Monday, September 24, 2018

Was I Out Of My Element (Revisited)

This was one of the first (maybe the first real one) articles I ever wrote for a blog about 4 years ago. I don't remember the exact date but that isn't really important. The thing is... NOTHING has changed in that time. It may even be worse really than it was back then. I know the more I learn about the system and the more I get involved in the system the worse things look.

Enjoy a piece of my story...

I am pretty sure I am in the minority here… a guy who went from being a soccer player to a football coach back to being a soccer coach. Mostly you hear of the former football player dad who gets “stuck” coaching his child’s soccer team and being totally out of his element, at this point in a movie the comedy ensues. Welcome to my coaching story in reverse.

From the age of 5 until a few years after graduation from High School I played soccer along with baseball, basketball and even a wrestling season… your normal American multi-sport kind of kid. I even snuck in a couple of seasons of coaching soccer for my younger brother’s team when I was 19-20 years old while still playing in various leagues and pick up games. School, business and my job of being a 4-H Agent for West Virginia State University all through my 20’s got in the way of continuing any kind of organized sports anything. That is until a schedule change cracked that window open and Mike Ferrell, one of my best friends and a supremely talented youth football coach, asked me to come help coach his football team. The Midwestern Big Blue A Team (11/12yr olds) were just starting a great run that continues until this day… winning multiple league championships (6 in 10 years) by working hard to develop all of his players. A lot of those players just went undefeated and won a WV AAA HS state championship for Capital HS this year. A few have even continued along their development path leading to playing college football on Saturdays.

Was I out of my element when I first started? Totally! I was basically there just to play “good cop” when coaches got on players and to make sure the kids didn’t get too close to the sideline on game day and get us a sideline warning. One thing I personally believe in though is if you commit to being a child’s teacher of a game AKA coach, you need to be the best one that you can possibly be.

I spent hours upon hours over the next few years talking to coaches, looking at videos on YouTube, reading books, going to coaches clinics and just trying to soak up the game and learn what, when, and how to coach the things these kids needed to learn to let them be the best players they could be.

Having wonderful youth coaching mentors at Midwestern like Coach Ferrell and Coach Paul Gilmer along with guys from Capital HS like Coach LaPoe gave me an excellent base to build off of. Add college coaches like the University of Charleston’s David Hill willing to spend their valuable time teaching me aspects of the game that a neophyte coach like myself would have never known I didn’t know helped speed my progress as a coach up immensely.

Next thing you know I am the Offensive Line coach… then I’m calling plays as the offensive coordinator and I am getting buckets of water dumped on me by kids after winning a championship.

I loved these kids and I loved working with my fellow coaches.

As all things in life are want to do… they changed. My wife starts back to college, my oldest daughter’s soccer team’s coach quit after spring season and my younger twins are busy playing soccer themselves. Naturally who do the other parents look to as the person who should step up and coach the team now that they are coach-less? Me, the former soccer player turned football coach, obviously.

After some prodding by my wife I agree to switch sports and become the coach of the Queen Bees. With my memories of some extremely bad father/coaches in my own sporting past I did not really look forward to the experience. I was already aware that I put pressure on myself to not only be the best coach that I can possibly be as an informed technically sound coach. Now here I was with the added pressure of my daughter being judged differently by the parents as the coach’s daughter and having each of my interactions under the microscope of them being from not “Coach Chris” but “Coach ‘Kaia’s Dad’”.

Once committed I dove in head first researching, studying and taking the USSF ‘E’ License course (thank you again Coach Thomas Olivier of Marshall Univ.) and trying to talk to other coaches at every level as often as possible to learn as much as I could.

Almost immediately several things become very clear to me. The culture of coaching in soccer in the United States is radically different than coaching football. The days of basically every single coach just wanting to talk shop, trying to learn from each other and improve as coaches were gone. Many of my newly found soccer coach peers didn’t want to hang around after practice and talk about what they were doing… how they helped kids get better at one certain aspect of the game… the nuances of how to improve the teaching of a drill. It was usually get in and get out, on the rare occasions there was actually conversations it was limited to tournament results.

