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Where's the future talent?
by Paul Kennedy, June 16th, 2011 12:56AM

MOST READ
TAGS:  men's national team, mls

MOST COMMENTED

[USA CONFIDENTIAL] If the post-Gold Cup era marks a breakup of the U.S. national team as we know it, where will the next generation of U.S. stars come from? Players under the age of 23 should form that nucleus of future national team players, but there are slim pickings in MLS.

You think of some of the young stars coming out of the major European leagues for their national teams -- Englishman Jack Wilshire (Arsenal), German Mario Goetze (Borussia Dortmund) and Spaniard David de Gea (Atletico Madrid) are all 20 or younger -- and you wonder what MLS clubs are producing.

MLS's player development program offers long-term promise, but in the near term the number of young players seeing regular action in MLS -- a league on the lookout for young talent -- is worryingly low.

With dozens of regulars away on Gold Cup duty, last weekend should have been a chance for young Americans to show off their talents, but only 20 Americans -- a little more than one per team -- under 23 got starts, most notably 17-year-old Luis Gil in his first MLS start for Real Salt Lake.

Few of these players have seen much action. Only three have started more than the equivalent of a full MLS season and seven have fewer than 10 MLS starts.

And if it's attacking talent we're looking for, only three of these U.S. U-23s are forwards -- with a combined total of 27 MLS starts.

Only one MLS player under 23 was selected by Bob Bradley for the Gold Cup. New York's Juan Agudelo (18) got the call after all of five MLS starts.

MLS Americans Under-23*
GS Player Club Age
72 Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles) 22
44 Jeremy Hall (Portland) 22
42 Brek Shea (FC Dallas) 21
26 Michael Stephens (Los Angeles) 22
26 Jorge Flores (Chivas USA) 21
21 Sheanon Williams (Philadelphia) 21
21 Sean Johnson (Chicago) 22
18 Bill Hamid (D.C. United) 20
17 Zak Boggs (New England) 22
14 Will Bruin (Houston) 21
14 A.J. Soares (New England) 22
13 Rich Balchan (Columbus) 22
10 Jalil Anibaba (Chicago) 22
9 Perry Kitchen (D.C. United) 19
8 Evan White (D.C. United) 20
8 C.J. Sapong (Sporting KC) 22
6 Jeb Brovsky (Vancouver) 22
5 Blake Brettschneider (D.C. United) 22
3 Michael Farfan (Philadelphia) 22
1 Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake) 17
(MLS starters the weekend of June 10-12.)

Tomorrow: Americans under-23 in Europe.



0 comments
  1. Paolo Jacobs
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 5:26 a.m.
    I'am also concerned about this....we(US) still need to push some of our best players to the bigger clubs in Europe to gain experience,, even if it risk's them sitting the bench over there...

  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 7:30 a.m.
    How many of these players have been in a national team game? How many have played for a junior national team? Remember last Gold Cup when Bob Sr. brought in the "C" team comprised of 30 something MLS veterans. I do...

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 7:55 a.m.
    Is there anyone at US Soccer concerned? What players have been "developed" since MLS academy teams? Have there been any super talented players discovered at the super clubs who have the "professional" trainers? I agree with Paolo, until the US program totally revamps its' current training methods, the best option for the US to "develop" talent is to send them to Europe.

  1. cony konstin
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 8:08 a.m.
    We have players but they are not going to come from suburbia USA. The future stars for the US National Team are just across the tracks waiting to be groomed in becoming the best players in the world. The inner cities of America are waiting for US Soccer to step up an ignite a new soccer revolution. The magical players that we all wish for are not going to come from a coaching environment but instead a playing environment. It is time for US Soccer to step up an enter the world call the HOOD!!! There is gold in them mountains. But US Soccer must be willing to invest energy, money and man power to mine them mountains. Players win Championships not coaches or soccer systems.

