Tab Ramos and the Soccer Speed Trap

By Paul Gardner

Comparing his very ordinary current under-20 team with the highly promising version he had two years ago, Coach Tab Ramos says that the new team is "more dynamic, and we have speed on this team."

During the recent Concacaf under-20 championship in Jamaica the team looked anything but dynamic, so I’ll take Ramos’s word that the dynamism is there, waiting to erupt. But his comment about speed is not so easy to accept.

If speed is to be considered a dominant factor in soccer, then Jamaica -- with its disproportionate output of top sprinters -- should surely be among the world’s top soccer nations? Well, no, it’s currently No. 75 in the FIFA rankings (out of 209 nations) and has no major achievements to its name.

No, I’m not being frivolous, at least not entirely so. I’m exaggerating -- dramatizing if you like -- to make the point that speed in soccer is not an absolute quality. It has meaning only when in context , that is, when related to the requirements of the sport.

Questions need to be asked. What sort of speed are we talking about? Simple flat-out mph -- is that it? You hear much talk about how soccer is so much faster than it used to be. It is. You can verify that quite easily by viewing tapes of old games -- and not that old, either. The game is faster ... and it can only be that way because the players -- all of them, not just one or two -- are speedier than they used to be.

They move the ball quicker -- mostly by rapid passing. And it is reasonable to assume that they can’t do that unless they think more quickly. But there is another qualification: rapid, accurate, passing is a function of team play. It requires plenty of movement from teammates -- purposeful, intelligent movement that is part of a coherent pattern of play, that is understood, that is played, almost instinctively, by all a team’s players.

The chances of a player being able to use plain speed -- let’s say a full-pace sprint of 20 or 30 yards, with or without the ball -- are negligible in the modern game. The space to do that is rarely there.

The defensive emphasis in the modern game poses huge problems for speedsters. For a start, not much space is made easily available to opponents. Then, there are the suffocating defensive tactics, the packed defenses, the universal employment of defensive cover.

Not to mention refereeing that is always likely to favor defenders in contentious calls.

As it happens, all of those defensive actions rely on speed -- defenders have to be very sprightly these days, and most of them are. Occasionally, we can see an attacking player with superior speed and ball control who can outpace all his opponents. Cristiano Ronaldo comes to mind immediately. Recently voted the best player in the world. Not your average player, then.

If you’re going to rely on speed as your favorite attacking weapon, you’re probably wasting your time if you can’t find yourself a new Ronaldo. Unless ... there is a way of playing that might appreciably increase the value of a speedy player.

There is. Perversely -- and when is soccer not perverse? -- it is a defensive style of play. Simply, play as a counterattacking team. Defend, defend, defend, en masse then ... suddenly! ... the perfect long ball out of defense, maybe a 30-, even 40-yard pass, that springs your rocketman free.

Can that work? Well, it used to. In fact it was really an absolutely fundamental part of the catenaccio system, used so successfully by Italian teams in the 1960s.

As it happens, I was living in Italy during part of that era and got frequent looks at Inter Milan, the most successful club team of the time. Dubbed Il Grande Inter , this was a team that had refined catenaccio to a fine art. The defending was resolutely, immaculately Italian, the best in the world, then -- but the sudden switch to devastating attack relied on two wonderful foreigners. It was Spain’s Luis Suarez who delivered those long, seeing-eye passes, and it was the super-quick Brazilian winger Jair who raced on to them, corralled them with his superior ball control and either did the damage himself or passed off to Sandro Mazzola, among the world’s best when it came to finishing.

It wasn’t new. Arsenal had relied on a similar style 30 years earlier, with the Scot Alex James playing the Suarez role, while Cliff Bastin was a formidably fast, goal-scoring winger. Catenaccio is now out of fashion. But counterattacking soccer survives, even in a world where a high possession stat (not likely with defensive teams) is seen as important.

It is employed mostly by inferior teams, or by better teams that may see it as a means of beating specific opponents. There are exceptions. Chelsea, this season, despite a mass of talent in all positions, has frequently looked like a counterattacking team.

