Xuxuh! American Youth Player Features for Manchester City and Receives MVP

Xuxuh (aka John Hilton) Chivas USA academy player

Xuxuh (aka John Hilton) Chivas USA academy player

Barely 12, John Kenneth Hilton, nicknamed Xuxuh (pronounced shu-shu) is a Chivas USA player who this past week lit up Europe! … Again.

This time guest playing for Manchester City.

But before we get to that, we’ve got two videos for you:

  1. Trying to capture the “wow” factor.
  2. Gives a sense of the multi-dimensional (complete) player.

And in case you’re wondering, the footage is against the best rosters and competition in the country, playing up, and even against the 2001 La Masia residents considered by many as the best Alevin A side in history.

Video 1

Short form “wow” factor.

Video 2

Long form multi-dimensional (complete) player.

When Brian first took over this team at U10, I wanted nothing to do with 9 year olds. A few months later I decided to check out one of the games, and got hooked.

Of particular note, was Xuxuh.

While watching that match, I said to myself:

Now that’s a player that can be taken to the highest global level.

Over the next couple years he established dominance at the highest American level. Opposing forwards stood no chance, and he was shredding defenses like nothing.

But contrary to the typical reasons for youth “dominance” in our country, Xuxuh is:

  • technically at another level,
  • has acquired tactical richness that comes only by being trained in a possession-centered game,
  • and has the mental strength and stability to endure the sacrifices required.

It is precisely those qualities that have caught the eyes of European giants Manchester United, FC Barcelona, Ajax, and Manchester City, among others.

In April when we were in Spain for MIC Cup, Xuxuh was the talk of the town. No, seriously … players, coaches, directors, parents from all affiliations were talking about “that outside back from that American team”.

And they started addressing him by his nickname: Xuxuh!

Manchester United’s chief scout was all over him, Ajax got a live dose, and FC Barcelona had to cope with his devastation twice.

Tournament directors and coaches said that if Takefusa Kubo (the crown jewel of FCB) had not scored 2 goals in the final, Xuxuh would have received tournament MVP.

No worries though … he wouldn’t be denied for too long.

Manchester City


Featuring for Man City, Xuxuh was tournament MVP

A month ago, Manchester City was in attendance during Surf Cup, and checked out our matches. Long story short, Xuxuh made an impression and was invited to Europe to train and play a tournament with their academy for a week.

So off to England he went.
Then August 24 and 25, to Holland for United Jeugd Cup 2013.

He blew that place up, and got tournament MVP.

Xuxuh is a baller in the making!

You can get some more info and keep up with the latest by following his profile.

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  1. Noah Creagh says

    What a specimen of a player. I have to say that when I started following this blog I was always highly impressed with the vids of possession centered soccer your teams play. The high levels of technical and tactical quality were evident everywhere on the field amongst your players. But if there is one guy that always stood out to me it was Xuhxuh. At first for his RIDICULOUS work rate (and on watching these recent vids I could only guess at his high work rate but damn this kid works hard) then upon further observation it became evident how vital outside backs with his overall quality and potential are in a system where you are trying to create and build rather than destroy. Gary, a lot of coaches and parents post these outrageous vids of what they believe is their next “star”. But as always you do it right or dont do it at all. A real education for me this morning up in Ohio. …and here in the states people think Yedlin is our answer for a high quality outside back because he can make some surging runs forward …

    • says

      Thank you Noah.
      That’s why I don’t publish every day … we’re not a news outlet.
      My goal is real education.

      In this case, we’re presenting standards.

      It’s ridiculous what people say of Yedlin and so many others.

      • Noah Creagh says

        Great to see him recognized in that MLS article. But…. and this should serve as a disclaimer to everyone else who checks it out.. Do NOT read the comments below. I could feel my IQ slowly dropping..

        • says

          he is overrated yeah he works hard and has pace but thats really it so there is not point in saying that hes americas next top player . he doesnt even seem that good so there is no point in over-exaggerating his ability.

          • STL A-B says

            ur mum – I see nothing wrong with 3four3 highlighting a kid to gain attractions from euro clubs. Remember, he is 12. Also remember, the opinions on here don’t amount to much while the opinions of euro clubs, the kids play, and his development will ultimately come to fruition.

    • Crollaa says

      I just want to respond to the Yedlin bit. I’m a Sounders fan and have been following Yedlin very closely since he was in our U18 academy. The impressive thing about him is not his ability to bomb forward (which his technical abilities let him down on quite frequently), but rather it is his ability to recover on plays where most MLS outside backs would have no chance. He can’t cross, his first touch is often too large, and he either isn’t capable of or doesn’t understand that he needs to be passing to a specific foot. By MLS standards, he’s a good attacking right back… but that’s just by MLS standards.

      • Noah Creagh says

        Yep Yedlin is all fine and good by the average MLS standard..He will potentially thrive here and it wont be long before a Mid table EPL team or English second division secure his services. But from a Global standpoint..a potential world class standpoint players with the potential and quality of Xuhxuh with the potential to be a Marcelo, Roberto Carlos,Cafu etc..that should be the standard. But here the standards just arent high enough. Its so easy to pick out a player like Yedlin and say man this guy has quality look at the way he blazes up and down the field! But there sooo much more to a quality outside back than being able to turn on the jets offensively and recover defensively.

  2. Mariene Oliveira dos Santos says

    Asistir aos vídeos que Deus abencoi a escolha do seu filho seu orgulho.

  3. John Pranjic says

    it’s important to understand that his highlight reel only shows him playing against top opposition. I’ve seen this kid play in their regular league games and a tournament in So Cal and he just lights people up. Two separate times I’ve watched him play he has scored with lasers from outside of the box. One of those times was not against top opposition, but his team was playing an age group up, and if I’m not mistaken, he’s already young for his own team.

    Bottom line… BALLER! Absolute BALLLLLLLLER!

    • says

      In anticipation of the typical responses (which are usually correct for youth videos), I tried to address how this is footage against the absolute best opposition possible.

