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U-17 setback is not a major blow to player development
by Ridge Mahoney, April 23rd, 2013 4:30PM

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TAGS:  mls, u-17 world cup

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By Ridge Mahoney

When does the “youth” go out of youth soccer?

This topic resurfaces in the wake of the U.S. U-17s failure to qualify for the FIFA world championships to be held later this year. Knocked out in the quarterfinals, the Americans have been supplanted by their conquerors, Honduras, along with Panama, Mexico and Canada as Concacaf representatives.

The game has come a long way in America since a bunch of precocious teenagers named Landon Donovan, Bobby Convey, DaMarcus Beasley, Oguchi Onyewu, Kyle Beckerman, et al, made their mark by reaching the semifinals at the 1999 U-17 world championships in New Zealand. Their subsequent ascents to the full national team and established pro careers are well-known. Yet the process of player development, then as now, is one of hit-and-miss.

Many other players from that squad – Jordan Cila, Nelson Akwari, Alex Yi, Seth Trembly, Kenny Cutler, D.J. Countess, etc. – weren’t nearly so successful. Those players didn’t fail, and neither did the development system. A look at past U-17 squads from different countries shows a wide variance in how many were able to eventually solidify a place on the full national team or even get a foothold in the professional club ranks.

Those bent on a positive spin will say that getting the U.S. into the FIFA U-20 World Cup is of greater relevance, since those players are much closer to getting first-team playing time for the clubs, as have Seattle right back DeAndre Yedlin and Galaxy forward Jose Villarreal. On the other hand, another member of the U.S. U-20 camp currently training in Southern California is Omar Salgado, whose struggles with poor form and injuries have limited his playing time with Vancouver.

Though the rapid of expansion of league teams from 12 to 19 since 2007 has theoretically opened up more spots for young American players, they also face stiffer competition for playing time under the league’s liberal allotment of foreign slots (eight per team, plus those acquired in trades) and favorable treatment of Homegrown Players who may play for another country, a la Honduran Andy Najar.

When coaches such as Bruce Arena term the Olympic soccer tournament, which is mostly comprised of players 23 and younger, as a “youth competition,” they’re simply speaking the truth: the performances of younger players, no matter now talented and impressive, matched against their peers can skew opinions and evaluations in the wrong direction. Much of the soccer world still can’t understand how Freddy Adu’s dominance at the youth levels hasn’t translated to a solid pro career or consistent USA callups.

At the first-team club level, they are tested by players who are every bit as fast and strong, plus wiser and smarter. It’s the professional version of “playing up,” the youth soccer process of fielding players in higher age groups. If you want to trigger a loud, emotional, passionate argument amongst youth officials and administrators, just throw out the subject of playing up.

The impressive showing by Mexico at U-17, U-20, and Olympic competitions has called for MLS and U.S. Soccer to employ similar programs. Liga MX youth teams play a regular schedule of games – some of which are televised to American audiences -- and for a few seasons clubs were obligated to allot minimums of playing time to young players. Every pro team around the world pays lip service to honing skills and technical ability but in Mexico, those with crude touches and heavy feet are ruthlessly weeded out unless they have some rare trait that the coaches believe can be cultivated.

Economics and other factors have spurred Mexican clubs to aggressively to scout talent in the U.S. as well as domestically. MLS has lagged behind its Mexican counterparts in this regard, yet through its youth academies, loans with lower-division teams, and alliances with the Premier Development League and other such programs it is moving, or lurching, in the right direction.

While the U-17 failure is a black eye for U.S. Soccer it can’t be termed a major setback for player development. Players in that age group need constant exposure to good coaching, physical training, and demanding competition beyond that which can be supplied by U.S. Soccer’s programs. The numbers game of player development requires a net to be cast over a wider swath of players beyond those picked to wear the U.S. colors at the youth levels.

A luxury of success plus a heavy burden of games permits Arena to give his young players like forwards Jack McBean (who is not in the U-20 camp) and Villarreal significant first-team playing time. But requiring minutes for those players, as in a youth mandate, would force too many of them into conditions beyond their capabilities, which doesn’t serve anybody’s purposes. Nothing is gained if a player is overrun by the pace, the duels and the pressure.