But really, where is the evidence that speed -- as exemplified by high-velocity individual players -- produces winning soccer? Arsenal in the 1930s, Inter in the 1960s ... and then?

Looking at the truly great teams of my era (OK, it’s my selection), did any of them have a flying forward? Not Hungary, the Magical Magyars of the 1950s. Brazil 1958 -- Garrincha maybe, but it was fabulous ball trickery that made him so dangerous, not blinding speed. Brazil 1970 -- yes, Jairzinho, surrounded by superstars (Pele, Tostao, Gerson) is a candidate). Tele Santana’s superb Brazil teams in the 1982 and 1986 World Cups had no obvious speedster (but then they never won anything). More recently, neither Barcelona nor Spain has featured sheer speed.

In modern soccer, speed qua speed, i.e. physical speed, is an over-praised attribute. The truth about the modern game is that none of the players is a slouch. For a player to play a decisive role with his speed, he will need to be a Ronaldo, and how many of those are there?

It might even be counter-productive, because it is likely to influence playing style. Just as the presence of a tall “good-in-the-air” forward can lead to a team constantly feeding him with long, high balls, so a forward with blazing speed -- even when the speed is not allied to equally spectacular ball control -- is so admired that the desire to exploit his pace can impose a counterattacking game.

Soccer speed means speed of reaction, both mental and physical. It means speed of thought plus rapid, better still super-rapid, acceleration. Sudden, explosive, short bursts of speed are much more important to a soccer player than lengthy sprints.

For Tab Ramos to single out speed as a desirable quality that his U-20 team possesses is puzzling in several ways. Firstly, his comment was made in the context of a comparison with his 2013 team -- implying that team did not have speed. I do not recall that as being the case, but if it was, then it was a failing that was expertly compensated for.

Secondly, it’s difficult to work out what sort of speed Ramos is referring to. In the light of the way that his team played in Jamaica, he surely cannot mean speed of play. I mentioned earlier that speed of play entails the need for coherent teamwork, and that was something that Ramos’s team glaringly lacked in five of its six games (I did not see the 2-0 win over El Salvador).

Which leaves us to conclude that Ramos is talking about the least useful form of speed for soccer, simple mph. But surely Ramos, whom I greatly respect as one of the most, if not the most, soccer-savvy people in the American game, cannot mean that. In which case ... what?

32 comments about "Tab Ramos and the Soccer Speed Trap".
  1. Bobby Bluntz, January 27, 2015 at 6:23 p.m.

    Great point Paul. We're moving quickly from the emphasis on skill to speed lately. Yes, ideally we'd have both everywhere, but the fact is that in order to be an effective "pacey" player, you need to also be extremely skillful. You also need to determine when to exact this speed to your advantage. Ronaldo. There is only one, and adjusting your team's play to a wannabe Ronaldo has seen many teams undone. Let's focus on quickness in thought and short bursts coupled with skill when mentioning our positive players. Raw speed is about as useful as raw height in soccer.

  2. Bob Escobar, January 27, 2015 at 6:32 p.m.

    is very disappointed to find out Ramos is looking at "speed" as one of his "major" discoveries of his new 2015 team....speed? speed is great, but "knowing and playing" the game with "skills" is more important. I remember when Ramos (of Uruguayan roots) played for the US in the early 1990s, he was one of the best midfielders we had, he played with intelligence, skills and was a very good two way player, and he wasn't one of the "fastest" players out there. The US will always have problems playing with skills, ball control and with trickery by some of their players...the US will "always" rely on "great" performances by their goalkeepers, defending at all cause and by opposing teams missing their target. This last World Cup, after the USA vs Germany game, Tim Howard was hail as the next Messiah, a true American hero, his name and face were all over the TV screens, newspapers and magazines...and yes, 95% of the German shots were shot directly at Howard, but somehow, he was the hero of the US team, sad but true.

  3. uffe gustafsson, January 27, 2015 at 6:33 p.m.

    Speed can be a very good tool, look at how wing backs are used in today's game. One player comes to my mind yedelin. So I would not say speed is not important.

