Wilmer Cabrera: U.S. boys are immature

Interview by Mike Woitalla

For the 13th time in 14 appearances, the USA returned from the U-17 World Cup without a win in the knockout stage, losing 4-0 to Germany in the round of 16 after going 1-1-1 group play. We spoke to Coach Wilmer Cabrera about his team's performance, the future of the U-17s residency program in Bradenton, and player development in the USA.

SOCCER AMERICA: Are you confident that the players you took to Mexico were the best in the USA at this age group?


SA: Now that you’v e had a week to reflect on your team’s performance in Mexico, what’s your impression?

The same impression I had at the beginning of the tournament. We have a group of players who cannot yet compete at the highest level with the top teams in the world.

At this age, our boys in the United States, they’re very young, they’re immature. At this age in the top countries, they’re already men. They’re more mature. They’re more professional. They have a more professional mentality.

That is something you cannot manage in practices. You have to live with that. It’s a big advantage the other countries have over us.

[Editor’s note: In group play, the USA beat the Czech Republic (3-0), lost to Uzbekistan (2-1), and tied 0-0 with New Zealand.]

SA: You mean because in other countries they’re already with pro clubs …

In other countries, like Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina -- at that age, they’re more survivors. They have to suffer more. They have to mature earlier.

In Europe, they’ve been in competition and are being developed at younger ages. In Germany, the best athletes practice soccer. That’s the most important sport for them. They know that’s their life. That’s their future. Over here guys, they’re teenagers and they practice soccer for fun.

That’s a cultural environment and we cannot change that in moments or days, or because there’s a tournament.

SA: That makes it sound like we shouldn’t expect better results from the USA at a U-17 World Cup …

Unless we have an unbelievable team where we have six, seven very skillful players who can make the difference on the field. But we don’t have those types of players. I haven’t seen those players yet.

SA: Producing players for the full national team is supposed to be more important than results at the U-17 level. Do you believe your team includes players we’ll see excel at the higher levels?

Yes. I hope. But they need an environment where they can reach their full potential to succeed for [pro] clubs and the national team.

In Bradenton, the Federation has created a good environment for the players to practice everyday and to change their mentality. The players need to continue being in an everyday soccer environment. If they don’t, there will be a crucial gap in their development.

I have examples [from the 2009 team]. Juan Agudelo, when he left the Bradenton residency program, he went to a good environment with the New York Red Bulls. He started to practice with the pro team and playing with the reserves.

I know Luis Gil is in a good environment [Real Salt Lake]. I know Jack McInerney is a good environment [Philadelphia Union].

[Editor’s note: Agudelo, Gil and McInerney were on Cabrera’s first World Cup team, which lost its opener to Spain and reached the second round with 1-0 wins over Malawi and UAE, before falling to Italy, 2-1.]

SA: And what about the USA’s results in Mexico?

Overall we reached our expectations. I saw the team playing to its full potential. Playing with a good level of concentration. With good ideas of soccer. But also with the limitations we found a long time again.

SA: What sort of limitations?

A good mentality to score goals, for example. Even though we dominated almost every game in shots and possibilities, we don’t finish correctly.

Against Germany [4-0 winners], the Germans had 18 shots and 14 of those were on goal. For us, we had 22. We had more than they did, but only 8 of ours went on goal.

You can say, that’s my job as a coach. That’s my responsibility to work on. We do work on finishing all the time at Bradenton.

The problem is finishing under pressure when it really matters. We need these types of competition more often. We need to put them under pressure so they can develop better.

We don’t have that type of competition here.

SA: U.S. Soccer launched the Development Academy fours years ago. How does that affect the U-17s?

The benefits of the Development Academy don’t make a big impact on our age group because we’re looking at the younger players.

For example, the next class we’re bringing in are the ‘96s. The Academy U-16 teams don’t have many ‘96s. And if they have '96s, they don’t start.

We bring in players from the Development Academy who haven’t played one game. We are talking about bringing in players to play for their country who are not starters in their U-16 Development Academy teams. That’s the reality.

That’s not the Development Academy’s fault. It is very well structured and I believe in the Development Academy. I believe it’s going to be a big solution.

Obviously the clubs that belong to the Development Academy have pre-Academy teams, U-15s and U-14s, but they don’t compete at as high a level as the Development Academy teams.

And the Federation continues to emphasize how important it is for clubs to work with the younger age groups.

SA: What do you say to those who suggest that the Bradenton Residency, which was launched in 1999, is no longer necessary?

When clubs provide the same or a better environment, then we won’t need Bradenton.

In the meanwhile, we don’t have other places where we can develop the players in an everyday environment. So we need to have Bradenton.

SA: Which teams impressed you at this U-17 World Cup?

The Germans were one of the top teams I’ve ever seen. The Mexicans were very well prepared and went in as favorites. The level of Uruguay was very high. Obviously Brazil is very good. Those were the most balanced teams.

SA: Those teams also demonstrated exceptional individual skill …

They have more technique. We have kids who don’t start practicing soccer everyday until they come to Bradenton. Do you realize that?

The first time they practice everyday is when they come to us. It’s not the players’ fault. It’s cultural. It’s the system and we cannot change that from one day to the next.

SA: Of course we’re inclined to compare our progress to our neighbor and archrival Mexico, which beat Germany and reached the final. What’s the key to its success?

Mexico prepared its players by playing in a reserve league. They were playing against professional clubs’ U-20 teams. The clubs were helping with that.

For me, I asked 10 teams from MLS to have friendly games with their reserve teams and only the Philadelphia Union accepted.

It’s a cultural thing. We have to grow, little by little. And I’m not blaming anybody. It’s the system. It’s cultural. I’m part of this culture. I can’t change what I cannot change. I want to try to help where I can.

(Mike Woitalla, the executive editor of Soccer America, coaches youth soccer for East Bay United in Oakland, Calif. His youth soccer articles are archived at

64 comments about "Wilmer Cabrera: U.S. boys are immature".
  1. P Van, July 8, 2011 at 11:27 p.m.