  4. pg 19 says

    Thank you! Just checked out his profile. What interests me most is what he has been doing as an athlete to improve, at an early age. One thing I will add is his family make up is huge in his development. At an early age, not too many kids have the discipline to work at something at great length. Often that motivation falls back onto the parent making/reminding/encouraging thier kid to do the little things at home, such as juggling the ball. Basically, make the kids work at it until eventually he/she develops an appreciation of their achievements and begins to find motivation to improve within themselves. Personally, I feel that is an element that we over look in allowing our kids to make up their own decisions at 5, or 6 or 14. Sometimes, the work has to be done by the parent.

    • Dr Loco says

      Very impressed with his training schedule working to become an athlete. Too many kids are in youth sports with no interest in becoming athletic — like kids in school with no interest in academics.

      Love this “we over look in allowing our kids to make up their own decisions”. Kids are not mini-adults.

  5. Simeon says


    Also enjoy the website. XuXuh is very exciting.. I am curious how you are able to afford to get groups/players in front of the correct people? Also pay for the field space etc in So Cal? Most families can not afford to pay for trips to Europe etc and I am curious how it is done.

    • says

      Hi Simeon,

      Well, after a ton of work, now the “correct people” come to us.
      Trips to Europe? Parents make lots of sacrifices, and gracious donations from outside businesses and individuals.

  6. says

    Congratulations, and great job to his Coaches… My son (GK) has competed vs him over the years, and he is a BEAST on the pitch… Great players need to be showcased, and given every possible opportunity to grow and flourish… This story is an inspiration!!!

  7. Rivellino says

    impressive, my kid plays the same outside attacking back position but of course not in the same world talent wise. I have a technical question though, in possession sometimes XuXu takes the ball into the center of the field, where our coach is pretty strict about taking the ball straight up the sidelines. Are there some guidelines about when the outside back moves more into the middle on or off the ball, but in possession? Thanks,

    • Tyler says

      I’ll be a little blunt… this is the problem with stupid coaches. Do you see the options it creates, the havoc and disorganization that he throws the other team into?

      • Rivellino says

        I’m asking because I don’t know if the forays into the middle are something good coaches gradually teach outside backs to do, and restrict them until there decision-making is good, or something they allow from the beginning. My son’s coach is at least trying to do things the right way- coaching courses in spain, lots of possession based practice work that looks like the out of the back possession tutorials we have seen here. So I want to figure out the reasoning.

        • Tyler says

          Coaches are molding the thought/movement process from the beginning. If you constantly tell a kid to stay on his side, that’s what he will do and it becomes much more difficult to break the mold as they get older. They become tight and one dimensional – they play restricted. How many defenders that are young do you see that constantly kick the ball out or down the field and stay in one spot? Coaches tell the kids to do this because to them its dangerous. So they retard the mental growth, not realizing the reason that 7/8/9 year old wasn’t successful wasn’t because he didn’t make the right decision, but his technique/consistency wasn’t good.
          How can a child’s decision making be good, if he’s not allowed to make a decision?
          I’m sure, which you can’t see from the video that other players adjust their positions to cover/support for Xuxuh when he goes forward – I bet this support looks like beautiful diamonds.

    • pg 19 says

      My two cents. If the ball is dribbled up the middle, it has to be at the right time (safety behind the ball. Probably better for an outside back to dribble up the center than a center back. Also, look at his drives up the center. He’s cutting off the pressure coming up from behind him placing his body between the ball and the recovering opponent defender so all he has to focus on are the defenders in front of him. Great ball presense and presense on the field. Tyler notes this also that it creates havoc. Think about where defenders want to force play (outside channels) and why (not a direct threat to goal). Xuxuh can go left, right, or forward. On the flanks, its forward only or cut in suddenly and maybe make a cross (indirect).

      If Xuxuh was my player, I would encourage him only to drive up the center and to continue developing his touch on the ball at pace. The flank play encourages players to kick and chase as there are less defenders. Basically flank play is for teams that struggle to get the ball up field because they lack skill as individuals and as a team. For Xuxuh, he has agile speed and those drives up the center will help him develop tight control at that pace which will be interesting to see where it leads as he matures. The fast factor won’t be as great at the high levels, but his quickness, agility (side to side) and touch will differentiate him as a player. Might as well develop that technique now while it is relatively “easier” than it will when he’s older.

      • pg 19 says

        Also I saw that he’s on the U14 National roster. US Soccer has been stated repeatedly that the US lacks the creative play of creative players. They do use a 4-3-3 set up with the DA’s, but typically using two holding mids versus one. It will be interesting to see how they try to shape his play (flank play or central on his drives). Basically, will they allow him to develop into that creative player they state is lacking in US Soccer?

    • says

      It depends on the specifics.
      Generally you want to go where there’s space to attack.

      But in training, usually you start by emphasizing creating a 2v1 numerical advantage on the outside with the winger. You work that choreography.
      Then later you can progress to patterns of play up the middle.

      But again, in real time during matches it depends on so many factors:
      * The qualities of the player
      * The real time circumstances (where is the attacking space?)

  8. shawn says

    Wow, what a great player. It’s really cool to see this kid get recognized. Wondering if another asset is “athleticism” as in fast, physical and agile. Would be great to see a post going over the assets featured in the video with some basic explanations on each one.

  9. shawn says

    Ah, just saw this on his profile page: “Xuxuh displays the athleticism of an Western athlete with the skill and ball control of a Samba boy from South America.”

  10. Kieron Boyle says

    Gary … do you put Xuxuh in the back purposefully rather than midfield or forward? I have a new team and there are some stronger players and I like the idea of using them attacking from the back and using the space they get from the back as they move forward. Guess I’m asking to see when positioning stronger players versus weaker, where’s the best spot to take advantage of my stronger player? Most would think midfield. Put weaker at front?

    Love the videos and the blog.
    Middletown, Ohio

    • says

      Hi Kieron,
      This is why “Philosophy” is not mumbo-jumbo.

      When you have a coherent philosophy, you have a vision of what your ideal end product looks like.

      And that means you know exactly what qualities you want in an outside back, in a defensive midfielder, in an attacking mid, in a winger, and so on.

      With that vision, you select and position players accordingly.

      For instance, within our vision, we want Brazilian style outside backs. Meaning we want highly technical players with the ability to constantly attack up the wings creating 2v1s, serve quality crosses, or cut to the middle to either unleash a quality shot or create a lightning fast combinations with the 9 or other central players.

