solution to problem #1: Get rid of 95% of youth soccer clubs (rec is fine, it just needs to be way more organized to harvest the talent: Like a division type system in each age group) and have the Professional teams take responsibility of farming the talent. The cost would be absorbed by big business corporate sponsors and their will be a more concentrated core of players that can be brought into the system. Obviously, change the system at the Professional level as well. This is how you control what needs to be taught. The rec system should only encourage creativity and individual confidence. If the technical quality is there, then implement, how to support teammates and why use teammates. With the divisional system in rec, you can create a more competitive environment. But the cost in rec will just be the $75 registration fee. The rest will take care of itself before they get to quality coaches.
Problem #2 Technical development. There is no platform where kids can develop their technical skills. The advantage that Brazil, Spain and most Euro countries have is STREET SOCCER or AKKA. The streets teach the kids the technical creativity, decision making, and 1v1 confidence that is required for top level soccer. Why do you think the US dominates basketball? Kids play at the Y, any open gym, rec courts, schools, back yards, nerf balls with a rim that hangs on a door, buckets, fruit baskets, toilet lids on crates, anything that would create an environment for the game. Look how the early game of baseball is played especially in third world countries. These kids resembled baseball by playing with anything that can take flight and strike it with any piece of stick like object. That is our biggest disadvantage in developing our youth in soccer. Americans expect to pay for someone to teach them the skill. When street ballers finally land in a club in these other countries that have street ball environments, the coach just merrily has to organize the players.
Solution to Problem #2: Build street ball courts. Organize rec soccer, organize school soccer, Build more street courts, and promote it like “And One” videos and “Above the Rim” magazines. Promote it!!!
Problem #3 Distraction from other sports. Sometimes its hard to not let your kids get involved with other sports, but if you want to excel at something, you have to put forth the dedication it requires. This is the hardest to overcome. If there is a great athlete, soccer is not the first choice in the US. America has an instinctive selection process by which an individual will be categorized into which sport to be directed in because of athletic and physical attributes. It would be nice to see Dwight Howard in the goal. Can you imagine? Lebron James as striker. Calvin Johnson as a defender, Darren Sproles, Steve Nash (I know he’s not American, but he’s quick and creative) Wes Welker… I can go on and on. You get the picture.
The only solution I have to problem #3: Money Money Money. Show them the money and parents will push in that direction. How can you argue a baseball salary of 10’s of millions of dollars vs 10’s of thousands of dollars for soccer pro’s? No brainer fight? But when popularity grows through street soccer, the money will follow.
In conclusion: make soccer affordable to anyone even someone on welfare. Stop paying coaches who don’t deserve to be payed and promote the heck out of street soccer… Thats it. Now someone call Nike please and get this done.
Actually, your assumptions are part of the problem. What makes you think that Labron, Dwight Howard or Calvin Johnson would make good soccer players any more than Ibramovitch would make a great basketball player? Steve Nash had every chance to be a great soccer player and he isn’t and neither is his brother (a relative minor league player). Is Marvil Wynne a great soccer player?
My Friend, please understand the problem. The controversy is not determining what an athlete can or cannot do. The problem that America faces is the decision to play the sport. Quite frankly, it is more about the money. Popularity will grow 10 fold once money gets a whole lot better. Im not saying, we need monsters to play soccer… NO!… I will say that we can gain a slight advantage if someone with the athleticism like Lebron could play soccer like CR7. America has the athletes that are unmatched to the world. We just can’t match the soccer skill to pair with the great athletes we have. Reason being > its all about the money!
Other countries “lose” top athletes to other sports too (ie, Federer, Nowitzky, etc etc). Kids playing multi-sports is good for them so long as it is balanced with rest (ie, don’t playt multiple games in a day for different sports!). But yes, specialization is required at some point.
Money is a major issue. But until clubs own their own facilities, attract major sponsors and/or are able to sell players or at least receive compensation it can’t change.
>(think of all the shit that’s said about Busquets).
What? That he is a great player but a world class diving c**t?
its not the american community but the world community that thinks that.
Just like the kid in grade 4 who peed his pants, the only lasting memory most football fans will have of Busquets is playing Peekaboo on the floor.
Unfair or not, that is how he is know, no a graet player but a dirty cheat.
THAT is not the fans fault but all his own.
Most of you arent probably old enough to remember that Spain in the early 80’s was the home of horrible, vicious and violent football that was closer to English football. The change of mentality they went through is not a spanish only thing and tehre is no reason cant be repeated elsewhere.
But wrangling all the US soccer levels in one direction seems to be a much bigger challenge.