My own kids had been playing indoor and outdoor for a few years, and my oldest daughter had been invited to try out for traveling teams. They each participated in camps and even a small group training session or two (we even drove 3 hours to Columbus so the oldest could attend a camp with the Crew). But none of this prepared me for the culture of “nothing is free”…at all…EVER.

Last summer when I start giving free weekly clinics to whoever showed up and started inviting kids who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford small group trainings the main statement I heard from parents and other coaches was the question… “So how exactly are you going to get paid if you are doing these for free?”… What? I was very confused to say the least.

I came from the football field, where coaches worked with kids 5 days a week in practice plus had a game every weekend. My fellow coaches raised thousands of dollars every year for equipment, uniforms, and travel expenses. Every day we went to single parent (and in many cases no parent) homes to shuttle kids to and from practice. I personally witnessed guys paying hundreds of dollars out of their own pocket so these kids could play. It was shocking to me that a free 75 minute session would be so out of the norm that people questioned my motivations.

So I start to research why things are the way they are in youth soccer in the United States. I read up more and more on this now culturally ingrained in to American soccer Pay to Play system and the immense and long term effects this closed system has on our player development at all levels from little kids to the USMNT and USWNT.

Those boys I coached came from the worst housing projects in the worst neighborhood in the poorest state in the United States and have a clearly defined path to the top levels of their chosen sport. The team of girls I coach every week are almost exclusively upper- and middle-class, come from two parent homes, yet their path to the top level of their sport is based on spending tens of thousands of dollars and praying a college coach happens to be at whatever tournament their team gets entered in…and that they get offered a partial scholarship to a college.

Just think of the irony in this situation. The poor black kids from the projects have the path to football success laid out for them where everybody can see, all they have to do is be good enough and work hard enough to take advantage of it. The rich white girls from the good neighborhood must pay for every chance they can get in soccer… Talent, work ethic, and potential are of no consequence, all that matter is if the check clears.

How many thousands of great men’s and women’s players have had their development cut off because of this closed “pay to play” culture supported by USSF policy?

A couple of common questions about the symptoms of this closed culture are always asked in the media… “What if our best athletes played soccer?” and my favorite one (posed by MLS PR) “When will MLS produce it’s own Messi” maybe they need to be changed to questions about the system behind our development issues… “Why do we not want more kids playing soccer?” and “Has the USSF already wasted an American Messi?”.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Project Year Zero: The National Soccer League

Over the last two weeks Daniel Workman has released 13 episodes of his Soccer Works podcast, with a final installment coming tomorrow, laying out his Year Zero: The National Soccer League. He has put together among other things, the reasoning behind why it is important for every independent club in the United States to work together to create a pyramid like this, the fact that he talked to a TV executive that said a 300 club pyramid would generate $100M per year in TV and sponsorships dollars, and answered many of the questions about how we can help fix the youth development system in the US via this project as well.

Now with the NPSL Pro planning in the works... it is imperative that these leaders of lower division INDEPENDENT soccer go above and beyond just creating a professional league outside of the PLS. They must be actual agents for system change in the United States.

There is never going to be another time like right now to actually do what is necessary to change how soccer works in the United States. I know that these club owners are doing what they think is right for their club, the fans, and I'm sure even the game. That said... these men and women could be remembered as something much more than that. They can be remembered as the brave souls who created the first open pyramid in professional sports in the United States. They can be remembered as the people who broke soccer wide open and created the system that allows us to win the World Cup in our lifetimes.

I've personally talked to dozens of club owners/directors who are begging for a project like this to come to fruition... I've talked to several leaders of State Associations across the nation who are 100% on board with a project like this coming to fruition... and social media is full of scores and scores of fans and Supporter Groups who are practically begging for a project like this to come to fruition... I've even talked to leadership of LEAGUES who want to join a system like this.

