Spain's bright future; U.S. U-20s; high school vs. club

By Mike Woitalla

Two weeks after Spain routed Italy, 4-0, to win Euro 2012 – following up on its 2010 World Cup and 2008 Euro titles – came a sign that Spanish dominance could have a long future.

Spain lifted its second straight European Under-19 Championship with a 1-0 win over Greece last weekend and has now won six U-19 Euros in 11 years.

The Spanish U-19s scored 11 goals in their five-game run to the 2012 title. Jesé Rodríguez won the Golden Shoe with five goals and scored the winner against Greece in the final. A Canary Island product -- like David Silva -- Rodriguez joined Real Madrid at age 14 and last summer made his first-team debut for Coach Jose Mourinho as a 64th-minute sub in a 4-1 friendly win over the Los Angeles Galaxy. Rodriguez has been playing with Real Madrid’s second division team but saw his first 10 minutes of La Liga last season.

Also worth keeping an eye on is winger Gerard Deulofeu, who joined Barcelona at age 9 and made one La Liga appearance last season. Deulofeu set up Rodriguez's gamewinner in the final. He scored twice in the 3-3 semifinal against France and struck the decisive penalty kick in the shooutout tiebreaker. Deulofeu played two La Liga games for Barcelona last season.

... Spain also won the last U-21 European Championship, in 2011, which qualified it for this summer's Olympic soccer competition, a U-23 tournament at which teams can field three overage players. Spain last qualified for the Olympics in 2000, when it beat the USA, 3-1, in a semifinal that included Xavi, Carles Puyol, Landon Donovan and Brad Friedel. Spain settled for the silver medal after losing the final in a PK tiebreaker to Cameroon.

... Spain's women reached the final of this year’s the U-19 European Championship, falling, 1-0, to Sweden in overtime.

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U.S. MEN'S U-20s QUEST. The USA failed to qualify for the 2011 U-20 World Cup, missing the biennial tournament for the first time since 1995. Charged with putting the American U-20s back on track is Coach Tab Ramos, who represented the USA at the 1983 U-20 World Cup, the 1988 Olympics, and World Cups in 1990, 1994 and 1998.

Ramos took charge in October and to prepare for 2013 U-20 World Cup qualifying that begins in February is taking the team to Northern Ireland’s Milk Cup, where the Americans start off against Denmark on July 21 and Turkey two days later.

“We’re certainly going to Milk Cup hoping to win every game,” said Ramos. “At the same time, we’re in the middle of our evaluation process and we do believe we have a competitive group. We have a few players who have not been with us before, but I think they’re very good players and that they’ll contribute. (Read Ramos’ interview HERE.)

Holden Fender (Marietta, Ga.), Kendall McIntosh (Santa Clara, Calif.), Mario Rodriguez (North Hollywood, Calif.) and Dillon Serna (Brighton, Colo.) are the first-time U.S. U-20 selections on the Milk Cup-bound team. For the entire roster, go HERE.

* * *

U.S. WOMEN'S U-20s WORLD CUP PREP. Coach Steve Swanson is holding his final camp with the U.S. U-20 women before the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan that kicks off Aug. 19. Swanson is using the July 15-30 in camp in Bradenton, Fla., to pare down his 24-player roster to 21 players.

The USA won the inaugural U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2002 and the fourth edition in 2008. It fell Nigeria on PKs in the quarterfinals in 2010.

“There’s also a lot of spirit in the team,” says Swanson, whose team was drawn into a formidable group with Ghana, China and Germany. “I think we’ve worked very hard at cultivating a strong team on the field, but a united, trusting and respected team off the field. It’s going to be a challenging environment in Japan. We play some awfully good teams, some teams that have equally strong preparations like we have.”

Read Swanson’s interview HERE and check out the roster HERE.

* * *

HIGH SCHOOL vs. CLUB. Jeff Hartsell of South Carolina’s Post and Courier spoke with players, parents and coaches about the U.S. Soccer Development Academy’s banning players from high school ball.

