Below are reader comments on recent editions of the Youth Soccer Insider. Soccer America Members can post their feedback on SoccerAmerica.com's Blog and Commentary section using the link provided at the bottom of our e-letters. Selected posts are included periodically in the e-letters.
The Real Problem with Women's Pro Soccer by Mike Woitalla
PATRICK DUFFY: It is a mistake to build your market around youth players. You have to build a base of people who will come out and live and die by the success of their local team, and that takes time.
ERIC ROBERTS: I could not agree more with your analysis of the [WPS]. I am the father of a U-12 girl player and have tried to get her interested in the pro game but she lasts about 15 minutes watching these games. What's at stake here is more than just a women's professional league, it's keeping kids interested in the game at all.
KRISTIN DEDYCKER: As a WPS player (Washington Freedom) I completely disagree with your view on the WPS. Your story is completely one-sided and just bashes women's soccer. This is the first year of the WPS. There are going to be ups and many downs. I do agree that there weren't a lot of goals scored in the inaugural season, but you don't see many games at a high level in men's or women's soccer that have more than two or three goals per side.
I think all the teams in the WPS were equal in talent. I don't remember ever going into a game and thinking, we are going to kill this team. Every game was a battle and if you are a true soccer fan and actually know the game of soccer then you come to appreciate other aspects of the game besides scoring.
Being a coach of youth soccer, which I do during the offseason, you teach kids that defense wins games. Yes, you need a goal here and there but you don't need six to win. You can go to a game and have your kid watch other parts of the game besides scoring. How about shape, defense, free kicks, etc.? The list goes on and on.
I don't know what the future of the WPS is, but I do know it isn't perfect and if you enjoy soccer, you will enjoy coming out to a game. The atmosphere was great and there definitely wasn't a lack of talent for these future soccer stars to learn from.
GEORGE MORTON: Would it be a heresy to suggest that the field be shortened and narrowed for the women's game? I have coached and love the women's game, but I was struck watching WPS how often players seem to feel they had to shoot from long-range; conversely, how rare it was in the run of play for the players to advance the ball inside the box. Making the game more compact would speed the action, increase the number of tense moments the fans and the players want without detracting from the team cohesion and selfless play the women's game beautifully models.
ALVARO BETTUCCHI: Why did those in charge allow women's soccer to be at the same time as the men's? I would enjoy seeing the women play, but I will not forsake the men's game.
MARK JOHNSTON: I wish this league had been WMLS -- with doubleheaders. You then can cut a lot of expenses by opening the same stadium once. A season ticket becomes good for both teams.
RALPH AKALE: Well, I loved the games I watched and, my two boys (12 and 7) and I sat and watched the finals. We even thought some of the WPS games were better than the MLS games. I would be disingenuous to say goals are not important, they are, but that is not the main reason I watch.
TOM CONNORS: As a fan of Athletica, I am impressed with the caliber of play the ladies exhibit, their playmaking was right on, as a rule. The ladies don't feign as much as the men and though their scoring may not impress me constantly, the excitement level is high.
Dare To Be Great: Take Risks by Mike Singleton
BRAD PARTRIDGE: Great article, and yes we need to encourage players to take risks! We need to start this process at U9-U13 so that by the time they get to U14-18 it is second nature to them. Unfortunately, we have far too many players at this young age playing structured games and coaches working on tactics not skills. The game unstructured, (without refs, coaching and parents) is a great teacher. Yet we struggle with giving the game back to players. Parents and, yes, coaches want to see young players playing the adult game with all it's structure. My solution, let them play on their own at least 30 minutes of every practice session. No positions, no coaching just play.
Clicking for Kicks by Mike Woitalla
PAUL GIAVANOPOULOS: Well said. This creates a huge issue for youth coaches at the younger ages as most of their players do not have visuals. This means that the coaches must spend time showing the players what to do, where in England for example, the coach will say "Did you see what Steven Gerrard did on Sunday".
Part of the problem as the article states is the parents. They really do not embrace the sport at home, especially when the NFL starts. While they are happy Little Johnnie is playing soccer, they would rather watch their NFL team on Sunday then sit down with Johnnie and watch a soccer game.
Lessons from Pele by Cy Philbrick
KENT JAMES: My junior high school soccer coach showed us this film ("Pele: The Master and His Method") in the mid-1970s and it was truly inspirational. I vividly remember it. A few years ago, I bought the video to show my kids, and it is no less powerful. Great player, great film.
JOSEPH BREAULT: When you add technical precision and tactical genius to simplicity you get ... Pele.
Reality Check: What You're Paying For by Mike Barr
STEVE GREENE: I wholeheartedly agree that the costs are nearing insanity. Unfortunately, the club system in the U.S. has managed to put itself into a near "have to go there" status if you want to play competitive soccer.
Add to regular club play, you now have academy (more money), ODP (more money) or (insert your favorite "next level" here). The recruitment of players into club is relentless, as the clubs have to have players (paying customers) to survive, so of course you get the whole spiel about college, and next level players etc.