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'Crazier than it's ever been' (Jimmy Obleda, Fullerton Rangers, Q&A)
by Mike Woitalla, March 13th, 2013 4:37AM

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TAGS:  men's national team, youth boys

MOST COMMENTED

Interview by Mike Woitalla

According to Jimmy Obleda, the 2011 NSCAA Youth National Coach of the Year, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy has made the youth soccer landscape an "absolute mess."  The Director of Coaching of Southern California's Fullerton Rangers, who have won back-to-back U.S. Youth Soccer national titles, Obleda also explains why he believes Lionel Messi wouldn’t have made it through the U.S. system.

SOCCER AMERICA: How does not being part of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy affect Fullerton Rangers?

JIMMY OBLEDA: It keeps us on our toes. It encourages us to work harder and make our product even better, to raise the standards of our training, of our coaching education, of the environment we work and train in. …

But [the Academy] has definitely changed the landscape, making it an absolute mess. Youth soccer in America, I speak from my experience in Southern California, is crazier than it’s ever been.

SA: How so?

JIMMY OBLEDA: The Academy is only for an “elite,” selected few. “Elite” I say in quotations because there are clubs in it that shouldn’t be in there. And there are clubs that aren’t in that should be in. It’s an entitlement status where – “You have great players, they need to play for me. … You need to play with us if you’re going to have any chance of making anything.”

Well, they don’t want to come play for you, because you don’t provide for them what they see as beneficial to them, regardless of what people are saying. And it’s being found out.

If they’re doing the right things, let’s encourage those people. It should be about who's doing the right thing, not who got baptized or was blessed with a patch, or a special status.

SA: Why would you think Fullerton Rangers might provide a better environment than an Academy club?

JIMMY OBLEDA: We have 40 teams. So as a director, I’m able to manage 40 teams and their coaches. I’m able to observe them, to come out weekly, daily -- and know exactly where they're at. My staff and I know every kid in the club and we have a direct impact on every kid. And we can have a discussion about each one and where they stand in their development.

To play in the Academy, we’d need to field 200, 150 teams. That takes away the integrity. I’m not going to sell myself out to that, franchise myself like that – because we maintain a manageable group.

SA: But the giant club model has become very popular …

JIMMY OBLEDA: Everyone talks about Europe and the youth systems there. Clubs have one team per age group. You know the coach who’s working in those age groups. You put the coaches in the right positions.

It’s become a money issue when you have clubs with 200 teams. There are not 200 phenomenal coaches in one club.

We’ve been successful because of the quality of what we provide for our kids and I don’t want to take away the integrity of what’s made us successful – and the only way to support an Academy program is to grow to 200 or 150 teams.

I’m amazed. You have parents whose players are playing in the seventh team in an age group and paying top dollar to play in these elite clubs. And those kids will never be on their top teams, because they’re going to take that money and they’re going to try and recruit my players.

SA: Non-Academy club coaches are complaining that when their players go to a youth national team camp, they’re highly encouraged to leave their clubs for Academy clubs. Do you believe that’s the case?

JIMMY OBLEDA: Absolutely, every time a kid goes to the national team. Every time a kid comes back [I hear that]. One in particular got called in and they asked him twice to leave and he said, "No, I want to stay.”

SA: And you believe a player may not be invited back to a national team camp because he didn’t change clubs?

JIMMY OBLEDA: Yes. It could affect me to speak out on this – but I’m at a point where people need to know what’s going on.

[Editor’s note: U.S. Development Academy Director of Scouting Tony Lepore, in a previous YouthSoccerInsider, said “it would never happen” that a player wouldn’t be invited to a national team camp because he didn’t switch to an Academy team.]

SA: They deny that something like that would happen …

JIMMY OBLEDA: Sure, but it’s out there. If you don’t leave [your current club], you will not get called back in.

I’m not an anti-Academy person. I know some of the things are great from the soccer standpoint. But it’s become this, “If you’re not with us you’re against us.” Well, you’re not allowing us to be with you.

I’m doing everything you’re telling me to. Our teams train four days a week. We have speed agility training. We do everything they want, and on top of it we’re getting punished.