    Cabrera is honest, but shows little else in the way of ideas to put forward to move the game forward for this age group. He continually uses the culture excuse. It's true, but obvious and weak. We need people in his position with ideas to move the game forward in light of what exists in the US currently and what one could envision moving forward. I think such uninspiring responses as he gives here are unsatisfactory. His tone is very much resigned; that is not good enough!

  2. P Van, July 8, 2011 at 11:31 p.m.

    It is also quite pathetic that Soccer America did not follow up on his simple "yes" response with a follow-up question on player selection. I think there are many people who would question the whole system and selection process; not asking a follow-up question is poor journalism!

  3. James Froehlich, July 8, 2011 at 11:52 p.m.

    Phillip -- totally agree on your evaluation of Cabrera. He has a point regarding maturity since our players do not have the proper access to a more professional environment but whose fault is that? culture?? I would also question his comment about the fact that these boys didn't practise everyday before coming to Bradenton. They had to have been selected from some clubs -- weren't those clubs responsible for their earlier development? Weren't those clubs under the auspices of US Soccer? What type of training were they receiving. As an aside--has anyone noticed that our players (U-16 on up to the USMNT) are never shown having fun with the ball???

  4. P Van, July 8, 2011 at 11:58 p.m.

    The more I scan Cabrera's answers the less and less satisfied I am with them! Not competing? Is this not a rarified environment? That is the job of the staff at Bradenton--to get these boys to realize the opportunity and challenges that await them. They have not "suffered." What a complete garbage of a response! "The limitations we found long time again"--what is that?!

  5. Bill Anderson, July 9, 2011 at 8:31 a.m.

    Shut Bradenton down. It is a failed experiment. The players are not mature? Whose fault is that? US Soccer has had them for 2 years in Florida. Bad selection, who picked them? US Soccer picked them. Bad preparation, who set up their schedule? US Soccer did. OK, OK like Wilmer said "Its the PLAYERS fault". Heads should rolllllllllllll.

  6. Brian Something, July 9, 2011 at 9:25 a.m.

    I lost all respect for Wilmer Cabrera as a youth coach after watching the US-NZ game. The first 60 minutes were filled with god awful soccer, though I could deal with that. But last 30 minutes saw both the US and NZ refusing to play any soccer whatsoever. It was an absolute disgrace. Had they won, they would've gotten a much easier 2nd round opponent. Even if they'd gone for it and lost, they would still have made the 2nd round and still gotten an easier 2nd round opponent. I was glad the US got their butts handed to them vs Germany because I would've hated for this pathetic display of anti-soccer to have been rewarded. But my question is this: did these "immature" boys suddenly decide around the 60th minute to completely stop playing soccer or were they told to by their "tactically sophisticated" coach? If anti-soccer is "tactically sophisticated," then these boys are indeed "mature beyond their years." We need more creativity and less of this crap Cabrera ordered.

  7. Mike Maurer, July 9, 2011 at 9:38 a.m.

    Fire him. Seeing him on the sidelines during the game he look comepletely indifferent and distanced.

  8. Walt Pericciuoli, July 9, 2011 at 9:49 a.m.

    So, now we are saying our very young players do need high pressure competition??? Total reverseal of what the US soccer has been preaching for the past 20 years.

  9. Joe Shoulders, July 9, 2011 at 9:50 a.m.

    yea I agree that residency is not the answer. it does very little to foster hunger or maturity in these young players. plus the coaching they get there is just that - coaching! coaching solves nothing. coaching or at least the us soccer version of coaching (or koaching -as PG would say) is at the very root of the problem. I thought Wilmer put a decent team on the field and his impressions sound logical to me ... but putting these skilled youngsters in FL for all that time serves no real purpose to me. What's going o there? training? coaching? whatever they're doing there - most likely days and more days of something like "creating space in the attacking 3rd with Jay Miller-Hoffman" is what has to be changed

  10. Kraig Richard, July 9, 2011 at 10:16 a.m.

    There is no way anyone can say they have picked out the best there was out of the entire USA. Too many people. The maturity crack...I hope he meant soccer maturity... His survivor remarks...on the money. It's "well off's" in this country who can afford decent licenced coaching. USA is lucky the spoiled few can get as far as they do with most striving athletes striving in other sports. Playing up? All our best kids play up at least one year. On missing that many shots I'd have to see slow-mo, how many were from non-Pavlovian body form. Most suprising thing I learned was how on earth could one be qualified to "Make" Bradenton and not gotten touches in every day?

  11. Kalife Kuri, July 9, 2011 at 10:33 a.m.

    Wilmer's answer has a big defeat tone in it and offers ' nothing ' encouraging. As if there is NO way to make things better. Can't have a leading individual with this mentality lead the way. I believe he is partly right, but sounds very much defeated .....

  12. Shaun Howe, July 9, 2011 at 10:44 a.m.

    Watching the US Women play the other day, the color analyst, English, mentioned how surprised he was to learn that 3 of the women on the team had father's that are brain surgeons. The fact that we are the only country where our best players pay the most money must be looked at. I also think a true academy system should have one team per state, run by a pro club and players should play for free. Once there, should train 3 times a day, 5 days a week, like they do in Germany.

  13. Ted Westervelt, July 9, 2011 at 10:50 a.m.

    Perhaps it's the result of a backwards soccer pyramid that trains players in "camps" that parents pay for, putting the onus on the coaches to train players, and not the players to train. That would certainly extend childish behavior. Looks to me like we're spending about the same money on training - if not more - per top player. Hate to sound like a broken record... but perhaps Klinsmann is right, and our pyramid, and system, is upside down. Perhaps we could learn from the rest of the world. Coddling top prodigies isn't working so well.

