Major League Soccer's kid-friendly Web site -- www.mlsstarting11.com -- features videos and bios on the league's of the top MLS stars meant to inspire young players, and get them excited about playing soccer.
For sure, the league aims to popularize its players and teams among the nation's young soccer players. What's nice about the Web site is that includes plenty of exciting video clips that entertain and display moves and skills young players can immulate.
For example, the Landon Donovan page offers highlight clips that include a brilliant back-heel pass, several spectacular goals, and a well-taken penalty kick. It also includes some of his youth club history and personal tastes (Favorite food: good sushi).
Reading these short bios, and seeing the highlight clips has great potential to inspire the young players. Had this been available to me when I was a youngster, I know I would have eaten up what they have to offer.
It's fun to read about Sacha Kljestan, and find out that his father was a semipro in a soccer club in former Yugoslavia, what Sacha's pregame routine is, and that his favorite music is hip-hop. And watch clips of him in action.
Watching the penalty-area poise and precise shooting of the Red Bulls' Colombian strike Juan Pablo Angel in a thrilling montage of goals provides a fine lesson in finishing.
Connecting to MLS players like this might encourage youngsters to watch their games -- and become MLS fans if they aren't yet. And watching more soccer gives youngsters a better understanding of the game's fundamentals, tactics, and hopefully instill a life long passion for the game.
Parents and children could watch these clips together, and talk about what makes these stars such good player. When youngsters see what they're trying to do on the soccer field done better by a star, their natural competitive drive will lead them to try harder.
(Collin Willardson is a free-lance writer based San Francisco Bay Area.)