SA: If you look at the U.S. national team and compare it to the squads of the last three decades -- we really don’t see an increase in the number of truly exceptional, creative players. Why would that be considering the increase in players, coaches and investment at the youth level?

JIMMY OBLEDA: Those kids exist. I see those kids. But what happens when they get a certain level of our hierarchy of American soccer?

They don’t fit our system. Do have we want those guys who are attacking and dribbling? No, we don’t. We want big, strong, athletic kids. If you dribble too much, dude, you’re out.

Our system pushes the exceptional players out.

Would have Lionel Messi made it in this country? No. He wouldn’t have, because he’s short and he dribbles too much. He’s a ball hog so he doesn’t fit in our system. "We need a guy who’s going to defend more here …”



39 comments
  1. r h
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 8:28 a.m.
    Only thing I don't agree with is that Messi is a ball hog. He is up there with Iniesta in terms of assists. I do agree that smaller kids are all but ignored, and "smaller" means 5'6" at 16 years old, years before average kids are done with their growth. The A team has the oldest players and the biggest players. The B team has the younger and smaller players. The best player on the B team is better than most of the A team players, if not all, but he can never break through to the A team because he "isn't strong enough", despite outplaying kids bigger than him. Although I don't think the academy program is anything more than a marketing tool for clubs with connections to look better, I think that US youth soccer needs to face facts about hours in training. If your kid was targeting the Olympics for gymnastics or swimming, they'd be training up to 20 hours per week by the age of 15. Yet we think we can produce top soccer players on 6 hours per week of training? It's insane.

  1. Sean Rose
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 8:39 a.m.
    It would be interesting to review the average club size of the Academy members. I don't think the average # of teams would be anywhere near 150 or 200 teams as Coach Obleda suspects.

  1. Al Micucci
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 8:43 a.m.
    AMEN. Finally someone with enough credibility to be interviewed by SA has the guts, integrity and ba##$ to call these people out. Soccer has become a cash register and it is unbelieveable to me that parents don't see it. What was a pleasurable experience in the not too distant past has become a quite disagreeable experience. Pitting club v. club, academy v. high school, etc. It is all about the dollars.

  1. Tagbo Ekwueme-Okoli
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 8:48 a.m.
    We will not create the next Messi because it costs too much to play soccer in the U.S., period.

  1. Guenther Rieder
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 9:01 a.m.
    rh....he is not saying that Messi is a ballhog. He is saying in the US system he would not have succeeded. After all, you can't "win games" when dribbling too much and winning is what were all about. Some coaches still manage to get it right though. We need more coaches like Obleda.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 9:05 a.m.
    R H, Messi at some point in his development dribbled more than he did anything. So Jimmy, has it right. He would have been passed up for that alone even though he developed into an excellent assist forward, which makes him the greatest in my opinion. The main reason he would have not gotten anywhere in USA is because of his growth defect that cost $1000 a week. Nobody would have invested in him in USA. That is safe to say. The A team is better skill wise than the B team. Is that B team training 4-5 times a week?? I often hear, oh my son is not developed yet or Hispanics develop earlier. Lets not confuse early physical development with skill development. Usually those underdeveloped kids do not practice more than 2 times a week. I fully bagree that all the top clubs in USA want size and speed over skill. If you have those and skill, then every top club in the world wants you.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 9:11 a.m.
    Yea, the "practice to game ratio" makes me laugh. That does average out to 8 hours of soccer compared to 20 hours in real Academies in other countries and 40+ in poor countries that just love to play. Then we coach top level games like they were Hockey games with constant substitution. A player should know how to manage an entire game.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 9:13 a.m.
    Sean, the point he is making though is it's first about the size, money, facilities, win rankings, etc. before it's about players developed. That is what I see in Illinois. It's a status given by higher authorities used mainly as a selling point to get more kids to pay, even at Academy level.