  1. Ernest Irelan
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 10:02 a.m.
    we can take a lesson from Brazil academies, also, European academies, ie. Barca..many of their current team are "home grown"...in looking at player salaries in MLS, I can not imagine players wanting to play for 18 to 30 thousand dollars a year..as many do...just because we have youth soccer academies, national leagues, etc...mainly, because player's parents can afford to have their son's playing in them at great expense does not mean they are the best players that can be developed. One pro academy that I was made aware of while my son an team were visiting in Brazil,take players at age 13 that they have scouted, place them in a dorm, furnish everything including schooling. While there,son'steam played all three of the young "pro" teams being developed, beat up on the "C" team, then, got beat up on by the "A" team, then, played their "C" team, it was very close but, lost by one goal in last min...son's former coach is now working coaching Youth National teams of Brazil. These boys come from all walks of life, money is not a consideration for becoming a great player like it is in the USA. Cony has a point in his theory although I do believe that good coaches can make a difference with good players. Players that have great tech skills can be put together to perform tactically on the field with a really good coach. Basically, scouts will have to bring in youth to cost free academies of the MLS teams an trained, educated, etc...if we are to have competitive players like other countries that do this. I know that KC Wizards an Chicago Fire had acadamies to train players , but, they did not have dorms or places for players to live, thus, they had to depend on who they had locally to join...the best are not always in the "backyard". I am not familiar with Man U acadamy, but, have heard it said several times about a player being brought up thru their academy, ie, D.B....our MLS teams need to have their own academies an develope the best that they can find, no matter what income bracket they are in, judge them on raw talent an polish it, that will be the future talented players of the USA.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 10:02 a.m.
    How many coaches in the USA tell players to make individual decisions and make things happen on the pitch. It's the indecisive players that resort to physicality that become the darlings in high school and college, we have plenty of those.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 10:04 a.m.
    Walt & Cony, you both are right. But let me be a little more detailed. Academies have done nothing in developing quality players when compared to what comes out of small clubs or unrecognized leagues. Why? Because the money is in wins to market themselves. Not to develop and expose talent. US Soccer acknowledge a winning club by ranking them according solely on wins. Soccer America helps market these clubs as well. Why doesn't anybody rank them by the amount of pros or college players they bring out and keep track of how many years these players were actually in ttheir program? ? In Illinois these Academy teams invest in the top talent developed in smaller clubs. It is amazing to see how many new players they go through during the soccer year. US soccer needs to set new rules for these academies to change the win at all costs mentality now in place so Academies can start to use their energy and money in actually developing players.

  1. C Smith
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 10:07 a.m.
    There are numerous players that have the talent and skill to play at the national level, but because of youth club politics or the unwillingness of the youth club professional coaches to push these players to the regional and national levels those players are fogotten about. I've seen these magical players first hand and can say a team could be formed with these players and matched against any of the current young talent at the US professional levels.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 10:08 a.m.
    The only way their will be an interest in going to the ghettos is if there is money in it. You can't legally bind a kid to a contract so it is pretty hard. This is sad but very true. Maybe Academies can be pushed to do this but they will only offer in return for winning results for the club and not for continued development of the player.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 10:38 a.m.
    Paul, congratulations on highlighting a real problem which continually goes unreported because of the soccer media's aversion to saying anything negative about our style of play, or our current coaches or players. I would love to have some major soccer media figure actually discuss how USSF is run. What are the politics behind the major decisions and who are the people pulling the strings. Even at this late date, do we know who actually voted thumbs down on the Klinsmann vs Bradley decision. Why is there absolutely no criticism of US Soccer's player development failures from the inside? --does that mean that every USSF official is in agreement with the direction of player development? Why are the major blogs so silent on the lack of player skill and the deficiencies of US coaching? Why is Paul Gardner the only constant curmudgeon while the rest of the soccer media are primarily polite cheerleaders. No it's not a concerted conspiracy! The leaders of MLS and USSF aren't that smart but there certainly seems to be a self-imposed dictate to ruffle no feathers. Without intelligent criticism, nothing changes.

  1. cony konstin
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 11:10 a.m.
    James the problem is that soccer in America is not a way of life. Soccer is treated by many as a hobby. Again I stress the answer is in the HOOD!!!!! It is virgin territory. Untouched and unblemished. That is where MLS and US Soccer needs to put energy. Yes, Paul and few others are the only voices out there who stress that there are problems in US soccer but we all must keep banging the drum until someone out there with power and clout makes the changes that need to happen for soccer in America. Meanwhile keep beating the drum. Eventually the people will be heard!!!!!

  1. C Smith
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 11:28 a.m.
    Similar to the 1984 USA Dream Basketball team which were all college players including the great Coach Bobby Knight, the soccer powers to be should scour the college ranks for those few quality players that exist on each team, groom them with some quality coaching (there are some great college coaches out there) including sending them to one of the international soccer Mecca's where they can get some quality touches on the ball and get them on the pitch. There are solutions to the problems mentioned in the article, however who is willing to break ranks at the expense of helping "develop" these players even if from outside the "professional ranks"?

