Commentary

High School vs. Club: Three questions for Brandon Silva

By Mike Woitalla

The bashing of high school soccer reached new heights with the U.S. Soccer Federation launching a Development Academy for girls (in 2017) and technical director April Heinrichs recently stating that high school ball is "not a player development environment. In fact, it develops bad habits and complacency."

Brandon Silva coaches the girls varsity team at New Jersey’s Immaculate Heart Academy, which finished No. 1 in the 2014 NSCAA national rankings and won state championships in 2014 and 2015. Silva is also a club coach, with Torpedos SC in Wyckoff, New Jersey, and serves as the NSCAA New Jersey State Technical Director for Coaching Education and is an NSCAA National Staff Instructor. We had these three questions for Silva:

What criticism of high school soccer do you find particularly objectionable?

The generalization of the level of high school soccer. Club coaches are concerned about the drop-off with players when they play for their high school and I disagree with that.

I think this depends on what high school the player attends, the coaches at the particular high school (are the coaches educated?), and to be honest, if players want to play at whatever the highest level it is they want then they need to put in time on their own.


Brandon Silva (Photo courtesy Torpedoes Soccer Club).

Are there any criticisms of high school soccer from U.S. Soccer and club soccer that you believe are legitimate -- and if so are there solutions to the issues they cite?

One of the criticisms is coaching education or lack thereof with high school coaches. The solution would be, for example in New Jersey, the NJSIAA mandates that all high school coaches must hold a NSCAA High School Diploma or USSF C license to be able to coach in high school.

I also think that the district in which the coach is employed should compensate the coach for this particular license.

I strongly feel that if coaching is supposed to be player-centered and not coach-centered, then why can't club coaches and high school coaches get on the same page considering we should all be out there to give the players a great experience?

High school coaches make very little money for the hour to coach players at any level, so that tells you something right there. Club coaches have two/three teams at a time, so the motivation can be much different.


(Photo courtesy Immaculate Heart Academy Washington Township, New Jersey)

Have you encountered situations where a player at your high school thought she might be better off forgoing the high school season?

Yes, I have and because I value the total high school soccer experience, my staff and myself respected the players' decision to not play for their high school but very much disagreed with the decision.

39 comments about "High School vs. Club: Three questions for Brandon Silva".
  1. Scott Johnson, November 18, 2016 at 3:55 p.m.

    Can we get high school (and NCAA) soccer to adapt the Laws of the Game? That might be a start. That said--are HS soccer coaches as well-compensated as coaches in basketball and American football (two sports where HS rather than club teams are the key training and competitive grounds for teenage players)?

  2. uffe gustafsson, November 18, 2016 at 4:39 p.m.

    In all the high schools we play against the coaches are club coaches that do HS in the club off season. So not sure why the coaching would be less for HS. The days of a teacher doing the HS coaching seem to me be long gone.
    Obviously I can't speak for all HS in this country.
    And the training and games are much more then club soccer. It's Monday-Friday every week.
    I watched the U 20 USA vs France and have to say that our U 20 team didn't look all that impressive, long ball game. Is that not the what the biggest complaint on HS that they play to much long ball game and not enough passing game. Sure looked like our U20 just did that.
    I've seen some awesome HS soccer team that play a much better soccer then the national team been displaying.
    Correct me if I'm wrong in that assessment.

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, November 19, 2016 at 10:58 a.m.

    My impression of that U20 match was that they played long ball due to a lack of fitness kept them from getting numbers forward to support the attack. When the ball was won high up the field, the attack was well supported and looked much better.

  4. Robert Smith replied, November 19, 2016 at 5:49 p.m.

    The question posed is inaccurate. The chice is not HS OR Club in NJ. Its HS AND Club or just Club. There are many pros and cons of whatever choice a child makes. I am tired of adults trying to tell families abet is best for them. There is no wrong or right answer here. There are trade offs both ways. What Mr Silva does not say is that several kids chose not to play at IHA this year for divert reasons. Iy is not his place to agree or disagree really.

    Now on a separate note, A kid not choosing to play HS is not necessarily an indictment of HS coaching. It can be for many reasons. It can be because a kid just wants a break form the grind.

    If HS coaches are addressing the Club OR HS argument then that is between them and the USSF (GDA). There are plenty of opportunities to play HS soccer and Club at a high level if that is the kids choice.