  1. william newsom
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 9:39 a.m.
    but if a club doesnt win parents will not join, if the parents dont join the club will cease to exist. Education of the parents is what is required but it takes too long for us Americans to understand development.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 9:49 a.m.
    Jimmy, thank you for speaking up and being completely honest. Now I am certain that I am not alone in that exact same opinion I have had for years now. USSF is saying " Based on your facilities, size and everything else that comes to money you qualify as an Aacademy. How many Pro and College Players you have developed wneh compared to non Academies is not that important. We trust you will do so because you now can use our brand to recruit the best. Even if it means recruiting them when they are already fully or close to fully developed, as long as they come through you. Identifying them early and developing your own talent is not as important".

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 9:54 a.m.
    William, it depends on the level. Academy should be purely about player development. That's it. You should see 3-4 players play up on older teams on every team, You should see more training and rankings based solely on Players developed. Market the years you developed those players. Why dont we see that?? Because it's easier to recruit already developed talent and not have to spend time, energy, money on trying to do it yourself. Change has to start at the top. If you reward Academy status based on wins and money over players developed then that is what the rest of the clubs follow, basically. Many parents are aware of what it means to bve Academy. Its the wrong message.

  1. Emile Jordan
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 10:17 a.m.
    Sounds like Coach Jimmy has a great club that does an exceptional job of developing players. Resident Academies are popping up more and more and the professional teams are all in on academy programs. Eventually I predict the USSF Academy program will go away as it fulfills its purpose to significantly improve training at the Club level and get resident academies and professional teams working with community based soccer clubs like Jimmys to identify players for their programs. Money matters are progressively turning from problems to opportunities as creative soccer players become creative soccer coaches who become creative businessmen.

  1. Dennis Mueller
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 10:32 a.m.
    The problem I have with Academy teams is that even though they may provide good soccer to talented, but economically disadvantaged, players, they cannot overcome geography. The relatively small number of Academy teams means that players must have some form of transportation for the travel to practices and games which are often over 30 miles each way, even in NJ. How is that possible in Texas for example without multiple teams in Houston, Dallas, Austin, SanAntonio, Lubbock, Waco, Beaumont,... you get the idea, no poor player or player without dedicated parents can be on an Academy team unless they happen to live close by.

  1. Benjamin De Point
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 10:59 a.m.
    I am not sure about Southern California, but our academy has not made a mess in NYW. Also, I am not sure where you got the number of 200 teams to qualify, but our club does not have 200 teams. We are closer to the 40-60 team mark...changes each year. We don't have a lot of money either. Additionally, we were one of the founding memebers of the Academy. This was due to our history of turning out national team members and quality D1-3 players. Additionally, at the BNT U15 level, there are a handful of players, not in an academy club, that have been a part of the pool since U14...so again, I am not sure where this data is coming from?

  1. Kurt Koerth
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 10:59 a.m.
    Let me say as a parent of a daughter in The Rangers club program that Jimmy is being 100% authentic about knowing his players throughout the ENTIRE club. Even when my daughter was on the lowest level club team Jimmy had frequent interaction with her and her team. Five years later (Two National Championships later) he still has direct access to her team and even filled in as her coach recently. Ranger's players/parents are more than a dollar figure here! Finally, Jimmy is one of several top level coaches in the program.

  1. Mark Westhoff
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 11:10 a.m.
    I agree with most of what Jimmy says. To think that the US Academy teams have all the best players in the US is silly...we see in our own state (WI), 3,4,5 clubs consistently field as good and better teams than the state's academy team. And for sure, we see many clubs have kids who are more creative, live too far away, don't have enough money, etc. I consistently see a small number per year of kids who I consider to have great potential (footskills, creativity, field awareness) who play rec soccer even.

  1. feliks fuksman
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 11:25 a.m.
    Good comments! Congratulations to Jimmys in USA; no need to compromise your integrity; who loses with this is our US National Program! Our weakest point as US players go is that we don't produce enough players who can dribble, beat someone 1v1, most players want just to pass the ball; they have no confidence to even try it; no wonder most of their lives they were told to pass, and get rid of it, etc... We have very few players who could create, can hold the ball, try to control the tempo of the game, and of course finishing consistently (scoring). Moreover any successful team needs those kind players, not just that are tall, and strong, (we're not playing basketball or American football). How tall was Pele, Maradona, Messi, Luis Suarez,etc...? Wake up USSF!!