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 11:39 a.m.
    Cony - definitely agree that ULTIMATELY the ethnic and inner city players will be the source of our strength but getting to that realization requires a massive culture change for US Soccer and that will not happen until US Soccer itself begins to change. Even if you suddenly received a gift of millions of dollars, your products would still be ignored by the current establishment. We certainly agree on the goal but not on where to start. Best of luck! C. Smith -- I am not a fan of college soccer (except for Caleb Porter at Akron). My problem is that the players making it to the college scene have alreadt been selected on the basis of size, speed, and general physicality. I won't deny that there are some good college coaches emphasizing skill but they are being overwhelmed by the majority of English "wanna be's". Good luck anyway.

  1. alex hernandez
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 12:19 p.m.
    great commens

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 12:39 p.m.
    James, How true. Culture change is hard and requieres alot. College soccer is not quality. Ghetto mens leagues soccer is sometimes better. In Chicago you will sometimes see expros from Mexican League play.

  1. C Smith
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 1:04 p.m.
    James- you are correct in stating that the majority of the college players are selected based on the aforementioned attributes and most coaches being bombarded by the "wanna be;s". Compared to the current under 23 US professional players to date, the college players are getting more touches ball which gives them the edge with regards to speed of game. Granted it’s a big leap from college to pro in any sport, however these players ahead of there current Pro counterparts. Add in great motivated coach that can feed off that notion in a positive way and in an environment conducive to development equals rewards in the form of highly developed future youth stars that can compete at the highest level as witnessed in other US sports. Cony - Ironically the players I was referring to are 70% inner city youth that got the benefit of learning from some great youth professional coaches who had a genuine love for the game and who broke the traditional ranks of the current "pay for play" systems currently in place is US youth-club soccer. Going forward, yes the inner city is an untapped gold mine.

  1. Eric in DC
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 1:11 p.m.
    1st I blame at least in part, Bradley's refusal to play anyone except his senior team. The Guadaloupe game would have been the perfect time to start Adu and Bedoya and use that to show other players that they can be replaced and need to give 110% every time they donn the USMNT jersey! That said, there's something way too systemmatic about these responses. It makes me wonder if everyone really thinks that we need to follow some sort of path that other countries have taken. Each country develops as a soccer/football/futbol nation in a series of constant internal factors over several decades. The US really isn't even 2 decades into this. There's alot of learning that still needs to be done before we're able to match up with the world's best players and teams. Even winning a WC isn't in itself proof that a country has become a great soccer-playing nation. Other countries develop because there's a large pool of talent. We have a large number of kids who play soccer, but when I see kids out having fun playing in the streets, they're either throwing a football or trying to hit a ball with a stick. Academies help in youth development, there's no doubt about that, but unstructured play is based on children's initiative. As an amateur coach, I've seen alot of parent schizophrenia. Some parents want their kids to become the next Landon Donovan/Mia Hamm, others want their kids to become skilled enough to get a scholarship for college, while others still just want their kid to get on a field and run around enough so that they get tired and go to sleep early. I reject the notion that there's only one way to develop. I do think that when you look at the best players in the world, they all share something in common: they all love to play and have spent countless hours juggling, dribbling, kicking a ball against a wall, balancing balls on their neck, etc.

  1. C Smith
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 1:18 p.m.
    Luis - the inner city players I was referring to played in both youth club leagues and "Ghetto" leagues. They were able to get in college based more on their skill and drive and not necessarily on their size, etc. The professional ranks are overlooking this based on size, speed and physicality as mentioned by James. In Southern California, soccer here is pretty much year round and pickup men’s leagues area natural part of life. You won’t see many of these players in D1 schools, however they are the majority in D2 schools, and have on many occasions outplayed and bested their D1 competitors.

  1. C Smith
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 1:21 p.m.
    Ditto Eric.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 1:21 p.m.
    Eric, you are right but if Academies knew they would get rewarded for developing talent then they would make sure their players would get more touches on the ball, more playing and practicing time, more 1v1, 3v3 events, etc. This would kick start something special in USA where anyone can come out and show their stuff and motivate to improve. For Football and Baseball you need 2 people to play in the streets. Not soccer.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 1:58 p.m.
    Smith, I know. Influenced by the English with a Central and Southern American top player pool.???