Every day we wait to get to the hard work of creating this pyramid is a day that we let the establishment put in more work killing successful independent clubs like what is happening in Chattanooga. Every day we wait to get to the hard work of building the pyramid is another day that the establishment is given the gift of a disjointed American soccer landscape to exist in. One that every community isn't pulling in the same direction. One where they can sell dreams and not have to deliver a single positive result.

Now... are you going to be a bold leader who says we are going to put a man on the moon? or are you going to say that we can still wait years to attempt to get there and miss this opportunity in front of us right now?

Listen to the first 13 episodes below.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Guest Post: It was an idea I’d never considered by Casey Proud

As this blog is oft to do... we have yet another wonderful guest post. This time by Casey Proud (Make sure you follow him on Twitter!) who happens to be a supporter of one of the most popular lower division clubs out there, the supporter owned San Francisco City FC.
"It was an idea I’d never considered" - Casey Proud

Since I’ve been a fan of American soccer - and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this - I’ve had that vision, that dream, of what that moment will be like if the US Men’s National Team won the World Cup. It’s gonna be pretty embarrassing to describe for me, but here goes: in it, I’m a father or otherwise an old guy, and I’m with my family and friends, either somehow in the stadium itself or otherwise watching from San Francisco in a huge crowd. The final whistle sounds and I scream with jubilation before breaking into tears. It’s a perfect moment of human happiness. I’m hugging everyone around me, screaming “We did it!”

That thought was especially riveting to me in late 2013. I was getting heavily involved with the American Outlaws, and there was a World Cup coming up the next year...I mean I didn’t think the US was gonna WIN IT or anything, but I was excited about the program you know? I was a large fan of the Seattle Sounders, and I read quite a bit of /r/MLS. I was part of that surge of optimism, that “believing”, that US Soccer was on a solid upward trajectory. Detractors? They’re underestimating us! Pro/Rel? Who needs it! We’re gonna (eventually) win it the American way baby!

Being leadership within AO, I had a sort of guiding principle that I would find and do what was necessary to help the USMNT win the World Cup. In building my chapter, I’d reached out to the existing soccer community, where I met Mike. Mike introduced me to the idea that, if we want the USA to win the World Cup, we’d need to have a competitive club in every community. It was an idea I’d never considered.

I mean, I knew that club soccer was related to the success of the national team, but that was the first time I’d really thought of club soccer outside of MLS. And it made sense: more clubs in local communities meant more local player identification, more development for those players, and more opportunities for those players to be identified for and moved to higher levels. This was how we could help maximize the talent pool for our national teams.

Obviously, my thoughts turned to the current state of club soccer in SF. At that point, in the City the only club even on my radar was the SF Stompers. Without getting too far into it, it was PRETTY not great. We wanted something special, for a city we thought was special. The Stompers were not that for us.

When SF City FC came together, those involved were talking about what we wanted in a club team. We’d seen the problems with San Francisco soccer clubs previously. In recent history, the San Francisco Seals, the California Victory, the Stompers, all hadn’t really figured out how to crack the SF soccer nut. The concept of supporter ownership came up; it was an idea that was *different*, and *fun*. We all had our own good and bad experiences with various other clubs, but here was a chance to build our own pizza with an infinite number of ingredients to choose from.

I was beyond excited. I was *doing* something for American soccer. We were trailblazers, in the SF tradition of gold rushers, immigrants, 60s radicals, and even those spiffy new tech companies. We were going to apply to the NPSL, an amateur league, and work our way up from there, hopefully to the NASL! The City was going to fall in love with us, I was sure of it.

Jacques, the club president, made up the application and submitted it. Boom, a new club all our own, ready to play in 2014. Done deal. We’re gonna be like Detroit. We’re gonna be like Sacramento. Someday we’re gonna be more popular than Portland and Seattle. We’re...denied?