  14. James Froehlich, July 9, 2011 at 10:53 a.m.

    Shaun -- thanks for bringing up the "heart surgeon" parent issue. When heard that bit of info, for me, it was the perfect indictment of everything related to US Soccer. BOYCOTT the US - Costa Rica game if you want to make a statement.

  15. George Paul, July 9, 2011 at 11:05 a.m.

    Better Coaches are needed at National level. I for one will probadly never get a chance to Coach USA at National level but I am more than qualified. Born in Dublin Ireland I am a US Citizen, have Coached from Youth to professional ranks. I have been invovlved in Soccer as a player and coach all my life. The problem I see in America is Politics, jobs go to friends and not the best coaches. I know plenty of players that slip through the cracks because of Politics. The best players are not getting picked and it's been this way for 20 years. I have been ODP coach and it's a joke I wouldn't waste my time doing it again because the coaches in charge at state level are under qualified. The whole system needs to change if we want to compete at National level from grassroots up. Having the right Trainers and coaches in charge, to many bad coaches getting hired, it's a joke. Someone with balls needs to step in and change it. Football is more than just a game it's life!!! regards Coach Keyes

  16. lorenzo murillo, July 9, 2011 at 11:33 a.m.

    Replace ODP, restructure the Coaching courses... they're both outdated. Cabrera, sounds frustrated and defeated. The "I cannot change anything", attitude is unprofessional, he needs to fight, speaks his mind and make the change, or get out.

  17. Nelson Jaramillo, July 9, 2011 at 12:05 p.m.

    I relate a 100% with Cabrera, culture makes a difference, the mentality of letting the kids at a young age develop at "their own pace", go to a club, paying tons of money, just "to have an activity", play other sports or do anything different "when they don't have soccer" etc. Make the players take it seriously and passionately a little too late. that is the structure of education in the US.

  18. Larry Milnes, July 9, 2011 at 12:08 p.m.

    One may point out the maturity level of players in terms of “men” vs. “immaturity” and there may be some merit to that but the real difference is for these immature players to be able develop the “ad-lib” mentality to compete on the world stage at the later ages. Having spent time in Brazil I noticed kids of all ages and sizes competing against one another on the areas between the loops of freeways using only barrels as goals, very young boys and girls walking down the streets dribbling tennis balls, and pick-up games just about any place one could find a patch of level or not so level ground. There were thousand upon thousands of young boys and girls learning to think on their own, having fun, and without coaching or structure of any kind. These young players learn to think on their own and learn the game by trial and error. This type of environment teaches them the game, and they learn what they can and cannot do individually. When those same players age and get into structured environments they are still not allowed to think for themselves without the structure and misguided coaching that is constantly provided by youth structured programs in the United States. Add to that the fact that there are literally no pick-up game locations here, or for that matter enough parents encouraging our youth to simply “go outside and play” and it is easy to see why the USA will probably never be able to compete on the world stage as a National Team. Yes our players are spoiled. And it is also a reality we live in a world of convenience and affluence not available in most countries. Having said this, why then is Germany so gifted at the game? Well to quote Ali Krieger of the USWNT “the big difference between the US and Germany is that here when I make mistakes I get a ‘it’s OK, nice try’ and in Germany I get ‘you’re a stupid player, get your act together – we’re not out here to lose’, which in and of itself will instill maturity and reality quickly.

    Larry Milnes - Texas

  19. John Roode, July 9, 2011 at 12:13 p.m.

    This is so dead on. And the fact is, the immaturity of our children doesn't stop with soccer. It permeates all of American society. In the rest of the world (at least in Europe), youth are expected to become self-sufficient beginning at the age of 16. From that point on, they are expected to know what they want to do with their lives and begin preparing and moving forward with it. In the US, our children are coddled well into their 20's. College is considered a playground. The rest of the world wouldn't even consider college/university life the way we look at it. Thank you Wilmer, you are SPOT ON! I'll go one step further. Up until the age of 14, we can compete with any country in the world on the soccer field. Beginning with age 15, our players actually get worse (primarily because of High School teams) while the the rest of the developed countries' players accelerate their development.

  20. Raffy Afarian, July 9, 2011 at 12:16 p.m.

    It makes me sick every time I hear one of these "coaches" talk about the lack of talent or other circumstances that prevented them from progressing in these international competition.

    Not once have I read one of these coaches take responsibility for these debacles of late. Our problem is not that we don't have talented players but we don't have talented coaches. Look at Argentina's national team full of "talented" superstars but they can't do crap even in just Copa America recently and the world cup last year.

    I hate the way these coaches seem to minimize their roles at these colossal failures, especially lately. Yes we have a problem in our country. It is NOT the players, IT IS THE COACHES. They don't know how to develop players. They think players get developed somehow somewhere and then show up in Bradenton for these high and mighty coaches to decide to put them on the field and display their "genius" and when it doesn't work, they blame the players.

    Great coaches (leaders) take responsibility for losses and give the credit to their players for their wins. We have yet to see anything like that from our soccer world's megalomaniacs. It makes me SICK.

  21. John Roode, July 9, 2011 at 12:26 p.m.

    So what's the answer? IMO, we need to send our best players to Europe beginning age 15/16. Hopefully, they will bring back at least the "soccer culture" that is horribly lacking... and maybe some "overall maturity". In this way, we can hopefully affect our culture,... if only in tiny increments but in big ways over time. BTW... the "soccer culture" that Euro pro clubs create doesn't just relate to soccer. There is a lot of emphasis on academics and how to handle media. At most clubs they get special tutoring starting at age 16. If you want some evidence of this, just look at the numbers of players on our MNT that have done exactly this. Players, who under other circumstances, would have neither the skill, athleticism or mentality to make it without that experience.

  22. Mario Araujo, July 9, 2011 at 12:29 p.m.

    My observations of Cabrera are not positive. He is a Latin American so he should be trying to put the ball on the ground have more of a passing game. I saw the U17 team pretty much play a long ball with very little direction. This is pretty prevalent in the US club scene.