>Problem #3 Distraction from other sports.
This is idiotic, every european country has multitude of other sports for kids to choose. REAL international sports that have continental and world championships and all the qualifications that come with them.
The US does NOT have more sports to choose from.
Thats a navel gazing american myth (right up there with “the world didnt know of basketball until the 92 US team exported it to the world”)
Coach J says
I just went to my nephew’s U10 Championship game of the tournament they were in this weekend(in Southern California) It was the typical garbage soccer that you always see…….if the ball gets near you, just bash it to the other side of the field! The coaches yell all sorts of instructions, but non of those instructions are to settle the ball down, control it, dribble and pass.
It is just horrific soccer in my opinion. And since this is their 2nd tournament win in as many weeks, I guess they will just keep doing what they are doing.
It’s sad to see.
Biggest problem with youth soccer in North Am?? I have some former players going to a tourney in San Diego this summer and they asked me to complete a CoachU recommendation-profile for them.
Five questions rating player 1-10. And two written answer questions. Of the first five none asked about technical ability. If the two written questions the first was about…………you got it ARHLETICISM and the second????…………personality. Personality I get but honestly nothing on technical ability???
I took over a team this year and recently picked the squad. There former coach, who is a good guy and fairly knowledgeable (I thought( emailed me and said “those are your best players but some of your best attackers are going to have to play defense now.” I guess I did not select some if the so called defenders to the first team?? Yeesh. My response to him?? “defenders are attackers.”
*haha I am not drunk just using my iPhone with fat fingers.
Coming from Australia, I have encountered a lot of anti Barcelona sentiment but not anti Spanish sentiment. Based on my discussions with others, I think people are wary of teams who engage in broad based simulation; diving in order to try to get opposition players ejected from matches. One only has to browse through some of these Youtube videos to begin to understand the simmering frustration I have alluded to. Such antics are unbecoming of footballers. Football fans across the world hate cheaters and I suspect this is where the origins of this hatred come from.
The term “Spanish football” you’ve used also encompasses a lot of “football” – I think you need to be much more specific about what aspects of Spanish football are hated by the American soccer community. This is to say nothing of the fact that there are divisions that cut deeply across Spanish football. In Catalunya for example, they don’t necessarily even identify as being Spanish. They historically do not get along with the Spanish speaking Spanish because they’re from Aragon, a former independent nation state. They are not ethnically Spanish and Franco persecuted them for it. I could go on but won’t. A bit more cultural awareness and less blanket statements will help your argument.
Having had my moan about Barcelona, they’ve really shown everyone else how to play this game. The rest of the world will rightly try to emulate them in regard to their technical and tactical skills.
Diving – horrific diving…
Do I like to see someone throwing themselves on the ground and rolling over like their little toe was cut off, no. However, I can understand why someone would go to ground easily when they are of diminutive stature… it’s the only way they can protect themselves and their ability to play. It removes the “power” of the behemoth and evens the playing field a bit for the smaller player.
It also protects player from overly physical and dangerous play – if everyone played like Stuart Holden, they’d be in the rehab room all of the time… just like Stuart Holden. If the little guys don’t protect themselves then we won’t have beautiful soccer.. we’ll have rugby, we’ll have american football and we’ll have a game that isn’t open to “everyman”, big, small, fast, slow…
There is a reason it is shoulder to shoulder and not, knee to back of thigh, slide tackle from behind… shoulder to back, jump on my back, kick the hell out of my legs, hack me to death, cleats up slide tackle….
It’s the FAKING and theatrics. When they go down on their own, when they get looked at and flop like they’ve been hit with a bat. We know the difference between going down easily and screaming bloody murder when they haven’t even been kicked. It isn’t necessary. It happens a lot in La Liga and in Serie A. The slow motion replays don’t help your case.
R10 fan says
Here Tyler you’ll change your tune. watch this by BRAZILIAN sensation Neymar.
I can’t stand Neymar for this very reason… but I blame the ref for not being closer to the play. His flopping around like a fish out of water is ridiculous, nobody should do that… I’ve had some ankle cleat contact and cleat shin contact that has been extremely painful… last thing I wanted to do is flop around.
But, on this one instance… suppose Neymar didn’t “protect” himself by jumping out of the way… maybe here, he doesn’t get hurt..but in another instance he might. I’d say most good dribblers learn to jump and jive when legs are coming in… sometimes it works, and sometimes they lose their balance… sometimes there should be a “no call”, but the ref needs to be there to make the “no call”.
