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Klinsmann delivers message to young pros
by Paul Kennedy, April 5th, 2012 12:16AM

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TAGS:  men's national team, mls, olympics

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[USA SPOTLIGHT] In his first media teleconference since the USA failed to qualified for the 2012 Olympic men's soccer competition, U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann backed under-23 coach Caleb Porter, saying Porter's lack of pro experience was not factor in the USA's early exit from qualifying. Klinsmann expressed concern that not enough young Americans are getting playing time in MLS but said there was no easy solution. He said it was imperative upon young pros to work harder and make a case for playing time. "It's not something that is given to you," he said. For a look at the main points Klinsmann made ...

(Click here to listen to the conference call.)

On whether he has any positional concerns as World Cup Qualifying approaches:

"Concerned about specific positions within the roster, I don't really have those concerns. I think that we have a very good, balanced team. We have youngsters coming through the ranks that we are really curious to follow up on them and see their progress over the next two and a half years or three years and see how far they can make it.."

On how many players he anticipates bringing in for May and June:

"I'm planning on getting probably 23 players coming in, meaning three goalkeepers, 20 field players, and also having a standby player list."

On whether there is a concern that American players are getting less playing time in MLS:

"That is definitely a concern, and it's definitely a topic we want to bring up with Don Garber and MLS because we want to make sure that especially younger groups of players get as much exposure as possible coming through their developmental stage. I know that an 18-, 19-, 20-year-old is not at the same level as an experienced player and a proven player, but we've got to make sure that they get the chance to break through and get their minutes in. So it's definitely a concern. Off the top of my head, I can't give you all of the solutions for it, but it's definitely worth a discussion going forward."

On whether there is a role for Caleb Porter with U.S. Soccer going forward:

"We believe that Caleb is a very, very talented coach. We chose him for a reason, because I think he has a huge future ahead of him. Sooner than later he will jump into the professional field and become a pro coach, and we hope that we find ways now going forward, even if it's not with the Olympic team obviously because there is not an Olympic team anymore for a few years now, that we find roles for him to improve, to grow, to mature in his coaching career ... We really think that he has a lot of upside. I think he's learned a tremendous amount during the last four months dealing as a head coach for the Olympic team. Obviously he's more disappointed than any one of us about what happened, that he didn't get the job done, and that we're not going to London because he was in charge of that process and he was leading that process. But there were many mistakes being done, and not all of the mistakes were done by Caleb Porter."

On what he learned following Olympic qualifying:

"We went through [Porter's] positions with his coaching staff, and the participation of the medical staff that led to the very late substitution of Bill Hamid in that game against El Salvador. We went through all the other people involved in the process. Did he really have the perfect support from everybody around him? At the end of the day, obviously you need to go through every individual player. Did the players live up to their expectations? Did they do everything they could have done in order to make this thing positive? Were they at their peak or were they maybe going through a low point in that moment? I think some players didn't live up to their expectations, and you need to get that message across and some players surprised us and maybe were more positive. I look at a [Mix] Diskerud or I look at a Joe Corona who had positive impressions, too. So that's part of that process, but that won't change the results. The result was a disappointment."

On whether Herculez Gomez is on the radar for a National Team camp:

"I've seen quite a few games of him over the last six, seven months. I know Herculez and I know his qualities. So he's constantly being watched. Hopefully he continues that goal scoring period, and the more he scores, the more he makes a positive notes out there, the bigger his chances to get the call. It's as simple as that. That's our message to all of the players all of the time – keep proving your point. Keep improving where you're at with every game. So what we do every Monday, we get together either by phone, by conference calls, or by email – we get down to all of the players, we discuss what they did over the weekend, we're out there and watch them personally or on TV as often as we can. So Herculez is on the radar screen. But he's always been on the radar screen. So hopefully he can make his case stronger and stronger over the next couple of weeks."