    Lets keep this in perspective here and wish all the kids well no matter what choices they make.

  5. Jose VegaAcosta replied, November 21, 2016 at 9:18 a.m.

    Uffe, you are 100% correct and the long ball is there to use but not all the time. Many countries are starting to catch up to our level of play, especially in the U20 group, because they are getting the resources to compete. Having said that, I hope April Heinrich reads this message. Her comment on High School not being developmental or that it causes complacency? I disagree 110%. Is she saying that club ball is that much superior and that HS ball is not needed? First of all I think it saids a lot about a player who is good on the club level then comes in to HS ball and rises the level of play for her entire team because all of the girls do not play travel. it also allows her to be a leader. You are not always going to play with top tier girls. I have been to many college programs and have seen girls on some of these teams that are just not very good. HS ball is important but unfortunately comments like the ones April made seem to trickle down to the parents and then they think their child is "too good" for HS ball. The complacency starts in travel ball not HS ball. These parents are paying thousands of dollars/paying to play in some cases and that attitude transfers over to HS ball. I have been approached to coach travel ball but have declined repeatedly because I do not like the environment of entitlement that is very prevalent. I enjoy coaching HS ball and hope to transfer over to the college game some day. To her other point about coaches at the HS level not being prepared...Trust me I have seen just as many club/travel coaches not have a clue about what they are doing. The culture has to change but it has to start at the top with individuals like April Heinrichs. On this topic she could not be more wrong.

  6. R2 Dad, November 18, 2016 at 4:42 p.m.

    Mike, wish you had asked:
    1) Do you require your players to practice on the field every school day?
    2) Does your league schedule 25+ matches in 10 weeks?
    In my book, a Yes to both of these questions would shed more light than high school coaches spinning their perspective. Also, licenses do not = player development. Licensed coaches at every level still choose to play kickball.

  7. Jose VegaAcosta replied, November 21, 2016 at 9:21 a.m.

    R2dad, you are right on with your comments. I think you addressed more specific points.

  8. Ric Fonseca, November 18, 2016 at 5:04 p.m.

    R2Dad.You hit the nail on the head as did Scott J above! With more than 45 years experience with the sport, and experiencing the convoluted high school and NCAA rules that are not even an image of LoG, it is no wonder that high school play is woefully inadequate. In some state, notably in SoCal, high school play takes place during the winter months because the so-called vaunted football coaches don't want their already chewed-up fields to get even more "damaged" by those crazy soccer players; also, in some areas/cities, teachers are no longer required to also coach a sport, much less soccer, and so many local high schools end up "hiring" walk-on coaches, young men and women and are paid a piddling sum. But one must also remember that with budgets stretched very tight, it is a wonder that the players and "walk-on" coaches can still field some pretty darned good teams, despite the hurdles they must face, in addition to school work, practice time, travel to away games, and the usual high school social life. Many club coaches shun high school coaching, they deem it below their coaching station in life, and then there are the local high school federation/districts, plus the national rules, NCAA restrictions, and now the PDA and club rules, yada-yada. One bothersome factor is that in many instances, some club coaches have recruited from the high schools and vice-versa, e.g. this brings to mind a well known university coach that also served as US Women HC, always seemed to win several NCAA championships, and many of his players ended up playing for him on the university team as well as the national team. Funny, no one ever made a hill of beans about his "double duty," but was "lauded" for his "keen coaching" skills. Any how, just sayin'!

  9. Scott Johnson replied, November 18, 2016 at 5:53 p.m.

    Is the suggestion being made that one had a better chance of making the national team if one played college ball for this coach?

  10. Bob Ashpole replied, November 19, 2016 at 11:14 a.m.

    Ric you make a lot of good points but you lost me with the criticism of the university coach. Either professional coaches getting involved in high school soccer is a good thing or it isn't. I think a coach getting involved with earlier age groups feeding his team is a smart idea and it is only natural that the coach is going to identify some players in doing so. U14 select, high school, or college coaches, makes no difference to me. Anything that results in better player development is a good thing imo.

  11. uffe gustafsson, November 18, 2016 at 5:46 p.m.

    I can answer that question for you, yes they are required to be on the field every school day, exception for many is at exam weeks they get time off to study and games are usually not scheduled on that week.
    Really no differents then what club is asking for,
    And honestly clubs now don't even give summer break off, only give you the family vacation time off. As in a week of vacaction when you have it planned out.
    It's almost year round. If you play club and HS.
    But I know my daughter looks fwd to HS soccer, it's a very different experience, a pried in representing your school and community.
    Think that's an important part not to dismiss.