  4. Bob Escobar, January 27, 2015 at 6:35 p.m.

    by the way, Paul Gardner, you are one of the "few" football writers I respect, the rest are mostly from South America!!!

  5. cisco martinez, January 27, 2015 at 6:40 p.m.

    I have been saying this for years. I played at the Region IV level of ODP when the U-17's were a success in 1999, played for SJSU in 2000 when we were #1 in the nation, and coach collegiately, every time in all levels I've played all coaches were specifically looking at speed and physicality. More often than not, the coaches just happen to be English. What I am suggesting is that if you look at the World Cup Winners 7 out of 9 are Latin based.

  6. Bobby Bluntz, January 27, 2015 at 6:56 p.m.

    I agree with your general point cisco, but if we're discounting Spain, Italy, and France as being "Latin" not European, then we're being a little dishonest. I understand the point, they're romance language countries and therefore technically Latin. I will agree that if you look at those sides, the prevailing success factor was not raw speed. But you could also throw the German sides in as well, they're just technical machines, not traditionally speed-oriented.

  7. James Madison, January 27, 2015 at 6:57 p.m.

    Technical speed is one thing as is tactical speed, but Paul is spot on regarding straight-up running/sprinting speed. You saw the problem in the highlights from the Jamaica match. An American striker on a breakaway escaped from three defenders on the sprint, but lacked the ball skill (basic technical ability) to beat the goalkeeper.

  8. John Soares, January 27, 2015 at 7:10 p.m.

    Common guys you too PG, give Tab a break. He is looking for and promoting the positives. He can only work with what he has. At least, (unlike the other dude) he is not bad mouthing his players in public.

  9. John Lander, January 27, 2015 at 7:24 p.m.

    This is such a silly argument that has plague US Soccer forever.
    Soccer first and formost is an athletic competition. You need world class athletes to succeed on the world class level. The world class US athletes play basketball, football, baseball, hockey, track and field. Even the second and third tier US athletes play in minor league in those sports.
    Meanwhile the first tier athletes from Europe, South America, Africa play soccer.
    This is not rocket science people.
    You take great athletes (speed,agility, flexibility, balance,strength etc....) and you teach them a skill set in any sport (technical, tatical, fundamentals). That's how you build a world class team.
    we wast time and money teaching uncoordinated, slow, un-athletic kid soccer and we endo with what we got.

  10. Brian Something, January 27, 2015 at 7:28 p.m.

    Athletes that are speedy are a dime a dozen in American soccer. Ramos himself represented something different: quality on the ball. He wasn't the biggest, strongest or fastest but few Americans have ever had better touch. Ramos and Claudio Reyna were classic examples of the kind of player that far more often than not gets brushed aside in our short-term focused development system. I hope this is just a case of a coach trying to protect his players rather than Ramos buying into the US Soccer orthodoxy that physical traits trump technical skills.

  11. Ginger Peeler, January 27, 2015 at 8:17 p.m.

    I don't see that speed, per se, is vital. Now, if we had more player with the ball control and extra gear that LD displayed...that would be super. I'm not sure those folks playing basketball, football and baseball would really be considered "world class" since they are American, rather than world sports, for the most part. Yes, Joe Namath, Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and some others would probably qualify as world class athletes, but I doubt that most players in those professional sports would qualify. We also have a region of our country, where the SEC is predominant, where the universities don't even field men's soccer teams. The women are represented only because of Title IX (?). After watching our U-20s play El Salvador, I can see one reason we keep going with the bigger, stronger player. El Salvador continually fouled us physically and the referee called very little of it. I was proud that our guys didn't resort to the same tactics.

  12. stewart hayes, January 27, 2015 at 9:26 p.m.

    It sounds like Tab is referring to pure speed in the quote. A coach would be a fool not to consider speed as an important quality, even just pure speed. The Dutch certainly consider it a high priority. Their acronym TIPS means technique, insight, personality and speed. I'm sure Tab recognizes the tactical and technical weaknesses of his players. To somehow assume he does not is beyond reason.