  1. Roger Sokol
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 2:04 p.m.
    Seems to me that Mr. Kennedy forgets all those former or current MLS U-23s who ARE in the USMNT pool. Jozy Altidore is still only 21, but has already moved on past MLS to Europe. Tim Ream, although benched because of his gaff versus Panama, looks to be a possible future mainstay at CB for the US. MLS has been a good conduit to the USMNT. In the Gold Cup, the only players who didn't come through MLS are Jermaine Jones, Alejando Bedoya, Alex Lichaj, Oguchi Onyewu, and Steve Churundolo. Most all the rest have used or are using MLS as a stepping stone to the next level. MLS has its own seperate mission of providing a profitable and quality top level US soccer league. That doesn't always translate to putting US U-23s on the pitch. There has been some loss of US U-23 playing time to younger, more talented foreign players. But MLS has recognized the need for player development and is attempting to address it with reinstitution of the reserve league and through its player academies. I'm not sure they can do more than they have.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 2:07 p.m.
    C Smth -- think we will have to agree to disagree on the value of college soccer -- gotta go -- more later.

  1. Raveen Rama
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 2:21 p.m.
    Cony Konstin, you are right, there are players available who are not tabbed, and they could provide the answer. This year I have been coaching a U14 team, and the only times they played soccer were on practice and game days. I have been encouraging them to get together by themselves on other days and enjoy soccer without any coaches. I think we should go out on the field and start pick up games for the youth where they will enjoy playing, and learn by themselves, and where the game itself will be the teacher.

  1. David Sirias
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 4:18 p.m.
    Eric R's comment spot on : "1st I blame at least in part, Bradley's refusal to play anyone except his senior team. The Guadaloupe game would have been the perfect time to start Adu and Bedoya and use that to show other players that they can be replaced and need to give 110% every time they donn the USMNT jersey! " Duh We have players who can be developed into projected starters a few years from now IF GIVEN THE CHANCE Many of these guys are not on the roster. Dolo should NOT have started 72 hours after Panama. That should have been Lichaj at RB And Convey or even Bornstein at LB againt Guadaloupe-- one of the worst teams in the World according to FIFA. ( Why did Bornstein get called anyway? He never plays for his club) Oh, many of the younger mids who should have received minutes the last few years have only seen limited minutes because Bob plays his kid virtually every game regardless of form or fitness. I'm looking at you too Jozy. Nice goals this GC, but seriously, the work rate is atrocious and should not be rewarded. Bob-weak link # 1. Never held accountable by the sycophantic media, except for Paul Gardner. I have no otjer words for the management of the NATS--disgusting.

  1. cony konstin
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 4:43 p.m.
    It is going to take time but we most take a different attitude in getting there. We must use everthing that is already in place but we create a sandlot, free of cost, lighted, concrete playing environment, 7 days a week, starting at the age of 5. This enviroment can only happened our inner cities throughout the US. This enviroment can not function in suburbia because that environment is tainted by clueless parents and hungry money coaches. Yes you will find a parent or a coach who is has a clue and is a purest but that it is rare. The HOOD is is still untouched by the status quo. So there is hope to create magical players in our inner cities but it is not going to from coaching but a playing environment. FUTSAL is what needs to be developed in our inner cities. Futsal is part of Football. This is the new mantra coming from FIFA. Why? Ask the President of Spanish FA. He said futsal is one of the main reasons why we won the world cup.

  1. Mark Grody
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 8:39 p.m.
    The US has a men's soccer team?

  1. George Harrison (Jr.)
    commented on: June 16, 2011 at 8:48 p.m.
    I agree that our talent can come from many sources, we need to look wherever we can,I firmly believe that these talents are already here, we lack the systems and processes to identify them and then to develop them. I would also ask, since many folks here have discussed going into inner city areas, how many of us are actually doing this? There are many comments about it and I do agree it should/can be done but I have yet to see any indication that anyone here who has commented has tried or is trying to establish such a program. If this is a source for future (maybe even present!) talent someone should be working to develop this idea. Lastly, please, please, please stop using the term "hood". It can be somewhat of a perjorative term and in the context of these comments also comes across as condescending... in my day I lived in and we called them the "projects", different term, same areas. Inner cities include areas like that but can also include areas that are very similar to "suburbia"... Sorry for the rant... :o)

  1. Glenn Maddock
    commented on: June 17, 2011 at 1:12 a.m.
    US fans are great at the blame game, not so good at the solution game. We are in trouble at the MNT level. The next WC will be the last hurrah for Donovan & Dempsey's generation, and there does not seem to be much stepping up to follow them. Our teenage talent needs to be playing top level soccer now, not sitting on benches in Europe or anywhere else. We should have a US U23 team playing in MLS, starting all the best young talent against the best MLS has every week. they'd get their butts kicked, but they'd be ready for a WC by the time they are 23, and lots of them too.