  12. Jose VegaAcosta replied, November 21, 2016 at 9:28 a.m.

    Uffe, a point I missed earlier but you are right. Many girls look forward to representing their school. its one thing to play club ball and get noticed, get that letter but its another thing to play HS ball represent your conference, community and win something, in my opinion, much harder like a state championship. Coaching a group of very talented girls is very different than coaching a group of girls who have a few stars and then those stars help and carry the rest of the team. Very rewarding for those young ladies. Overall I love the sport and enjoy coaching girls and going to tournaments to support my girls that play travel ball, BUT the HS ball is another beast and the challenges vs rewards are very satisfying in the end. Best of luck!

  13. Soccer Forlife, November 18, 2016 at 6:39 p.m.

    My daughter played on a club team where she is a starter and helped her team to 2nd place at this year National Champtionship game, but some how she did not make her HS fresh/soph team. The ones that made it are tier two, bronze and AYSO kids and girls that her club team beats regularly in season and tourneys Also, 90% of the girls are on a single club where the coach is also the club coach. Talk about conflict of interest. There were parents who emailed the coach asking their daughters can be on the team without try out becos they play for the same club of the coach. My daughter will be playing on a DA team next yr. HS soccer is truly a joke! That is the politics in SoCal soccer.

  14. Bob Ashpole replied, November 19, 2016 at 11:21 a.m.

    That's a sad story, but you should be careful in drawing general conclusions from a single experience. What matters in judging high soccer nationwide is whether good experiences significantly outweigh the bad? The high frequency of matches and the rules are the biggest problems, which has been mentioned above. Those detractors exist regardless of the quality of the coaches.

  15. aaron dutch, November 18, 2016 at 8:28 p.m.

    IHA is a special case because the competition in North Jersey, Living here and having my daughters playing against and losing:) vs. IHA in the last 7 years means that Coach Silva has built a special program that rivals the top clubs in the region. If other coaches were as objective in their H.S. job regardless of conflicts then H.S. could be a great development tool given the 750 hours of time high school has for soccer over 4 years. We waste this 99% of the time and don't development players. If the players did Rondo 25% of the time, tricks/juggle/footwork 25% of the time & 2v1, 3v1,3v2 25% & dutch games the rest over 4 years the quality would explode. There should be a special coaching development cert for High School which is all development technical /tactical for 4 years as this could be made into a solid foundation. Conflicts of play for coaches would be delt with year long or multi year long bans

  16. Bob Ashpole replied, November 19, 2016 at 11:24 a.m.

    There is such a program taught through NSCAA.

  17. Robert Smith replied, November 19, 2016 at 5:41 p.m.

    Mr Dutch

    Coach Silva did not build the program. He has been there for maybe 4 years. IHA has a storied legacy in many sports long before he showed up.

  18. uffe gustafsson, November 19, 2016 at 12:35 a.m.

    Soccer for life
    You have an AD at the school, don't you think you should have a talk with that person.
    90% of the team is from a specific club and the coach is on that club.
    That's sounds like a legit complain to me.
    Never heard of such thing. Unless u live in a small town. How many clubs in your town?
    And are your daughter playing in a club outside your town?

  19. Dennis Yunke, November 19, 2016 at 9:58 a.m.

    I really tire of this argument. I coached club soccer and I now coach high school soccer in two states. Michigan in the spring and Minnesota in the fall. In Minnesota the girls play club soccer in the season they are not playing high school soccer. Us stumbling, bumbling, incompetent high school coaches took our team to the championship game, playing against a private school loaded with club players who had even played club ball with some of our players. It does not have to be either/or. I am also tired of the "kickball" references vs. possession play. I coach and teach a hybrid game based on situational soccer. I take what my opponent gives me. If my opponent gives me seams in his defense to exploit I do. If he/she gives me a pushed up defense I can beat with my speed I do. I do not play intellectual patty-cake with the ball just to please my contemporary purists. I was mentored years ago by Dutch coaches who taught me the point of the game is to get the ball from your defensive end into the opponents goal. There is no right or wrong way to do that, just the most efficient and productive way to do it. So I can possess through the middle then exploit openings, or I can serve balls up the flanks to talented forwards who then take on defenders 1 v 1. I have played some great high school games and some great club games. I have also played club teams who are so stacked the playing field is never level. For sheer fun, enjoyment and joy I prefer high school. Playing in front of teammates and Grandma and Grandpa beats playing in front of parents/atm machines.

