Commentary

John Ellinger on U-17 residency: 'I don't think it was ever intended to be there forever'

By Mike Woitalla

In January 1999, the U.S. Soccer Federation created the U-17 national team Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida. The first class of 20 players included Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Oguchi Onyewu and Bobby Convey.

In February of 1999, the John Ellinger-coached U-17s finished second to Jamaica in the first round of U-17 World Cup qualifying, and in May, they beat El Salvador, 10-1, on aggregate in a two-leg playoff series that qualified them for the 1999 U-17 World Cup.

“The idea was to put them in a soccer-saturated environment, and that worked,” said Ellinger, whose 23 years as a teacher prepped him well to oversee the Residency Program, at which the players attended high school from 8 till 2:30 p.m., before heading to afternoon practice. “Having those guys everyday made a big difference. They certainly bonded, and became a very close group, like brothers.”

Ellinger’s team finished fourth at the 1999 U-17 World Cup that November as Donovan won the Golden Ball and Beasley the Silver Ball.

Subsequent Residency Program classes expanded to up to 40 players and 450 players have attended. More than 150 of those players have moved on to MLS or professional leagues in Europe, 33 alums went on to play for the full national team, and 10 made the roster of a U.S. senior World Cup team.

On Friday, U.S. Soccer announced that the current semester of 32 players, the John Hackworth-coached squad that is preparing for the Concacaf qualifying tournament (April 21-May 7 in Panama) for the 2017 U-17 World Cup, would be the last.

“One of our main hopes when establishing the U.S. Soccer Residency Program was that at some point advancements in youth player development would make its existence no longer necessary -- we believe that point has been reached.” U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said. “Not only did the program develop a number of key players for our national teams, it served as a model for academies across the country to follow. With the U.S. Development Academy having achieved high standards in preparing our young athletes, we are now able to impact future American professionals on a much larger scale.”

Not since 1999 has the USA won a knockout-stage game at the U-17 World Cup and in 2013, under Coach Richie Williams, it failed for the first time in history to qualify for the biennial world championship. Williams' 2015 team, which included Christian Pulisic, exited in the first round.

"I don’t think it was ever intended to be there forever," Ellinger said. "Back then, you didn’t have the MLS academies like you have now. You didn’t have those kind of facilities. You didn’t have the kind of infrastructure that you have now. Not just the MLS academies, but the non-MLS DA academies. Coaching’s gotten better every year. More and more ex-players are getting into coaching. That environment didn’t exist back in 1999."

The U.S. Soccer Development Academy, a nationwide league launched in 2007, was designed to take the Residency Program model to the club level and has grown from 63 clubs to 150 with more than 10,000 registered players.

“It’s a bittersweet moment because the program has been invaluable for almost two decades as a critical piece of the development process for U.S. Soccer,” said U-17 national team head coach John Hackworth. “The end of the Residency Program signals the next step in the evolution of player development in this country.

“We will maintain robust U-17 programming to accomplish our goals of providing players with international experience, and qualifying and competing in FIFA U-17 World Cups,” said Hackworth. “We will expand on our work with Development Academy coaches and clubs in order to evaluate players in their home environments on a regular basis."

Hackworth is in his second stint as U-17 coach. He succeeded Ellinger, who coached the USA at the 1999, 2001 and 2003 U-17 World Cups, and coached the USA at the 2005 and 2007 U-17 World Cups. Coach Wilmer Cabrera ran Bradenton through the 2009 and 2011 U-17 World Cups.

“I don’t think I’d be where I am without it,” Jozy Altidore, who was in the Residency Program in 2004-06, told USSoccer.com. “It helped bridge the gap. Having the ability to train everyday with the best players available at the time, it pushed me to be better. I think it was very valuable for me in learning how to be a pro and take that next step as I transitioned into being a professional player.”

The 33 Residency alums who played for the full U.S. national team
Kellyn Acosta, Freddy Adu, Gale Agbossoumonde, Juan Agudelo, Jozy Altidore, Paul Arriola, DaMarcus Beasley, Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Bobby Convey, Landon Donovan, Greg Garza, Eddie Gaven, Luis Gil, Omar Gonzalez, Joe Gyau, Eddie Johnson, Perry Kitchen, Eric Lichaj, Justin Mapp, Chad Marshall, Dax McCarty, Oguchi Onyewu, Heath Pearce, Christian Pulisic, Santino Quaranta, Robbie Rogers, Rubio Rubin, Brek Shea, Jonathan Spector, Danny Szetela, Anthony Wallace.

