U.S. U-20 women's exit is wake-up call

By Paul Kennedy

What should we make of the USA's exit at the hands of North Korea in the quarterfinals of the Under-20 Women's World Cup?

If you go back over the seven U-20 tournaments, the USA won in 2002, 2008 (beating North Korea in the final) and 2012 and lost in shootouts to China in 2006, Nigeria in 2010 and North Korea this year. That means the 3-1 loss to Germany in the 2004 semifinals in Thailand is the only time the USA has lost in the knockout stage of the Under-20 Women's World Cup -- not a bad record.

If the goal of a youth national team is to develop a couple of players for the next level each cycle, the 2014 U-20s should pass the test as Lindsey Horan, already capped for the senior national team, is a big-time prospect up front. Rose Lavelle showed for much of the tournament she has a bright future in midfield. And 16-year-old Mallory Pugh -- eligible for the next two U-20 World Cups -- is legit.

But what was disturbing was the overall level of play from the Americans at the tournament. For a program that has high expectations, the tools of many of the players were shockingly poor. Then again, this is nothing new as women's soccer experts have been warning that the technical qualities of players coming through the ranks are deficient.

That is especially worrying as other countries are starting to move ahead of the USA. The USA-Germany opener was a back-and-forth game with plenty of chances by both teams, but the Germans were in the end deserved winners by 2-0. Germany is a known quantity in women's soccer, but other European countries -- namely France (the only unbeaten and untied team after the group stage) and Spain (runner-up at this year's U-17 World Cup) -- have been making tremendous strides.

Many sporting and social factors have inhibited the development of women's soccer in Africa, but Nigeria, a 4-1 winner over New Zealand in Sunday's U-20 quarterfinals, is again in the final four. That North Korea was the better team on Saturday in Toronto should come as no surprise, given the depth of the competition in Asia. Arguably the most talented U-20 team in the world is Japan -- winner of 3-2 and 3-0 decisions over the USA in 2013 -- and it didn't even qualify out of the 2013 U-19 AFC tournament for Canada 2014.

One of the huge challenges for U.S. women's soccer is the poor level of competition at the regional level. One of the big reasons Mexico and Costa Rica, as well as the USA, did so well at this year's World Cup in Brazil is the competition they got in the Hexagonal. They all made each other better teams. Nothing of the like could be said about the competition the U.S. U-20 and U-17 women faced in Concacaf, where they finished up with 29-0 and 26-1 scoring margins, respectively, in the current cycle.

The crazy thing, of course, is that the U-17s didn't even qualify, falling to Mexico in a shootout in the semifinals after their game finished 1-1.

Our pick six

With three goals in the FC Dallas 5-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, Tesho Akindele out of the NCAA Division II Colorado School of Mines now has seven goals and one assists in 16 games and is making a strong case for MLS Rookie of the Year. If he wins the award, Akindele, born to a Nigerian father and Canadian mother and raised outside Denver, would be just the second small college product to win the award after Rodrigo Faria of New York, the 2001 winner out of NAIA Concordia (N.Y.) College.

The top first-year MLS player from the lower ranks of American pro soccer is also a Division II product: Englishman Luke Mulholland, who attended Wingate before spending four seasons in USL and the NASL. He had another big game for RSL in its 2-1 win over Seattle on Saturday.

Rounding out our pick six of current MLS players out of the small college ranks are U.S. World Cup forward Chris Wondolowski (San Jose), named to the NCAA Division II 40th Anniversary Tribute Team out of Chico State, Davy Arnaud (D.C. United) from Division II West Texas A&M, Kenyan Lawrence Olum (Sporting Kansas City) from Missouri Baptist and Jamaican Shaun Francis (San Jose) from NAIA powerhouse Lindsey Wilson.

Digital watch

You only had to check ESPN FC on your smartphone Saturday morning to see how important the EPL is to ESPN -- even if it isn't the live rights-holder. Check any game, and ESPN FC displayed video of each goal. Why bother searching around the NBC web site when everything is conveniently displayed on each EPL game page at ESPN FC?