Player Christian Jablonski is skipping his senior year of ball at Wando High School play for the the S.C. United Battery after doing both for three years: “What hurts the most is knowing that I won’t be able to have a senior season at Wando. It’s hard to give that up. ... With our academy, I get a chance to be in a very professional and elite environment every day, and that’s what I love. I want to be in that environment all the time."

Christian’s father Richard said, “I truly wish the adults could arrive at an accommodation that would allow the kids to do both, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Kids face divided loyalties between programs and coaches they love and respect. It’s an unfair burden to place on kids, the vast majority of whom will never play a minute for the U.S. national team.”

Battery executive director Clark Brisson said his club S.C. had “zero input” in the U.S. Soccer decision: “They are trying to improve the level for the elite player, that’s the goal. Whether we agree on how they are going about it or not, it doesn’t really matter at this point. … I don’t see why the two can’t co-exist. But that’s for higher-ups to make that decision.”

Read “Top soccer players forced to choose between high schools, elite clubs” HERE. ...


... Parents brawl after girls U-17 game in Greece, N.Y.

... "Positive Soccer Coaching: Five Dumb Things Coaches Do" by Edwin Torres Yahoo!Sports

(Mike Woitalla, the executive editor of Soccer America, coaches youth soccer for Bay Oaks/East Bay United SC in Oakland, Calif. He is the co-author, with Tim Mulqueen, of The Complete Soccer Goalkeeper, and More Than Goals with Claudio Reyna. Woitalla's youth soccer articles are archived at

6 comments about "Spain's bright future; U.S. U-20s; high school vs. club".
  1. Bill Anderson, July 18, 2012 at 1:45 p.m.

    The Charleston Battery is a semi-professional soccer team. Is their academy truly an academy? My question is do players who play in their academy get signed to professional contracts? If they do, then all my respect. If they don't, then they are one of a majority of "academy" teams that are nothing more than glorified recreational programs that plunder parents pockets in the vainglorious pursuit of status.

  2. Peter Skouras, July 18, 2012 at 5:19 p.m.

    Mike: Following up on Paul Gardner's article of I believe, "Is the US taking notice," I appreciate you taking the time to report on the UEFA U-19 Championships...CRUCIAL for the US Soccer players, coaches, administrators, etc to have followed...or did they?
    FYI, 1980 as 16 year old, my United States U-20's qualified for its first Youth World Cup and finished Second in the CONCACAF to Mexico. Bob Gansler and Walt Chyzowych Coaching Staff. Thus, I recently asked a "current" US Soccer Staff Coach who remembers this historical event if today's US U20's could have beaten or competed with the 1980 Youth World Cup qualifying squad?
    Answer: Compete most definitely...Beaten...NO! 32 years later...the answer from a US Staff Coach NO? We will come back to this later.

  3. Peter Skouras, July 18, 2012 at 5:21 p.m.

    CONT-Those who had a chance to follow Spain and their "young professionals" defeat Greece 1-0 and the their young professionals" witnessed the "reality" of what is occurring at the top U-19 level in Europe...quite frankly, 16-19 year old's.
    England, France, Portugal, Serbia, Croatia etc., ALL PROS...young professionals…contracted!
    You mentioned Jese Rodriguez of Real and since the age of 14 has been Real Madrid's property and now knocking on the door of a first team place! As you mentioned, Gerard Deulofeu of need to comment as you explained perfectly. Stafylidis the left back of Greece and PAOK who has been linked with Man. City for a 1.8 million (Euro) transfer. Also, the Olympiakos youth team Goalkeeper Kapino who is rumored to be the "top" U-19 keeper in Europe I doubt will leave Olympiakos.
    My point again, "Youth Professionals" contracted commodities. Not to put down the "college game" this is the reality all over the world regarding "developing!" Now, touching on Latin America, specifically, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, the same occurs with "consequences" both positive and negative to be experienced by all involved mainly "young players!"
    From a Coaching standpoint, did we happen to "watch and hear" all the benches during the tournament? Noel Blake of England was ready to "jump" at the Greek TD out of frustration (Noel Blake if you do not know is a former English Professional) and the Spanish bench vs "all their opponents were "SCREAMING" TOCA, TOCA! This sort of Coaching of course is not "promoted or condoned" in the United States...we know this...however, we must understand that when we deal with "former Professionals" who have been brought up in "Dressing Rooms" since as you so brilliantly mentioned Gerard Deulofeu, the end product will be "a Spirited and Animated Bench!" Wynalda set it right, “ We will never get that passion here in the United States…never!”

