The next u14 cycle for US Soccer has begun, and it seems like they’re on the right track in terms of identifying some players in the country.
The era of searching for the most athletic, biggest, strongest, fastest players seems to have changed. At this age at least, the federation is practicing what they preach in terms of selections since Claudio Reyna released the coaching curriculum in April of 2011.
In the past, the group of players currently selected would never have been considered due to lack of size or other physical tools.
The first question from scouts or coaches when asking about a players attributes were:
“Is he big?” “Is he fast?” “Can he jump?”
US Soccer was always concerned about those things because it had mostly been about winning 1st and 2nd balls … you know, the patented US Soccer jungle-ball.
Now, it’s the raw athletes who are struggling to get picked and not understanding why.
Jason scored 42 goals last season and is a beast. It’s like a man playing with boys.
-DOC’s with the traditional mentality of athleticism, above the technical & tactical.
The current brass seems to be looking for players who can fit into a possession oriented team. Players that are technically sound and have a tactical sense, are starting to be appreciated more than the man child.
During our famous post game – or training session – get togethers with the staff, we’d joke about the topic of Xavi or Iniesta. Had they been American born they would never have sniffed the field in MLS and had ZERO CHANCE of representing our national teams at the youth or senior level.
Now it seems we might just see a player of those characteristics emerge within the National Team setup.
Lets forward to how it applies to our players.
Seven from our group have been selected to the first 2001 US National team u14 camp this week in Carson.
7 out of 48 from the country … 7 out of 9 from LA … 7 out of 10 from so cal (nomads kid is 10th).
Name, (Training History), and position
(November 2010 – present), #2 (RB) or 4/5 (CB)
(December 2011 – present), #10 (Attacking mid)
(December 2011 – present), #11 (LW)
(November 2010 – September 2014), #2 or #3 (RB/LB)
(May 2011 – December 2013), #3 (LB)
(November 2012 – April 13, remained with our assistant Daniel Rogers April 2013 – September 2014, back training with us September 14 – present), #3 (LB) or #11 (LW)
(Scouted him Nov 2012, trained and played with us January 2013 – April 2013 for MIC, trained and played April 2013 – July 2013 for VW, trained and played March 2014 – April 2014 for Dallas Cup)
*Cannot claim development … Auggie Rodriguez from Empire FC has coached and trained him for years. #4/5 (LCB)
We have several other quality 2001s who are newer to the team and have national team potential. With time, if they keep working on the details, their number will be called as well.
This is without mentioning the 2000s on our team that are part of the older u14 NT cycle.
(November 2010 – present)
(November 2010 – present)
(March 2014 – present)
*cannot claim development, he was coached and trained by Billy Garton from Del Mar Sharks.
So all in all, there are 7 players who have been with us for years and comprise the original team whose video went viral, and 3 others that are newer additions.
Again, from the perspective of the identification process at this age, US Soccer is starting to follow world futbol. But of course picking the right players to fit a certain style of play is only part of the equation.
Now comes the most complex part: Can we piece it all together with the critical elements of training and implementing an identity?
Putting the right staff in place to execute this vision is the next chapter.
Not only that, but the key is that all players in the pool get proper training at their home clubs under the tutelage of someone with the proper expertise. That’s where the core development happens, not in the handful of weeks these players meet with the National Team. You can check out Hugo Perez comments on this matter on the Football Garden podcast.
At least for now, there is a good indication that the Player ID portion of the Gold Standard at this age group is in order.