This comes as the next battleground on the Internet takes shape: the EPL has warned that it will crack down on individuals posting Vines and Gifs of goals and incidents. "I know it sounds as if we’re killjoys," the EPL's Don Johnson told the BBC, "but we have to protect our intellectual property.”

Reading list

-- Everyone's favorite game this season, it seems, is going to be to relish in Manchester United's misfortunes. The Metro presented the memes that flooded Twitter in the aftermath of United's 2-1 loss to Swansea City in new manager Louis van Gaal's opener. As the Football Bible pointed out with a photo of a crazed David Moyes, "Hey, Louis guess what? Even I won my first game!"

-- Bruce Feiler's This Life column in the New York Times does not address a new topic, but he warns about the dangers of youth soccer -- and other competitive youth sports -- controlling the lives of our children. Parents all fear the "M" word, mandatory, as in mandatory practice or mandatory tryouts. At what age should they become mandatory?
33 comments about "U.S. U-20 women's exit is wake-up call".
  1. Leonardo Perez, August 18, 2014 at 1:55 a.m.

    I want to ask a question? Last time a coach changed players at different positions during a WC, he was vilified for do this in the WC and lambasted for taking Solo out of the net and changing players roles. Now, at the U20 WC, Coach French, she changes players, Horan playing at midfield when she is great forward, and so forth. Why doesn't anybody vilify Coach French for doing this? Because she is a woman or for what other reason? And, Ms Lavalle tried to do too many stepovers and tricks and lost the ball 7 times during the game against N Korea. Where was the discipline? Maybe it was just the players but the coaches.

  2. Bob Soccer, August 18, 2014 at 10:32 a.m.

    there is so much wrong with this articvle I dont know where to begin. Just a bunch of poor excuses for what we all knew would come. First of all, to develop tecnical quality you dont need better competition. You need a system designed for it which what is extremely we are and have been lacking for a long time. Our system has never been put tecnical ability as top priority. THE GOAL OF YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM TO PRODUCE A COUPLE OF PLAYERS FOR THE NEXT CYCLE?? the goal of the youth National Team should be to scout and produce full teams of senior products every cycle!!!!

  3. beautiful game, August 18, 2014 at 11:56 a.m.

    Bob Soccer, IMHO, I agree partially with you. Problem is that youth soccer is mostly bang it up the field instead of control, patience, ability to make space for oneself, good team shape and player movement. Get to the H.S. level most teams are poorly coached because of talent limitations and/or big foot mentality, and this goes on into college. Producing a couple of players won't hack it; it's up to the USSF to plan a system that WORKS and attempt to produce generational number of quality players.

  4. K Hakim, August 18, 2014 at 1:01 p.m.

    The problem has been the same for 25 years that I have been involved in youth and national soccer in America. The coaches and administrators at the top level of the game, that make the decisions for the direction of the sport and identify the players have no successful experience at developing highly skilled players. If a national coach is one who only played and coached college soccer, how could he or she have a frame of reference to identify and develop a world class player? None of these coaches have good backgrounds in development through puberty and thus do not understand the development stages in players and the older coaches have little experience with year round development of adolescence to adulthood. This is because neither college or high school is not year round daily training and playing. Every ODP ECNL ID2 Super Y etc event I have been to I see the same type of coaches selecting the same type of players. Big fast and competitive. But the smaller technical and risk taking players are ignored and told the same BS why they did not make it. How many regional camps are there where NCAA D3 level coaches say to a female player, "stop dribbling." Really??? How the hell do you think we got to see a Marta, a Sissi, a Messi, a Ronaldo, a Neymar, a Suarez, if it were not for dribbling???? this is the key to developing a world class player, even as a defender. But such players are crucified in the American ID pipeline. The coaches do not have a talent for seeing talent. Higher competition as ECNL claims only creates competitors. Competition does not develop players. It develops athletes, warriors, fighters. This country does not produce players. Watch France and Spain at all levels and see how skilled the kids they select are. Look at Japan. Even Brazil that has no girls program develops extremely skilled players. Nothing to do with competition. Marta never said she became the worlds best through competition and winning national cups. She just had fun and played futsal year round. It was not until age 14 that she played formal soccer. So there it is. This country develops warriors with stereotypical predictable coaching. We need to revolutionize the whole system and get rid of all those at the top and replace them with coaches who are developing skilled kids at every age group. Let these coaches nurture the talent and then once we have a pool of national players who can dribble from every position and combine without losing the ball, then and only then will be at a base point to dominate the game worldwide for both men and women.