  20. Bob Ashpole replied, November 19, 2016 at 11:30 a.m.

    Well said Dennis. I think you said it better than the article. While not every side can win the same match, every side can be a good opportunity for player development and fun. You still have to deal with the high match frequency and high school rules, so there is room for improvement.

  21. Robert Smith replied, November 19, 2016 at 5:42 p.m.

    Mr Yunke

    You use the word I an awful lot. Surely its about the kids, not you?

  22. R2 Dad replied, November 20, 2016 at 5:38 p.m.

    Dennis, you may tire of this kickball label, but it is literally impossible to avoid the moniker when developmental principles are not reinforced during matches. The simplest litmus test I can determine is that if your team plays out of the back 2/3rds of the time your back line and midfield will get enough touches to be relevant. Otherwise, Kickball. And this applies at every level. Recently Norcal Soccer Dad (check out his blog, What's Troubling With This)pointed out the US U20 WNT is booting every goal kick, with the back line sitting 40 yards away waiting for that prized 2nd ball. Those poor defenders will never, ever develop. Those girls will NEVER get a senior cap. Sunil/Ellis/French are doing a huge disservice by insisting on Kickball with our players. I can understand that coaches don't like being called on this--since it's quite embarrassing, really-but perhaps an explanation on possession from Pep Guardiola will carry more weight: again, see Norcal Soccer Dad, Why Modern Goalkeepers..). This principle of possession should be remembered when discussing a replacement to JK. BB and BA did NOT insist on playing out of the back, did NOT choose players that could play that way, and did NOT choose coaches/players for the U teams that insisted on this as a requirement going forward. You may claim this as some purist fantasy but the rest of the world sees it as the bare minimum requirement for advancing out of the group stage of every World Cup competition.

  23. Bob Ashpole replied, November 20, 2016 at 10:35 p.m.

    R2 Dad you are making huge leaps of unwarranted assumption regarding his coaching and his players based on the simple premise that you think he disagrees with your views.

  24. Bob Ashpole replied, November 20, 2016 at 10:54 p.m.

    I have some rhetorical questions for you R2 Dad? On my adult rec team I had amateur keepers who could consistently and accurately distribute the ball including punts throughout the defensive half and then some. They could hit a sprinting forward's feet 50+ yards away with a punt. How is the keeper going to learn to accurately distribute higher up the field by rolling the ball to a CB? When are the field players going to learn to control punts and overhand throws if all the passes are on the ground? A 2/3rds split you mention is a good split, but that is not what the anti-long distribution folks are typically advocating. The bottom line is that good possession style teams always for for the long penetrating pass first.

  25. R2 Dad replied, November 20, 2016 at 11:18 p.m.

    Bob, in your view it's "unwarranted assumption(s)". I call it "experience", and stick to my assertions. We can agree to disagree, but my perspective explains why the USWNT U20s have stagnated since 2010(as Japan and France have shot ahead), and the U17s have NEVER gotten out of the group stage ('08,'12,'16) and haven't qualified twice ('10,'14). Who's responsible for Development? The national coaches point at the clubs, the clubs point at the school system, the schools blame the parents. The parents don't know enough about soccer, and they blame the refs.

  26. Scott Johnson replied, November 21, 2016 at 3:08 a.m.

    I think it important to distinguish between pedagogical soccer and competitive soccer--soccer being played to teach vs soccer being played to win. Now no game is entirely one or the other--scrimmages are often fiercely contested, and players can learn things from the World Cup final--but generally coaches should go into a match with a purpose: win today or make players better for more wins tomorrow. A good boundary line is the presence of paying customers--if people buy tickets (or watch ad-supported broadcasts; NB that club fees do NOT count here), they generally will expect teams to play to win, and that learning will happen in training. And this is one difference between HS and club--for most players, HS soccer will be the culmination of their careers, and there are state championships to contend for, so in HS teams are playing to win more than to prepare for college or the pros. Given that, a flexible approach is probably more appropriate than always-passing-out-of-the-back. That said, the term "bootball" is overused, and should be limited to a degenerate form of youth soccer, in which long passes/punts to athletically-advanced forwards is the primary offensive strategy, and the skills needed to bring the ball up on the ground are not well taught. (It is often combined with "thugball"--defense conducted through rough play by physically strong defenders and mids--mids have a primarily defensive role on such teams--that de-emphasizes skills such as sound tackling and defensive organization). Bootball simply doesn't work against good teams, so is generally not common at the high levels of soccer. Bootball is not the same as defend-and-counter, nor is the same as offenses that like to play in the air and do so with skill, as opposed to simply knocking clearances upfield to nobody in particular, and hoping the fast forward gets to them first.