      So a Cafu, a Roberto Carlos, a Dani Alves, a Marcelo, et al.

      Xuxuh fits that vision.

  11. shawn says

    @markoo – You are not so impressed with this video/blog? Do you have some other standard of measurement? He guest played with Manchester City and ended up getting MVP for the tournament. We are talking about the elite of the elite here, not your subjective view based on wherever the hell you are from. This kid isn’t large at all – why is athleticism always equated with “large”? He’s a natural athlete as in his body is an asset, in that he is not limited by what it can do. I really doubt the conditioning work this kid is doing is the “key”. Fact is he’s just a stud. If you have some wrestling background you would just recognize it for what it is. I’m not sure why the soccer culture perpetually devolves into gray area and talent can’t be appreciated for what it is. Honestly, it makes me want to move my “studs” to a different sport. And obviously this kid has the “touch”. The video pretty much went over all the skills involved.

    • El Memo says

      He is technically sound. Very athletic, and great decisions. But exquisite skills I don’t think. That is why he is a fullback. He is a great fullback. This is where the game is moving towards for the modern fullback. I like him, and I think the coaches have him playing the appropriate position.

  12. Lori Pele says

    I fell in love with this kid when I first saw him play at u9 Pegasus Cup and it has been a joy to watch his growth over the years! It has been a long time but my son used to love the challenge playing against him 1v1 on the field. Amazing technical skills and speed plus a nice kid and a nice family. Congrats Xuxu! I knew it was only a matter of time for you to hit it big in Europe, you got what it takes!

  13. barcafan says

    How do kids get this type of opportunities, exposure, coaching, etc…?
    This kid started out with such raw potential. After two years of being coached by teenagers who held him to two touches and willed him to stop dribbling. He’s now 14 and fighting to find his way back while kids with much lower soccer iq and skills surpass him?

    • El Memo says

      He did look decent. The problem is that coaches rant what they hear from others. They don’t think for themselves, so they are not going to teach a player to think for themselves. They think 1-Touch and the greatest, then 2-Touch, then Dribbling, then . . . ????
      The fact is that the player should be taught skill and to think for themselves and use whatever the situation requires. The more skill and soccer IQ, the more options that will yield a positive results. It is not a 1-Touch or 2-Touch game. So, stop saying that. 1-Touch may be the Best or the Worst depending on the situation – same with everything else (Shot, Dribbling, 2-Touch, etc.,) Teach them skills and to think for themselves.

      • says

        “Teach them skills and to think for themselves”

        Well … how?
        That’s the important part. The methodology.
        Doing activities involving 1-touch, 2-touch, or whatever, are tools to be used in one’s training methodology with the aim of technical & tactical development (ie skills and brains).

        • El Memo says

          Absolutely. My comment was lacking details. The How? is huge as it is affected by philosophy, values, culture, experience, etc., (The same drill by two coaches with different philosophies will carry a different message.). Essentially how one visualizes the game, yet allow them to question and discover some aspects of it themselves and push the envelope early on. Think. Question. Not to just question but to improve.

  14. Muttonquad says

    Right kid + supportive family + dedicated mentors = great opportunity

    Glad you mentioned the mental strength required. There are definitely kids who thrive on being challenged and can be encouraged and nudged to work very hard like this, but not all kids have this mindset. it is as important as the other natural abilities being nurtured. Very impressive work, congratulations!

  15. says

    This kid’s got some formidable mixture of speed and power, explosiveness and strength. He is aggressive, alert, and has a high quality of movement and defensive instinct for his age. I hate to point out any negatives for such a young player. Lets just hope his caretakers recognize his weakness and help him strengthen it. Sprinter with a football and a sprinting footballer…subtle difference.

  16. Jake Owens says

    Wow john congrats I have known him since 2nd grade and he has come so far I always knew he would be an amazing soccer player but this this is what he lives for hes only got 1 free knight a week I think that is true dedacation. again Good job dude.

  17. Daves98 says

    I hope he continues to develop. Although his talent at his age is obvious, he has some years to develop physically. One can only hope his bright future is fulfilled :)

  18. Sheldrick Walker says

    Hey Gary, I joined this MLS discussion group on Facebook a couple of months ago. Every time I post something about one our American kids getting a trial or going to a European youth academy, they rip me. “ We need to develop our own talent” they say. Personally I don’t believe this country has the resources to develop our own “ world class” talent YET, besides you guys I don’t know anyone in this country that has a track record of developing European type talent. What do you think ?

    • Steve_C says

      The number of coaches who probably have their priorities and philosophy inline with attempting to produce world class players is probably less than 2%. There’s are real delusion among american soccer fans that we know what we’re doing, and that MLS is a top league. Stating that young players should get to Europe or anywhere outside of the USA for development is seen as a slap in the face.

      • Tyler says

        Steve, its just not the USA. I’m in Mexico and here is the scenario. A right back plays much like xuxuh, overlaping, taking the ball into the middle to take the space and wreak havoc; feeds great balls to the forwards. Racks up a couple of great assists and chances. Player is 15. Coach tells the team after the game… more of you need to play like “M”. Another player is 9, playing right back moves forward to take space. Makes runs down the right for the switch. The coach tells this player to stand in place (basically creating huge space for the other team to play into on a counter attack). Same coach, but displays his inability to have a positive and coherent philosophy. Makes me so tired to see this crap.

  19. T3COEP says

    Every team should have wing backs capable of such play. But I know not every team plays that way (just my preference). My experience is the vast majority coaches don’t allow truly attacking wing backs because they are afraid of counter attack or gaps that open up on flanks for long balls. Many times the center backs or holding mid don’t have the speed to track back in such situations. So again, the coaches don’t allow this because they don’t have the right player makeup.

    Finding a player with speed, stamina, skill and confidence to do what this kid does is truly rare. He is in right situation where his abilities aligns with the coaching philosophy and style of play.

    I’ve personally seen a handful of wing backs with the ability shown in these videos but prevented from doing so because of what I mention above. I hope to see him at higher levels one day.

    • Curious Larry says

      Hi T3COEP,

      I agree with your sentiments.