  5. Santiago 1314, August 18, 2014 at 1:30 p.m.

    @H Hakim...Right On,,,**RePost** commented on: August 6, 2014 at 12:04 p.m….Unfortunately, Our once Dominating, Dynamic Women's Program is a Shadow of view itself... Granted that other Countries have improved, BUT, Instead of Developing more Attacking minded players, Over Coaching has Breed Out these players... No more Turning with the Ball("PLAY THE WAY YOU ARE FACING"!!!)..No more Taking On 1v1("PASS THE BALL").. You Watch ... In a few years we will be talking about US Women's team, Like Brazil is talking about their Men's team.. SAD!!!

  6. Bob Soccer, August 18, 2014 at 4:20 p.m.

    Lets look at the common trait in Spain, Germany and Netherlands, the 3 most successful teams at last2 World Cuops. 95% of their current players were identified and brought into the their Youth national Team Programs at U15-U18 and given all the National team experience on through U23. Now look at African teams, who have alot of talent. They are the opposite in that department. Which one is USA closer to in that regard?? And you wonder why we are not dominating on the women's side and why we show no improvement whatsover on men's side?? Actually, this performance in World Cup 2014 was atrocious by our team.

  7. Bob Soccer, August 18, 2014 at 4:24 p.m.

    So Paul's excuse is poor competition at regional level?? Hahahaha. these guys crack me up. So why were USA Women so dominant for so many years in the past when Women's soccer was close to nonexistent Regionally?? Come on Kennedy, you can do better than that!!! Why is Mexico getting better results lately with close to a BIG $0 budget?? Because they scout and hold open tryouts in key USA cities, THATS WHY!!!! 1/2 or more of their rosters are USA born !!! We could even say Mexico U20's had a better showing in this World Cup than USA!!

  8. Bob Soccer, August 18, 2014 at 4:30 p.m.

    How about we start blaming scouting system and talent selection as main problem before we get into how we develop?? If we didnt have eneough talent Mexico wouldnt be a much improved team in the wome's department. If we continue to pick the ECNL/USSDA players exclusively we will continue to miss out on many top players for many reasons that have nothing to do with USSF's RESPONSABILITY of picking the Very Best!!! How can we expect for our national Teams pick the best players when they CHOOSE to only depend on the few scouting opinions of a few BIG $$$$$ clubs (80 USSDA, even fewer ECNL) thats sole reason to exist is to make most fo their $$$$ from the player's parents themselves???!!!!

  9. Buzby B, August 18, 2014 at 4:38 p.m.

    K Hakim /Bob Soccer: Agree with both of you, the ECNL is narrowing our player and selection pool very early. I think the ECNL is the worse thing that could have happened to US Soccer as we are selecting less than 1% of the kids as "Elite" by age 14.

  10. JLenning 140, August 18, 2014 at 4:53 p.m.

    This article only goes part of the way, I agree Bob Soccer, but I fear the wake up call will fall on deaf ears. Wasn't there a wake up call with the last three U17 WC efforts? Two didn't even qualify and 1 didn't make it out of group play! The youth program is completely broken on the women's side. Physical and mental are the top selection and development priorities. Coaches continue to confuse maturity with ability and predominantly pick the big fast girls who grew first over more technical players who haven't physically developed yet. What that model yields is what we've seen in the U17 and U20 events - players are not comfortable on the ball, have no tactical awareness and lack the technical skill to play quickly, let alone keep possession while attacking. With the exception of Horan, and possibly Lavelle, no world class technical ability being shown at all with this group. The "our athletes are better than your athletes" model will win some games but has no answer when they lack the technical ability to get and keep the ball from a technically superior opponent.