  27. barry politi, November 19, 2016 at 2:31 p.m.

    I am writing to make you aware of the very recent situation involving the US Soccer Federation (AKA: USSF, “US Soccer”). This year the USSF elected to change the date of birth “cutoff” for the age category(s) for youth soccer in the USA. The change was made from August to January 1st. In other words, a change from the long accepted “School” schedule based age segregation to the “Calendar” based age for purposes of creating age groups amongst youth players. The August date had been used for some 30 years because it is much easier to categorize children by their grade, and because families and children want to play with their school peers and friends.
    The Federation (USSF) mandated that all teams across the entire nation institute their change. This 2016 mandate forced some 3.2 million youth soccer players across the country to leave their current team and be restructured. In other words, they demanded a dismantling of the entire country’s youth teams. This dissolved many relationships between children, coaches, parents and families, which in some cases were together for years. It also slowed the current soccer cohort development, and even down struck the personal chemistry between former teammates. This change also created much confusion, frustration, and extra work; especially for coaches causing some to simply quit.
    As some of you know, youth soccer is rather chaotic, and has been plagued with problems for many years; however, this particular issue and its consequent changes were actually very unusual and unique. Why? Because of the vast numbers of children to teens that were negatively affected, and because the changes were forced by adults in power at the top of the Federation. Why would the USSF do this you ask? Many other adults and children have asked this question as well.
    The USA Soccer Federation is a small group of about 120 members and/or employees with about 20 coaches and executive leaders. These bureaucrats are self-serving, narcissistic and idiotic. I hold President Sunil Gulati personally responsible but there are others as well.
    The USSFs National team players that the Federation controls (less than .03% of the US soccer population) play internationally at the pinnacle level. Having a calendar birth year might make it easer for USSF coaches, leadership and administration to identify rare elite players and compete overseas,. It also aligns with the rest of the international community. The USA Soccer Federations National teams have never done very well, and suffer from a long history of international mediocrity. The Federation believes that having a Calendar year will possibly allow them to monitor and then choose elite level player and thus ultimately win on the international stage which is what they so deeply and pathologically crave. This is disturbing to many us that follow youth sport

  28. Will Ayers replied, November 30, 2016 at 9:35 a.m.

    Excellent comments. I also felt the two rec team I coach would have been so negatively affected. Fortunately, I live in a part of the country that thought through this change and did not see it as an absolute mandate. Seattle, i.e. SYSA, did not make the change and just announced that they will not for 2017 either. Other areas that did not make the change included Portland, San Francisco, North Carolina, and Massachusetts, as well as other pockets here and there. In the case of Massachusetts, they claim to have made a change, but their "change" basically twisted the age group change inside out to relabel the age groups but keep the August cutoff. Also, the International Standard is being misused. Almost all of Latin America has soccer age groups and their school years aligned, like the US. It is just that they start their school years at the beginning of the Calendar year. So, kids in Brazil and Argentina are able to both meet the "International Standard" and have most kids in the same school age class play together. This is also the same for Australia and New Zealand (school years start in January), Japan and Korea, and a few other countries.

  29. Right Winger, November 21, 2016 at 10:02 a.m.

    Short and Sweet. The quality of HS soccer primarily boys which is what I am most familiar with depends on what part of the country you live in. NE, Midwest some places in CA. you have some of the finest HS coaches in the business. US Soccer is another story. In most cases across the country it is not organized and each club teaches it the way the want to. Tell me where the youth programs of US Soccer has gotten us to today vs 10 years ago. You still have teams kicking the cover off the ball in order to get to the goal quickly and this is at the direction of the coaches involved. That includes the national team programs. Technically our kids are at a loss because of this and when they get to international play they have two strikes against them going into the game. Those two strikes would be the lack of technical prowess and tactical training and ability. If we don't get it all together soon we will keep getting what we have been getting. Youth coaches in the clubs and at the national team level frown on individual creativity and stifle decision making by the players. We are not progressing and it certainly isn't the fault of the HS programs. At least in my mind. Who's fault is it???