On whether there are reasons to second-guess the direction of the men's program after Olympic qualifying, and if there are lessons learned from Olympic qualifying going into World Cup qualifying:

"The lesson really for us is how far along are those players that were involved in the Olympic qualifying campaign? How mature are they really for the senior team level? You talk about the two goalies, you talk about Brek Shea, you talk about Juan Agudelo and I mentioned [Mix] Diskerud or Joe Corona. You look at these players and say OK, they couldn't get the job done, so where are they now in the bigger picture going into our May-June camp? I mentioned that right after the big disappointment against El Salvador. The process for these players is getting even tougher. It's getting even more difficult because they do not have the jumping board, or I called it a trampoline, of the Olympics. If you play in an Olympic tournament, this is a huge showcase. This is where the whole world is watching and evaluating you. So they're missing out on that now. They don't have that opportunity to really gain valuable experience in such a big competition, so they have to prove it somewhere else. Where can they prove it? Now they can only prove it in their club teams. The expectations now that they really perform on the highest level in their club teams are even higher. That means an Agudelo for example has to play week in and week out with the Red Bulls. Brek Shea has to prove with FC Dallas week in and week out that he's one of their best players in order to get a chance to become part of the senior national team."

On the concern of players not getting enough minutes with their clubs:

"It is a big concern. We need to find ways to get our 18- to 22-year-olds, 23-year-olds more playing time and maybe here and there more help. On the other side, they also need to realize that they have to fight their way through the system. They have to find a way to break into the team. I'll give you an example: Juan Agudelo, who often last year was saying, 'I want to play more. I need to play more.' My response to Agudelo was, 'Well, you've got to train harder and you've got to force the coach of that team until he makes you play.' It's not something that is given to you. It's something that you have to work for and you have to fight your way through. We had a discussion years and years ago after the Bosman ruling in Europe happened, everything opened up. The borders opened up. Suddenly, instead of a limited amount of foreigners, there were foreigners all over in every league. Every kind of national team program complained and said, 'Hey, suddenly we don't have enough of our domestic kids playing anymore and it makes it tough for the national team programs to develop.' I came in and I said, 'You know what? If I'm the player and I want to break into a team, it doesn't really matter to me if now I have to kick out a foreign kid or if I have to kick out a domestic kid. I have to kick out somebody to play.' That's really the message to the youngsters."

On Porter's lack of professional experience and whether it affected his job performance:

"I think just from a working perspective, from a challenge perspective, Caleb was very well-prepared for that qualifying process. He was extremely organized, he understood the value of all the other teams, the opponents, he did his scouting homework, the sessions that he ran … We summarized it all yesterday in Chicago. I think he did a very good job. I think it was absolutely the right decision to make him the Olympic team coach. Now based on the results and the outcome of it, now you can argue that maybe a professional coach here or this and this there should have worked out better. I think we know the reasons now why it didn't work out and it's not because he's a college coach and not a professional coach. That's definitely not the case.



35 comments
  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: April 5, 2012 at 8:28 a.m.
    So f its ot the coaching it ustbe the players. Klins, do yiu think we are scouting the vry best players in Usa?

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: April 5, 2012 at 9:03 a.m.
    Klins must not think too much of the usa talent since he needs to look in Germany for second tier players thacant make te German national teams. Nobody else here sees this?

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: April 5, 2012 at 9:59 a.m.
    Luis you are correct.Sure Klinsi has to stand up for the coach,what else could he do?I'd be curious to know who selected Caleb anyway.Regardless it was not the coaching.On game day,the coach accounts for maybe 5-10%,and most of that is in game day preparation.The rest is up to the player selection and performance.Obviously,we currently don't have or did not select players that would even get us out of CONCACAF.Getting playing time in MLS, won't help.I believe Klinsi is bringing in players from Europe because he knows to keep his job he has to at the very least get out of CONCACAF comfortably(which I think will be a major task right now)and get out of the group stage at the WC.I don't think he sees the talent in our current crop of U15-23 players that will get it done for him.Its' time to start all over beginning at the U9 levels.

  1. len bilous
    commented on: April 5, 2012 at 10:04 a.m.
    For sure a strong work ethic and determination are needed for players of any age to succeed, but this is the same old and exceedingly stale solution. Why not encourage and teach our young players to train and play smarter, not harder...why not teach our young players to improve on the elements the best players in the world possess...great skill and great vision. Great skill takes years to develop however vision is the quickest way to improve your game. Teaching our young players to play with vision will empower them to play smarter not harder... To play like the best players in the world. Perhaps its time to shift our focus and give the gift of vision to our young players!