Jacques had gotten word back from the NPSL. SF City FC was being denied entry to the NPSL based on...territory rights? Territory rights: where a league can decide that a club isn’t allowed simply because another club is already there and they don’t want two clubs to “split the market”. I thought, weren’t there cities with multiple clubs in them in the same league around the world? And weren’t those clubs flourishing? And aren't local rivalries the heart of soccer club culture? (NOTE: NPSL has since undone the policy that let this happen, fortunately)

But besides the territory rights, didn’t they just have great success with Nashville’s “supporter owned” club? Weren’t they excited about us? Frustrated, we talked it out: Jacques thought the BS territory rights were BS, and felt we could fight it legally. Meanwhile, we figured we’ll just have a go for next year, and use this year + the World Cup to ramp up excitement. I was part of the excitement ramping up crew. I went out to sell my new club. I spoke to my friends, to other Outlaws, and got up early to watch EPL games I didn’t care about to tell fellow soccer fans about the club.

My memory of it was responses like:
· So are you like, in MLS?
· Are you going to be in MLS?
· Why aren't you/can't you be in MLS?
· I only really watch the USMNT/World Cup
· Yeah I stick to European soccer because of the higher quality.
· How will you grow if there’s no promotion and relegation?
· Oh we're watching baseball.

“No, but if we had enough fan interest we could maybe become popular enough to become big enough to maybe be allowed into MLS one day!” I’d respond in so many words, trying to make THAT sound exciting. People liked the supporter ownership model, they liked our brand...but the competition, and competition level, was *always* something that came up.

Long story short: we joined a regional league before the final decision on NPSL. We just wanted to get on with it. We had a club though, and through that season we became dedicated supporters. We made up ridiculous songs, drank too much, painted tifo and yelled bullshit at amateur players who maybe had never seen fans that weren’t parents. We played in local parks with maybe a single set of stands, and clubs routinely forfeited games against us, having trouble finding 11 players.

By the end of it we were beyond ready to move to a better league. We talked about moving up, and my fellow supporters spoke intelligently and rationally about pro/rel. They make me think about these questions: how would our club make it to the highest levels in the current system? Now how would our club make it to the highest levels in a pro/rel system? One certainly seemed to have a more straightforward answer than the other in terms of a visible, viable path.

I looked at the then lower league darlings Sacramento Republic, who seemed reasonably certain would be announced for MLS soon enough but hadn’t yet. Surely a club that looks ready to join MLS next year would rather be able to actually join next year than have to wait to maybe be the lucky one picked next for expansion, to then start play a few years after that?

I was wary about being on the pro/rel “side” though. I saw pro/rel folks being labeled as crazy, stupid, toxic, “truther” etc. by journalists, pundits, even my friends. I didn’t want to have that “flat-earther” association made about me, even if, as I learned more about it, pro/rel wasn’t actually looking so zany after all.

The club brought in new investment and we moved to the PDL. We were excited about the new challenge; we’d even potentially have a rivalry with the Burlingame Dragons! I was elected to the member board and became more involved with the operations of the club. It was there I really saw firsthand how totally fucking hard it is to make money and attract attention when your club isn't in - and isn’t in the discussion of the possibility to be in - MLS.

I started thinking with my degree from business school: Why should investors put competitive amounts of money into lower league soccer when there’s no clear path for growth? What would my club even receive, business-wise, if they won the PDL? Relegation for an MLS club is regarded as a death sentence because of how weak US lower leagues are, but how do you strengthen the lower leagues to make relegation not so bad without opportunity for growth (and penalty for stagnation) of those clubs? I couldn’t help but wonder why we're reinventing the wheel in America.