  11. Bob Soccer, August 18, 2014 at 6:29 p.m.

    USSF coaches tell players 9boys) they must play USSDA to get callup or tell them they will no longer get called up if they dont do so. Thats a fact. thats wrong. There is only 80 something of those throughout the country and 1-3 in a 100 mile radius to pcik from. Alot of players can not and will not develop their full potential in those clubs they MUST pick from for many reasons like Politics, roster sizes, coach's system, coach's player preference, style of play, Club's Objectives, Club's history fo producing players, too many of one position, etc. ECNL is even worse in all these regards and I dont know of one ECNL club that is free play. Actually, the contrary. They get much more expensive than USSDA. Ican tbelive this hasnt been written about on Girl's side yet. Probably because Girl's soccer has not been a #1 choice for Latina Girls. Just a guess.

  12. K Hakim, August 18, 2014 at 10:24 p.m.

    Blame Claudio Reyna, Bruce Arena, Dave Sarachan, Bob Bradley, Richie Williams, and all those who are connected to Bruce who work at the national and pro level. Then on the girls side, inept college coaches and administrators plus Larry Monaco, John Koskinen, Tony DiCicco, April Heinrichs, John and Jill Ellis, Sunil Gulati, Lauren Gregg, Pia Sundhage, Greg Ryan, Tom Sermani, Jeff Pill, and every national coach who does not stand up for the game and promote skilled players who can dribble from any position on the pitch. They all want to win and pick the warriors over the finesse players and thus our national level game suffers and everything below is lost. Why else do we have over dozen national and a 100 regional leagues now. Everything should be under US Soccer and one league and one pyramid for all and ODP should have been the year round weekend league and tournament brackets. Then we would have seen big change in development as club coaches worked to place their players in ODP at the State and National Level. There is no need for Regional ODP or leagues. Waste of time and money. US Soccer sold out the youth to their friends in the game. Yes, somebody is being paid 6 figures a year for coaching U9.

  13. Kevin Leahy, August 19, 2014 at 10:56 a.m.

    It was sad to watch the game against North Korea. It was very difficult to watch. For people involved in the game it should be easy to recognize talent. Building a team is altogether different. Can you find the the player that will always sacrifice themselves for the team. Maybe you need the player that only does one thing well but, they do it better than anyone out there. Our technical level has always been our achilles heel. The great players of the world have a passion for what they do and generally work harder to make their lot better. Much of it is done when no one is watching. Tell me how many of the youth players in this country are playing in small pickup games or are by themselves with just a ball?

  14. John Richardson, August 19, 2014 at 11:07 a.m.

    Some of the worst penalty kicks I have ever seen.

  15. Bob Soccer, August 19, 2014 at 1:14 p.m.

    Kevin, you are absolutely correct. In a country of over 300 Million people, my guess is that there are plenty of players playing pick up somewhere. But we will never hear about them because our National Team coaches are exclusevely picking their players from the big clubs where that sort of behavior is frowned upon. Around me most if not all those ECNL/USSDA clubs will kick you out of their ELITE program if they as much as find out you played elsewhere, even if it was only because you wanted more play, for fun, or that same club was on vacation or break!!! It's getting to be freakin Ridiculous!! Soccer America has the power to write about these issues but only bring it up after there are plenty of us already making these statements. So by all means, please complain about your local ELITE Programs on these blogs!! They have alot more power than you would think!!

  16. Xavi Hernandez , August 19, 2014 at 2:28 p.m.

    Our 18 year-old daughter was cut from ODP at 13 - too small, too weak and too slow even though she was and still is a ball-wizard, spending countless hours with the ball on her own juggling, learning tricks, passing drills, you name it. Compounding her problems was her idolization of her older brother and his Barcelona obsession - they both modeled their games after Andres Iniesta. If you want the shortest route out of US soccer attempt to play tiki-taka with your teammates like Iniesta. Especially in US girls soccer.

    Also like her brother she took up track and the 400m her senior year, making the state finals with a 58.51. Not so small and weak anymore :). As a bonus she has both ACLs and never had a concussion.

  17. Allan Lindh, August 19, 2014 at 8:26 p.m.

    Gosh you would think the USWNT hadn't won anything lately. We are the best in the world because of Title 9, a vast number of girls get to play college soccer, and after four years, the cream comes to the top. This is our development system, and it produces well educated, well spoken, intelligent young women who are a credit to the game, and their country. Oh ya, and by the way, year in and year out, they are the best in the world. And they have careers after soccer. All that organizational raz ma taz for younger girls is just to keep adults busy, doing something they KNOW is important.