Bold = played in senior World Cup. (Jonathan Spector was in the 2010 World Cup squad but didn't see action.)

* * * * * * * * * *

Aloys Wijnker is new U.S. Soccer DA director

Aloys Wijnker, the Dutchman who has served as U.S. Soccer Coach Educator since January 2016, is the now Director of the Boys U.S. Soccer Development Academy. He will serve as the “technical lead” of the boys DA, a role played by Director of Scouting, Tony Lepore, since 2008. Lepore will now serve as the Director of U.S. Soccer's newly established Talent Identification Department.

"The focus of the Talent Identification Department will be on improving the quality and quantity of scouts for U.S. Soccer and Development Academy clubs," said Lepore, who joined U.S. Soccer full-time as a Technical Advisor in 2006. "Our plan is to implement a scout education program that will help Development Academy clubs to develop their strategy, methods, planning and networks for identifying players."

Before joining U.S. Soccer, Wijnker was the Academy Director for Dutch club AZ Alkmaar.

"I am very excited to take on this new challenge and join the nation's leading youth development program," said Wijnker. "Our plan is to continue to work closely with Academy Directors and club leaders, providing them with support and education to help our member clubs develop their own identities, philosophies, leadership and talent identification plans. Ultimately, we want our clubs to establish their own technical plans to continue to provide environments that work to develop world-class players."

79 comments about "John Ellinger on U-17 residency: 'I don't think it was ever intended to be there forever'".
  1. Quarterback TD, March 21, 2017 at 9:26 a.m.

    I hope my figures are off but Taking the average cost of IMG in house residency over 17 years is $60000 x # of students 460 x # of years 19 equates to over 500million or 1/2 Billion.. and does not even include all the other perks.. I honestly think it's retarded that any organization will spend that type of money on youth soccer for U17 players.. also USDA MLS teams don't give a darn about creating players for nationals the players they develop are for their own MLS teams.. USSF need to stop sugar coating their deceitful stories...

  2. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, March 21, 2017 at 9:44 a.m.

    Yes your math is off by a lot. Even if it costs $60k a year, that's only $45m, not $500m. It's 40 players per year, not 460. And it may cost less than that per player.

    It clearly is not an ideal solution but one that was needed at the time. Thankfully it is no longer needed because of improvements to our development system.

  3. Quarterback TD replied, March 21, 2017 at 10:13 a.m.

    Fire, it over 17 years so u need to multiply 17 also the it's 460 players.. 450 already passed and another 20 currently finishing.. I gave 10 players as a low value.. so it's 500Million over 17 years IMG may have cost more as they are customizing their facilities for USSF..

  4. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, March 21, 2017 at 11 a.m.

    40 players a year, not 460. It's 40 X 19 X 60000 = $45.6m, not $500m. Come on man!

  5. Goal Goal, March 21, 2017 at 9:59 a.m.

    FPGN I am going to challenge you.

    Name three improvements to our developmental system that has made a difference in the way we identify and develop talent.

  6. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, March 21, 2017 at 11:02 a.m.

    I'm talking about the DA. We have 10,000+ players getting better coaching and playing in a more conducive environment than we previously had. That's the improvement that has made this residency program unnecessary. The DA can, and must, get better (for instance, by making it free or at least more affordable), but it's a huge step forward from what we had before.

  7. don Lamb replied, March 21, 2017 at 11:20 a.m.

    Are you kidding, Fanfor? The fact that MLS academies are making Bradenton obsolete is an obvious sign of MAJOR progress. Then you have all of the other DAs which are an improvement over the incredibly low standards that most travel clubs used to operate under. The player id bitchfest about only picking the biggest, strongest players is largely myth by this point, and that is evident if you actually watch our youth teams play. No question that skill and speed and much more important factors in player id than size and strength. Factor in the fact that MLS is getting younger and playing a lot more homegrown talent than ever before.... If you don't see the progress, then you are either trying to avoid seeing it, or you have some other issues.

  8. Liane Sims replied, March 21, 2017 at 12:24 p.m.

    Fire, Fan is also talking about DA. He said youth development system so DA is included in the conversation. Can you prove we have better coaching now in the DA? Please explain why?

  9. Liane Sims replied, March 21, 2017 at 12:30 p.m.

    Don are you kidding? So we used to only look for size and strength and never for speed? Lol. Do you live in this country or where are you getting this info from? What are the new standards that the DA, MlS and Not, are directly accountable for? By accountable, I mean how does a lack of adequate scouting coaching development directly affect the livelyhood of those involved in these Academies? What level of pressure are they under to develop players? You and Fire keep saying the same things but I just don't see it. There is a Mls Academy that I heard that refuses to look at U16-U18 top talent because they simply have no interest for as their new Academy director main focus is the younger group. Does that sound like someone who is accountable for producing talent?