Meanwhile I saw this kinda stuff posted on /r/MLS:
· San Francisco won't support a minor league team [“It’s the community’s fault”
· Sac Republic is doing fine. More teams should be like them. [“To be successful in the lower
  leagues, you just have to always be trying to join MLS”]
· Why don't you just support the San Jose Earthquakes? [“You should stop trying, period”]

Then that year, we’d heard the news: a professional level club with lots more money than us was announced to be dropped into our community. They wouldn’t have to work their way up like we did, and, oh, they’ll be joining the NASL, where we’d originally wanted to go. COOL. We tried not to feel threatened; we felt threatened a lot. We’d done all of this work building this club we loved from the ground up and a new team could just parachute into the league above us because of money. Bonus awfulness: they were going to play in OUR stadium, effectively kicking us out. It seemed completely unfair. Where else in the world was a team allowed to buy their way directly into a league above another?

But then we saw them making REALLY weird branding and marketing choices. Seeing their struggles, I felt a sense of relief that, if anything, we had the chance to get mistakes out of our system at a low level where the stakes aren’t very high. Funny how being forced to start from the bottom and working your way up can do that! Of course, we all saw what happened with the Deltas. They were a one year wonder: winning the championship, then folding due to poor business, taken down after being forced by our system to hit the ground running but stumbling instead.

The real shock, for us, was when it was announced the Dragons were folding too. Our rivals of the past 2 years, we assumed they’d had plenty of money available to continue on. After they folded, the Dragons’ owner did a podcast expressing his frustration with the American soccer system, saying part of why he pulled his money is he didn’t see a way for his investment to grow. His money’s in English soccer now instead of American soccer.

SF City’s 2017 and 2018 seasons saw us building - building slowly, but building. More people are becoming members, more people are joining the supporters, more people are understanding what we’re about. Sure it’d be nice to have more money for marketing to get the word out about our club...but also, marketing what? When I think about what we’re selling, so much of it, unfortunately, is not the soccer competition. It’s everything around it. We’re not pitching the competition of PDL, we’re pitching things like “support local soccer”, supporter-ownership, and our club identity. Why does the next match matter to someone I’m evangelizing to about my club? Why does it matter if we win the PDL?

I wonder why, over and over, local investment seems to constantly overlook soccer, the world’s favorite sport. Our club lives in the Bay Area, where money gets thrown around at some of the dumbest things possible. Oh you reinvented the juicer? Here’s $120 million! Vending machines...reimagined?? Press C2 for millions more of our stupid dollars! And yet, soccer in my City has had trouble attracting and/or keeping that kind of money. If San Francisco won’t support a “minor league team”, won’t giving my club a clear-cut path to be a “major league team” help the cause? And won’t making our move to the next level to be based primarily on on-the-field results improve the American soccer competition?

Are we scaring people away who might want to put their investment into American soccer because there’s no clear path for growth, or there’s territory rights, or they’ll lose everything if they don’t get it near perfect from the start, or there’s an arbitrary “expansion committee” made up of billionaires that could just say “no”, or the whole league they want to join might be de-sanctioned, or there’s no league available for them to join, or they aren’t in a “big TV market”, or the federation won’t really care about them if they aren’t in MLS, or people won’t care about them if they’ll never have access to MLS, or they’ll need to pay a gigantic expansion fee and/or give up their IP to a single entity, or someone could buy their way into a league above them, or they’ll have to sell almost EVERYTHING ELSE besides the actual competition of soccer?

And where’s our current system gotten us? The USMNT has missed the World Cup. #SaveTheCrew is happening, #StandWithChatta is looking to be a warzone, Sacramento Republic are still outside looking longingly in the window of MLS, MLS is still doing woefully on TV, multiple lower league clubs are folding every year, leagues are warring and lawsuits are flying, youth participation is dropping, $2 billion Soccer United Marketing is completely opaque, the US Open Cup is treated as a third-rate competition, and soccer is still fantastically inaccessible to play, watch, and care about in the United States.

So what are we doing to win the men’s World Cup? Are we telling people active in the game they need to sound “nicer”? Are we telling us to wait and see if the current system that’s failed us time and again for almost 50 years (since the beginning of the first NASL) maybe won’t fail again? Are we going to keep rejecting the system we’ve *never* tried and has produced all the World Cup winning countries? Do you really want to “wait 20 years” before we start the change in our system that could make us a soccer super power by then? Where will you *be* in 20 years?