I’d say there is a direct correlation to the lack of contact and the flopping around by a player… the more flopping, the less amount of contact that really was.
Neymar will never be as good as Messi, because Messi perseveres when bumped around and gets the goal… Neymar looks to go to ground first and persevere second… not enjoyable to watch.
Gary Kleiban says
Welcome Aaron and thank you for sharing your point of view,
Unfortunately ‘diving / simulation’ is not understood to an appreciable degree in the footballing context.
It’s practice is not shared in the same light on a cultural or professional level.
What many call cheating and ridiculous, others do not. There is a lot of personal and cultural self-righteousness that goes on here. And hence the origin of much ‘hatred’.
Very polarizing topic. One which I plan to write a lot more about.
Over the last few days I read “La Roja: How Spanish Soccer Conquered Spain and the World” by Jimmy Burns. It chronicles birth of soccer in Spain, from British-only pastime to recent World Cup and Euro success. It’s good high level synopsis of how soccer transformed over the decades and the economic, political, and conflicting soccer personalities that influenced it.
As I read it, I kept relating Spain’s growing pains to US soccer and the various topics we blog about on this forum. If you plan on reading the book (recommended), STOP READING HERE. If not, here’s a summary:
The Brits brought soccer to southwestern Spain in late 1800s. The Spanish quickly adopted it and largely followed the British model of long-ball. The Basques (northern Spain) dominated soccer for many decades (e.g, Athletic Bilbao). With the rise of Generalissimo Franco in late 1930s, the Spanish National team became known as La Furia (the fury). It was based on strong, virile Spanish warrior that Franco desired for political reasons. The players Spain looked for was based on this model: big, strong athletes who best represented the Spanish warrior spirit and Francoist dictatorship. Reliance on work ethos and effort rather than skill.
During the La Furia era, Spanish commentators sometimes blamed national team failures on the lack of La Furia type players. That is, they wanted more La Furia and blamed losses on weakness of spirit and physical strength.
One of most striking parts of the book was when Spain decided “to be the torero (bullfighter) rather than the toro (bull) on the pitch and play better soccer.” Spanish soccer players and fans (not unlike Brazil and Argentina) appreciate skill and chant “ole”. This in contrast to the style and a soccer culture that would rather see a crunching tackle and celebrate with a high-five. The difference in mentality may seem nuanced, but it is critical to the tiqui-taca style of modern Spanish football.
The author talks about Spain’s “incapacity or unwillingness to pool their engergies for the common good, what was called their unamalgamating tendency. “ Sounds a lot like US Soccer. We don’t have a monopoly on dysfunction! He goes on to talk about Spain’s many near misses and underachieving tag they held until 2006 World Cup.
Spain eventually transitioned from toro to torero. From overpowering strength, virility, determination, and imposing yourself on others – to fluid, artistic subtlety, and nuanced skill. Like a torero skillfully bringing down a larger, more powerful toro. He possesses the ability for quick or slow death. Spain’s national team can pass you to death or strike lightning quick if they need to.
The tiqui-tace seed was sown with Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff (and Argentinians as early as 1940s) but became firmly embedded in Spanish soccer in 1978 with La Masia (the house). The decades of La Furia and the like-minded dictatorship of Franco soon changed and came to reflect the torero instead of the toro.
Part of the process was public questioning of styles of play, team systems, youth development and management. Soccer stirs strong passions in Spain. The media fans flames and sets high demands on coaches. This in is part of reason most top footballing countries turn over club and national team coaches within 12 – 24 months. USA cycle is measured in years.
It’s important to note that the Spanish Football Federation did not “dictate” this change to tiqui-taca. Rather than make demands to USSF and Gulati, maybe America needs an MLS team, IMG, or a bold USDA club to plant a similar seed. Klinsmann has kind of done that, but USMNT just gets what’s given from the pipeline. Something down at a lower level needs to happen. As Barcelona proved, a good idea can spread like wildfire across borders. And to make it work requires discipline, a rigidity in sticking with a system, a style of play. This rigidity is something Cruyff, Guardiola and leaders of La Masia / Barca stand firm on.
Spain is doing something right at national, U23, U21, and U19 levels. So much success isn’t accident. And as you read La Roja, you see just how much “culture” influenced this success. Spain found a way to break from its dysfunctional, politically divided, regional conflicts to become a powerhouse in soccer. So I have hope for US Soccer.
Gary Kleiban says
Thank you Kana,
This illustrates something I’ve been alluding to.
The problem here is not “soccer culture”, it’s “culture”.