  13. BJ Genovese, January 27, 2015 at 9:34 p.m.

    Everyone has here place in the game. Tall, lanky slow, small, fast and quick. Thats why its the worlds game. But one factor remains to be world class. You have to take your strengths and enhance them. Then play the game tacticaly correct to your strengths... I dont know... this is isn't rocket science right? Unfortunately in the US we are in hurry up mode and everyone wants a piece of the soccer pie. Careers are on the line and winning keeps you in favor. I favor quick over speed if the style is small space ball. Quick and fast are different things on the pitch. And are game changers in there own rights. One overlying factor is this. Toss great technical ablilty into any categary and you have an advantage.

  14. R2 Dad, January 27, 2015 at 10:45 p.m.

    I wrote this in March 2012 about the USWNT, but it applies equally to the men's game:

    I’ve seen the future of US Women’s soccer, and it’s not finding another big target striker to replace the excellent one we have.

    Women’s soccer in this country is stuck in a rut. We made it to the World Cup finals almost despite ourselves. Relying on the Pete Rose school of play—hustle, heart and determination--to eek out a result, is no way to go through the tournament. Not to be too critical of our team or coach, but in effect that’s where we found ourselves in the last 10 minutes of every knockout round match. I know that’s not an entirely fair assessment—I’ve seen the team play very good possession at times. But when it comes to the knockout stages of the World Cup, we revert back to our kick and run roots. Monday’s Algarve Cup result should be the last nail in the coffin of US kick-and-run.

    There are, obviously, options. Brazil and France have found that having enough skilled attacking players is both entertaining and generates results. Japan has discovered that playing tiki-taka offers a way to maintain possession, control the tempo of the match, and to score goals. Even off of corners.

    I am a referee, and almost every weekend I see the girls who will be college players in less than 2 years. Until last weekend, I hadn’t really seen any exciting youth players; difference-makers that can dominate with their skill. And I wondered why.

    But last Saturday night was a revelation. I saw a U16G player who was short, almost wispy. Nothing a coach would look at twice and figure was going to be trouble. She wasn’t especially fast. But she had the quickest pair of legs I have seen on artificial turf. In the local college showcase tournament, her team was outclassed, but she kept them in the match by totally dominating the midfield. No ball was safe from her, and she stripped her opponents of possession at will. Her team’s opponent was one of the top GU16 teams in Northern California, so her domination of their midfield was no mean feat.

    The triumph of #4 on the green team got me to thinking about her characteristics, and why she was so awesome. I hadn’t seen a female player so quick. Sure, lots of the girls I’d seen at State Cup matches were tough, but they were mostly big/beefy, tall-ish, strong, and athletic. The last GU16 State Cup match I’d centered was filled with experienced, tough athletes that could pass and defend, but it was a charmless event filled with ping-pong possession and hacking at players behind the referee’s back. The match was dull to watch, and the little attacking talent on offer was nullified by the cynical play.

  15. R2 Dad, January 27, 2015 at 10:46 p.m.

    (cont) Why hadn’t I seen more of wiry, quick players? They must certainly exist, but why wasn’t I seeing more of them on the pitch? Is it possible that these quick/slight players are all small and thus overlooked? I suspect that it is. There is a certain stereotype in American sports, that of the big, tall blonde kid that trains hard and scores lots of baskets/goals/touchdowns. The handsome jock, the beautiful sun-kissed athlete that shines above the rest. Todays multicultural world with multiethnic families has flavored that old stereotype, but the phenotype persists. Brain-dead fans of American sports continue to pine for “our best athletes” to play soccer, as if Kobe Bryant, Ochocinco, Michael Phelps or Lance Armstrong would have made awesome soccer players if they had only focused on soccer. That is all complete and total garbage, as columnists and posters on this site have all refuted that argument. But America, the land of bigger and better, is fixated on growing a Maradona, but only bigger and better. But what if that is not possible? What if these quickest athletes are only available in extra small instead of supersized?