I still want the USMNT to win the World Cup, but now I also want the club and community that I love to have a shot at the highest levels of soccer. I want my club and community to have decent shot at contributing to a World Cup winning USMNT. In my men’s World Cup winning fantasy land, when I think of why my mind decided on my screaming “*We* did it”, I think it’s probably because I’m thinking about everything that has to happen, the whole massive undertaking of a nation coming together to find a way to be the best in the world at the world’s favorite sport. And what I “believe” now, based on my experience in American soccer, is that promotion and relegation with independent clubs puts the steps in place to get there.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

What problems are NPSL Pro trying to solve?

Earlier today Daniel Workman released Episode 23 of his daily Soccer Works podcast and he finished it off with this quote...
"It will take compromise, huge amounts of hard work, complete commitment to the cause, and the unification around a plan and a project. It will require an all or nothing commitment and must focus on the participation and prosperity of clubs and not leagues."

That quote was so perfect to me... I had already been thinking about NPSL Pro, its ramifications, and what is really possible from it. I sent out a few tweets with those thoughts.

To add some clarity to what I mean from these tweets...

1. It is important to know if NPSL is trying to actually change how soccer works in this country or are they just trying to create a league outside of the harmful PLS pro league standards system?

2. NISA by working to be a USSF D3 league they have by default agreed that they are not the equivalent and have no desire to be the top league in the nation. They have also agreed to play by the rules that the PLS lay out... and the ramifications of them. By operating outside of this PLS system the NPSL has the ability to allow their clubs to grow to their maximum level without adhering to the rules that currently stop them from doing so. They WANT to disrupt the system by doing this.

3. NPSL has a chance to do everything soccer fans have wanted to see... Training Compensation and Solidarity Payments, Open League System, Fan Ownership, Youth Soccer reform, governance transparency, actual FIFA compliance, and more... ground breaking stuff for sport in America. NPSL can be visionary... they can change how sports work in this nation.

4. In my and others opinions they absolutely have to think this big to win.

5. The people will be the best grassroots marketing campaign ever. Soccer fans WANT this change. If you think the #ProRelForUSA discussion is loud now... just wait and see what it looks like if NPSL actually delivers system reform.

6. If NPSL is trying to deliver basically NASL but without the PLS hindrances... if it is just trying to compete against UPSL... if it is just more of the same... more leagues... more closed off expansion fee plans... more of the same things that have been tried just without the PLS problems... I'm sorry to say that incremental change is not what we need right now. We need massive change. We need bold visionary leadership... something that the USSF has not delivered on in our lifetimes.

Yes, all of this is going to take a huge amount of work in a short amount of time. I am wishing the best to come of all of this and I really hope that NPSL leadership is able to deliver what soccer in the United States really needs right now.

Good luck. We are depending on you.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Athletes Council

There has been quite a bit of talk about the Athletes Council ever since the US Soccer Federation election at the most recent AGM.

Daniel Workman did a GREAT job describing the council and how it works during  Episode 9 of his "Soccer Works" mini-podcast series. (P.S. make sure you give him a follow and listen to all of these 2 minute long podcasts they are amazing)

To clarify some of the information about how all of this works... directly from within the Athletes Council.

The last Athletes Council election was in March 2017.

10 places were up for election as is customary as the terms are up every 2 years.

Only 11 people were nominated for the 10 spots in the March 2017 election. The only one not elected was former US Paralympic player Jason Slemmons.

Nobody is given a list of who is eligible to run... so nobody knows exactly who they can nominate. Everything about the process is emailed to the contact that they have on file... with some players still eligible to vote/nominate/be nominated being up to 10 years out of the NT picture. I would wonder how current those email addresses are? The vote was overseen by Greg Fike the staff attorney with the USSF. The vote results are not public...

There is something I've noticed that is interesting about the 10 winners...