  1. Robert Looyen
    commented on: June 17, 2011 at 2:56 a.m.
    You all make great points. But you are all missing the main point, or are not close enough to the organization to understand what is really going on here; the USSF claims to be in charge, but don’t believe it, they have virtually no power to set policy or make anyone do anything except the MNT & WNT and the junior teams (which isn‘t nearly enough players to compete at the international level). MLS does what ever they want, and so does every youth organization in this country. By the time talent in this country gets to that level, it is normally too late. We need to identify talent by the age of eight and at least teach proper technique in striking a ball, passing, and receiving. In my area we have AYSO that is largely the first stop in a players career. AYSO is great at what they do; recreational soccer coached by mostly untrained volunteer parents for three months a year. AYSO preaches that club soccer is a tool of the devil coached by abusive yelling coaches that treat the players like crap and only in it for the money. Thousands of very talented young players and there parents are not told that they should seek top quality coaching to help them reach their potential. Only rare players with older siblings or parents with knowledge make it out of these ego driven environments before it‘s too late. Why is that we have more youth players playing in this country than nearly ever other country in the world and can’t produce a team capable of beating Panama? We probably have more players playing in this country then they have residents! Would it be great to model our youth organizations after the Brazilian’s? Sure, but that’s not doable in a country as large as this. These volunteer parents don’t want to lose their superstar U-8 player because they win games for them so they can go back to the office on Monday to tell all of their co-workers what great coaches they are, at the cost of that child’s ability to improve at the very important early stages of development. I see this all of the time around here, it’s really sad seeing all of this talent go to waist. Lionel Messe was a very good player when at age 12 or 13, he moved to Spain to join the Barcelona youth academy where they turned that rough talent into greatness. Why is it that in less than twenty years at least five nations have virtually caught up to our once dominating women’s team? It’s not the fault of the WNT coach that’s for sure. We are not producing the hundreds to thousands of really top quality players we should be producing. Sadly, I don’t see anyone, even at this magazine talking about this problem. Sunil Gulati is a great guy, but he is basically a free part time leader, what do we expect? Maybe it’s time to find a serious soccer person to do this job full time that understands the difference between us and the rest of the world? I nominate Tab Ramos, he gets it and would at least understand what the problem really is.

  1. DEXTER LEWIS
    commented on: June 17, 2011 at 8:46 a.m.
    Robert you are so correct, I have had first hand experience of this, I currently have a young player (11) who is an exceptional talent rarely seen in the US for his age and he has had to undergo the pressures of just winning for his coaches. Upon realizing what is taking place in the current US soccer system, I'm preparing him to take him to Europe next year where he can truly develop and become of value to the US team in the next couple of years if not he will be lost in the system as a lot of past and probably future talent will be.

  1. Joe Kavlick
    commented on: June 17, 2011 at 9:13 a.m.
    I agree the US needs to do a better job of identifying talent, and that there are plenty of untapped resources of soccer athletes throughout this country. US Soccer does have to find a way to take money out of the picture of whether a promising player can play at a high level or not though. I do not necessarily agree that most of the untapped talent is in the inner cities, I believe the disconnect is more of a financial barrier for these kids from inner cities to the rural areas. Until US Soccer can provide an playing opportunity for the financially challenged families/players and prove to them that soccer could lead to a “way out” (i.e.- college education to a pro contract) like main stream sports in the US does, the talent we produce will be the same in the years to come….and young “super athlete’s” will continue to choose, football or basketball as their sport. That said, it’s not just about getting the best athlete’s on the field….look at the World Cup 2010 Stage two participants…many of these countries are pulling athletes from non-urban areas, and probably would not be considered the most athletic teams in all of the world….Soccer is such a team sport that requires a much higher mental acuity than many other sports require or many athletes possess. Finding better athletes with the mental acumen and fortitude required for this game is the real challenge….IMO of course.

  1. Robert Looyen
    commented on: June 17, 2011 at 10:17 a.m.
    Dexter, if you are really thinking about going abroad, I suggest the Netherlands. Many of the great Brazilians (Ronaldo and Romario just to name two), and now also other South American players have started their European careers there. Everyone speaks English and Dutch is very easy to learn. Sad that it has to come to this, so I can’t say you are wrong in thinking that you have few other choices. Joe, you are also right; money needs to become available to help identify and develop talent, and US soccer needs to free up more funds, which they have.

  1. DEXTER LEWIS
    commented on: June 17, 2011 at 11:27 a.m.
    Thanks Robert for the info, will take that into consideration.