  10. don Lamb replied, March 21, 2017 at 2:05 p.m.

    Liane - You can recount as many anecdotal stories as you like, but the progress is clear. In addition to the infrastructure that MLS academies have been building, the players are starting to come. There are dozens of teenagers playing professionally. That one fact alone discredits most of what you say because we have never had anywhere close to that number.

  11. Liane Sims replied, March 21, 2017 at 2:53 p.m.

    Don and what is that number and how does it compare to 10-20 years ago per pro team?

  12. don Lamb replied, March 21, 2017 at 4:17 p.m.

    Liane - There are currently 60-something active homegrown players in the league. 33 of those players have been signed within the last year. As of five years ago, there were a handful of homegrown players in the league. The most important thing, however, is the quality of these players. The recent homegrown signings have been playing and making much bigger impacts than the previous generation of homegrown players.

  13. frank schoon, March 21, 2017 at 10:26 a.m.

    Fan, don't even bother with it. Bradenton was a waste of time, if you look at the big picture. As long as US soccer program doesn't initiate a certain style of play that we want to emulate then we're just whistling in the wind, because all the so-called development academies are just teaching programmed technical exercises that has no bearing to how we want to play soccer. How can US soccer possible higher some "paper pooper" at the top to run the show without even having any idea of the style of soccer the US program should emulate....have you read anywhere their focus of what they want as far as style? All I hear about now is that we have developmental academies, WHOOP DE DOO!! It is disjunct, there is no direction toward how to teach the technique in relation to what our style of soccer we want to play. This whole developmental program is too disconnected, to an overall plan

  14. don Lamb replied, March 21, 2017 at 11:31 a.m.

    Frank - Do you have any actual knowledge of what is going on with the current state of player development? Or are you just coming up with ideas based on articles here and your upbringing in Holland?

  15. frank schoon replied, March 21, 2017 at 11:52 a.m.

    Don, tell me , what is the actual style of soccer the US soccer program wants to emulate and what are the specific technical quantifications related to that. And BTW,one my boys ,very technical and soccer savvy that I worked with personally for about 8years was with in the DC United Academy left it due to his size and speed...

  16. Liane Sims replied, March 21, 2017 at 12:35 p.m.

    Ussf has shown to have little to no control of what style it's own DA clubs should play. Don must have not been to the countless DA games I have been to. No creative attacking style. No players standing out because all told to follow their script. The focus is clearly tactical defending but not very good at that either. These kids don't know how to even counter efficiently. DA is just another name given to the same clubs with the same ideas and the same nonexistent ambitions because they have the same nonurgency to develop.

  17. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, March 21, 2017 at 12:58 p.m.

    The notion that we should have one identical style played by every team everywhere at every level in the country is absurd.

  18. Liane Sims replied, March 21, 2017 at 2:55 p.m.

    Not one exact style but certainly a style that promotes attacking and creativity. The difference between making the big bucks and not. The difference between having a showcasing team and not. The difference between gaining popularity and not.

  19. Bob Ashpole replied, March 21, 2017 at 5:02 p.m.

    I give points to USSF for trying, but the reality is that USSF is focused on training one inflexible "formation" and not style of play. What passes for style is a 433 with a 6, 8, and 10 and a required shape. It is a bit like trying to play tiki taka by rote instead of creatively.

  20. frank schoon replied, March 22, 2017 at 10:47 a.m.

    Don, another BS answer another clever evasion from you. You can't answer the question. Well you just proved my original statement" There is no direction toward how to teach the technique in relation to what our style of soccer we want to play. This whole developmental program is too disconnected" and " As long as US soccer program doesn't initiate a certain style of play that we want to emulate then we're just whistling in the wind, because all the so-called development academies are just teaching programmed technical exercises that has no bearing to how we want to play soccer." Your cute little response to this was "Do you have any actual knowledge of what is going on with the current state of player development?'
    I do have knowledge on player development, much more than you will ever know, after all that is what I did/do for a living for 40years. And it isn't difficult to understand the state of technical progress by watching soccer to understand what level a player is at, BUT YOU DON"T!
    Your answer is "Why are you so hung up on this movement being "mandated" by some centrally governed power? Read article again here is a quote from it referring to centralization" It served as a model for academies across the country to follow. With the U.S. Development Academy having achieved high standards in preparing our young athletes, we are now able to impact future American professionals on a much larger scale." And BTW , I didn't ask for document specs. But that is a clever way of evading my question for you don't have a clue of how style is connected to technical development...