    One of the biggest problems I saw with the U17 is the lack of pressure when the other teams had possession. The U17 team just let them pass with at will.

    These observations to me is why this U17 team had no chance of advancing. I think it is time that the US find a coach that can put find players that can play this type of soccer or a coach that have his players play this type of game. Otherwise, there will be more of the same in the future.

    Los Angeles, CA

  23. George Paul, July 9, 2011 at 12:56 p.m.

    John Roode you are spot on 100%, you can't beat the hands on experience, the whole culture of soccer in America needs to change. We also need to change the leagues to the same format as Europe, have promotion and relagation so the smaller teams like mine can play with the big boys. It's time for an overhaul from bottom to top. America was catching up for a while, but I am afraid we have slipped back over the last couple of years. We can change it and must if we are to compete with the big boys.

  24. cony konstin, July 9, 2011 at 1:47 p.m.

    Hello my fellow Usonians. The time has come for a soccer revoluttion. The US has hit a wall. As I have said in the past we need to bring together radical thinkers to revolutionize soccer in the US. The status quo must move a side or be moved out of the way. The status quo has done a good
    Job but just like Moses he did his time then someone else took his place. Wilmer is right our kids are soft but it is not the kids fault. It is are society's and system's fault. We need to create a NEW SPARTA. Bradetom is also the problem. Does our seals,rangers,green beret, and other special forces live and train in a. 5 star resort?If you want warriors then you must live llike a warrior. There is more than one way to skin a cat.

  25. cony konstin, July 9, 2011 at 2:29 p.m.

    Hi Raffy coaching is totally over rated. Players need to forget about the coach and become leaders. Players win championships not coaches.Most coaches are door knobs. Just ask yourself how many great teachers you had in school? In my 36 years of coaching I can count a handful of talented coaches and one great teacher that I had when I was 7 years old. Sister Teresa Carmel. She 4 foot nothing but she was a genius in teaching, motivationing and inspiring. In the end to have magical players we need to create a playing environment and not a coaching environment for our kids.

  26. Tim Lenahan, July 9, 2011 at 2:29 p.m.

    It seems to me there is a lot of finger pointing and no thumb pointing. Culture ? Need to be poor and hungry to crave success ? Kobe Bryant is from the upper class, Michael Jordan the middle class. Don't try to become someone else - come up with an American solution. Bradenton needs to close for its lack of personal development as well as soccer development. While the rest of the world is trying to copy our model (education, personal development in addition to athletic development) we long to follow an antiquated system which no longer works in the country we are modeling (see England World Cup, U-21, U-17, etc.) Bayern Munich (as written about in Soccer America a couple weeks ago) requires 8 hours of schooling and has teachers living with the players in a mentor, guardian, supervisory role. Some of the South American countries are developing a model that includes dormitories, structured living and education for their younger professional players. (sounds a lot like college to me). Ask any of the U-17 players what their educational and personal development experiences were like in Bradenton and most will say none or very little on both accounts. Not sure of the solution, but the model of full-time residency for U-17s time has passed.

  27. Kalife Kuri, July 9, 2011 at 2:41 p.m.

    What players learn on their own is above and beyond what any trainer can teach. Trainers are there to 'polish' the talent that kids have. We treat soccer in America as anyone can do it. Well if you haven't been around a soccer ball daily for several years by the time you're 13 or 14 just forget about it. Most of the youth in USA play soccer only at practices twice a week for one and a half hrs. By the time they get to be 13 or 14 kids in other countries have learned and experimented what our kids will never reach. Soccer is a process that won't happen over set p
    ractices twice a week.

  28. cony konstin, July 9, 2011 at 4:15 p.m.

    Kalife you are right. Soccer in the US is not a way of life. It Is treated like a hobby. You want to be a bad&&& in soccer you need to sleep with the ball. And It must hurt so much that when you can't play because you're sicker than a dead dog then you end up crying your head off because your mother won't let you out to kick the ball. It is time to take soccer a way from the adults and give it back to the kids.

  29. marc cheli, July 9, 2011 at 9:11 p.m.

    hi. awesome interview! shocked, agree with and disagree with some of it. with due respect for everyone...i just want to make some public observations: i live in a country in latin america.. here the town kids get together in the evenings and play pickup on a bad field, with a bad ball and whatever serves as goals. their aspiration is to play in the local league where their older brothers play. some shady people own the league that is made up of maybe ten villages and profit from charging team fees, and selling beer to the players and anyone who may showup to watch the crowd being roughly the players themselves plus some who venture the heat. i joined a team and got benched after i scored more goals than one of the owners nephews. from what ive seen no player ive seen play here has made the regions pro team and it was relegated not too long ago. compare to my experince in the usa: theres your youth soccer leagues, highschool, and then college..where i got benched by the coach, i quit and formed my own team made up of %75 international students who for different reason werent on the team. we challenged the college and soundly beat them...we got banned from the playing in the college grounds not long after that. the countru i live in now has the population of roughly 3million vs usa 350million. both countries met in the gold cup twice. each won one game. the us went through to the finals. ???can someone really attribute winning to culture, coaching, beatiful technique, money, or organization??? i think there are many other factors and it is players who have them ALL plus a little luck that we call winners.

  30. Jim Ngo, July 9, 2011 at 10:20 p.m.

    Cony and Kalife, do you two really believe that in a country of over 300 million people, there aren't 20 boys in any given age group who live soccer and sleep with their soccer balls each night?

    The failure is not cultural, as Coach Cabrera believes. The players are out there. The failure is U.S. Soccer isn't looking for them. U.S. Soccer relies on the ODP system, which relies on the club system, which relies on wealthy families. As people in Mexico and Brazil will tell you, the sons of wealthy parents rarely make it on the national teams.