  30. aaron dutch, November 21, 2016 at 7:49 p.m.

    We don't have a National Development plan with any vision, coherent strategy of play or performance objectives. If we look at Belgium the last 15 years and the progress they have made if we were willing to admit that we don't have a pyramid that functions or any strategy then we could start making investments based on a vision with a strategy that everyone could understand. The layers working at cross purposes is destructive to our development. What is the strategy of NCSAA, USSF, NCAA, High School, Youth Club, ECNL, US Club, PDL, USL,MLS, SUM, WNSL, etc.. we have 20 layers of bad football

  31. Ric Fonseca, November 22, 2016 at 12:59 a.m.

    All this stuff reminds me when I became the first NCAA coach for a first-year SoCal university team: After our inaugural season I was asked by a local parochial school to help train their team and of course I said yes. Unfortunately, the then AD, the university's baseball coach and very anti-soccer, was called by the parochial school as a courtesy, and while the school knew of no rule of my coaching in their school and continue at the university, my anti-soccer AD, told me that it was not allowed, and even went so far as to tell me of some vague rule preventing me from coaching a high school (some rule that said I'd be getting a heads up on potential players and was "unethical", etc. etc.)So it was either coach the university or the high school... Likewise, the high schools have/had some similar rule that said a club team could not have more than "x" number of players from the same high school, which in effect would give a high school an advantage over another school. Topping things off, most of the soccer players from the parochial school went elsewhere and it took me five years to establish the then DII program with some credibility eventually quitting when my son was old enough to get into youth and club soccer. So Aaron, your last sentence is spot on so let's hope there is a light at the end of this excruciatingly long tunnel and not another train coming through!!!

  32. aaron dutch, November 22, 2016 at 9:17 a.m.

    Ric, having grown up in So.Cal and played AYSO in Redondo in the 70's and clubish & high school/college in Pasadena in the 80's then live, coach, ref the last 20+ in NJ I have seen the sad lack of vision/strategy except how to make money from middle class & above kids with a lame approach to almost every aspect of development. To be honest I don't see anything changing the next 20 years as the entrenched interests are so stable & unaccountable. The only shot is throw the next board of the USSF off and bring in a new board with only reform ties and not without serious business ties to US Club/MLS/SUM/ NCAA/ US Soccer/ etc..and begin a overhaul from the top down.

  33. Pasco Struhs, November 22, 2016 at 10:17 a.m.

    IMHO, the problem with high school, club and college soccer from a national player development standpoint is that clubs, high schools and colleges are financially incentivized to win games. The more games they win, the higher they are ranked either by GotSoccer, Top Drawer or some other ranking agency. The higher they are ranked, the more recruits they can draw, which translates into $$ either from parents, alum or broadcast deals (at least at the college level). Mr. Yunke's statements above epitomize this attitude. "I do not play intellectual patty-cake with the ball just to please my contemporary purists. I was mentored years ago by Dutch coaches who taught me the point of the game is to get the ball from your defensive end into the opponents goal." Don't get me wrong, I don't know Mr. Yunke nor do I have any idea what kind of coach he is. He may be a very talented developmental coach who turns out great players. It's not him I'm critizicing, its the system in which he coaches. This is a classic example of achieving short-term goals to the detriment long-term success. Having said that, I don't necessarily think we need to throw out the metaphorical baby with the bath water. There is certainly a place for club, high school and college soccer. After all, as the NCAA commercial states, "the vast majority of student athletes will be going pro in something other than sports." But we can't depend solely on the current disjointed and, from a national development perspective, improperly-motivated system to make our national team and professional soccer league (MLS) competitive. I think this is what April Heinrichs meant. Perhaps we should be rewarding these programs for turning out talented, soccer-intelligent players. What if clubs, high schools and colleges got real money from professional clubs for player development? Maybe its too hard to track and implement in our existing system, but the financial incentive needs to be on long-term player development not short-term victories for recruiting purposes.