In a year and a half, a clearer picture of MLS player development will emerge, when the loan deals and affiliations with USL PRO teams and academy programs will have had some time to percolate. It will be a good point for U.S. Soccer to take stock as well, with the U-20 championships and the 2014 World Cup in the rear-view mirror.

A strong showing at the FIFA U-20 World Cup would certainly increase contract leverage and overseas possibilities for a few players, and perhaps give U.S. Soccer a nice public-relations boost. Yet for the long-term growth of the game, the performances of Salgado and McBean and Villarreal and Yedlin carry greater importance.



26 comments
  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: April 23, 2013 at 9:14 p.m.
    Some good points in this commentary such as that of McBean. Yes, what is happening with this youngster and the U-20's? The following point that was made made me laugh, "though the rapid of expansion of league teams from 12 to 19 since 2007 has theoretically opened up more spots for young American players, they also face stiffer competition for playing time under the league’s liberal allotment of foreign slots (eight per team, plus those acquired in trades) and favorable treatment of Homegrown Players who may play for another country, a la Honduran Andy Najar." Why? I remember when journalists would write just the opposite about 2,3 and 4 Americans that were mandated to be in an "11!" That's why the North American Soccer League was called the "Non American Soccer League!" The "American" rule was "RUTHLESS!" But "we" worked through it!!! We earned ours! amongst "world class" first division professionals. We even had "journalists" who are still writing today that "slagged us" like there was no tomorrow!!! Yes, they are still writing today!!! And what are they writing about? How to improve the American player!!! Amazing! The answer in Ridge's article lies within the Domestic Structure of our National League which should be the MLS, NASL and the MISL combined. Promotion-Relegation copied by the USSDA and to cease giving attention to the NCAA. Great for players who cannot make the jump from the Youth Level to the Professional level at 17-18 but nothing more. All this other stuff has been going on for years...A DOMESTIC NATIONAL LEAGUE IS THE ANSWER!

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: April 23, 2013 at 9:16 p.m.
    edit: USL not MISL...so many leagues you get "dizzy!"

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: April 24, 2013 at 10:01 a.m.
    Ridge, the U17 performance alone might not be an indicator of player development in USA but how about the overall results of our youth teams in the past 2-3 years?? The U20's didnt qualify to the last W.C 2011. The U17's got blown out in group play in the same W.C. The U23's didnt qualify for the Olympics last year. What makes this appaulling is that Mexico was not the country to eliminate them in any of these events. USA was eliminated by countries the size of small USA states. I beleive that the bigger problem we have right now is our "secluded" selection process. How can we accurately determine how far we have come development wise if we know all too well we are not picking the very best talent for our National teams?? What we do know for sure is that we are not making an effort in picking the best players in USA. How do we know this? Because, as Ridge stated, 3rd world countries like Mexico are scouting our players and having an easy time doing it. Mexico is not the only one. El Salvador had 5-6 USA born players on it's U17 1st World Cup Qualifying team!! As good as Mexico is and as good as their player development has been proven to be, they still find the time, energy and $$ to scout the best Mexican American talent in USA!!! That is an embarrasment to our country!! There are no other words for it. The MX league recognized the problem within it's league regarding the development of youth National Players and did something about it. They mandated playing time for these young players in top division. With MLS teams not really caring wether they end up in last place or not you think they will want to develop their own talent?? With 8 foreign contracts and even rewarding lower teams with more money and top draft pick ?? We are dreaming. Like my friend Peter said, this has all been said many years before.

  1. R2 Dad
    commented on: April 24, 2013 at 11:11 a.m.
    Luis, the fact that foreign scouts are finding gems among the "dregs" comes as no surprise. If US scouts filter for different characteristics, it's no wonder. If Sunil & JK cared about this, perhaps they would make a list of all the US-born players that are now involved in foreign national teams, and analyze why they aren't playing for us. Too short? Too slow? Too slight? Don't speak english well enough? Inquiring minds want to know. I have yet to hear/read of US scouts holding forth on the importance of vision/awareness/timing.