  31. Luis Arreola, July 9, 2011 at 11:03 p.m.

    Jim, I do.t know that's entirely true or not but what is clear to me as I have witnessed first hand the best players are not being scouted what so ever for US national team. If you are rich and you are great you have a clear advantage anywhere and I assume some take advantage of that but if you don't have money to pay club it is extremely difficult to make it. Almost impossible. The. Biggest problem with getting to the best technical players is that there is no money in developing players for academies or ODP so they simply don't care. The money is in winning at all ages. Winning brings client that pay. I think that's where culture comes in. Americans want their kids to win over development. I think its subconscious. The parents with money where I am from are more than willing to sponsor kids that are usually Hispanic so that they have their own kids on a winning team. So the coach that wants to keep his Job knows he needs results and can't concentrate on talent but results. These kids that get sponsored usually get dumped after they don't produce or somebody better comes along because they weren't paying anyways. So what.

  32. Luis Arreola, July 9, 2011 at 11:13 p.m.

    Somebody should look into how many kids academies actually develop that make it far. Like pro or college. # of years with the academy should be highlighted as well as how many years with smaller clubs or rec. There should be record of this to determine how valuable these academies are. In Chicago I can tell you that most of the talents in the 3 academies that are here come from being most of their years in smaller clubs. It is incredible to me that clubs are allowed to fly kids in for state cups and regionals. De elopement? There should be a state on how many players

  33. Luis Arreola, July 9, 2011 at 11:21 p.m.

    Somebody in charge of Us youth soccer should keep track of how many US players get pro contracts in other countries without ever playing ODP or without the help of academies. I think this would be astonishing for all to find out. ODP in Illinois gets weaker and weaker every year. It almost seems like they don't care that the talent is going elsewhere. By talent I mean the ones with money.

  34. Kalife Kuri, July 9, 2011 at 11:23 p.m.

    I am sure there are plenty more than 20. But the point here, which I believe is valid, the great majority of kids are not 'developing' in a manner that most other countries are.....which is playing soccer for the fun of it, learning on your own and being creative without fear of failing. That happens mostly under relaxed, informal environment seen on street, school and park games not supervised by a coach. Imagine how many more skilled players would you have to choose from?. There are currently more kids 7-13 playing soccer in the USA than any country in the Americas or Europe. The problem is that the great majority will only practice twice a week and kids will not touch the ball again. That is NOT enough, not even close. Are young kids watching quality professional soccer? Etc,etc.....

  35. Luis Arreola, July 9, 2011 at 11:31 p.m.

    Can somebody tell me why USA insists on playing English style soccer when the largest top talent player pool in USA is South and Central American and have Spanish blood to go with it? Don't people pay more money to watch Barcelona, Brazil and Mexico play than they do England? Germany use to be boring to watch but not anymore. They're catching on.

  36. Luis Arreola, July 9, 2011 at 11:40 p.m.

    Malice, go to a Hispanic neighborhood and you will see kids playing for fun all the time. You can run into Academy owners like Chicago Magic and Fire jrsin these poorly structured Hispanic leagues in the middle of el barrio recruiting players themselves. But they serve one purpose. Help the club win or you're out! !
    That's the culture that won't change unless there is some accountability or the laws are changed so that clubs can profit from developing pro players under contract.

  37. Dennis Mueller, July 10, 2011 at 12:43 a.m.

    While, it sort of sounds like Cabera is making excuses, he is right. Until players in the USA (and I mean a lot more of them) start playing nearly every day whenever they can the players arriveing on the national teams will not be skilled. Sure, they will be great athletes, but they will not possess the skills or soccer brains needed to compete with countries where kids have passion for soccer. While many have admired Germany, most Germans lament the lack of good, skilled creative German players. Anyone who claims it is the coaching is, I believe quite incorrect. Sure competitent coaches are needed to organize teams to get good results, but no coach (or system of coaches) was responsible for the talent of Messi, Ronaldo, Pele, etc. they were certainly helped along the way, but it is their personal passion and inner drive to succeed in a world of talented soccer players. Until the USA has more parents who encourage their kids to play more than a couple days a week and until the kids encourage one another to play whenever they get the chance things will not change. One of the best youth players I ever saw was an hispanic kid from suburban NJ, He and a couple friends would play keepaway at school vs any number and kept the ball, they did whenever they got the chance, His parents could not afford things, but thanks to a supportive club (and a coach who made sure he had rides to practices and games) he thrived up until he graduated HS. Sadly, in Junior College, he picked up an injury dropped out, had some personal problems and faded from soccer. It is impossible to make every talented kid a success story, but if there were even one kid like this in every county in the US some of them would succeed and the pool of skilled players would be much larger.

  38. Jim Ngo, July 10, 2011 at 12:43 a.m.

    Kalife, and Luis, I agree with you guys 100%. In the U.S. the first time most kids play soccer is in a league. Even if it's a rec league, it's still a league with coaches, referees and rules. They never get a chance to play just for fun, to learn from the older kids, to experiment and be creative. It's too bad, and I guess that is the "cultural" part. Luis is also right that most of the developmental programs emulate English football which means that most kids just learn to run hard, hit hard, or tackle hard. If they are lucky, they might have a coach who has studied the dutch style which means they will have all the creativity knocked out of them by the age of 15. LOL. I agree that the people I know in U.S. Soccer have little respect for latin soccer. It's not conscious on their part, but it's definitely true.