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: April 5, 2012 at 10:26 a.m.
    Len, you are right on. I don't believe our current youth development systems enhance the development of skill and vision at the early ages.By the time players are 16-17,they to well on the way have them change that much.That's why I say, start all over again age 9 or before with a new methodology.

  1. Phil Love
    commented on: April 5, 2012 at 10:26 a.m.
    Excellent points all. MLS needs to make playing time for CONCACAF players a priority. One of the reasons NASL failed was too many overpriced Europeans. MLS has had a few of these and I fear will import more. We may need to rebuild the US national team program from U9, but Klinsi won't be around to see those results. Few National team coaches hang around for more than one World Cup. Can US Soccer establish a program and vision that endures beyond Klinsi?

  1. Aaron Yoshinobu
    commented on: April 5, 2012 at 10:41 a.m.
    Good stuff, fellahs. I think we know, though, that a larger issue is that some of the most talented athletes are diverted to other sports in the US. The various new curricula that US Soccer have put forth, along with USYSA will do well to help improve the technical prowess of our youth players - assuming it's well coached. But, we still have the very real problem of how to keep more kids in soccer between the age of 8-14. We can train our players to be 'smarter', more technically proficient, but we are not sampling a large enough population of athletes.

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: April 5, 2012 at 11:24 a.m.
    Aaron,I think there are plenty enough athletes to go around for all sports. But soccer must abandon the idea that all "athletes" must be big, strong and fast.We need to find the Messi's,Xavi's,Rooney's,Robinho's etc.,we might already have here in this country.Then not turn them off with the current training and developmental programs in place.Until we do have systems in place to develop player's with those technical levels,we might be able to find some in the Hispanic/Latino communities that exist all over the country.

  1. Thomas Brannan
    commented on: April 5, 2012 at 12:02 p.m.
    Work Harder? Is that giving direction? That's enough.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: April 5, 2012 at 12:04 p.m.
    Walt, well said. When people speak of the best athletes in Usa they are talking about Lebron James, Michael Vick, etc. These type of athetes will always pick the Nba or Nfl for any years to ome and is in no way a gaurantee they would be great soccer players. Soccer requieres much more than strngth and being able to jump high. Why not accept and deal with the real issue. Are we sincerely scouting the best players in Usa?? The answer is 100% NO!! There seems to be an unwillingness to recruit the best. We primarely scout anddepend solely on the pay to play system in Usa and ignpre the Hispanic leagues completely where many retired Mexican lros have been spotted playing in , at leadt here in Chicago. Why?? Mexican scouts seem to know exactly where to scout and have been extremely effective making our scouts seem either inadequate or bias. I m sorry but it must be one of the 2 options here. Fact is Usa is producing top soccer athletes but the problem is othe countries are getting them. I am not worried abojt it though because it will get to the point where it will just seem ridiculous to ignore. Just like basketball.

  1. Bill Ford
    commented on: April 5, 2012 at 12:16 p.m.
    "work harder"...this is the level of sophistication we get from our national team coach?!

  1. Vince Wallace
    commented on: April 5, 2012 at 1:20 p.m.
    Walt - you are correct. It needs to begin at around U9. However, the problem is at U9 all the coaches care about is winning. So what do they do? They pick the biggest, fastest, and strongest kids to win. They do not coach skills, foundamentals, or real soccer tactics. I'm also tired of hearing that the US needs to leave the younger kids to play and not be coached or the value of futsal. The real value is in a great coach, who teached technique, skills, and playing out of the back. Do you think that olympic swimmers, gymnast, track stars just went out and did these things on their own. The answer is no. They learned proper technique from a coach with the proper knowledge. The youngers coaches are a joke and put way too much attention on winning. The best coaches should be used with the youngers to create good and proper habits.

  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: April 5, 2012 at 1:47 p.m.
    Luis, AGREED! US Soccer scouting relies on the same stale club structure that produces the plodding players that populate too many national team, MLS, and college rosters. Looking into new player streams is imperative to the future success of the national team.