I was trying to buy “Senda de Campiones” online and found an articleby it’s author, Marti Perarnau. http://www.blueprintforfootball.com/2012/04/inside-footballs-talent-factory.html
Excerpts are below:
How did this production line start?
In the 70’s through Laureano Ruiz, a Barca manager who was tasked with sowing the seeds. Of course, over the last 40 years football has changed a lot but along the way Barca took some important decisions. With the arrival of Johan Cruyff in 1988, Barca’s youth system was given a phenomenal boost: he implanted a unique idea of play, a training model, Established the kind of player needed…in short, the main features and characteristics of a Barca player today.
What makes it so special?
It is a sum of things: the idea, the model, teachers who have spent years and years leading the way, the special type of the player, and the institutional will of the club to fill the first team with players from their youth system.
How important are the results?
A lot. Pep Guardiola says that you cannot separate training and competition. You aren’t there not to lose: you are there to win. Winning or losing is part of the comprehensive education and the club looks to win always, but through a set way to play. In this they are ruthless: you have to do everything possible to win, but with an undisputed way of play.
How are the players chosen? What skills do you want?
Technique, tactical intelligence and mental speed. These three traits are the ones that matter. Players with very good technique, who are able to understand the game (not just play, but also understand it) and speed of mind.
Is physical strength and height given much importance?
None. Barca does not care about the size of the player. The three parameters I mentioned are the only ones that matter. Not even if you stand out during a tournament. Indeed, Barcelona often sign kids that have gone unnoticed in a tournament, but have those three potential features.
What is the training like? What aspects are given more importance? Technique? Tactics?
By the time they reach the first team a player will be already have practiced over 10,000 hours of training and games: games of position, piggy in the middle, hours and hours of trying not to lose the ball and great technique. The tactic becomes second nature and players learn that this is how they see the game.
Dr Loco says
Kana, thanks for sharing!
Gary/Brian, you guys have officially become global. Here is a link for an article that appeared in England’s Daily Mail referencing your organization, the great video, etc. Congrats!!!!
Former MLS standout, Lonestar Technical Director, Austin Aztex Head Coach, and LFC legend’s son Paul Dalglish hosting spirited debate on the merits of possession soccer.
Basic premise, he loves Tiki Taka but it really isn’t for us…besides it’s not a good way to try to win soccer matches…fascinating stuff….the war of ideas about the game rages on:
Paul Dalglish @pauldalglish
“@ShaunHornbyLFC: I really recommend @BumperGraham ‘s book on the making of barca the greatest team in the world” Would enjoy that I think.
“@glenny1711: Surely you bring in and pick players to fit a system that you want to play?” What if you don’t have players to play that way?
“@joestrimmer: @BobHeaney92 like Bob Paisley once said, “its not about the long ball or the short ball, its about the right ball”” Brilliant
“@addypenno: So should it be kick, hoof and run?” Depends what players you have. You pick you style to suit your players.
Getting the odd tweet thinking I’m talking about LFC. Can I reiterate i am talking about a style of play not LFC.
But that’s the danger trying to copy Barca. We all would love our teams to play like them but its not always possible. @BobHeaney92
But at times they go direct into Dzeko. Agreed? @TigerT72
@pauldalglish Man City play a form of Tika Taka, as it is all about short, accurate passing, quick movement, ball retention and penetration.
Don’t get me wrong I love watching teams play in that style. All I’m saying is its high risk football and very hard to have success doing.
I would say only Arsenal, Swansea and Wigan have tried. How many trophies between the 3 in recent years??
Discus who played ‘Tika Taka’ whatever that means as its such a general term in the Prem and won something. It’s very difficult to do.
It is almost impossible unless you have the best players in the world. @Anton_Karlssson
@addypenno @anton_karlssson @tonyevanstimes Adolph, maybe it’s because they have the best players in World Football. Just a thought.
@pauldalglish @Anton_Karlssson @TonyEvansTimes And how come Barca and Spain are raking in titles if it is a hard way to win?
Just to be clear. My tweets with Anton were about Tiki taka football not Liverpool. Nothing to do with LFC.
The reality is only Barca and Spain have won doing it. It is not a way to win. It’s the hardest way to win @Anton_Karlssson @tonyevanstimes
@pauldalglish @tonyevanstimes Yes Paul, but having a lot of possession and playing ‘tiki-taka’ is a philosophy of how to win.
@TonyEvansTimes and the latest one is possession and pass completion stats. It’s about scoring goals and winning games.
Football is a broad church and it’s full of opinions. But there’s a bottom line: trophies and glory.
It is worrying times when it seems like it is more important in this day and age to be a media darling than to win games and trophies.