    Halfway through the first half of that Saturday night match in Palo Alto, it occurred to me that I was hearing a strange noise I’d never heard on artificial turf before. It was the sound your cat makes tearing around on the carpet. And it was coming from #4’s cleats, as she scampered around midfield while turning on a dime, slaloming between players and dicing through traffic. It was the sound of quickness.

    Back to our kick and run “heritage”. The big tall fast kid starts out like any other enthusiastic youth player, but with that size advantage. So, the coach encourages kick and run (because he doesn’t care about development, only winning). The keeper punts past the back line to “that kid”, who latches on to the ball, runs past everyone else, scores and is a big hero. Repeat. So our competitive youth leagues up to U12 are filled with these players. Running, kicking and scoring. They’re great players, right? They’re scoring goals, right? The idiot coach cheers her on, the idiot parents cheer her on, the poor kid thinks she’s a star—only she’s not. After U12 that player gets exposed, and that advantage turned into a crutch, which turned into a disadvantage. We have thousands of kids like this, and the best they can hope to achieve is a Brek Shea sort of existence—a professional, but not a special player. Where are all of our special players? I think they’ve been here all along, but have been discriminated against by club and college coaches. Especially at the competitive club level, where the coach can easily burn though injured players without being overly concerned about the long-term health of those kids because they will be gone soon anyway. Wiry and quick isn’t as durable as sturdy and athletic.

  16. R2 Dad, January 27, 2015 at 10:47 p.m.

    (cont) Why don’t we have more of these quick wiry players? And why aren’t we looking for more of them, instead of always choosing the tall, fast, strong kid with no touch, no vision and no future?

  17. Kevin Sims, January 27, 2015 at 10:50 p.m.

    Surely any conversation with Tab would reveal his keen understanding of physical speed and technical speed and tactical speed as desirable traits in all players. Truth be told, players with elite technical and tactical speed can become elite players on the globe ... while players with only elite physical speed will fall short of elite global player status. Of course, elite physical speed is the least learned type of speed, so often coaches seek it out in hopes of being able to develop the other two. Alas, it is not so easy. We do suffer greatly in this country by recognizing superior physical traits in young players and investing in those players. We would do much better to identify the young talent with technical and tactical speed and await for the realities of physical maturity to reveal themselves later. Tab was such a player ... advanced technically & tactically among his peers and later an elite player upon maturing physically into a man. Trust me, Tab totally gets this speed issue!

  18. Kent James, January 27, 2015 at 11:29 p.m.

    I'm sure Paul is misrepresenting Ramos' views on speed, for (as Brian pointed out), Ramos was a player who did not possess a lot of speed. But speed has many dimensions (as even PG pointed out), with speed of thought and technical speed being even more important than pure speed. But there are some elements that cannot be taught, and speed (and quickness) are two of them (improved, maybe, but a lot of it is innate). As Ronaldo (and I'd suggest Gareth Bale) demonstrate daily, speed has its advantages (and does lend itself to lethal counterattacks). But quickness can be even more deadly, since it does not require the space to operate that pure speed does. Messi epitomizes this; he seems to take 3 or 4 steps before his defenders (who are usually pretty fast guys) can take two. He simply operates in a different time dimension. Quickness helps on defense as well, since it allows a defender to poke at a ball and then withdraw his foot before committing a foul. So while PG is most definitely distorting Ramos' view of the game, he does make a lot of excellent points while doing it, so it does serve as great fodder for a discussion (as the many excellent comments above attest).

  19. cony konstin, January 28, 2015 at 12:51 a.m.