  1. cony konstin
    commented on: April 24, 2013 at 12:35 p.m.
    Soccer in the US is a hobby. It is not a way of life. The day the kids are jumping over fences to get onto empty baseball fields to play, while the local police are chasing them off the field, amd then kids return as soon as the local police leave, then and only then has soccer arrived in the USA. Then and only then will soccer become a passion for our nation. Meanwhile soccer is just another ponzi scheme that rips off suburban knights. Beer gardens at MLS games, $250 cleats, replica jersys, 1000's of tournaments, 1000's of soccer camps, coaching curriculum, coaching videos, coaching clinics, and yet not one kobi, Ali, Mays, Montana, Rice, or Jordan. We need a soccer revolution in the USA. We need radical change. And this Revolution and Radical Change can only happen in our inner cities. Suburbia is tainted goods. Suburbia will only change when they see what is happening in the inner cities. Free play everyday for free. Revolution!!!!!!!

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: April 24, 2013 at 12:43 p.m.
    Cony, There already are Inner city kids playing. the problem is there is no interest or $$ to look in there. Barrios have this environment you speak of and has had for a while. European communities that are growing are also displaying the same passion in USA. I dont think that is an excuse any longer for our National performance. It must start with an Honest effort to pick the best players no matter the affiliation, first and foremost. That way we can truly see at what level we are at. Futsal is now being implemented via Academy but I suspect it will be used on a seperate agenda and will not remedy our performances at the International level. Look at the publisized Futsal event in California. Same kids basically already in the US National Pool mix. Accurate Player ID is a must and must not be secluded. Or we can just keep watching El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico improve their teams with our USA talent!!

  1. T Sekerak
    commented on: April 24, 2013 at 2:29 p.m.
    Much of the soccer world still can’t understand how Freddy Adu’s dominance at the youth levels hasn’t translated to a solid pro career or consistent USA callups. True true true. The misleading indicator of youth level success.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: April 24, 2013 at 4:23 p.m.
    T, many factors are involved. Not the right career management. Not the right attitude from the player. Lost the hunger for improvement. Who Knows. Adu did have the talent. He just did not flourish as expected.

  1. cony konstin
    commented on: April 24, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.
    Sorry Luis I have been coaching for 38 years in US and have been all over the world. There is GOLD in them mountains (inner cities). The problem is that no one wants to go in there because coaches can't make money off these kids. That is why USSF needs to go in there and build 30,000 futsal courts so kids can play 7 days a week for free. Magical players are not going to come out of the system that exist in the US now. That is why we need radical change. This radical is not going to happen in the pay to play suburbia model. Just ask the Yankees, Giants, and other MLB teams who have baseball academies throughout Latino America. Soccer in the US has come a long way but has a long way to go. To: US Soccer. We need radical change. We need a soccer revolution. We need 30,000 futsal courts in the inner cities of America. We need mentors who are specialist in their specific niches. (Perkerman for our youth national teams. Bianchi for our pro teams. Ciro Medrano for our kids u14 and down. And finally Javier Lozano for futsal who was my mentor.) We need new leadership, a new visison and a 21st century master plan. We need to create a NEW SPARTA!! Otherwise soccer in the US will continue to be treated as a hobby and used as a marketing tool to sell $250 soccer shoes and other assesorries. We need to create hungry and magical players. The system that is being used is a obsolete. It is time for radical change. Coaching is totally overrated. Players win championships not coaches. We need to create a sandlot, playground environment that is free and open 7 days a week. This can only happen in the HOOD!!!!! Suburbian soccer is nice for the kids and families but you are not going to develop hungry and magical players in a nice 5 star environment. In the end the it will be up to the next generation to clean house and create radical change for US Soccer. Our system of soccer is the best in the world if your focus in helping kids to be healthy, learn about team work and over come some adversity. But to create the next super stars in soccer. No WAY. It is time for a Soccer Revolution in the USA and it must begin in our inner cities.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: April 24, 2013 at 6:43 p.m.
    A fair article by Mr. Mahoney, and I enjoy reading the comments. However, some have forgotten that what happened to Adu was not so much his talent and ability, but that when he went to play in his MLS team, his coach went so far as to say (in so many words)that because of his age he would not get too many starts, and thus his playing time was reduced to coming off the bench and only during practices. What happened was the inevitable, Adu was traded and his "saga" began to the point that it is highly probable that had he been guided, managed or coached and brought along more and more into the MLS "pro game" he would've developed into a much stronger and skillful player, and BTW, has any one ever asked HIM just what the heck happened then? Now as for the MLS lagging behind Liga MX, that is a no brainer, however, people have also forgotten that within our national confines an organization (I heard it's a for-profit group) called Alianza, has been conducting tryouts in the Latino communities, where they have these guys scout for talent and then submit the names of potential players to Liga MX teams! So Alianza has found a way to make some money (OK, nothing wrong with that) but just how many "Alianza" players have been signed by MLS teams or have had the names submitted to the various US teams? So instead of having Alianza work for the dollar from Mexico, why don't they actually work for the US teams and programs? Just a thought....