  18. Bob Soccer, August 19, 2014 at 10:35 p.m.

    Allan, nobody is arguing that they are well educated or well spoken. That has nothing to do with what most here are stating. Are you saying we can not pick tecnically sound "well educated women"?? Are you saying we can not scholarship more tecnical and skilled players for college?? I already know the answer to "can we pick the best players for ECNL teams regardless of their economical possabilities??". The answer is hell no.

  19. Bob Soccer, August 19, 2014 at 10:39 p.m.

    XAvi, in illinois we have the same story. The ODP team they picked there is pretty much what you see at the national level. Just a bunch of runners and hitters with very little tecnique and skill and that make mostly bad decisions when they have the ball. I took my daughter 2 years in a row. The most tecnical player there and good size but doesnt run around like a headless chicken. Connencted on all her passes, shot good strong shots on goal with both feet, dribbled by defenders constantly. Coaches were English. Enough said. It starts with player selection and what our chosen ODP/ECNL?USSF coaches look for in a player.

  20. Buzby B, August 19, 2014 at 11:48 p.m.

    Allan, I don't think you can say the US is the best in the world any more. Yes we won the Olympics, but Germany has been the best at World Cup competitions for a while, the performance at the Algarve Cup earlier this year was pitiful. The U-20s had a poor showing at their World Cup, the US 17s have failed to qualify for the last 2 world competitions. Our Current USWNT has very little Youth and several 30+ players that have come from a different era of soccer when the World was a different level. The World has caught up, and our Youth system is narrowing down the elite player pools at a very early age and we are doubling down on the fast, strong, big player. There has been a wake up call for a while. The U-17s and the U-20s are the first crops coming out of the ECNL, the early evidence is not astounding.

  21. William Thomas, August 20, 2014 at 11:43 a.m.

    Women’s soccer in the USA has been stagnant for 15 years. The current U-17 World Cup in Costa Rica demonstrated how poorly we are doing when the US did not qualify. The U-20 World Cup in Canada left us out of the quarter finals. Did the ladies practice penalty shots?
    In 1972 our country adopted Title IX which allowed equality in sports for girls. That meant colleges and high schools had to provide equal opportunity for the ladies to participate in sports. Team sports like soccer, could field 20+ players helping schools meet their quotas.
    Born from Title IX was Women’s National Team. They romped over the rest of the world because they had a head start. Today we still have much greater numbers of players to select from, compared to the rest of the world.
    From the great number of players the USA National Team Coaches selected the biggest, fastest and hopefully skilled women available. Big and fast is still the mainstay of the National Team.
    The element we are missing is individual and team skills. I languished over the American; U-20 Women as they missed passes, could not control a trap, and would not go to the ball, poor movement off the ball and just a complete lack of imagination. Our U-17 and U-20 is the window of the future. If that is the case we best be satisfied making it out of group play.
    Our youth coaches need to inspire themselves and the girls the need for developing individual skills. We will not be able to correct the current skill problem overnight as it will take 10 years, if we start today to address and overcome our current skills levels.
    USA Soccer, along with MLS, NWSL, Colleges, high schools, club teams and recreational soccer programs should all be striving to develop stronger skill sets. The girls are not the only soccer gender that needs help.

  22. Bob Soccer, August 20, 2014 at 11:54 a.m.

    William, we will never correct the skill problem for all or even most of USA players in a million years. We especially will never even imporve in that department if we keep using the excuse that we simply dont have those players. What we need to do is pick the players that do posess the skill and tecnique (because we do have them surely in a country of over 300 million freakin people) even if it means sacrificing a little speed and strength and mindless running. Once our country sees what it looks like to play with skill and tecnique and creativity then that will be what inspires future generations. Please dont give USA coaches to keep picking the same type of player!!

  23. Bob Soccer, August 20, 2014 at 11:55 a.m.

    Please dont give USA coaches excuses to keep picking the same type of players!!