    Tab Ramos, my mother, my sister or myself is never going to win a world cup until we have 22 super talented attacking players or our willing to die for each other to win it all. But before that can occur.
    We need radical change. We need a REVOLUTION. Soccer in the USA is about buying and selling stuff. You want real magical warriors for the 21st century then you need to create a NEW SPARTA. Club soccer sole purpose is not to develop players. You can not develop a 21st world class player practicing twice or even three times a week. The pay to play model is an abomination if your goal to develop future stars. But our pay to play model is the best in the world if our focus is to fight youth obesity, teach life skills and finally give the kids some what a competitive environment. The parents god bless them all but most of them are clueless of what is happening to them. WE NEED 300,000 futsal courts in our inner cities and another 300,000 futsal courts in our suburbs. We don't need anymore coaching manuals, $300 cleats, more coaches, camps, clinics, tournaments, licenses,and any other gimmicks or smoke n mirrors. The kids need a place to play 24/7, 365, no cost, and no adult interference. FUTSAL for the masses. This can be our version of street soccer. We don't radically change our coaching environment to a playing environment then pro soccer in the US will continue to go out and get foreign players to fill the spots on rosters. We USONIANS need to wake up before soccer in the US becomes a cheap way to pay for day care. Our kids need a sandlot, playground free play environment so they can experiment and become creative risk takers. They need a sanctuary, a home, a place that is theirs. FUTSAL is our future in developing devilish players. Then those devilish players need a second phase of development and that is where a NEW SPARTA comes in. Everyone in this article means well but in the end you can't make chicken soup out of chicken s#$%. It is time for a REVOLUTION. It is time for radical change. It is time for unorthodox thinking. It is time for us to awake the sleepy giant.

  20. Albert Harris, January 28, 2015 at 9:24 a.m.

    Quit yelling, Cony! We get it; we need a revolution. We need a New Sparta; we need futsal. You don't to repeat it (with the capslock on) in every post.

  21. Tim Brown, January 28, 2015 at 10:43 a.m.

    Does Paul Gardner ever have anything positive to say about USA soccer on any level. Just asking. Paul you know what your talking about but you are so negative about football here in America.

  22. Gus Keri, January 28, 2015 at 10:46 a.m.

    Paul had eaten half of what Ramos said. Ramos said that this team has similar technical skills like the 2013 team but is more dynamic and has more speed. It means Ramos is still emphasizing technical skills. The addition of speed is new elements that is needed in this age to progress further. Also, among the examples of speedy teams Paul mentioned, he forgot to mention Germany (2006 - 2014), the team that was put originally by the current US coach Klinsmann. The current German team has excellent technical skills and superb speed, physically and mentally. It appears that Klinsmann and Ramos are on the path of creating something similar here. Give them time and, most importantly, the benefit of doubt.

  23. Futsal nation, January 28, 2015 at 11:07 a.m.

    you guys can argue about all these tactical tecnical issues all you want but i continue to believe that the bigger problem at the moment is recruiting in USA. I dont belive we are picking the very best players available in USA, especially at the younger ages to season them with National team experience starting at the U14-U16 ages. look at the U16 group that just competed at the Algean Cup in Turkey. They lost vs Norway & Turkey getting shut out. They won one game vs Romania and were only able to score vs them. This same age group played up vs 98's just last Summer under Hugo Perez in a much better tournament vs teams like Mexico and Brazil. Instead of calling up true forwards for this team they choose to move mids up to the forward positions. They called up USSDA players that dont even start regul;arly on their own teams and even called in some NPL players (2nd tier). But they sure do brag that 90% of the National Players are USSDA!!!

  24. Futsal nation, January 28, 2015 at 11:08 a.m.

    Tim, is there anything positive to say?

  25. Al Gebra, January 28, 2015 at 11:11 a.m.

    Well said R2 Dad. I was going to counter (again) John Lander's "best American athletes not playing soccer" crap but you did it for me. When my son played ODP as a goalie in the early 90's in the Santa Clara Valley, the district team was talented and entertaining in every respect. When he got to the State level and then the regional level, it was very apparent to me at the time that the teams got very boring. All the players looked and played alike. It didn't occur to me back then that the problem was how the coaches picked the players. Pretty much everyone who responded to this well-done article by PG said it right.