It’s sad when you have a manager that won League titles, Domestic Cups, Champions Leagues etc portrayed the way he is by the media.
Rafa’s biggest problem was he wasn’t accepted by the mainstream media. He wasn’t interested in the PR game just winning trophies.
You can thank him for restructuring the youth set up that has brought us Flannigan, Robinson, Sterling, Suso, Morgan etc too.
Anybody else watching this Liverpool documentary?? Thoughts so far?
@DaveHendrickTLW ..hard to put a positive spin on our form. Not because my Dad got fired but because its our worst start for over 50 years.
Quite the opposite. I like BR. Friends tell me he is a good guy. I hope he succeeds. @USRedbird
Couldn’t agree more. BR seems to be a very talented young coach but he doesn’t have much experience. Bob was huge for my Dad. @DessieR71
I wouldn’t say that, you have to put faith in a manager, but is was a big risk to employ someone with only 1yr PL experience @MartyJ1975
My Granny believes in the way Barca play too, doesn’t mean she can make Liverpool do it! @lee_okan
I dont want to get into a debate on BR in my position but barca have won CL’s, BR’s finished mid table in the Prem! Can’t compare @lee_okan
@pauldalglish I don’t understand what you’re getting at? Rodgers clearly believes in the Barca/Spain style of play! Can’t u see that?
@pauldalglish very well put Paul, it’s a worrying trend when you have 20 first team full international players struggling to adapt
Agreed. It’s time to start dealing in reality and not in perception. We have to start winning games. @ashleycan2
…detail about how they play yet they win the league most years. Do we have a better plan because we talk about it publicly? No we don’t…
People are talking about this way of playing because we have publicly stated this is how we are going to play. Man Utd don’t talk in…
@pauldalglish Holding onto the ball, not pushing forward immediately, incorporating Reina and CBs in passing, pressing all over the pitch.
@pauldalglish Playfrom the back, keeper passes, high line, fast closing down high up the pitch – leaves us open to counters constantly IMO.
We are not talking about 10 year old kids. We are talking about top International players that have played many different styles and systems
I don’t get the people saying it will take time to learn this new way of playing? What exactly is this new way of playing?
“There is no point on spending absolute millions and fortunes on players if they can’t play football”
The first British manager that really seems to get it. Clear ideas and convictions on possession soccer.
Will LFC have enough patience to allow Brandon Rodgers to implement his vision?
Will he ultimately prove that he can walk the talk at the high level?
Will he be the man that puts kick & rush to sleep and finishes the change of culture in England?
The war of ideas about the game rages on both sides of the Ocean.
If you thought part 1 was good, part 2 is better:
The man is an educator. The ideas are there, the philosophy is there, the communication is there.
Now give him time, so he can show what he can do.
Patience LFC, patience…
Kick & Rushers be afraid, be very afraid, soft spoken Brandon is coming after you…
Interesting interview with Mexican star Andres Guardado:
That’s make me laugh!
I’m waiting to lose USA Basketball Team.. It’s the same.
Soccer is simple game, just passing the ball.
Men you make me laugh..
Barca has not won CL in two years
Spain got killed in Confederations Cup final
Watch the masks coming out
This is good
Here it is…
From a post on the course forum part (hope Gary and the poster are OK with me sharing this here)
“Interesting man’s rant about 3four3 during NSCAA Convention session…”
1) “So I was sitting in on one of today’s sessions about U10 players and a video of the U11 possession video came up. Almost instantly, this one guy started ranting anything and everything he knew about the group. They are good and better than teams only because they practice 4x a week and travel to all these countries. He went on to say that none of these kids do anything once in ODP and taken out of their environment. The presenter (Technical Director of Massachusetts) agreed and said it looked too mechanical. Oh, and the guy conveniently pointed out that his team is the only team to have beaten your Barca group in the last three years. He seemed pretty fired up that you guys are doing it all wrong…a pretty entertaining sight!”
2) “Curious, what was the room’s reaction when “The presenter (Technical Director of Massachusetts) agreed and said it looked too mechanical”?
Everyone just nodded or did any good, enlightning discussion follow?”
3) “It was the former. It was baffling that no one else seemed to know ANYTHING about the video, the blog, or 3four3 in general. Even the presenter admitted that he just happened to stumble upon the video by chance.
I got up and left after the presenter said “yes, it does look mechanical”. I knew from there that I was not going to get anything out of the lecture…”
Who are you quoting? Or were you there?
I wasn’t there
I asked the question #2
Very interested to hear from other people who were there