  24. Buzby B, August 20, 2014 at 12:06 p.m.

    The problem with the youth system starts at age 9-12 because these kids start out playing in local programs. The fast, big, and strong kids dominate score all the goals, control defenses, etc. Those are the kids that are constantly told that they are the best so they try out for the higher level clubs. We also don't have a true identification program. For ODP, we have coaches making decisions in short tryout periods and for ID2 we get kids that are the big, fast,and strong kids that have made it to the higher levels. There is no system in the identification for the technical player.

  25. Bob Soccer, August 20, 2014 at 12:12 p.m.

    Buzby, exactly but the only thing that will "FORCE" youth clubs to change mentality is to know that National Team, ODP, ECNL, USSDA, etc. Coaches will pick skill, tecnique first and foremost. The message has to be sent from the top. Not from the bottom. Youth soccer makes money off parents. Not from seeling players. Top clubs sell they have "USSF Connections" and history of National Team Players. Parents buy into it. USSF directly provokes this behavior but also has the power to change it.

  26. K Hakim, August 20, 2014 at 3:43 p.m.

    ECNL and USSDA destroyed the landscape of youth soccer in this country. There was nothing wrong with the old system just the people running it. With local leagues, players could go in their own neighborhoods and train regularly and play locally saving hundreds of hours and dollars. What was needed was these clubs to hire better coaches who would focus on individual skills such as ball control and dribbling. Once players became comfortable with pressure then you give the kids the way out with a pass. By HS, our kids would be extremely skilled with their feet and mature enough to handle the pressures of more competition. During HS years they would experience playing with and against older players and develop socially mentally physically tactically to go with their technical. To keep this system of development local you have to make local clubs relevant. That was US Soccer's job. They should have banned all independent regional leagues. How could do they do this and change the culture? Simple. ODP. In Europe, players develop locally and are identified in their games for selection to the national youth programs. In US the 55 state associations should have the power not the clubs thru a year round league. Players could try out each week and be looked at in an ODP game. Scouts would go around watch other players and select the best technical ones. Club and HS coaches could recommend a player any time. But if a player was not at the level stated, then that coach would have to justify any future recommendations. ODP coaches would find their network of GOOD scouts who ID GOOD players from any environment any time. A fluid system. Nobody would be left out. Any kid would be given a chance for FREE. If ODP started in Sept and ended in June, that's 10 months of games to select the best in each age group. NOTE: I would not start ODP until age 15. That allows many more kids to go thru puberty and stay local. So the selections are based on better reasoning. Every weekend there would be an ODP game. So VA would play NC and players would be assessed. Holiday weekends showcase tournaments would have ODP brackets. Over the course of 10 months that would give the ODP coaches 30+ games to pick the best players. In June, the top players of each state would be sent to national camp for national pool selection and go thru a week of games to pick the national team for that age. In July, that national team would be sent abroad to Europe or South America to play international matches to give the players the experience of playing a tournament format like World Cup/Olympics. August the kids are OFF. Eliminate ODP training just ID the players and play them on the weekend. Adjust the youth club rules so they can carry large pools of players. No more long traveling for ODP. Players are picked on merit and every club and coach in the nation will be judged on how many players they are producing for ODP and the National Pools. Development is first.

  27. G O, August 20, 2014 at 3:50 p.m.

    US coaches (aka English or Scandinavian? methods so it seems) select players who are loud on the field. Have you noticed? As if the game is played with strong vocal cords. The aim is to get a big vocal cords player along with large torso, more height. Alas, that does not work. This is a game that requires technique. I admire players who play rather quietly with mouth but 'loudly' with skill, skill, skill.

  28. Buzby B, August 20, 2014 at 7:11 p.m.

    K Hakim It's a good structure. I don't know how we go back as there is too much vested interest in the ECNL. ODP should also be free, I think its purpose gets skewed by the amount of money can be made. You pay simply to tryout.

    I think we also have to address the college system if that is part of the development to National teams. Even at Div 1, there is relatively weak competition compared to the International level, and the coaching is inconsistent as well.