  39. Paolo Jacobs, July 10, 2011 at 4:40 a.m.

    I don't know if anybody read the Claudio Reyna interview with the Sporting news recently but it was a interesting article on player development....I think it would be great if more MLS reserve teams play the U-17 teams....and I wonder what the USSF is thinking about these poor US Youth teams results in Fifa competitions... Surely they need some new brains up in Soccer House

  40. Luis Arreola, July 10, 2011 at 7:18 a.m.

    Claudio Reyna can do very little if same system persists. ODP is a huge failure along with Academy even though Academy seems to be getting a hold of the better talent but does nothing better with it. There needs to be money/reward in developing/polishing talent for it to happen just like in Barcelona. They could care less about wins at U12 and under. They are always looking for the next aMessi,Xavier,etc. Remember, nobody knew that Messing would be this good even after Barcelona took him in at 13years old. Nobody wanted to pay for his crucially needed treatment for a growth defect. Barcelona took the risk and invested in him and are profiting greatly from this. Boca jrs had the 1st chance of keeping him but would not invest in him. So you guys honestly think that an Academy or ODP would have spent the money in investing in Messi @ 13 when even these 2 other great soccer entities didn't know how good he would be?? The answer is hell no!! Credit has to be given to Barcelona scouting, investing and most of all coaching. Had a USA Academy gotten a hold of Messing back then we would have no Messi pro. Wilmer and Reyna are just trying to survive but I know they know better and that they are in the middle of a failed systems

  41. Pamela Oliver, July 10, 2011 at 9:15 a.m.

    No, they weren't the best in the USA. They were the best they could find in their "small, limited search field".

    Maturity is understanding the game, understanding the tactics. Not just going out and just doing what the coach tells you. (As one of my son's teammates once confessed to him that thats how he plays the game.) That doesn't take suffering to fix. Along with soccer technique, find the ones with understanding of the game on a mental level, too.

    Oh, yeah. And cast a wider net in your talent search. You might be surprised at what you find if you look where you're not looking now.

  42. Roque Lopez, July 10, 2011 at 9:37 a.m.

    Why we keep comparing US soccer with other countries soccer?.. Yes, the game is played with passion out there. The conditions on those places are different; in many cases the kids are not planning to go school and the governments do not obligate the parents to have kids thru HS. The question should be: how we can become a soccer nation without giving up the opportunity to complete basic education? Yes, for many kids in other countries, their only dream is to be a soccer player. They dedicate their entire life to play, and play since they do not have a job, neither they go to school.
    System in US is designed to focus in what you can get from the game. Most of parents are more focused in getting a scholarship for their kids than anything else. YOU WILL START HAVING GOOD PLAYERS FOR THESE NATIONAL TEAMS WHEN YOU DECIDE TO GET KIDS THAT ARE ABLE TO LEAVE EVERYTHING FOR TE GAME. There is not other way ....If somebody is willing to risk, should be a full develop program with a professional team. The only thing here that our laws do not allow any under 18th to sign any contract and most of the team do not want to spend time and money on somebody who later decide to go to another team. The whole contract issue is a problem.

  43. Roque Lopez, July 10, 2011 at 9:46 a.m.

    We need to stop managing this sport like others in America. It is easy with Baseball or Basketball because the world series will be always in America and the NBA managed itself to be the best league in the world that they do not need to go outside and compete.
    Why we do not copy from Germany and France, England system. Even Mexico. We need to get the private sector in sponsoring teams, small leagues and take all those state offices out of the pictures. States are participating in deciding about each tournament and as usual no doing anything to develop our players. If not see the ODP programs which for the money an time dedicated have got us nowhere. Coaches that do not understand the game and only ask the kids to kick and run

  44. Luis Arreola, July 10, 2011 at 12:46 p.m.

    Toque I agree with all except with soccer is the only thing for kids in other countries. Not true. Kids are not obligated to school in Mexico but usually work in that case. Middle class and up do go to school. USA kids go to school and don't work. The difference is being able to sign a kid to a contract. There is much more interest in developing or helping in the development of a kid in Mexico because there's a profit. USA kids also are not too interested in college education when they have talent in most cases. You can see this a lot in NBA. USA is losing ground in Baseball and Basketball too. I predict Europe or South America having 50% in the NBA by 2020 or Europe league being as strong as NBA by then. I am positive that great players needed great people or /and strong experiences to reach the top along with a little luck. Messi is a great example of this along with other Barcelona players. It is ignorant to say that coaches are overrated. The problem is USA is picking the wrong coaches in general from top to bottom. They love the English and Irish accent.

  45. Paul Bryant, July 10, 2011 at 6 p.m.

    Wow! Everybody's made some excellent points. Phillip I agree with your point about the lack of a follow-up question on the point of Cabrera taking the best U-17 to Mexico. As I have stated before, the US has enough talent to create three national teams at the U-17 level. Cabrera does make an excellent point about practicing everyday. Four years ago when my son's team went from practicing 2 to three days a week, their skill level increased expotentially.

  46. cony konstin, July 10, 2011 at 6:56 p.m.

    I am here in Santa Cruz Bolivia working with the Tahuichi Soccer Academy. I have been working with the Academy for 21 years. Before that I took players to Russia, Eastern Block, and the rest of Europe to train and compete in Europe. I would like to make this proposal to USSF. I would like the opportunity to help prepare the next US u17 boys national team to win the next u17 world cup. By having the players stay home most of the year and bring them to Santa Cruz Bolivia for the entire summer. We would use Tahuichi as home base for games and training and then set up games in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay but we would not fly to these places. We would take trains and buses to get there. If we want these players to be battle ready they need to suffer like the rest of the kids. My proposal would be pennies on the $$$ but leap years of preparation that our players are not getting. If there are parents who do not want their kids to go through this process. Not a problem. I will go to inner cities of America and I will find 18 bad$$$ players that are willing to die for each other.

  47. David Decker, July 10, 2011 at 9:38 p.m.

    The main thing I got out of the Claudio Reyna interview was that in clubs across Europe, youth coaches are judged not on how many games they win, but on how many players they develop that move on the the next level. I'm not sure how we move to that type of system, but it would make a huge difference in our overall player development.

  48. Luis Arreola, July 11, 2011 at 12:51 a.m.

    Cony, I am 100% behind you but I don't think it's realistic. Profits are the animal you need to attack. If players can be legally profited from at young ages you would solve you're issue. I acknowledge you're efforts but how long are you going to be in Bolivia? You think people will follow this trend? Profits profits profits! !