  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 11:46 a.m.
    Thanks Jimmy for calling out the con-man behind the curtain. The point of "academy" was to enhance the paychecks of a select crew of used car salesman who happen to be pitching soccer scholarships to the parents who have never played the game. I have zero problem with MLS or NASL teams having "academies", the rest are glorified rec teams, with a bag of magic beans at the end of the rainbow.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 12:06 p.m.
    Benjamin, how many Academies would you say get this status based on players developed as first priority, like your club did? Do honestly think we are picking the best players in USA through our Academies?

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 12:57 p.m.
    Benjamin, also how many of those Academy players that make it to next level had previously developed with same Academy for at least 3-4 years?

  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 7:58 p.m.
    Thanks Jimmy for the insight, and to Mike for this column - it is always excellent. Jimmy's point about the "elite" and exclusive part of the academy system is really important. I hate to say it but I feel like I've heard this story before. The USSF has a history of anointing things as special, funneling all of the resources that way, and quickly forgetting about all else on the outside. I remember being invited to Bradenton, getting handed more Nike gear than I could wear in a year, and hearing how special everyone was. I also remember Freddy Adu refusing to train with the group and demanding individual coaching. Freddy's attitude was probably damned the minute US soccer decided they wanted to market him into a star, but the environment that existed at IMG reinforced all the wrong things and developed none of the right ones. Now, major, major improvements have been made to our youth system since then, and I recognize that developing youth soccer players on a scale like the US is trying to do is without rival in scope or difficulty. But when I read Jimmy's comments about anointed clubs of a certain size, it brings back nightmares of Bradenton, or of all those pay-to-play youth soccer coaches I grew up with, recruiting kids from rival clubs harder than college basketball coaches. The academy tries to be different than the bradenton experiment, and is different from the bradenton experiment, but is it just Bradenton on a much bigger scale (elite clubs with elite coaches and elite players playing against only other elite clubs, players, and coaches?) I am not close enough to youth clubs to know. I hope it isn't. Here are two things we should be doing instead. First, as Conny Konstin has advocated for over and over again, I'd build Futsal courts in every major inner city in the United States. They are cheap, they target the exact market pay-to-play leaves behind, and they create the EXACT environment of creative, independent development that we so desperately need. Build those courts, ban the coaches, and watch the magic that those 9-13 year olds produce. Second, I'd take a hard look at the 2012 MLS payroll and start saving some money. In 2012, MLS, and by extension US Soccer, handed out 14.1 million dollars to Kris Boyd, Marco Di Vaio, Torsten Frings, Danny Koevermans, Rafa Marquez, Kenny Miller, Christian Tiffert, and Barry Robson. Is anyone going to miss them? 14.1 million dollars buys an army of full-time Spanish UEFA licensed coaches that are coaching teams 5 days a week, and training American coaches on the other two. They could train thousands of US soccer coaches in a year, who would then go out and coach hundreds of thousands of players. These two decisions don't yield Messi's overnight, but I would sleep a lot better knowing that kids were playing day and night on their own on futsal courts, and that every day another US soccer coach was learning something he didn't know from someone who knew a lot.

  1. Kevin Sims
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 10:18 p.m.
    I agree the Development Academy, at least in some instances, is simply full of themselves and chasing the cash. I know of players on DA rosters that barely see playing minutes ... take the money and have kids sit? invested in the growth and development of the player? of the child? Market corrections will ensue in those areas. The Messi player ... or any player of that truly elite caliber ... is in no way the product of any coaching or any academies or any development system ... but the product of being born, with undeniable gifts of a sort, into a culture where kids absolutely fall in love with playing soccer early and then are nurtured with a zealous foundation of play-for-fun, go-for-it, try-anything, take-plenty-of-risks experiences. Messi plays with joy in his head, his heart and his feet.