Brian Ching - Richard Motzkin (Wasserman Group)
Brad Guzan - James Grant Sports Management Atlanta United MLS player
Lauren Holiday - Richard Motzkin (Wasserman Group)
Heather O'Reilly - Richard Motzkin (Wasserman Group)
Stu Holden - Richard Motzkin (Wasserman Group)
Jonathan Spector - SK Soccer Tours current Orlando City MLS player.
Gavin Sibayan (USA Paralympic Team appears to not be represented)
Aly Wagner (USWNT and no agent can be found online) announcer for FOX/NWSL
Lori Lindsey (USWNT and no agent can be found online) announcer for USL/NWSL

At least 40% of them are represented by the Wasserman Group. I only have 9 listed because I don't know who the 10th winner from this previous election was so really it could have been 50%. Maybe it means something... maybe it doesn't but it is interesting.

When we pair the fact that nobody has a list of who is eligible to be nominated with so many of those nominated being from one AGENT let alone agency... it is interesting.

There are always so many questions when you start to look at whats going on within the USSF when it concerns staying in power. I am definitely not accusing these players of doing anything wrong but it would just seem that every eligible player should be notified that they can nominate a player for the council and that they should be given a complete list of who they can nominate. That seems to be the VERY minimum of what the Athletes Council should be doing.

They aren't doing it.

The next Athletes Council election is in November... I wonder if this pool of what? 225 players? will all be contacted and given a list of everybody they can nominate before 11 are nominated for 10 spots... again. It would for sure keep one person or a small group of people from hand picking nominations and stacking the Athletes Council in their vision.

Keep speaking up for change.


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Youth soccer costs in the US, Canada, and Australia suck.

I've been thinking about the outrageous prices being charged in American youth soccer quite a bit lately (as usual) and we already know that Canada has many of the same issues about cost locking out huge swaths of children from playing the game.

It made me wonder if Australia has the same issues... so I hit up one of my Australian followers on Twitter and asked for some information about the costs for youth to play.

It looks to me like the 3 nations who do soccer... the closed system way. All have the SAME results when it comes to the prohibitive costs for youth soccer. 

Now I don't know of any other nations out there where soccer costs this much to play for children. Maybe there are some, but when we are 3 for 3 with closed leagues having the symptom of exorbitant prices for "high level" youth soccer. It is starting to look like we can point to the closed league system being the cause.

Parents, if you are tired of paying thousands of dollars per season for club soccer that may or may not be good... may or may not even give your child a chance to reach the next level... and may or may not even be buying you access to anything beyond playing in the tournaments your D.O.C gets a kick back from... start to stand up for the next generation of players. Call for #ProRelForUSA.

Don't forget that we can not divorce pay-to-play from the professional game.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

I either want local or I want elite

A while back DJ Charlie Blac made a guest post about the USSF Presidential Election for us... last week I posed a screen shot of something that he had written on Facebook and it has sparked quite the response.

I really think that he brings up points that should make every person who has said "the way MLS is ran was necessary to make sure it survived" analyze their thought process behind that statement.

Keep speaking up on social media and make sure you use the #ProRelForUSA hashtags when you are speaking about not only promotion and relegation but reforming the system in any way!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

How the USSF's Professional League Standards hinder reform

A common refrains from anti-#ProRelForUSA advocates is..

They just need to start doing Pro/Rel if they really want to do it. Thing about that is... the USSF's Professional League Standards (PLS) make it not possible to pull off movement of clubs up and down the ladder of D1/D2/D3 as it is currently structured by the USSF.

In my opinion and others (READ THIS GREAT MIDFIELD PRESS ARTICLE and THIS ONE)  it is going to take working outside of the USSF PLS system to start to create a pyramid based on merit. Hopefully those with the money to make it happen finally can see what so many of us have known for a long time. The system is rigged against those who want to see results matter more than expansion fees.