  1. Anthony Anish
    commented on: April 24, 2013 at 10:18 p.m.
    The problem in the US is that politics play a huge part in who gets picked and how they are picked. There is enormous talent in the US but weak coaching, an academy system that does not work yet and a lack of vision on who to play, where to play them, and how to play the game. This results in the most talented never getting the opportunities they deserve. As far as Adu is concerned the worst mistake he made was not going to Europe when he was 14 or 15. He would have been trained correctly and slowly brought into the first team. He would be a much better player today than he is.

  1. Brian McLindsay
    commented on: April 24, 2013 at 10:46 p.m.
    What a bunch of misguided nonsense to say only inner city kids can reach high levels of play. Next time you want to say that, ask yourself if its a magical water they drink or the magical genetics that only reside in the inner city, as those are the only thing that can make your statement accurate. I understand both the need and desire for inner city development and opportunities, but your statements simple make you come off looking foolish. Spend a little extra time thinking how you might get some inner city development and less how you can exclude others. The net NEEDS to be cast much wider than it currently is and the development of coaches needs better oversight. Great coaching is required in today's game, as the best performance stems from great team work and not the individual, the days of Pele carrying the ball for 10's of seconds by himself are over, that's a simple fact. In today's game you need a well coached cohesive team that , yes has individual talent but more importantly egos and skills which mesh well together. Please stop suggesting that only inner city kids can fix the problems, it is very limited in perspective.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: April 24, 2013 at 11:20 p.m.
    Brian, I dont think that "only" Inner City kids can reach high level;s of play but it is proven throughout the world and even here in USA when you look at basketball that poorer unstructured environments do somehow develop most "Magical" players. I don't be;lieve that its the fact they are poor. I think it's the fact that pickup soccer or basketball are the only options. There is no option to play travel, Academy, ODP. There's only your friends and a playground. And I strongly beleive that there has to be something to it. As far as exclusion goes, that is exactly what our soccer system is doing quite blatantly but without really just saying it. The net has remained the same or maybe smaller. All we have managed is to trade ODp for Academy. Both expensive to do. Why do people keep saying coaching has to get better when the bigger problems that come first arent close to being remedied and when great players dont usually get any structured coaching from 4-13 years old, the most important skill development years?? You need a well coached cohesive team at every age?? Yea, to win!! But not to develop!! Every sport needs a well coached cohesive team to succeed and it was the same way in Pele's time as well. Pele did not win games on his own, you know. Every team needs a go to player. A leader. The best teams inn the world have more players that are highly skilled. Brazil, great individual players, alwayys a W.C contender. Spain, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Torres, Fabregas. All phenomenal individual players that without a doubt realized the importance of individual skills but also learned to mesh it in team play. Do you really think those players grew up playing a passing game and as role players?? If you do I would like to sll you some stuff.