  1. George Harrison (Jr.)
    commented on: June 17, 2011 at 5:56 p.m.
    Robert, I agree with you on the Netherlands. My son had finished his university career here and I had gotten a contact there... if only we had found this earlier, he might have gone there instead, played, earned his degree and perhaps had some chance of moving on... looking at it at the time we did just did not work. He came up early in his career blessed with a coach who stressed, ball control skills, possession, passing accurately, situational/field awareness etc. Hope all goes well with you and your son.

  1. DEXTER LEWIS
    commented on: June 17, 2011 at 10:03 p.m.
    George, if you don't mind, could you give me the info for the contact. My email address is dyunda@aol.com Thank you.

  1. Pamela Oliver
    commented on: June 18, 2011 at 10:42 a.m.
    Sigh. So much truth is spoken in these comments! I have been a soccer mom for 12 yrs now. My son (20 yrs old; St Mary’s Univ., DII, San Antonio, TX) is one of those players that has been told by people that have seen him play that they are expecting “great” things from him. He chose soccer at 8 yrs old. At 9, he told me soccer was his life and he wanted to be a professional soccer player. That has never waivered. You may check him out here: http://www.daoliver.net and http://www.facebook.com/pages/d-aoliver20/127987673900787. We are African-American, live in the suburbs and could afford the cost of club soccer. I agree that a lot of talent is going untapped because of the cost of organized soccer. I also believe a lot of soccer talent is being missed because of the way we go about trying to identify it. It seems if you aren’t in the right place at the right time, you can miss out. My son decided he didn’t want to try out for ODP, so he didn’t get put himself in a position to possibly get exposure to an area wider than the city. We must figure out a way to not limit our pickings to just a few D1 colleges, just MLS academies or chance discoveries. I really believe our soccer pool is deeper than we are led to believe, it’s just that our scouting methods are the problem. I remember when Freddy Adu was first being talked about. It took me awhile to check out video of him. I was so looking forward to seeing this amazing kid with the soccer ball. When I finally saw the video, it was like Déjà vu. He was doing the same things I had been watching my son do since he was 8 yrs old. The difference? Freddy was in a area and environment that could spotlight him, get him noticed and offer him a future in soccer. Until the US comes up with a system that can reach out to all soccer players that might be interested in MLS or even representing their country, we will continue to appear to be limited in talent. We will continue to be looking for that defender, or left winger, or that striker, or…whatever. Who knows? He could very well be playing on a DII, DIII, NAIA team, or on a soccer field anywhere, but won’t get the opportunity to try or move on because our scouting/selection methods aren’t quite “equal opportunity” (for lack of a better way to put it). I think we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg as far as the US soccer talent is concerned. We’ve got to do better.

  1. George Harrison (Jr.)
    commented on: June 18, 2011 at 11:29 a.m.
    Pamela, couldn't agree more. My son played D1, his team was fortunate in going to a showcase in his senior year where he was seen and recruited by several schools... we almost didn't go. An example of right place right time... The other major sports appear to have somewhat better systems in place to identify potential. Even then players are missed but it seems less likely then in the soccer world. I certainly don't know the answer, I think we all hope someone out there is looking at identification and development issues and coming up with the systems and processes that will address these issues.

  1. Robert Looyen
    commented on: June 18, 2011 at 7:31 p.m.
    US soccer only cares about the money. Until true soccer people with international soccer experience are put in charge, it won't change. We need to all get louder in our disgust, because it has become an old boy network where failure isn't punished, and poor coaching is just moved to a new position. Don't get me started on the so called coaching courses, what a scam!

  1. Lyidmila Mordasova
    commented on: August 3, 2011 at 6:15 p.m.
    Hello, I agree with many of you and want to share my personal experience and burdens. My son is one of these players who loves to play and has spent countless hours shooting, dribbling, kicking, juggling a ball on a backyard, in a basement, against a wall; anywhere he has a chance to do it. He is training every day (European style training) for 12 years with his father, by him-self; he is the Barcelona type player. He has great technical and tactical skills and he wants to be a professional soccer player. Last season he played in one of the well known club, but because of his size, physicality (he is not a big kid); he was cut from a team and will play for a 2nd division team. The former coach said that my son is fantastic player, he likes his personality, but he cannot give him enough playing time because he is looking for winning results. As I can see most of clubs and academies are looking for winning results and not for continued development of the player and not to develop and expose talent. This is so sad. Honestly, I don’t know where he can go to show his skills and expose talent. Any ideas?


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