  49. Luis Arreola, July 11, 2011 at 12:54 a.m.

    Richard, I can help in Illinois. Let me know

  50. Luis Arreola, July 11, 2011 at 11:23 p.m.

    Yep, Every coach promises something. But none or very few without money. Money is #1. If kids are legally signed to a youth club and is pursued by another like Academies, for example, it should be done with a money deal. If an Academy has to invest money in buying a player it will make sure it gets more out of it by developing this player and exposing him. Academies will make more money in trying yo get a Messi or Pele if they are able to sell them at young ages. This is the only solution that I can see. We live in a capitalist country. Soccer is a business and will continue to be for years to come in the youth. Change the contract laws towards under 18 players so you can start this player development revolution.

  51. neil christal, July 11, 2011 at 11:24 p.m.

    Pressure will bring out the diamonds of U.S. SOCCER ... poverty is one way and tough competition against the best teams is another. For Cabrera to say he brought the best the U.S. had is laughable! He had the politically correct team (1 from this state,1 from that state) There needs to be elite teams playing other elite teams (pressure) with the winning coach being given the the prize of coaching the U.S. U? team and bringing a good number of his players with him. Money is a problem and fees for all players in youth programs need to be increased to fund these elite teams and their travel expenses. If you do the math, fees charged are way less than parents would pay for babysitting! Corporate sponsorship could and should be sought to supplement fees. OR ... we could stay with politically correct teams and continue in our present quagmire .

  52. Luis Arreola, July 12, 2011 at 10:16 a.m.

    Richard, until the USA national leaders stop trying so hard to look the other way when it comes to talented Hispanics and actually pick, pursue and are willing to battle the truly best players wich happen to be mostly Hispanic, Hispanics have to continue to use this youth soccer sysem to their advantage and look for these opportunities in what very country they can. How else are these good old boys going to accept this fact? They will be pressured and asked why they are letting these players slip. Hispanics should however stay true to their style of play and boycott the "euro accent". 7 USA born layers went Mexico women's team. Suddenly they are a force. ??? USA fans would rather critisize these players than question the USA scouting system and leadership. They also seem content with the Euro coaching even though SouthAmericans and. CentralAmericans are dominating world wide. Not to mention that our top player pool is Hispanic. Germany was the only top 4 in U17 world cup. I personally am taking my club players to fuerzas basicas in Mexico as soon as they're 15.

  53. Luis Arreola, July 12, 2011 at 10:18 a.m.

    Sorry Ric. I messed up you're name. Smart phone.

  54. Luis Arreola, July 12, 2011 at 10:20 a.m.

    3 of the other top 4 were Hispanic. Mestizos!!!

  55. cony konstin, July 12, 2011 at 9:39 p.m.

    Ric the cost of my idea is pennies on the $$$$. You think staying at IMG is chicken feed. You heard what Wilmar said. He could only get one MLS team to play against him. If we set up camp in Bolivia I will have every team imaginable to play against our SPARTANS!!! Remember I said if mommy and daddy don't want their baby to go to hell and back then I will find players whose parents would give their lives for their kids to have a chance of a live time to be champions of the world. I know were those players are. They are in our inner cities waiting and hungry for that chance. I love all of your comment

  56. cony konstin, July 12, 2011 at 9:43 p.m.

    I love all of your comments. I wish that Soccer America would create their own yearly symposium so all of us and many others could meet and discuss all of these issues as well create solutions to all of these issues. I want to thank all of you for caring and believing that we can change and move forward.

  57. Joe Kuznicki, July 13, 2011 at 7:57 a.m.

    Blame it on the coaches, the lack of funds and facilities, the system, politics, etc. I scrolled throught the 80+ comments and not one, NOT ONE, placed any direct responsibility on the PARENTS. As a parent of a fourteen year old who has been kicking around a ball since the age of four, I could tell story after story of parents holding their own kids back as well as attempting to hold other kids back. Responsibility for raising children, in whatever they may do, soccer or otherwise, begins at home with the parents. Send a group of kids who never played together to Bradenton for one year and expect them to win the U-17 World Cup? And if they don't, fire the coach? Get real. If you haven't read it yet, check out The Talent Code by Coyle. Practice. And this the parents' responsibility to provide the opportunity for their kid to practice and help instill a love of the game if, in fact, that's what their child seems what they want to do. The problem begins with the parents, noone else.

    Joe Kuznicki

  58. Luis Arreola, July 13, 2011 at 9:22 a.m.

    Neil, winning 1st mentality at the youth levels Is a proven huge mistake in USA and is another big reason why we have so many soccer underdeveloped players. This mentality will never stop because there is no money in developing players. Top Academies and ODP that are put in place by the US youth soccer federations are what regular parents trust to be the best for their child as continuously promised by their coaches with the Euro accent. One of the top academies in Illinois is owned by soccer parents that care only that their kids are on the best winning team. If they have to do roster every 3 months and fly kids in from out of state PR country they do so. Is this development from an Elite club? Fees from players should be increased for what? So Elite clubs can keep paying for the wrong coaches? Euro accent coaches are hired more as a marketing scheme than for their credentials or ability to actually coach. It makes no sense to go that far to hire these guys and copy English style soccer when these Euro leagues are investing and looking for talent in our own back yard. South and central America are developing these players wich happen to be USA's top player pool. Hire Hispanic coaches and change rules to legally sign players of any age to club contracts. Problem solved. Clubs want to recruit? They have to invest. If they invest they make sure they get something out of a layer. To do that they have to develop. To develop they must really look hard at coaching and system.

  59. neil christal, July 13, 2011 at 10:16 p.m.