  1. Brian Something
    commented on: March 13, 2013 at 10:52 p.m.
    Messi wouldn't have made it through our youth soccer system? Sad but true. The amateur soccer setup in this country places value almost entirely on size, strength and "work rate" and very little on technical skill, tactical intelligence and creativity. If you "work your socks of" to no effect, it's viewed more favorably than someone who picks his moments and actually makes an impact.

  1. Neil John
    commented on: March 14, 2013 at 12:05 a.m.
    Obleda is correct that players are not only steered but directly told they should move to Academy Clubs in So. Cal. to continue with National Team. 2 Ranger players were told just that. 1 left the team to join Chivas but the other stayed with Rangers---and has never been invited back. Prior to that he had been to every '97 team camp and traveled internationally. So, Tony Lepore is flat out lying. Additionally, some Academy Programs are laughable, swallowing up clubs left and right so as to have 'feeder teams' to pay for their Academy Program. Pateadores has grown from 20 teams to over 100 in 6 years. And Nomads and Strikers.....??!

  1. Carlos Ramirez
    commented on: March 14, 2013 at 12:38 a.m.
    It's great to see the truth about our so-called youth system. Money buys you opportunity, but as a player, you still have to produce and compete with the rest of the world. That's why you won't see the U.S. win a world cup any time soon. You'll find your best players on DII, DIII and JUCO colleges, cause that's the only school willing to take chances with these players. Keep an eye on Tab Ramos (U20 coach). He understands the best players aren't the biggest or strongest, but the ones with skills, speed and quickness. Your right Neal, all the best clubs are disappearing, New Jersey Gunners, Italia, Pateadores, Texas Fire, Strikers,..and the list goes on. Academys are eating them up.

  1. Benjamin De Point
    commented on: March 14, 2013 at 9:39 a.m.
    Louis, I have no idea about other academies; how they got their status. I suspect neither does anyone else commenting on here. I imagine that the people on here have had a poor experience with a academy club for a variety of reasons, and take that as indication that the whole system is bad. Jimmy has a perspective from So Cal. I have a NYW perspective. We have 1 academy for all Western NY; Utica to Buffalo. So Cal has a whole conference. We travel 5.5 hours for competition, they travel 1-2 hours. Totally different. ALL over the country it is different. The Academy system has done a good job at getting some consistency in training, and player ID. As for the players I mentioned; currently we have one in the BNT U15 pool, outside of 3 years, from 5-8 in a rec league, he has been in the club. We have one on the U17 team, last 2 years he was at Real Salt Lake AZ, he is now back in western NY; he was first identified when with our club, at u14. He has been with our club since the beginning. The next 2 were rookie standouts at SU this year; both have been with the club since it was formed. In fact SU, one of the best programs in the country this year, has a handful of our academy players...not sure on their history. As for do I think the Academy is helping pick the best players; that is completely subjective and hard to gage. Most people have an emotional attachment to an question and answer like that...which is meaningless. I would say, obviously not. No one process can get the "best", however your qualify that, players. But it does a good job of filtering quality players to the top.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 14, 2013 at 10:39 a.m.
    Benjamin, I appreciate your info. I might have to move to NY. I am one of those that wants to believe Academy is the way to go. It would be much easier for me in every aspect. I should not be able to produce better players in my small club than these Academies that eventually make it to their nationally ranked #2,#3 teams and then stop progressing individually. The fact that I am bothers me. Why? Because I get to love these kids and hate seeing talent wasted. My son is the best 99' forward in the entire Midwest. He has not gotten a call to a NTC even though he has been to 4 local TC's and one Regional TC where he scored 2 goals in a 4-2 win vs top Midwest 98' defenders. He always scores or assists at these events vs 98/97's. I fear that the only reason he is not getting called up is because he does not play Academy. He has played with others that have gotten called up and there is no comparison. They are Academy. He played for an Academy this last Fall for the #2 99' NPL PreAcademy team in the nation as starting forward. He hated it because it was boring. They killed every team by 5 goals. Got called up to 98's a couple of times but politics and the need to outscore everyone as much as possible stuck him mostly on this team. I play him vs more challenging teams and up 1-2 ages. Why the difference? I want to challenge him. That Academy wants to establish their dominance. Which is better for my kid? USSF is condoning this behavior, at least in my Region and from what I hear everywhere else. This club I speak of has 2 of my 3-4 year players on their top 98' teams as starters. My son scored 2 goals vs FC Delco 99' out of your Region in a 2-1 win for his team. They are Nationally ranked.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 14, 2013 at 10:56 a.m.
    Benjamin, Gt carried away there but my point is the mindset for player selection seems to be way off. Let the Academy clubs prove they develop and then promote them as so. I'm sorry but you should know exactly how many years and history your college and National players developed under you and where else they developed to determine how they come up that good, environment, coaching, no coaching, etc. so you can better understand what it takes in USA to get to that level and improve it. Maybe you do your best to identify the best talent in your area but that should not be enough, what so ever. If I were you, I would ask myself, why arent we producing these players that we recruit or in the same numbers for that matter?? We are a "Development" Academy. Our label isnt an "Identifying" Academy. The only reason my son is not in an Academy is because I have not seen the higher development there. He has improved at a higher pace than any 98/99 player of any Academy. He has surpassed many players that used to drop my jaw when I saw them play. Alot of them!!! I may get emotional but base my opinions on results. Most parents are happy winning and being part of something "bigger". These Academies around me have exploited that well. I want my son to improve individually by getting pushed. He is not where he deserves to be because of our mentality.