  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: April 5, 2012 at 1:54 p.m.
    I think some are missing the point of Klinsmann's "work harder" comments. I believe he is just exorting them to fight for playing time, whatever that may entail. In reading his comments over the past several weeks, he is trying to get these young players to "Take Ownership" of their playing time. I know that many players who have gone through our current club structure don't understand, too much hand holding and head patting (as long as the checks keep getting written).

  1. john haley
    commented on: April 5, 2012 at 2:23 p.m.
    Good thoughts all. I was at a local basketball gym (has one turf court) and noticed that there were hundreds of girls ages 9-12 playing very hard, very intense, very athletically, during a tournament. In the same area, we strive to get 20 kids to come out to free soccer training to try to develop players for the comp. pool. Some of these parents, including Hockey parents, take their kids to practices up to 5 days a week. I get kids missing some practices at two days a week. I would love to find an answer, that would bring the numbers to train for this great game at the early ages.

  1. john haley
    commented on: April 5, 2012 at 3 p.m.
    Luis good thoughts. In regards to Vick, or Lebron, or even a pro baseball player, they make a minimum of 500k plus, and usually millions to sign. IN the MLS Beckham leads at 6.5 million, Pablo angel is second at 1 million. Average salary is around 50k. Players in Football, Basketball and Baseball, can drop 50k on a weekend in Vegas. So if you were potentially a world class athlete in the US, what would you play? Beckham (including MLS salary) total for 2011/12 is 40 million. C. Rinaldo 38 million, Messi 32 million. Now compared to Vick, or Eli Manning they are making 16-20 million a year. World wide, soccer pays better at the highest level. Not in the US.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: April 5, 2012 at 3:28 p.m.
    John, I agree that other sports pay more than soccer specially in Usa but 99% of top athletes excel at a sport for the love of playing it. I dont think te best athletes in Usa are picking basketball or football over soccer because of the money. I think its because they grow up playing it freely and loving to do special things with a basketball and this is because its part of their clture. Hispanics anywhere will nostly pick Soccer for the pure love of it and is the biggest part of their culture. Why are we notlooking into this well known facts instead of wondering what Lebron would look lke plyibg soccer?

  1. Jack vrankovic
    commented on: April 5, 2012 at 10:42 p.m.
    Skilled youth are poached from all communities. Subotic and Rossi are light years ahead of most US players and chose not to play for the USMNT. I really like what this youth coach has to say about identifying youngsters. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECb4HpeMRzc

  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: April 5, 2012 at 11:10 p.m.
    Klinsmann's answer on Porter was brilliant and shows he was exactly what US soccer needed from its USMNT coach. He picked Porter in order to help him become a better soccer coach, not because Porter was necessarily ready or even the right man for the job. Klinsmann isn't just worried about finding his starting outside back or deciding which forward he is going to play - he is thinking about the future of US soccer and worried about issues including coaching development. I also loved how transparent he was. He gave long and thoughtful answers to every one of those questions, even admitting when he didn't know the answers. It was wonderful to hear him willingly explaining his thought process instead of dodging and defending questions.

  1. John Miller
    commented on: April 6, 2012 at 12:48 a.m.
    Gak Foodsource=Clueless

  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: April 6, 2012 at 10:43 a.m.
    You disagree, John?

  1. Daniel Clifton
    commented on: April 6, 2012 at 1:24 p.m.
    I have read many good comments here. I see the problem as our pay to play youth system. We are depending on a youth system where the youth coaches have to win in order to keep their jobs and their good players. That means taking short cuts. It is more difficult for a youth coach to take the long view and develop skills. That is what we need in our youth soccer development. I know a father in my area whose daughter is an up an coming midfielder, and he without much experience in soccer is talking about wanting more of an Hispanic influence in the way his daughter is taught to play. I agree.

  1. Mark Grody
    commented on: April 6, 2012 at 1:46 p.m.
    @John Miller - your tone would fit perfectly on an ESPN board, but if you take the time to read EVERY other post here, you might be embarrassed enough to actually stick to those boards that are for entertainment in what ever rude form it takes as opposed to a thread with people actually sharing opinions

  1. Adrian Gonzalez
    commented on: April 6, 2012 at 2:51 p.m.
    Great insight from so many people. I nod in agreement with most of the posts. I have coached for 19 years and sometimes I hear other coaches say things that I have thought for most of those 19 years: Individual skills, work smarter, touch, touch, touch. I have spoken with other very good coaches who agree that players who are part of high cost academies or clubs (where everyone is paid) is not the answer. They teach systems and forget about individuality. I love this game as all of you do and will be a part of it until I reach my expiration date.

