Thursday, December 18, 2014

How can the USSF open access for more kids and improve youth player development in one easy move?

Recently one of the hottest topic amongst US soccer fans has been how to improve development for young American players. MLS even put out a video entitled "When will MLS produce its own Messi" that a great response was written to ...

"Major League Soccer’s official website recently put together a short mash-up video asking the question, “When will MLS produce its own Messi?” The video itself, more paid promotional collateral soaked in corporate initiative-driven opinion than honest exploration, reiterated the common reasons and myths regarding the perpetual absence of an American player of world-class caliber."


With recent announcements of European soccer giants Bayern Munich and Barcelona starting youth academies or partnering with existing youth clubs in the United States the worry becomes to what ends are they doing this? 

Alexi Lalas is cynical about the arrival of the European giants. “Make no mistake,” he says. “This is a gold rush. This is a land grab.”

Lalas has invested most of his life in Stars and Stripes soccer, playing for USA at the 1994 World Cup and serving as general manager for three MLS teams – including the LA Galaxy that signed David Beckham – before becoming a high-profile TV presence.

“US soccer is littered with decades of people coming over with little more than an accent to their resume, and using the naivete we’ve had and the inexperience and lack of soccer history and culture to their advantage,” says Lalas.


Above and beyond if these European clubs are starting to tap in to the US market to develop players or to expand their brand or just plain make major money off of our "pay to play" system we must worry about what is actually going on in the top levels of US youth develop circles. Billy Haisley of Deadspin summed it up perfectly in his ARTICLE HERE...
The Guardian's own opening scene offers a strong hint to which way the wind is actually blowing. The article opens with Joe Bradley, CEO of GPS, in Bavaria, observing a Bayern youth team practice. During the session, he has an epiphany about the youth coaches' area of emphasis:
"They had a real commitment to game intelligence and the technical aspect of the game, and didn't worry so much about winning or losing," Bradley says of the games he saw, with players ranging from 11 to 16 years old. "We're going to put this at the top of the list," he adds, referring to the work GPS does training about 55,000 youth players in 11 northeastern US states.
If the CEO of a company charged with training 55,000 of America's young soccer players is shocked that skill development and not meaningless on-field victories is what clubs like Bayern focus on, American soccer is a lot further behind than we thought.

 Later on he makes one statement that can only be answered by the USSF...

Still, someone has to figure out how to develop truly world-class talent, because the potential galvanizing force of an American superstar cannot be overstated.

The rest of the world has figured out this process and distilled it to its most basic essence. Competition and merit are what get you and your club to the top rungs of the sport. If the USSF would open up the pyramid (READ HERE TO FIND OUT HOW OUR PYRAMID WORKS), expand the organizational structure below the current top 3 levels and institute Promotion and Relegation it would then become in every club in the United States best interests to do several things. Develop young players to improve their first team and chances for advancement up the pyramid, to scout all local youth players to find undiscovered talents/diamonds in the rough and to open access to as many youth players as possible to expand their available player pool.

Which do you think will work better for US player development? Our current pay to play system that is focused more on parents bank accounts than player talent mixed with a few dozen limited high end regional development academies? Or a system of 1,000's of clubs working to develop players of the highest levels possible in every community all across the nation that are rewarded for providing top level coaching and developing those players?

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