  1. Brian McLindsay
    commented on: April 24, 2013 at 11:41 p.m.
    You discount the fact that the pool for b-ball and soccer in poorer areas is simply much larger than the current soccer pool in the U.S., that is the reason for many of the exceptional sports players you mention, Not because there is something ,mystic going on in the inner city. I am all for finding ways to bring those not "advantaged" into the opportunity circle, but excluding others and suggesting the mystic... simple can't help the cause.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: April 24, 2013 at 11:49 p.m.
    Brian, I dont understand what you meant but to be accurate there are 25 million soccer players in USA. I look at the best players at each sport in History and most of them come from unstructured and usually humble, not neccessarily poor, environments. Not too many top sport players come from pay to play structured environments. Can you prove me wrong?? Brain, if you are all for inclusion then you must be appaulled at our current pay to p[lay system with soccer that has overrun it in USA, correct??

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: April 25, 2013 at midnight
    Pay to play excludes most. Keeping it simple and cheap involves most. We have pay to play basketball. I dont see the Magical players coming out of there. Do you? The only explanation I can come up with is that following orders all through your younger years limits your creativity, personality, passion. It does make you tecnically sound but we know all too well that is not enough to create magic. The Magical players in basketball? Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Barkley, Isah thomas, Michael Jordan, Lebron, etc. Our obsession with pay to play is that we want to believe that structure is better in soccer even at the U8 ages even though we have nothing to prove it is correct. We run around looking for better coaches for our U9's when the best players are just playing somewhere unsupervised, no set plays, no defensive assignments. Just pure love, passion, win for myself. A sincere win for a kid is not always his team winning the game but maybe it's trying that move he saw on youtube and getting ooos and aaas from the rest. But hey maybe its different with soccer in USA. Because it aint in the rest of the world. Arent we following an English typwe of structure?? Is this proven to be the best?? Isnt Brazil the most accomplished, by far, player development country?? Who is inn second place in this regard?? Argentina.

  1. Brian McLindsay
    commented on: April 25, 2013 at 1:01 a.m.
    My point is that 25 million is a very small percentage of the pool of kids that you mention, so a simple understanding that with the truly massive number of kids in the other countries they will certainly generate more standouts than here in the u.s., assuming they are equally scouted, which of course they are not. The free play you talk about is very valuable, but I just can't buy THAT'S the reason for what we all see, the U.S. not succeeding.. Take a moment and youtube Barcalona U11, and watch the boys play the team from CA. The Barcalona boys are not superior athletes compared even to our own local club, however they do know where to go with the ball in many more situations and recognize more play patterns and do it much more quickly. They have the advantage of high level coaching in lots of scrimmages, plus they have been highly analyzed from a very early age and the ones without the "right" stuff are culled from the full time soccer academies where they get 1000's of hours of soccer specific play time. Plus, they are "culled"annually there after and sent home if they don't make the grade. We do not yet have that kind of screening in broad use of talent selection, but it is coming with some clubs. The advent of professionally sponsored clubs will continue to move us in that direction, and these "paid scholarship" programs which limits college sports participation, is a form of child contracts...which are common outside the U.S. . We are in agreement that what we have done to date isn't working.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: April 25, 2013 at 9:18 a.m.
    Brian, there are studies that show that soccer is the 2nd most popular sport in USA. And no one is sure if it is the most played but now very close to basketball or baseball. Studies show that soccer is the most popular amongst ages 12 - 24 in USA. We are losing to countries that have 5 million or less TOTAL population. I agree with you in that lack of free play is not the reason for what we see. I look at this at different levels. At the very least we have the talent to be 2nd only to Mexico every year at every age. There is no excuse for not making a W.C. at any age ever. Even more so now that we see how many Americans are playinmg for our rivals like Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. The talent is here we just show little interest in keeing it here. Now you are talking about Barcelona. Of course you will see a sound team that is well coached but those clubs will always pay most of their money for the top individual talents like Messi and Ronaldinho, guys that did not develop under Barcelona from 4-13 years old. These guys just played and under their own set of rules. Playing systems will always be adjusted for those type of players who are game changers. To me the most important aspects of your game will develop under no supervision or structure. Does structure and great coaching help?? Of course but your own style and flair are more important. A club like that isnt looking for role players outside of the club. They are looking for game changers that can create on their own. Many good or sometimes great players come out of those environmnents but without a doubt the truly magical greatest players don't. The biggest problem in USA is simply the heavy politics involved in scouting. We limit our scouting to 80 Academy clubs pretty much and these are the results. How many more years will we say " we are moving in the right direction or we are still young"?? When we have the most soccer players in the world. Nothing else can be fixed adequately without first making sure we scout and pick the best players in USA. Do you think Barcelona limited it's scouting to "ACADEMY" clubs when finding MESSI ?? How about Ronaldinho?? It seems Barcelona does one thing better than develop and thats scout for the best talent. If they had our USSF mentality, they would simply just recruit from within as they are probably "the" best developm,ent program in the world. They would have more of a reason than USSF to limit their scouting to within. But they don't and their best players are not from with in. USSF is sending the message that only Academy players are considered for National teams. Why? What has this Academy system proven so far?? Barcelona has Iniesta, Xavi who developed very young at Barza. What do Academies have ?? Can you name a standout player that developed under that same Academy for more than 4 years?? I am willing to bet it would be hard. WHy not let Academies first prove themselves or hold them accountable?? You know why?? $$$$$$