  1. Aaron Yoshinobu
    commented on: April 6, 2012 at 4:40 p.m.
    Walt, Len and others, By no means do I mean athletic in the sense of Jozy Altidore or Lebron James - viz., large, fast, big, etc. I DO MEAN a player like those you mentioned - Xavi, etc. But, in the US, at 11 years old, it's socially 'cool' to play American football; not soccer. The pressure is tremendous in middle school and high school. Too many of these athletically smart (not necessarily big and fast) players drift to the big 3: American football, basketball and baseball. Those sports, and the coaching styles that they promulgate, will continue to retard the growth of soccer in the US, and the development of our players.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: April 7, 2012 at 1 a.m.
    Aaron can not agree with you. The love of soccer starts at 1 years old and as late as 8,9,10 years old. If you are a great athlete but started to really focus in soccer only until your in H.S. you are not a top talent. Soccer pros get offers at 16-18 usually. You see in basketball if your 7ft. Tall you could get away with not having too much skill or in football if you are fast or strong it will take you a long way. Soccer is different. You need that touch and skill that takes a while to develop. That time will not be put in if theclove is not there. Lets scout the people that love the game. We have them. Let's stop worrying about the fastest, strongest or biggest. Why don't we find the Xavis or Messis here?? Because we are not looking for them a d are driving them off even farther with our pay to play system.

  1. John DiFiore
    commented on: April 7, 2012 at 4:28 a.m.
    RE: Herculez... How many more goals does this guy need to score???? This is ridiculous!!! What? Jozy should get the call AGAIN??? HA! NO ONE CAN FIND THE NET LIKE HERC!!!

  1. Jack vrankovic
    commented on: April 7, 2012 at 2 p.m.
    Altidore is scoring in the Netherlands, so I can't see how Gomez would automatically start over him. He should send his agent a thank you card and a gift basket. That club seems to be a good fit for him.

  1. Robert Kiernan
    commented on: April 8, 2012 at 1:02 a.m.
    OK what I feel is being missed here, specifically when dealing with the realities of fielding a u-23 side is that whether players get playing time or not is only part of the problem here. It is the fact that these dates unlike a World Cup Qualifier are not FIFA International dates and that means that Porter or any other coach would face the problem of actually obtaining the best u-23's to field his side. But the fact is that those in Europe or Mexico are signed as PROFESSIONAL PLAYERS at a much younger age, where as most of MLS come from COLLEGIATE soccer programs and at age 22 are still in effect "rookies" where as those of the same age in Europe have played pro for four or five years by then...this is a matter of experience and simply put few of those playing in MLS who were age appropriate were truly ready, but since the USSF has no means of forcing teams from abroad to release players they can only "Ask" and while some were indeed released, Diskerud, Corona, Boyd, Gyau etc. others like Alfredo Morales or Tim Chandler or Danny Williams or Joshua Gatt were NOT. So they are forced to use players from the league they COULD force to release players... MLS. But again if a team is using one of those rookies regularly it likely is because it HAS to, so the defenders are more likely to play for the WEAKEST sides in the league rather than the best, this just is a matter again of experience and Kitchen and Opara simply has less of it than those playing in Europe. So we get to see the US dominate Mexico a month before the Tournament with Morales at DMF, and then see what happens when Hertha Berlin chose NOT to release him for the actual Qualifying matches. So long as our best players see College as a dead end or at least a waste of valuable time to learn their craft, they will sign Professional contracts with professional teams and sadly since MLS has continued to stay with it's single entity status, the INDIVIDUAL teams has too little control or stake in developing these young players and they instead tend to seek out Mexicanor European side that are free and interested in getting a good cheap prospect... this is what must change HERE if we are to have players at 22 or 23 who can be expected to BE PROFESSIONALS instead of just starting to learn their craft. ... (ICE)