  26. Kent James, January 28, 2015 at noon

    The "best athletes don't play soccer" argument has some validity (not all of the best athletes play soccer, whereas in other countries where soccer is more dominant, they do), but is largely irrelevant. It's also a bit insulting, since it indirectly impugns the athleticism of American soccer players, and most are incredible athletes (and some of the best athletes in the country). In the primary American sports (football, basketball, baseball), size and strength are almost always an advantage, whereas they are much less important in soccer. While great athletes from these sports might be great soccer players (Michael Jordan, e.g.), it is unlikely they would be dominant soccer players (as MJ's baseball career would suggest). Where it is relevant is when comparing the size of the US to other countries, our large population may be somewhat misleading, and suggest we should be better than we are. But that argument is itself irrelevant, since only 11 players play at a time, and there are many examples of great soccer playing nations (the Netherlands) that are not large. In fact, I just saw an article which pointed out that Iceland (with a population of a tad over 300,000) has a FIFA ranking similar to ours (somewhere around 30 or so), even though our population is more than 1,000x greater. But that's what makes soccer such a wonderful sport; there is no one way to success, so it is open to everyone.

  27. Aresenal Fan, January 28, 2015 at 2:09 p.m.

    Futsal King, what player you calling second rate, specifically? SMH
    Carlos Avilez, FC Dallas Academy
    Eric Lopez, LA Galaxy
    Roger Batse, Capitol Area Rail Hawks Ac.
    Eves McKay, Real Salt Lake Academy
    Kyle Gruno, Leicester City
    Daniel Jones, New England Revolution Ac.
    Matthew Real, Philadelphia Union Ac.
    Raul Aguilera Jr., Orlando City SC
    Jose Alfaro Jr., Monarcas Morelia
    Jose Carranza, DC United Academy
    Marty Raygoza, FC Golden State Academy
    Nicholas Taitague, Richmond United
    Juan Torres, Georgia United Academy
    Lucas Del Rosario, Capitol Area Rail
    Jonathan Gonzalez, CF Monterrey
    Leo Marquez, Leon FC
    Justin Rennicks, New England Revolution
    Adolfo Trujillo, De Anza Force Academy

    I keep up with the 99's, not one of them plays NPL, and don't think any of them are second rate

  28. Aresenal Fan, January 28, 2015 at 2:14 p.m.

    R2 dad I love you comments, they always hit the nail on the spot.

  29. Futsal nation, January 28, 2015 at 11:27 p.m.

    Arsenal, I didnt call any player 2nd rate. I said that the NPL is 2nd tier level wise to USSDA. Am I wrong?? Are you telling me that a U16 national Team player shouldnt be good enough to start on a U16 USSDA team every game ?? Its either these players are not or USSDA clubs are doing them a diservice?? Dont you agree?? Either way, something is terribly wrong when our best 99's arent playing as regular starters for U16 USSDA. I couldnt find some players on that roster on their USSDA rosters. Maybe I am wrong. Now can you explain why there are many who arent regular starters for their respective USSDA teams??

  30. Aresenal Fan, January 29, 2015 at 12:52 p.m.

    Futsal who are you talking about? seems like you are targeting someone, why don't you just say it. As my son would say it, You got no chill! Do a little research on some of the players you are targeting before you slander their playing capabilities with the playing time innuendo. What player called up plays NPL? And by the way, the core of this team is still from Hugo's tournament teams, except for Lara that is know in Mexican National team.

  31. Tim Brown, January 29, 2015 at 2:39 p.m.

    Futsal there is a lot of positive going on but not in the results department for USMNT.I started playing in the Dallas Area in the early 70's and have seen a heck of a lot of growth in this country. Success of MLS, Soccer on TV for the average fan. Growth of NASL and USLPRO leagues are recent great examples. Soccer specific stadiums all across the country are a few examples. I do agree with your comments though.

  32. Scott Johnson, February 25, 2015 at 2:18 p.m.

    Don't knock futsal. My kids play in Cony's program, and have spent the winter playing futsal because grass fields are unusable in wet Oregon winters, it gets dark here at 5:00 in the winter, and there aren't enough lit turf fields to go around. While there's a lot of soccer fundamentals you can't learn playing futsal, obviously--it is great training, if nothing else, for playing in a packed box.

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