  29. K Hakim, August 20, 2014 at 7:42 p.m.

    Buzby B life changes. So ECNL can be changed. What needs to happen is pressure. People need to put pressure on their state associations and tell them their local clubs are being ruined by the current ECNL USSDA set up with the promise of college scholarships which of course is nonsense. The states must be shown this new model for year round ODP league and fluid player selection not the dumb one weekend tryout method and you in or out BS. Once States understand they need to be the pipeline to the national team and college coaches also see this as the most effective culture to find top players and national staff to find world class players, because it is fluid and all inclusive, then they can change the rules and infrastructure and youth clubs can go back to being what they are supposed to be, and local clubs for local players. We cannot have a system where 100 clubs are relevant and 6000 clubs are not. That is suicide and all our National Programs suffer. So once pressure is put on the states and US Soccer, then they can come up with a fee that will be assessed to all youth players in America that will cover the costs for 5 age groups per gender, 2 coaches per team across 55 states. Plus the National Staff and administrators, officials, rentals, insurance, etc and the international trips for each team. This will allow the program be free. My estimation is that it will cost between $5 million and $10 million per year pending the trips. With 20 million kids registered playing soccer, that fee is quite small to cover this program. But people need to stop being greedy in asking for 6 figure salaries. That is another big issue that holds our sport back.

  30. James Madison, August 21, 2014 at 10:58 p.m.

    the long and short of it is the rest of the world has caught up with the USA and is passing it. With few exceptions, the American women, like the American men have relied on athleticism. At an earlier stage of the development of women's soccer, this was sufficient. It no longer is. The problem is not the lack of competition at the CONCACAF level. It is deficiencies in player development and selection domestically. Some of us have preached the need to develop technical speed, tactical speed and mental toughness/discipline until we are hoarse. Fortuitously having one or two players on a national team at any age level who meet national team standards won't cut. We need 23 or whatever the maximum WCup tournment roster is. Maybe the Academy program will help the men. Assuming it will, we need the same for the women.

  31. Alan Peace, August 22, 2014 at 9:25 a.m.

    K Hakim - I've been arguing the exact same thing for years. The developmental system is very flawed in this country. We produce athletes, and not soccer players. I've had coaches at ODP camps tell me that a player in their group has great technical skills and really understands the game, but the kid will never get in the pool because he or she isn't the type of player the coaches are looking for (i.e. big, strong, fast and athletic). We devalue creativity and technical skill, and it shows at the higher levels. Throw money into the mix and the insatiable need to win at all costs, and it's a mess.

  32. Buzby B, August 22, 2014 at 9:29 a.m.

    James what's your perspective of the upcoming World Cup. It seems that we are relying on mainly the same top 11 that have been doing it for 8-10 years. I wonder whether the current team can hold up over a world cup. There is little youth on that team. I worry that we are in for a big surprise next year. The rest of the world seems to be building with youth and at the national level we seem to be relying on experience.

  33. K Hakim, August 22, 2014 at 3:50 p.m.

    James Madison I totally disagree. It is not the rest of the world has caught up with the US it is that the US picks the wrong players at the top level. A coach makes a massive difference on the success of a team and progress of a player. Take Roy Hodgson, he could never do what Brendan Rodgers with Liverpool and so England suffers greatly in the World Cup. But is the talent there in England? Sturridge, Wellbeck, Chamberlain, Walcott, Sterling, Ibe, Townsend, Lennon, Young, A Johnson, Lalana, Barkley, Morrison, etc how many dribblers do you want, but the head coach does not pick them and play them in a style that they can enjoy and perform. Brazil left out Ronaldinho, Kaka, Coutinho, Lucas Moura, Douglas Costa, Pato, Robinho, etc and the world thinks Brazil needs a revolution to become good again. Conservative coaches pick conservative players and play that way. Does not help the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, Suarez and Neymar to perform. An American coach would destroy Marta before she reached 14 because they always want to win instead of let a player take on 4-5 players each play. So back to the US. We have 20 million kids playing the game, 9 million girls. 6000+ travel clubs. 55 state Associations. I could pick 11 players just in VA or MD and outplay half the world at any age. But my eye for talent is a whole lot different to the current National Staff. Sadly, their eye means we look backward as a soccer nation and that is because they have no experience in developing skilled players. They only deal with warriors. We need to change all that from top down.

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