      In my son’s club, the coach is always trying to find the appropriate balance. The spine of the team down the center is priority #1. And, typically, the bigger, faster, lion heart players are needed in central defense. Added benefit to having strong (defensive) spine to the team is the outside backs are given more freedom to bomb down the wings. Opponents that are playing with 3 attackers (e.g., 3-1-3) will exploit the outside gaps on the counter attacks. There isn’t an easy solution to this problem for the central defenders.

      Given the choice of paying it safe or allowing the outside backs to push forward, I would prefer the latter for a normal league game & the former for a bigger and more important tournament ;)

  20. says

    The million dollar question how much time he has been training to obtain that speed? How much is his parents paying for that training ? That particular training is not cheap .. Not only that but how many personal training he has?compare to other boys who get train by their daddy coaches ..I personally felt in love with your website since day one but never actually commented on any topic till today.. It’s easy to track down when and whre your team plays .. So every chance I get I rather watch them than an actual MLS game..

  21. Sputnik says

    Hey Gary,

    In some on your game film it is sometimes hard to recognize which player you are focusing on because it is filmed from so far away. I was only barely able to identify this kid b/c of the fro. Maybe before the start of each clip put an arrow in to show who to concentrate on. Just a friendly suggestion…Keep up the great work!!!

  22. MP says

    Earlier this year I took my U9 daughter to a tournament final the U13 boys were playing in. I took her to let her see how this team moves the ball and every player is constantly moving. While watching the game even my daughter asked how the right back could be so much faster and better than all of the kids on the field. Keep in mind this was the final of a major tournament and we came away in awe of the speed and skill this player exhibited. Believe me, the videos do not do this player justice. It is great that this player found the right coach. So many club coaches I see at the younger ages take their fastest kid and put him up top and play long ball to him. It is the easiest way to win in the short term. Props to you guys for playing him in a position that helped his growth as a player.

  23. Notoriously Caged says

    Nice! Looks like my own flesh-and-blood: strength, finesse, creativity, speed, individual and spatial awareness! And it sounds like he has a great support system of people around him so he’ll fly right thru any burnout stage in his development! All the best to him!

  24. pg 19 says

    Just my bit about this.

    Players that are gifted physically with athletic qualities of speed and agility, that are stronger, that have a higher level of coordination will succeed at an early age comparative to their peers that have to develop those traits either through training and/or through maturity. The higher functioning young athlete often hasn’t had to work to obtain their advantage over their peers so what they do comes easy to them. What may appear to be good technical ability or tactical understanding may literally be them running rings around their competition and their superior “abilities” allow for errors to which they can compensate for by being first to the ball or our muscling their way to get to it.

    The challenge is when these same higher level ability players get older and those advantages start to diminish to their peers. The difference then is who had to work to obtain skill, who has learned work ethic to improve, who has the mental fortitude to deal with a sudden drop in praise for their successes and start to deal with repeated failures until success is achieved. Think about that. The early bloomer receives a ton of accolades early for what they are able to do. So they don’t deviate from what they do. They continue to do what works. Over time, the praise they received fades and as they struggle against players that catch up to them ability wise, they are turned off by the very activity that turned them on.

    For the player that struggled early on, who had to learn the mental fortitude to overcome error and failure over and over again to improve, that physically starts to mature and become more coordinated, suddenly the player that received little praise starts to receive accolades and that encourages them to continue to improve. They have learned work ethic and they make the correlation of success coming from hard work.

    The disconnect, is the early bloomer should have an advantage over the late bloomer, but that requires a mental toughness that many of those said athletes never develop. It’s so rare but often it’s what distinguishes the elite player from the great. In my previous comment, the upbringing of the child is a significant factor. If the parent pushes their kid when they are very young and if the kid comes from athletic parents (wonder why so many athletes end up having children that succeed in the same sport as they), then said kid develops that work ethic early until their motivation is intrinsic.

    You have players that lack motivation and have poor coordination (bottom 5%)
    You have players that have motivation and have poor coordination (majority of late bloomers)
    You have players that have poor motivation but have great athletic abilities (majority of early bloomers)
    You have players that have excellent motivation and great athletic abilities (great to elite top 5%)

    None of this is based on any study. Just my observations of the kids that I have coached and the athlete role models I have followed growing up.

    • Dr Loco says

      Grit is needed to sustain deliberate practice not really talent, self-discipline, …

      Must put in the hardest work possible and focus on weaknesses (poor motivation, poor coordination, poor athletic abilities).

      Here are some studies on Grit.

      • Vitale says

        Must put in the hardest work possible and focus on weaknesses (poor motivation, poor coordination, poor athletic abilities).
        If a player is weak on one of those attributes it’s a dealbreaker for an athlete! In my opinion-you should spend time to improve the things that you are not strong at, but your focus should be on your strengths. In the video, Xuhxuh is focusing on sprinting power and technique although he seems to have always been fast. A player who has an initial advantage in speed and trains like that will always be faster regardless of the maturation of other players.

        • Curious Larry says

          Hi Vitale,

          Nothing wrong with improving/maintaining the strengths of your game.

          It’s like a golfer with a strong short game. This golfer will spend time
          a lot of time improving/maintaining his short game so he/she can highly leverage
          it during tournament time.

          Curious Larry

        • El Memo says

          I agree, work on your weaknesses. Or, as I like to say, make your weaknesses your strengths. However, maintain your strengths. Supplement, do not replace, training.

    • ASO says

      pg 19-thanks for a great answer to my question below. I do wonder if successful “pushing” by parents is more complex than marching a kid through drills every day. It may be more important that athlete-parents pass on some genes that promote drive, model for their children that hard work leads to success, and provide continuous positive feedback when the child takes initiative to work on their own (even if it involves broken tchotkes from banging the ball around the house).

      • pg 19 says

        Not getting too in depth on this response, but I think there are go to fundamental activities that kids in soccer need to of learned and be consistent with before anything else of “greatness” can be taught/learned.

        Think about the parent that pushes their kid academically at an early age. What would they do to achieve that? What is their involvement in helping their kid learn? What is the fundamental skill their child must possess and visit regularly before anything of advanced learning can be understood? Reading comes to mind, but before a kid can read, they must be exposed to the alphabet. Once a kid can read, do you keep them at the same level? Then there is math, science, memorization, etc.