  1. Benjamin De Point
    commented on: March 14, 2013 at 11:18 a.m.
    Louis, I am not the DOC in my club. I work with him but I am a club coach, so I would not know these guys. Also, in the BNT u15 player pool there are a handful of kids not in the academy system...at least 1 from So Cal. Academy helps exposure wise but I see no baring on politics on my end.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 14, 2013 at 11:38 a.m.
    Benjamin, well then your DOC should know and therefore you should as well as this should be a "Development" Academy's main promotion and marketing tool. " We developed these players for X amount of years and raised there level to this." Academy does help exposure wise but that should handle itself at your level. The main objective should be development of individual players. If I had an Academy, I could easily promote exposure as well. The status given does that for you. Also, dont you notice that at the earlier ages there is always close to the same % of players selected from certain areas of the country?? About 30-35% from California, 25-30% from East Coast ( usually same 2-4 states ). I can maybe understand that it's more competitive in those areas, maybe, but every year close to the same amount ??? That cant be right.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 14, 2013 at 11:39 a.m.
    Sorry, the selection I am talking about is for our National teams.

  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: March 14, 2013 at 7:28 p.m.
    The only solution is MLS "REAL" Academy Teams, where the kids play for a paycheck, and the club owns them, the rest is just to line the pockets of a club "director" of coaching and to make dads feel important around the water cooler at work. The MLS Clubs are the only ones with the proper motivation for development of the players, because their future success depends upon finding and developing the talent to either field or sale.

  1. Teresa Buffington
    commented on: March 14, 2013 at 7:28 p.m.
    My son trained with the National Team last August. It was the best experience of his life. We are Minnesotans..not the big CA..soo we don't have as many kids "in the pool" here but he has played with outstanding talent but nothing compares to his training and camp experience. Since camp his diet is incredible, his training effort is awesome and he just "wants to get back to CA"-if he doesn't get back..we just call him the "one hit wonder"-they talked to him about our academys but also asked him what his team/coach is doing to support him. It comes down to "is the team your son/dtr. playing on right for your kid?" Give him the environment that supports his growth. We are currently not on an academy team. Play your son or dtr. where THEY want to play. There is so much more to playing on a team than the designation "academy" The needs of the team, the player/coach relationship, the level of play, etc. Your kids know more about where they need to play than you do.