    CONY, bring on SPARTA!!! My father was a frogman during WWWll and I was in Special Warfare. A Spartan existence creates undeniable teamwork and a winning attitude where team bonding is not easily stopped. If that environment includes talented kids who have a passion for the game and a genius coach like your your Sister Teresa the USA will start producing its share elite players. I have an 11yr old boy who has had a taste of the Tahuiichi Soccer Academy from Javier Castanada who trained there many years ago. My only disagreement with you is that inner city youth are not the only place to find mentaly tough players. If you get the chance check out how many UDT/SEALS are country boys of all colors.

  60. neil christal, July 14, 2011 at 12:12 a.m.

    Luis,is it not hypocritical to on one hand complain about the poor showing that the U-17'S gave us this year and on the other to say "winning 1st mentality at the youth levels is a proven mistake in USA"? At what point do we expect excellence from our national teams and their coaches? I will agree that when they are U-12/U-14 and under let them grow and experiment with the ball/game ... but there comes a time when players need to mature and realize that the game stops for those who do not consider winning a vital part of the game. Your grandiose assessment of Hispanic players at the expense of Euro trained players is preposterous at best. Statements like "the truly best players which happen to be Hispanic","South American and Central Americans are dominating worldwide","top player pool is Hispanic" are all debatable. My 11yr boy old ate breakfast and watched Diego Mardona highlights in Spanish, set to classical guitar, virtually every mourning playing with a ball at his feet. He is of Irish decent and has already been trained by three white coaches who played college ball,a gentleman from Peru, Dutch trainers,English/Irish trainers and when he tried out for an American based Barcelona team they called him a "little Messi". I am not saying he is going all the way but the USA pool encompasses all nationalities and styles!

  61. Luis Arreola, July 14, 2011 at 9:30 a.m.

    Neil, what I think is hipocritical is to say coaches are overrated and thatcplayers will evolve on their own. Had nothing to do with U17 coach. The model set by the top academies and ODP is what is followed by "most" clubs as they are the ones given the credebility by the governing bodies. What I am saying is that the mentality and system of winning at all costs will not change in this country until rankings are given to clubs that produce top players and being legally able to sign an under age player to a contract so there is a profit when sold. This will surely inforce player development.because its all about profits. As far as Hispanic players go I meant to say the "majority" and not all top players. I believe that at least 1/2 of the USA national teams should have Hispanics at least to. Correctly reflect the player pool. I will look for stats on how well these Hispanic American countries are doing in regards to players but these are facts I do know. South America had the strongest showing in W.C. 2010 with 4 teams in quarters. Brazil and Argentina are the 2 countries that produce the most players going overseas of any other countries. Mexico is at N accelerated pace as well. U17 won by Mexico and 3 of top 4 were Hispanic American. A large number of players born here are playing for their mother countries like Sanchez U17 and 7 on the women's side. Honduras, El Salvador, Panama, Costa Ricardo and Guatemala all had strong showings in Gold Cup. There are good whites coaches and players, no doubt but why are we insisting on following English play when they have nothing to show for in some time? Lets say for the sake of you're argument Hispanics are 1/2 or evn less of player pool in USA they are still the majority amongst minorities. Magic U12, U13 and U14 are 90% Mexican. They are all currently regional champs. The only non Hispanic kids on those teams are basically the owners sons. Why are we forcing ugly anti soccer English play on creative fun to watch Hispanic soccer? You're own son would benefit from my theory. It seems to me that white people in USA have something to prove with soccer as they have not dominated any other sport but will have to accept these facts sooner or later like they did with Basketball and Baseball. It is what it is. Remember there are still great white players in all these sports but the majority are not white. Don't you agree?

  62. Luis Arreola, July 14, 2011 at 9:36 a.m.

    At U15 and up its all about the wins. I agree as the top players that will play pro will get offers at 16+.

  63. Luis Arreola, July 14, 2011 at 2:11 p.m.

    Ric, this well known to happen in Illinois as well. Its amazing to see Hispanic teams dominate at every age level and then see just a few representating the state. What is catching on through conversation and I think blogs as well is that Hispanics know that there is Bias in ODP and they would rather save up more money for an opportunity at Fuerzas Basicas for Mexican teams. I have heard good and bad things of ID2 . Good is that its free. Bad that they apparently just pick Academy US Club players. Don't know for sure. I heard that and ODP Coach admitted that ODP will die out because of low credebility. Truth is too many US Hispanics are going unnoticed or ignored by USA Officials and are getting the opportunity in their mother countries.

  64. Joshua Pearson, July 29, 2011 at 12:45 p.m.

    Hey Everyone, Wilmer is right about a lot of stuff. We may be immature in certain areas and our development is behind compared to other international teams. But the US national league is also not looking or listening hard enough for the proper talent that should be playing on our US national teams. I have heard from sources that our national teams mainly recuit from the Academy teams located only in certain cities. That's not fair and we are missing out on the talent that should actually be playing on our national teams for great success. Example......I have a little brother named PETER PEARSON. He plays for our US region 1 team and just this past year lead them to a national championship title. He was also the golden boot winner of the tournament. He plays for Beach FC a top club on the east coast and his team has made many state tournament finals. Peter plays for a private school in Virginia Beach called Cape Henry Collegiate. This past season as a freshman Peter made first team all conference among 10 other boys that were all seniors. He had 31 goals and like 10 assists if I can remember correctly. Peter has been to the national camps, ID2 camps and has been more than talked about. But yet he is not been able to make our US national teams for whatever political reason. I have instilled the passion for the game of soccer in my little brother since he was 3 years old. He has done everything else to make a name for himself since then. Peter has the maturity of a man playing pro soccer, he demands the ball on the pitch, his presence is always felt as soon as he steps on to the pitch, his passion now is so great it rubs off on others. He does everthing he needs to do to be able to continue to travel and play the sport he loves. Kids like that should not be over looked. I promise and know Peter playing on our national teams would bring the element we miss and need so much. I know there are many other like him I'm sure that we are missing. Just check out the US region 1 team. Thanks for your time.

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