        In soccer, what is the fundamental skill and when is it taught? For me it’s juggling. But to get to that point, the kid must have basic ball control ability and motor skills. Once a kid can juggle, is that the only thing? No, but I think juggling is an important skill set to visit regularly throughout a kid’s development; just a reading would be for the academic. Obviously the challenge has to be increased. Of course there are a multitude of other elements to be taught/learned.

        • El Memo says

          I’m not against juggling. But I see dribbling (moves, feints, etc.,) as the base, not juggling. Again, I’m not against juggling.

          • pg 19 says

            Agreed. Ball work on the ground is the basic fundamental to soccer. Moves, fakes, change of direction or speed, moves sequences (aka Coervers). Basically juggling on the ground. In the air is an advancement of it which also adds a pressure element, working against gravity which teaches patience, composure, timing, goal setting and control with the first touch.

          • pg 19 says

            Back to Xuxuh.
            I like seeing him as an example. How he can be picked apart because he’s already naturally athletic and yet he is still seen working on elements that are strength, speed, agility based. Not necessarily skill based. Yet his foundation of skill would exceed that of 99.999% of soccer players in the world. His exposure to the game is incredibly, even more unique. Adults are making this happen for him. The right coaches, the right parents, the right team, etc.
            Xuxuh didn’t find this entirely on his own and there is nothing wrong with it. My example of the parent who pushes their kid academically, no one would argue it. Same parent pushing their kid in sport, suddenly they are living precariously through their child. Maybe there has to be some of that with an understanding of what is reality. But then again, every player that truly achieves elite status will have been told countless times to quit, that they are not being realistic and I’m certain that most of them, 99.999%, will cave in eventually in believing what are their limitations based on the opinion of others. At least with Xuxuh, he has adults that believe in him more than he probably does and because of that, he will be pushed until he starts doing the pulling. All I can say is I wish more adults would take on this attitude when given the opportunity to potentially influence someone towards their dream. Sometimes the dream of the adult becomes the dream of the child. Not sure of the point I’m making. Just simply stating I’m in awe of him and I have read this particular post numerous times.

          • Scott says

            pg 19,
            Your comments are worthy of a frame- very well said! When my son was 9 we kicked around a few times a week. Always coming home after dark and dinner, my wife would say ” you know he doesn’t love soccer as much as you think, he just loves spending alone time with you”. As a father I never had a problem with this opinion and she was probably correct. When he was 10 we watched a lot of soccer on tv together, we continued our after work and late for dinner kick-arounds, but I could tell he was beginning to enjoy soccer as much as he enjoyed our time together. At 11, soccer now consumes him. I know he still loves me but I also know he thinks about soccer much more them me, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I didn’t force him to fall in love with soccer as many believe. We only introduced, encouraged, and supported him. If my wife and I didn’t then who would have?
            We live in a country where a child devoted to school is “driven” while a child devoted to soccer is “without balance”. This won’t change and it doesn’t have to. Don’t waste anymore breath on this one.
            Pg 19, I’ve never heard the expression “he will pushed until he starts doing the pulling”, but I won’t ever forget it.
            As parents, we should be inspired and motivated by xuxuh, his parents, and coaches/trainers/mentors. There is nothing more to this story than that.

          • Curious Larry says

            Hi Dr Loco,

            Thanks for posting the Diego Maradona juggling video. Since we’re on the topic of strengths and weaknesses, …

            Everyone knows Diego has a strong left foot .. right? I’m guessing a bit here .. but I would wager that most youth coaches would have tried to develop Diego’s weaker right foot. If this was done, the world may never have had a chance to witness the phenom named Diego Maradona.

            Curious Larry

          • El Memo says

            Or, perhaps we may have seen a better Maradona, one that was unpredictable and lethal with both legs. Why does working on your weaknesses have to hurt your strengths? Supplement.

          • dr loco says

            Most youth coaches do not develop any player skills mainly because they are not qualified. Coaching is teaching and testing is required. Never have I seen kids tested expect in school. Make youth sports educational first.

  25. Doug says

    Here is why I would guess he would “fizzle out”: RIght now he is relying heavily on his athletic prowess. Watch him, he is TREMENDOUSLY faster then every other kid out there. Will he still be that much faster when he gets older, especially when other kids start weight training as well? And if he doesn’t have that tremendous edge, will he stall out and lose interest? I don’t know the answer to that as I don’t have the experience to know. I would think it would be better to spend time at his age doing more technical training instead of speed / weight training. I haven’t seen any video of his technical skills. For example, can he do all of the moves Rinaldo makes? Can he handle the ball as well as Messi? If not, there is plenty for him to work on before hitting the gym.

    • Dr Loco says

      ” For example, can he do all of the moves Rinaldo makes? Can he handle the ball as well as Messi? If not, there is plenty for him to work on before hitting the gym.”

      Moves are like tricks…not really game-related. Creatively should come through game play not 1v1 moves. A coach should be creating a team not individual players.

      Going to the gym might be providing extra-motivation and mental down-time to train more with his team. I purposely cross-train some players in other sports for this reason.

      • El Memo says

        Moves and tricks may not be directly related to games, but they give you confidence when handling the ball. The same is for working out at the gym. It also gives you confidence. I would recommend, but only to do so as supplement, not as a focus.

        • Dr Loco says

          Sure but some kids never get enough confidence. Insecurity is part of youth. In fact many get kids get disappointed and turned-off because they can’t do ‘tricks’. The main focus I see coaches work on is conditioning and the reality is few players supplement their team training.

      • Doug says

        This comment is getting a little off topic, as I don’t know if it relates to Xuxuh since I don’t know his training schedule or the rest of his abilities. However, when a fifty-fifty ball comes up, those tricks come in handy because you can send the ball wherever you want using whatever part of your feet happen to be closest to it. The ball is going out? Flick it past the defender using the outside of your foot. You overrun the ball? Do a rainbow to bring it back in play. (And I did see xuxuh try a scissor kick, very nice!) These things aren’t the primary things necessary to win a U12 game, but they do help make the complete soccer player. (And once again to emphasize, Xuxuh may already be able to do these things, it just wasn’t shown, as his speed and confidence on the ball are what really sets him apart).