  1. BJ Genovese
    commented on: March 18, 2013 at 11:46 a.m.
    SA: And you believe a player may not be invited back to a national team camp because he didn’t change clubs? JIMMY OBLEDA: Yes. It could affect me to speak out on this – but I’m at a point where people need to know what’s going on. Give this guy some points for at least speaking up. He could risk being black listed for the next ten years for this... I though since my son is always the smallest kid on the pitch at national training level and club... and because we live about 3 1/2 hours from a DA and any other kind of "high level" training, I would share a little bit of our experience. I did send a note to US soccer about a month ago because I was concerned that US soccer would be omitting kids from NTC and national team camps if you were not from a DA. I mean... it just makes simple business sense to only pick kids from the DA... then you can say "look what comes from a DA" National level players. My point was that it smelled like a vamped up ODP. But on the other hand its a good Idea... however, inevitably kids are going to get overlooked... including the Messi's. Which brings me to my next point. Im not saying my Son is a Messi... what I will say is that he is very very small... basically an 8th grader in a 4th or 5th graders body. Same size as Messi at 13. He does not have growth issue. I was small as well and did not grow until the 9th grade. Now I am 6'. Despite this extremely disadvantage on the pitch. He has been asked to play at NTC/ODP and ID2 camps. At these camps he plays against some of the best kids in the nation and this is where you start to see the size issue truly come into play. Now you have kids that are big, but they are shifty and quick as well and he always gets knocked off the ball. At these camps there is never a ref... so what could have been a free kick many of the times ends up just playing on while he is on the ground. Still despite sometimes a difference of up to a foot or more and even 75 pounds... he still hangs with them. But I believe this has kept him from making the final cut and National camps as well and it makes sense. The biggest question I have asked my self is this. You would think that a kid that has already defied the odds from having such a physical disadvantage... would be embraced and they would be saying "ok... lets keep this kid under our net because if he is able to play against some kids that have fully grown... then what is he going to be like when he grows. So pair this with fact that unless we pack up our family and move to a DA market. His soccer future is starting to look pretty sad. I suppose that is why next year when he does grow... We will be pitching overseas markets.

  1. mark luchi
    commented on: March 18, 2013 at 12:08 p.m.
    Being around youth soccer for sometime, with a high level 98 birth year boy, this is my go. First off getting academy status was all about facilites, club size and name. The clubs given the status have not done any better at developing players...fact. They are equal or worse off then before. My son is 5'5"...he has been lost to any oppertunity. He was tall early on and got chances, he has not grown since and the invites and recognniton has dried up. He is constantly passed over in favor of big kids, most with less technical and tactical talent. The sad part is he now feels that he is "no good". We cannot afford an academy or drive the 2.5 hours to get one. We play for the most successful non-academy club in the state. We could easily beat any academy team. As far as being pushed to leave...true...a very close friend of my son is a keeper. He got NT tryout, He was told outright go academy or go home. He switched.

  1. Mark Torguson
    commented on: March 18, 2013 at 2:09 p.m.
    Well said Jimmy, it takes a big non academy club for this to get heard. This has been a major problem since the Academy was formed. We are a small club with excellent facilities, follow the US curriculum, we have sent 3 players to the national team program, every single one of them was told they need to leave. Its a conflict of interest for US Soccer to tell players to play for the "league" that they run.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 18, 2013 at 3:53 p.m.
    And guess what? Those same coaches/scouts get the DOC jobs $$ at those very same Academies for continued " valued " recommendations. The Academy " theory " is not bad but the way it's set up is easily corruptible. It seems that taking facilities, $$ structure, wins based on rankings has nothing to do with development. The problem here is misconception of a misused name. They should be called Scouting Academy instead or until the development part is proven!!

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 18, 2013 at 3:55 p.m.
    I meant "It seems that taking facilities, $$ structure, wins based on rankings into account for Development Academy Status has nothing to do with development.

  1. Aresenal Fan
    commented on: March 21, 2013 at 12:55 p.m.
    Jimmy I hear you. Academies should be supporting all clubs who are developing soccer players the right way, not trying to dismantle them. If academies were actually further developing the kids they get and creating fantastic players, there would be a craze amongst kids to try to get in, but that is not the case. In he is right, there is a plethora of skillful players in the USA who are very exciting to watch, I see it every weekend in youth competitions in california. Hoping some day it translates into our national teams..


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