  34. Scott Johnson replied, November 22, 2016 at 1:59 p.m.

    Yes and no. For some kids, training for a higher level of soccer is the point. For others, HS is the end of the line. And Mr. Yunke is correct--the object of the game of soccer is to put the ball in the other team's net more often than the other team put's it in yours. Period, done, end of story. All else is in service of that goal. Soccer ain't billiards, it's pool--ball goes in the hole. At some levels of soccer, particularly the lower level, physically dominating lesser-skilled teams is indeed shortsighted. But by the time you reach HS, if you don't know how to play the game the right way (and even if you don't play bootball, you better be prepared to defend it) you probably never will. But when there is a paying audience watching the game--they don't want to see drills or a scrimmage. They want to see a competitive match between two sides doing their damnedest to win.

  35. MA Soccer, November 23, 2016 at 9:55 a.m.

    This is not HS vs Club it is USSoccer vs HS. Plenty of great clubs that support and encourage HS and club play. US Soccer decision to make an athlete chose HS or an academy proves it does not have enough big thinkers and people who want to fix big problems. Instead of embracing and making HS soccer better they underwrite for profit companies who's mission is to make a profit developing players. My son plays both club and HS soccer (could be on a academy team). There is nothing at the club level, including academy, that approaches the experience of a night playoff game vs a cross town rival. It also drives interest in the sport (when is last time you saw 1000 people at a club game) The community passion and excitement for the sport would grow exponentially if HS was improved not diminished. This is a typical decision by US Soccer taking the easy way out with marginal if any impact to developing world class players and no impact for general good of the game or the millions of recreation players, parents and coaches. It also perpetuates the pay to play model which is a fundamental limiting factor for developing players in US. You could make the case this could be a negative for the Women, who have enjoyed the highest level in current system.
    If we had a true academy program with the best of the best I get it. However on the boys side most academy teams are regional elite teams which clubs use to promote and grow their very profitable business of developing players. How many world class players are in academy systems? How many world class players are growing up or being born in cities that will never get a chance. Think bigger US Soccer grow the popularity of the sport and develop the city player who is the key to competing at high level consistently. You could do both by improving HS and community based soccer.

  36. Nathan Billy, November 23, 2016 at 2:50 p.m.

    One interesting parallel is the difference between club and national team at the professional level. Yes I know at this point they are developed players but big money clubs cringe when their multi million dollar players go play for there countries and risk injury. But Its example of where two different interests co exist. HS and Club could coexist also here in the US. Playing HS is like playing for your local version of a national team except instead of it being the US it Local community XYZ. US Soccer and the HS soccer associations needed to sit down together and come up with a plan that can benefit both groups at the same time. Currently it is perceived that their is a wall between the two groups that needs to be broken down for the benefit of the kids.

  37. MA Soccer, November 23, 2016 at 5:57 p.m.

    Aaron & Fanfor spot on. Show me something that makes sense on a National level implemented in recent history? Academy 10 month schedule? Calendar year? small sided games? (which increased team sizes in many areas already playing 6-6 and 8-8). recommended field sizes 7-7, 9-9 (very difficult to implement)? I could go on. None of it makes sense except it looks like they are doing something and they are not part of the implementation, so it is easy . Typical activity vs results model of low performers.

  38. uffe gustafsson, November 27, 2016 at 8:46 p.m.

    It seems to me that everyone is in an agreement that HS soccer is a good thing, especially for the girls. If US soccer demand that the new label academy teams can't play HS I think they will loose good players. It seem to me that getting on the varsity HS team will still be an important thing for many good and great players.
    I think ecnl have it right. But it's a way for us soccer to compete for ecnl players and sound like they have a better system to reach college soccer.

  39. BJ Genovese, December 6, 2016 at 5:46 p.m.

    USSDA And US soccer has alienated everyone not in there system. In my opinion the real losers are club players who could not join a USSDA for various reasons. The college coaches are giving anyone with a USSDA tag serious looks and spots on there roster. My Son grew up playing club. He was a very very technical player and made several supposedly top programs that I was see would get the attention of some college coaches. I could not be more disappointed in the identification system for college coaches. I have come to the conclusion it's one of two things. They have no ability or desire to ID modern technically sound players or they just could care less about those types of players when they know that to compete in most of there conferences they just need to pick juggernauts that can create a game on both sides that is very similar in essence giving them almost a 50 percent season. Which when nobody cares or comes to your games... is just fine and dandy.

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