        • jesran says

          I think this is very on topic actually… I strongly believe that foot skills and to a smaller extent proper body positioning (AKA shielding) are investments best made earlier in a players development. They act like compounding interest works with your retirement account. Every penny invested at the earliest possibility will pay enormous returns, especially compared to the same investment made after puberty, let’s say, trying to play catch up. The reason I believe this is at puberty and beyond players want to compete (for real) and will use everything they have at their disposal to win wether itis good for their long-term development or not. Bad habits. Not as willing to try new things until they are second nature, etc.

          So everything else besides foot skills and shielding also includes running with a personal trainer strapped to your back. Those things do not compound the same. Yes, they may add to your total net worth as a soccer player (let’s call it) and it may seem like an enormous boost when your young and the average net worth is pretty close to zero, BUT because it does not compound same way you have sacrificed valuable time.

          My sons are wrestlers as well as soccer players and you see a lot of physical specimens at 11 years old fizzle out before the true test at high-school varsity level seemingly for a variety of reasons; the time commitment, other sports, injury… but the true reason I see these low-skill wrestlers drop out is because they see it better than anyone how much more effort they have to put in than the highly-skilled participants… and how quickly the highly-skilled wrestlers are catching up physically.

          True, there is this sense of confidence thing. A topic that has been brought up here. I agree confidence helps success breed success. However, the flip side of confidence is doubt. I believe that anyone relying on anything besides foot skills and shielding to get that early confidence will also experience the inevitable sense of doubt that occurs upon noticing the herd of other 15, 16, and 17 year olds who are serious about soccer now hitting the gym and guess what? It turns out you are not as fast as you once thought you were. And guess what too? You have to use your body wisely and your feet cleverly or you are going to disappear in the crowd with everyone else.

          Xuxuh. Let’s take a closer look at him in particular. Again, my biggest fear with any 11 year old soccer player that relies on anything other than foot skill with body positioning to dominate (i.e. size, physical maturity, speed, aggression) is that he or she is short-changing themselves by not the investing. The clearest manifestation of an 11 year old with this problem is playing the ball with his head down and a tendency to run wide. I do not see this with Xuxuh. He has foot skills and seems to be ableto use his body well from the videos. I’m impressed. Do I think he is the great American world-beater that we’ve all been waiting for? I will say “no” for the reasons I have outlined here. He obviously puts a ton of time into athletic training that I feel should have been better spent with a ball on his feet and someone trying to get it from him. This is time that the true American world-beater is spending correctly. However, every kid is different. This may be what Xuxuh is really good at; training, running and showing his athleticism on a soccer field. Good for him. I look forward to seeing him push us all to another level.

  26. CAST says


    There is always some debate regarding the resistance training among youth athletes. Do you have such a program for all the kids in your team? Or it is this kid who does some special strength and conditioning training with some expert?


  27. M. Wolf says

    Not to detract from this kid, but the only thing I’m really seeing is his speed; moreover, him being manufactured and mechanized at such a young age. Granted you cannot teach speed which in turn makes him a very unique and dangerous player. However, I do not see a great deal of spontaneous, creative, imaginative technical ability from him. The best players, the true geniuses of the game, even at such a young age, have their skills developed on the streets not in the gym with elastic bands. In all the videos I have seen of this kid I have yet to see the unbridled, unpredictability to create out of nothing. With him being pushed and showcased at such a young age, I can only draw comparison to Todd Marinovich. It is only a matter of time before these other 11 year olds grow and mature and will learn to contain him.

    • Vitale says

      Its not granted that you can’t teach speed. In the video thats exactly what they are doing – teaching speed. Is he naturally fast or is he fast because he trains hard at it? Sprinting is a skill to be learned and improved sprinting technique is part of it. Very few kids get any coaching on this critical element of sports and quality sprinting coaching will make just about any player faster. The sky is the limit for this kid who plays at the highest level, trains hard and gets state of the art coaching.

    • tim says

      M. Wolf,
      Such an idiotic thing to say!! Why compare this kid to Todd Marinovich when he should or could be compared to Michael Jordon, Messi, the Manning brothers,… Pick your sport or academic discipline. I read your post and see nothing but a jealous father or a man living with many regrets. How do you know he is being pushed? How do you know he’s being showcased?
      Hey old man, I just got a call and 1985 wants your VCR back! It’s 2013 and a blog with video clips isn’t “showcased”, it’s called technology. Do you have any idea what it takes to become an elite athlete? Is your child an elite soccer player? What about you? He’s 12 years old and you’re comparing him to Todd Marinovich, a man with a drug addiction. I think I speak for everyone here, Your posts are not welcome here.

      • jesran says

        I kind of enjoyed Wolf’s off-the-wall commentary. Though a little speculative. He brings up questions that I think are appropriate for this audacious blog-post.

        We are supposed to look at the videos and imagine a team full of Xuxuh’s winning the 2026 World Cup for USA, aren’t we? This post is basically saying, “Hey dumb-asses, do you want to win or not? If so, then follow me! I got the formula.”

        You said, “How do you know he is being pushed?”. I say, how do we know he is not? In both videos I see a man strapped to his back that could be his Dad based upon the age that an 11 year old’s father could be. I immediately thought of Todd Marinovich upon seeing the workout footage.

        Although, basketball and soccer share international participation as common ground, I think your comparison to Michael Jordan is inappropriate because Michael Jordan was doing nothing worthy of international recognition until age 20, let’s say. By that age he was much more mature.

        I think the comparison to Messi is inappropriate too because youth academy soccer like the system that Messi fed into is the equivalent of child slave labor IMO and we just don’t have the stomach for it here in USA… although that seems to be the best way to produce world-beaters like Messi.

        For example, Xuxuh’s Dad can easily see a payoff in college scholarship and likely MLS level or higher professional career. International slave labor youth academies make no such promises to parents and many times (maybe even most times) the players are cast-offs that never have any soccer payoff other than to say that they were great youth players.

        I see a possible correlation to Todd Marinovich whose father did a parental experiment on him knowing that the outcome at the very least would be what it was; college and some pro football. I think that’s what we are seeing in the video.