  1. Robert Kiernan
    commented on: April 8, 2012 at 1:20 a.m.
    As to Gomez being called up, well yes he is scoring and that is in his favor, but the reality is he has more in common with say Edson Buddle, players that have both been goal scorers but are now facing father time. I'd say that we are looking at Dempsey and Altidore backed up by Terrence Boyd... guys like Gomez and Buddle are still in the picture but must be seen more as game to game now. It is those younger attackers that are waiting in the wings that likely are going to get the push and that means say 26 and under, which means guys that are the same age as the current starters, say are like Dempsey or Donovan and facing their thirties are far less likely to be seen as the prime candidates for replacing them... so that means Wondolowski can score in the league but isn't as likely to be seen as a candidate as much as say Sapong or other younger guys, it's not entirely fair but the only guy I can see posibly getting that call back is Kenny Cooper, and even he isn't quite the spring chicken he used to be. I would suppose that this is even more a problem for our defense, say Cherundolo or Bocanegra or Goodson, even Gooch are all getting to the age when you can almost EXPECT them to start having injury problems and if we stick too long with the same players and don't properly plan for their replacement... well the Clock Work Orange of the 70's broke down in the early 80's and had to rebuild for the late 80's... it's cruel but it is something that simply MUST be addressed. ... (ICE)

  1. Robert Kiernan
    commented on: April 8, 2012 at 1:24 a.m.
    As to Gomez being called up, well yes he is scoring and that is in his favor, but the reality is he has more in common with say Edson Buddle, players that have both been goal scorers but are now facing father time. I'd say that we are looking at Dempsey and Altidore backed up by Terrence Boyd... guys like Gomez and Buddle are still in the picture but must be seen more as game to game now. It is those younger attackers that are waiting in the wings that likely are going to get the push and that means say 26 and under, which means guys that are the same age as the current starters, say are like Dempsey or Donovan and facing their thirties are far less likely to be seen as the prime candidates for replacing them... so that means Wondolowski can score in the league but isn't as likely to be seen as a candidate as much as say Sapong or other younger guys, it's not entirely fair but the only guy I can see posibly getting that call back is Kenny Cooper, and even he isn't quite the spring chicken he used to be. I would suppose that this is even more a problem for our defense, say Cherundolo or Bocanegra or Goodson, even Gooch are all getting to the age when you can almost EXPECT them to start having injury problems and if we stick too long with the same players and don't properly plan for their replacement... well even the Clock Work Orange of the 70's broke down in the early 80's and had to rebuild for the late 80's... it's cruel but it is something that simply MUST be addressed. ... (ICE)

  1. Robert Kiernan
    commented on: April 8, 2012 at 1:34 a.m.
    Sorry for the double posting...

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: April 8, 2012 at 3:39 p.m.
    Game vs Mexico was not adequate to the best both could field. Most countries like Mexico look at these primarily as an opportunity to tryout bench players and tactics. Why would USA call up players it knew it would not have available for these Olympic Qualifiers? The BIGGEST and most OBVious issue remains, player scouting and selection for the truly best players in USA. This current system will continue to work against the goal of getting and developing the best players. Its a big marketing scam. They are selling the idea really hard but will not deliver. Our player pool is weak. Can you honestly tell me that El Salvador is more qualified to have a better pool than USA or even close?? How about Canada? El Salvador had only El Salvador League Division 1 & 2 players. Isn't the MLS suppose to be better?? How many homegrown players did these MLS clubs produce over the last 3-5 years? How about every Academy club?? And of those how many of those players developed directly h ser those academies for more than 3 years? These are the questions we should be asking and not hpoing or blindly beleiveing the Academies are the answer. Price you are the answer. You have had plenty if time, haven't you?

  1. DonJuego Lee
    commented on: April 9, 2012 at 8:41 a.m.
    We already have superior athletes. What we don't have is superior soccer players. Soccer players are self-made in the street and back yards from age 5 to 10 and coaches have nothing to do with it. Our national culture will need to change. And there is little USSF can do about it.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: April 9, 2012 at 9:59 a.m.
    How do we know we don't have superior soccer played if we know our scouting system is inadequate?


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