Keep speaking up on social media and in the stands! Make sure you use the #ProRelForUSA hashtag every time you engage in a reform minded conversation so that others can see and join in!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

MLS Revenue From Pay to Play Youth Soccer and the DA

A while back I read an article about FC Dallas making $15,000,000 per year off of their pay-to-play youth academy that features 5,000 kids.


I just haven't been able to stop thinking about this question...

What is the real purpose of the DA system in the US? Is it to create a better development environment for youth players or is it to aggregate the best paying customers in youth soccer in to the academies of the largest names in the biggest cities in the US?

Those academies would just happen to generally be MLS ones...

Let's take for example the Chicago Fire Jr's system. They have 16,000 players in their pay-to-play system from all over the country! How much revenue is this generating for the owners of the Fire?

Colorado Rapids have 4,000 kids... just those two teams make 20,000 more players.

I'm sure that these kinds of numbers are not unique across MLS. MLS owners are generating HUGE amounts of revenue off of the pay-to-play system of youth soccer in this country.

This expense and its reasoning attributed to Don Garber (IN THIS ARTICLE)...

"Ownership groups are starting to ask their front offices for more return on the investment. MLS commissioner Don Garber has said MLS teams spend north of $50 million per year on academies, with an aim on that money eventually bringing a return to the first team."

Seems to be a little bit off... the ROI is not in players for the First Team, but for money on the bottom line.

The DA system was created by the USSF in 2007 and we can see in about a decade MLS has turned this in to a huge piece of their model for profitability. I don't think it is an unfair question to ask if Pay-to-Play youth soccer is the most profitable part of MLS? Or even if it is the largest part of their revenue?

We need system reform in the United States if we ever hope to get out from underneath this system that depends on youth players parents paying exorbitant fees to play soccer.

Read my article on how it is impossible to divorce Pay-to-Play from #ProRelForUSA here.

Please keep speaking up on social media and calling for #ProRelForUSA!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

How the rest of the world operates leagues

The purpose of the blog is to educate, to myth bust, and to answer commonly asked questions about our system in the United States and the rest of the world. There is a common misconception that when our seasons are and how they are structured is just a choice that is/can be made in a vacuum concerning the global context of the game. It can't...

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

American Clubs vs Global Clubs

If you are not following Daniel Workman on Twitter. You absolutely need to be...

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Every Community Matters

Last week I took a trip to McDowell County WV...

I know that #ProRelForUSA = HOPE.

Every community big and small deserves the ability to dream. Every child in this country who loves the sport deserves the ability to be able to dream about their place in the sport. Continue to speak up for lost and forgotten communities in this nation and advocate for #ProRelForUSA and #ReformUSSF.

To rob all opportunity from clubs, players, coaches, fans, communities, and owners in the attempt to create parity and security for the top few teams/owners.... seems un-American.

Happy July 4th everyone!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Why covering the USSF Audited Financials is important.

On June 27th I posted a series of tweets with links to a bunch of my older articles trying to give some background information to those new to the conversation about the recently released Audited Financials from the USSF...

This story is "something", it absolutely is not "nothing"... the game in this country needs an active press (or at least a couple writers) who keep those in charge honest. Whether these dealings have been against the law or not I don't know for certain. What I do know is that none of this looks good, all of it smells fishy, and there is absolutely no way that how this sport is being governed is producing excellence in any way shape or form.

A couple of years ago basically nobody in the "soccer media" was writing about Soccer United Marketing and even less than that knew what it was in the general soccer public. Today you can at least find something out about it and it has started to enter the conversation. The general soccer public is starting to notice that the two are basically one and the same in the United States. Soccer United Marketing and the USSF... soccer politics... how the game is managed from u4 to the USWNT... it is all tied together... it all matters. The people involved in every way with the game deserve to know what is going on.

It is up to the media to let us all know.

Convince your editor to let you write an article about the recently released Audited Financials and the issues concerning them. Let the general soccer public know how much it matters. Let them know there is more to what is going on that the potential next picks for the USMNT manager position.

The game deserves it.