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: April 25, 2013 at 10:08 a.m.
    Brian, consider this. Black people are 14% of the population in USA which is under 46 million. Doesnt this ethnicity completely dominate basketball in USA?? Why? Because they are superior athletes?? Maybe. But I think the biggest factor is how it is lived within their distinct culture. They play it with a different passion than the rest of us. I love basketball. Thats all I played. I played with the same passion but just never reached my full potential. I knew exactly where I needed to play to prove myself and learn new things. The hood. Not AAU. If I want my lkid to be the best basketball player he must do all the unnecessary double pumps, crossover dribbles, behind the back passes, layups, no look passes, etc. In a structured nevironment there is little room for these things. Why? Because you are paying for results which are measured in how good your team plays together. Not the individual. A Jordan, Lebron cant fully develop under those conditions. No different in soccer. We dont need more people playing soccer to establish ourselves as top 10-15 in the world. We need to focus on the ones picking soccer first and only without worrying about affiliations and future employment. Just like in Basketball. Why would we tell our best soccer players to not play High School if High School has proven quite effective in filtering basketball players?? Can you imagine basketball Academies doing the same?? And the USA Basketball Federation condoning it as the only way?? ISnt there something terribly wrong with that picture?? Can you explain this?? I can. $$$$$

  1. Brian McLindsay
    commented on: April 25, 2013 at 10:44 a.m.
    Thank you for your thought provoking insights. I only caution we don't make the same foolish step that the mayor of New Orleans had, and suggest an excludatory process is the way to go, rather an inclusive process whith better scouting and development programs including facilities for early age free play.. We shouldn't chase away the money in the system, rather incourage its attraction...the rising tid raises all boats.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: April 25, 2013 at 11:22 a.m.
    The excludatory process is already in place sir. there is no other excludatory proccess that is worse than the one now in place. Are you simply afraid of a lesser evil that is perhaps less convenient for you in particular?? We shouldnt chase away the money??? The MAIN problem today has very much to do with money in US Soccer. Exclusivity from the USSF towards Academies is all about $$ and is proving to work against an "inclusive process". You dont see that?? A really big tide will sink all the smaller boats and leave a few of the bigger boats standing. Those smaller boats might have better sailors and a better captain but that wont stop the big tide ($$) from sinking them. Good analogy.

  1. Carlos Eduarte
    commented on: April 25, 2013 at 2:51 p.m.
    I completely agree that unstructured free play (futsal, sandlot, improvised) is the way to develop the US soccer player. I'm completely agnostic of where this needs to happen (city, suburbs, exurbs, etc.) The comparison with basketball is a valid one. US socceer has not developed a Jordan, Kobe, LeBron because we don't have the equivalent of pick-up basketball for soccer. I'd argue that kids spend more time actually traveling than playing, minimizing their touches with the ball through structured practice and travel rather than maximizing it through free play. What builds excellence is passion and endless repetition. These are not mutually exclusive. If you love something, you will not mind doing it over and over. In St. Paul, Minnesota these concepts are being put to practice at joyofthepeople.org. If there are there other centers that have embraced this philosophy in the U.S., I'd like to know.