  4. Peter Skouras, July 18, 2012 at 5:21 p.m.

    Now, Tab Ramos stated that the U-20's are going to the Milk Cup to win every game! Well done Tab...finally...WINNING is in the vocabulary! However, if the US don't finish 1st vs. Chile, Denmark and Turkey, it's least we obtained experience while getting a better idea who will represent for the U-20 World Youth Cup qualifiers! Right? WRONG!!! To be honest, with all these “Clubs” charging these parents and players and leading them to believe that their “son” has a great chance to make the grade is terrible information. Maybe to the 90 day College system but to “Professional” and US National Teams? Many Coaches have never played at the highest level to communicate…How? Not even a “promotion or relegation system” in place anywhere to add “pressure” from another perspective…so, How?
    Youth Soccer in the United States is massive today! Youth Clubs everywhere I can imagine let alone the "unaffiliated" leagues. Money is changing hands as the industry really is "insane!" So one would logically think "where are the players of quality?" Our players obviously are not reaching their potential because let me tell you...I'VE SEEN SOME LITTLE MESSI'S" here in Los Angeles! Big time 9-10 year olds!

    Issue: Development "stops" in contrast to club systems found around the world due to the US Youth Developmental system which is now “EXHAUSTED! All the Youth Clubs around the US must continue to provide a “place to play” for the Recreational or High Level Recreational player…it has been going on since the early eighties of which has “emerged” as the top played youth sport in America!!! I believe your website is Tim. That’s absolutely correct…FUN! BUT, for the masses, NOT FOR THE SPECIAL ONES! They must be transferred to the Pro Clubs at 14 or so or enter the Academy in Bradenton (we need so many more of those) and let the rest go to their Universities. THAT IS THE ONLY WAY…PROFESSIONALIZE THE SPECIAL KIDS! The “Pay to Play” clubs can still charge the Parents with all kinds of “gadgets!” Let’s face it, many make their living this way…Club Soccer! Amazing!
    In 1978, I found myself representing the US-u15's in the Montaigue, France tournament Coached by Bill Muse and Lothar Osiander. On the team bus from the airport Portugal and Romania were with us. When I saw the attitudes and expressions of both of these National Team players, I could "feel" the pressure! I was 14.This tournament changed my life as a young player.
    And so I ask, from the players that were this “American’s examples I mean the BIG MINDS and TALENTS such as Chinaglia, Best, Pele, Cruyff, and others, they have either passed, gone back to their countries or been alienated by the current “regime!”
    I am somewhat optimistic when I see players such as Bradley and Dempsey and others, however, WE, THE UNITED STATES has the potential to win trophies.
    We were saying it 32 years ago…IN 1980!

  5. James Madison, July 21, 2012 at 7:54 p.m.

    High school authorities and coaches should allow Academy players to play on high school teams even while training with their Academy teams. If this accommodation is made available by high schools and US Soccer still refuses to allow players to play high school, parents and players should unite in refusing to play Academy Soccer unless players can also play with their high school teams. Players who break from this union should be regarded as "scabs."

  6. Peter Skouras, July 28, 2012 at 7:44 p.m.

    Regarding our U-20's at the Milk Cup, I don't know how many College players and Professional players were used by Tab but the results are what they are...the most important! I'm sure "progress" in method of play improved, the players had a "great experience," so forth and so on! For there to be a change and improvement, "FULL TIME PROFESSIONALS" are needed at this level!!!!

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