        Of course, the tragedy with Todd Marinovich was the drugs and whatever emotional issues led him to that, but that’s why this post and Wolf’s reply are so interesting to me I guess. What are they doing about Xuxuh’s psychology so he can manage his assured success? That is a huge question I have.

        I’d like to see a little Tiger Woods-like action like a few words from his sports psychologist about how hard he works… think about it. Being an American soccer hero is not an easy gig. There is a sizable portion of the population that hates soccer with all their hearts. They see it as anti-american. Landon Donovan, is a basket-case I believe because he knows how good he is, he knows he got there despite his training, and he knows that if he had put his eggs in almost any other basket or the same eggs in any other country’s basket OR even the same eggs in our own basket 10 years from now his appreciation as a player would be so much better. Read:making more MONEY. Donovan will one day be appreciated as the pioneer that he is, but for now he seems more like a nervous, ambivalent but essential contributor to what most of here think is a priority in domestic life as we know it.

        I’d like to see more like a Tiger Woods like upbringing and character in our national team members (minus the spousal non-sense). Examples for international academies, like Messi, Ronaldo, etc are impossible given the culture in US. Michael Bradley is a one-off because his Dad is a one-off. Examples like Jordan are inappropriate because of his late-blooming. Examples like Donovan and Marinovich seem to be the examples to avoid in my mind. Both might have benefited from proper developmental psychology infused into the training too. Maybe I’m talking out of my ass and Donovan had a psychologist or maybe he isn’t as depressed as I think he is… Food for thought.

      • M. Wolf says

        Jesran and Tim,

        Tim, I’m sorry you feel that way. In no means did I intend to insult anyone whether it be you, Xuxuh, or Todd Marinovich. Jesran made some very good points that I failed to elaborate on. I was only attempting to draw into question the psychological effect all this will have on him. I just finished reading “Play Their Hearts Out” and which discusses the grassroots basketball system in the US. It chronicles Demetrius Walker, who at 12,13,14 was dubbed the next LeBron James and a shoe-in for an NBA lottery pick. Walker received 1 scholarship offer and didn’t even accept it. He ended up going to Arizona State for a year then transferred to UNM and is now at Grand Canyon University. My point being that at such a young age (this kid is 11!) he’s being crowned the next best thing in American soccer. The same thing happened to Freddy Adu! (And we all now how that turned out.) My point wasn’t to condemn XuXuh, but only to point out putting such high expectations on such a young child can be detrimental to his psychological development, self-esteem, and relationships with various parties (teammates, parents, friends, etc). In regards to showcasing him, we live in the digital age. Not only are these clips available to kids, teens, parents, coaches in the US, but the entire world! That’s billions of people! Not only are these videos available on this blog, but other forums, as well as websites. These videos can and will be spread across various mediums especially social media and all I’m saying is that this attention thrusted onto an 11, especially at such a young age, can have very drastic negative consequences.

        Moving on, I’m not saying “state of the art training” is a bad thing, but many of the all-time greats received no type of training like this at all! As i stated in my original post: “The best players, the true geniuses of the game, even at such a young age, have their skills developed on the streets not in the gym with elastic bands.” Players such as Tevez, Henry, Garrincha, Cruyff, Zidane, etc. learned their skills by playing on the streets! It is awesome XuXuh has these resources afforded to him, but in no way does that guarantee success. It only guarantees a manufactured, mechanized kid. If I’m not mistaken I didn’t see any clips of him playing in his backyard or kicking around with his friends, or doing something by himself without the supervision of an adult. Who wants this success for XuXuh? Is it him, his parents/guardians, his trainer(s), peers? If it’s him then that’s awesome! Many of the top players have the ability to self-motivate without the aid of others, but if this is not the case then we all know the most likely outcome.

        The only thing I’m seeing from this video is that XuXuh is a fast 11/12 year old. If you ask me I’d much rather be the best 25, 26, 29 year old. Someone who is at their physical prime. For all we know XuXuh may not get any faster, get any bigger, get any smarter, develop any more technical skills. The only thing that’s to be seen is he’s “the best” 11/12 year old out there who lives in Los Angeles and has a plethora of resources. What about the children in South America, Africa, or Asia that haven’t been discovered yet?

        Again, I appreciate responses and the varying perspectives. Time will only tell what will happen to this young boy.

      • Coach W says

        Man City youth academies don’t have English players in them? Where do all the kids in Manchester play then? The English game is predicated on speed and power, something XuXuh has! It’d be interesting to see how he does against South Americans and West Africans.

  28. Dino Zoff says

    Can this kid play with elite level kids from other countries? Spain? Italy? Argentina? Brazil? Yes he can. If he was there, he would or could be better. But he is not. So, he and his folks are getting it done, best way possible. If he smiles a lot. If he is having fun (BECAUSE he is good) then more power to him.

    I hope he plays because he loves it. It looks like he does! I picked this kid out from the first video I saw. He took the ball with his weaker foot, sole of the foot, and I was certain he worked in private with the ball, A LOT, outside of practice.

    We will see a lot more of this boy!

    Well done,


  29. Ben says

    Hi Gary,

    Sorry for restarting this thread. I’m just curious – did Xuxuh start out as a RB or he was moved to that position for some reason? It looks to me he’s an attaching oriented kid and it would surprise me that he didn’t play an attacking role.


  30. markooo says

    This will be taken the wrong way so first let me state that I enjoy everything about 3four3 and it is my inspiration. Having said that I am not so impressed with this blog/videos. We know that a youth born in the earlier part of the year has a large advantage over those born later … 6 months is a big difference in the beginning. We also know that there is a problem here with favoring larger or more athletic kids with less technical abilities over smaller (slower) more skilled players.
    I am sure that this is a top tier player but I see that he is slightly faster in the videos and maybe more aggressive at the right times which is a good thing.
    If you take the average 11 or 12 year old and add strength and speed work weekly they will have noticeable results almost after the first month and an advantage because most kids are doing very little in this area. So I applaud his extra efforts.
    It does remind me of a guy Freshman year in HS that was built like the Hulk and crushed other Frosh wrestlers due to his advantage. He simply hit the weights hard before 99% of other eight graders to be blunt. By Senior year he was less than average because he never needed to develop “technically” at first then was behind as the others eventually started strength training.
    So again, great kid … but at that age if he is putting in two or three hours of strength/speed work per week is thus at the expense of more technical skills ?