  1. Martha Diop
    commented on: April 26, 2013 at 3:44 a.m.
    Brian McLindsay I do get your point about the inclusion and exclusion. I do not think Luis meant that including the inner city automatically means excluding those who are currently favored by the system in place, which demands heavy dollars in order to play. I am sure you acknowledge that. ------- I agree with you, and I am sure Luis does too, that all we want is to widen the selection process. ---------This will finally include those who are left out, simply because they do not have the dollars. -------They have what it takes to succeed (the passion, love and dedication for the game) but are consistently continue to be overlooked, because they cannot make their way to the expensive tournaments and events where people go to look for good players. Isn’t it true? For many of those who can afford the pay to play, soccer is generally just another toy, just like a Playstation or some other stuff, that you just dump when you are done, or tired of playing with it. The same way they do not think of a career out of a play station, they do not think of soccer of soccer as a career. I believe that many kids out of the inner cities, or poorer countries look at soccer as an outlet. Sometimes as the ONLY outlet The big question: who has the incentive to start the process of including the inner cities? Maybe a real wealthy guy, with tons of money and a vision?

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: April 26, 2013 at 8:32 a.m.
    Mrtha, he knows what we meant. He seems to be very smart. I think he favors this current system for some reason. The pay to play players will never be excluded for that reason alone. They PAY. I think what he is really afraid of is the inner city idea discovering the real talent in USA. That would be the only real threat to pay to play. Discovering that structured system is not ideal for ages 4-14 as in basketball. Can you imagine how many jobs would be lost if this fact is proven?? Common sense would let anyone see that this current system is the one that mostly does the exclusion of most talent. Common sense would also tell you that making it affordable and accessable in the inner city would widen the net and therefore cripple the pay to play structure. Martha, wealthy people usually want more money biut I hope your right.

  1. Martha Diop
    commented on: April 28, 2013 at 4:33 a.m.
    Luis, if NO-PAY-PLAY is implemented, where will the money be coming from? Should the coaches be paid, or should they volunteer? Obviously, if you know that long term you will/may get money out a player, you can implement a NO-PAY system. But if not, who will foot the bill for everything? (staff, fields, etc.) Is not a liberal scholarship model better suited in the current situation?

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: April 28, 2013 at 9:50 p.m.
    Only option to no pay to play is for clubs to have $$ rights to players. We wont see that any time soon in USA. Academies know that "real" player development is a huge investment. That's why it's easier to just recruit specially at 14+ years old. The investment $$ is mostly over by then. Play for free is an easy fix. It's so enticing because players and parent s see it as an entitlement to saving those $3000+ a year even though they really dont have to pay those ridiculous fees. Now that MLS Academies can profit 75% of player transfers and it is only 1 year with Academy to qualify as "Homegrown" players should not even consider paying anything to play even travel because they are potentially a huge profit. If you are paying then that should be a red light that maybe you are not considered to be good enough to matter. At this point, the USSF is the only one who can hold this system accountable. They are really not. I think they get the feeling that if Academies are given full "premature" acknowledgement for being the best soccer clubs in USA the best players will eventually filter through them. That is way too much woshful thinking. How could they not account for the ugly side of this process?? Academies using status to irresponsably recruit players and charge the hopefulls a ridiculous amount of $$. Some say their Academy players are free but dont say they raised the fees for the non academy players. USSF should state that the "Only" evaluation that determines Academy status is players developed. Nothing else. If Facilities and WINS are part of it for results then it will be proven and should take care of itself. Rankings based only on player development and history with each club. People will be surprised to see how many Academies fall short in this department. USSF has that power. But it seems to use it just to make a few agendas happy. Great relations strategy. Terrible for our National teams.


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