    Just a question I suppose.

    I mostly raise this issue as I have seen young fast kids that cam simply just go with the ball and look great … but later other kids are just as fast and also without skills.
    I will admit that he does seem to have nice technical abilities.

    Put another way … I wonder if his entire team did the same supplemental training … would he seem to be such a standout ?

  31. markooo says

    @shawn … and everyone else – I will admit that I didn’t watch the longer video before earlier comment just the beginning which duplicated the short video at first. The first video showed more of a player that was faster than most and for the most part doing a good job going RT. 1. The second video did show more of his well rounded abilities.
    But I’ll pose this question. Having seen the extensive training for conditioning/strength development I wonder if the rest of the team does the same. If they do the same then clearly he is in a league of his own. If he is the only one that puts in the extra time then I’ll say he has a deserved added advantage and good for him. This is not to take anything away from him at all.
    If the others on the team are not doing the same then it would be interesting to randomly pick half of the other players and have them train like he does ( strength and conditioning that is ) and let the other half do as they were doing. Then in 6 months see if there is a difference in the other two groups and there abilities.
    Of course they will not all be as studly as Xuxuh but I would bet that the group that put in extra time training would raise there level of play more than the group that did not train. That’s my only point earlier because most 11 year old players don’t do anything to improve in this area and they would all benefit if they did.

  32. Soocer4 Dads says

    This child is definately talented without a question and works very hard. I am curious to know – Does he attend a regular school or is he home schooled ?

  33. Steve_C says

    I think it’s pretty clear from the video that it’s showing that he’s working on all aspects of his game. Technically he looked great, his decision making is solid, he beats players 1v1, he wins balls and anticipates their passes and he’s got a great shot. If he didn’t have a pretty complete game, I’d agree that maybe he needed to spend more time with a ball and less conditioning.

  34. tim says

    I truly believed we were making progress but after reading several ignorant posts, I’m unsure. Let me say this is nicely possible: IF YOU DON’T SEE THE QUALITY IN THIS KID THEN PLEASE STOP COACHING AND GET AWAY FROM THE GAME! DON’T JUST WALK AWAY BUT RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    It’s beyond comprehension how anyone can post a negative comment about this kid. He works his ass off and some wonder “well, what if everyone did this?”, who cares? They don’t and that’s the difference. To every father reading this blog, this is the benchmark! The technique, the work ethic, the desire, the passion, and lets not forget the ALONE TIME. If your little boy isn’t doing this then that’s a problem too. Not because you’re forcing him but because he wants to. He is bigger than average and an advantage at this age but it’s not his fault so why bring it up. Regarding an earlier comment about “slower and technical” players getting a shot. Slow is never beneficial in athletics! Why should the “slow” kid get anything? How about you get a good trainer like this kid and do some parachute sprints.

  35. Jake Owens says

    really he has only 1 free night a week including weekends he goes to japan and barcelona every year to practice and still juggles perfect grades so you are wrong mister

  36. Dr Loco says

    Why should any kid get anything? That is the sports mom mentality that permeates in all youth sports. Funny how kids need a specialized trainer to become successful. I’ve been moving more towards this area. Can’t believe how clueless parents/coaches are when it comes to youth sports.

  37. Curious Larry says

    Hi Tim,

    I don’t think anyone here is saying that XuXuh is not a tier 1 player at this stage. Though, there are some folks who are voicing (some) concerns that the kid is starting intensive physical training at such an early age .. instead of focusing on technical & tactical training. Conventional wisdom says that XuXuh’s physical adavantages will narrow as the boys get older; & that there is a natural progression & that (certain) stages should not be rushed and/or skipped i.e., crawl, walk, then run.

    OTOH, it may be all envy & jealousy ;)

    Curious Larry

  38. Adrian says

    You are AWESOME!!! Agree with everything you said! …”He works his ass off and some wonder “well, what if everyone did this?”, who cares? They don’t and that’s the difference.”…

    LOVE IT!!

  39. says

    This is just one reason why the 2nd video was created.

    We know ALL the typical objections, critiques, and excuses people have.
    I’ve been swimming in this country’s status quo forever.

    Now, what you’re suggesting as a thought experiment is just silly.
    It is precisely the fact that an individual goes above and beyond others, that ultimately makes them remarkable.

  40. T3COEP says

    My sons are U15 and U17. One thing is absolutely true: I’ve seen wonder kids at U10, U12, U14 fizzle out and are now on “B” teams, don’t play at all and never made USSDA Academy. Size sets apart early bloomers (man child). Youngers (U14 and below) kids with speed and a lot of attitude (dribbling, confidence) can have their way. By U15 or U16, their natural advantage is not such a hughe gap. Othes get faster, smarter, stronger, more tactically aware. I hope by U16, Xuxuh is doing well and turns professional one day. That would be fantastic!

    Wrong coaching can derail it quickly. And a host of things change as they mature. For most kids the odds are stacked against them. Luck and good fortune are critical. The “best” aren’t always chosen as luck and timing wasn’t on their side.

    All this said, he looks awesome in videos! I truly hope that he keeps it up and things go well for him for a bright future.

  41. says

    I know this kid and I can tell you he is focus on every aspect of the game.
    He works harder then everyone and has the right coaching ( bk and jw)
    There are no shortcuts in anything this 4 hard working years for this kid .
    Keep doing what you do xuxu
    We proud of you and sure you will go far.
    Bk worked on his soccer skills for 4 years and same as xuxu he work on his game 24/7 ( not a lot of coaches work that hard and willing to learn and take the game far as him , congrats to you also bk).
    Hope to see some of you coaches in our coaches clinic in Barcelona October 23-28
    More details on 3four3 site.

  42. ASO says

    Can you elaborate on why a kid who is technically and tactically superior at a younger age (independent of size) would “fizzle out”? I get it if they hit adolescence and just don’t care to put the effort in anymore or are injured. I ask because I read this comment ALOT in youth soccer blogs and it puzzles me.


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