  21. Brian McLindsay replied, March 23, 2017 at 1:56 p.m.

    The idea of leaving players in their home environment and having a better scouting group is a good evolution for the USSF. The system as it has been, has often allowed the local club coaches to be the deciders of talent and the desired playing style, which would naturally lead to players that are similar to the selecting coaches style of play, it's only human nature. Add to that natural selection bias the fact we are choosing players at U12 now to be sequestered into the “elite” program where the decision maker(s) often take great ownership in an individual player and clubs are highly incentivised to never remove/move a player from the DA program once they enter it (you want to see a really hot pay-to-play parent), and you have a system which cannot find the correct players on a consistant basis or develop a national playing style. If the USSF uses only a portion of the funds saved in closing the U17 program to help subsidize club teams that can be built around individual identified players, where both style and technical ability can be nurtured rather than selected and not grouped as the DA program currently does, you could avoid a number of issues we now see. Visualize parents at a ptp club being offered an opportunity to be on a team with one or two identified developmental players at a fraction of the cost they would normally pay, with the opportunity for their player to be regularly seen by better trained USSF scouts when on the field with those developmental players. I am fairly sure you would have no problem finding the support players for the team, particularly if you can offer the higher quality coaches for that team. The clubs would also benefit, as the majority of player parents will not feel overlooked by the DA program, as they do now with the segregated program and the USSF benefits by having complete teams created for the development of one or two players rather than a team full of those who themselves need specific developmental work.

  22. Matthew Arnold, March 21, 2017 at 10:31 a.m.

    They are still looking for bigger, faster, stronger. They identify talent (or at least athleticism) at a particular age and ride that horse regardless of the outcome or change in performance. No other players are given a chance. Not that they would no talent if it bit them in the butt. ODP is as political as ever. Our area send the same team to the regional camp and round robin and get beaten badly every year. Of Course, the kids parents are the ones helping the coaching staff. Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity!
    I have a hard time watching the national team. Using brute force instead of beautiful play to win what games they do win.
    Why I'm sending my son to an Academy in Spain. May work out or may not. At least he won't be trained by American coaches.

  23. frank schoon replied, March 21, 2017 at 10:51 a.m.

    MATTHEW, if you got the money ..that is the right approach. But one suggestion, if your son is that serious than let him take the initiative to be able to pass, dribble , and shoot with either foot. Let him work on it himself. He should spend 2-3 hours a week doing that.....

  24. don Lamb replied, March 21, 2017 at 11:32 a.m.

    Matthew - ODP is every bit as obsolete as Bradenton. Yet another sign of progress...

  25. frank schoon replied, March 21, 2017 at 12:03 p.m.

    Don, talk about progress...Have you watched 'Gerald Vanenburg-Van Straat tot Stadion(1984). He was a 17year old talent at Ajax. Take a look at his Technical expertise and speed,since after all it is so long ago. This was almost close to 40years ago. I have yet to see anyone with his technical talent today or as fast in his footwork in the MLS. Skip through the interviews

  26. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, March 21, 2017 at 12:59 p.m.

    No we haven't watched a video about some kid thirty years ago, mainly because it is in Dutch and none of us speak that language but you. Please explain its relevance to this article or to anything that appears on this site. Thanks.

  27. don Lamb replied, March 21, 2017 at 2:14 p.m.

    Thanks for the laugh, Frank. That dude looks like he was a nice player, but that defending was also mostly comical. Nagbe, Luciano Acosta, Mauro Diaz, Piatti, Higuain, and many many more in MLS are comparable in terms of skill and creativity.

  28. frank schoon replied, March 21, 2017 at 3 p.m.

    Don, (defense?) obviously you haven't seen the whole video because the statement about defense doesn't jell. But besides that there is not a kid playing today at his age 17(40years) that can even come close to his abilities. You really have no clue when it comes to really understanding technique. Oh btw, you still haven't answered my question, since you are so up on development, what style has US soccer chosen to emulate and what are some of the technical quantifications as far developing and supporting this style of play

  29. don Lamb replied, March 21, 2017 at 4:21 p.m.

    The US has most definitely adopted a possession based attacking style. The thing is, we won't actually see this for another few years because the players currently at the senior level are not as technical as this next crop coming up. This group of 17s, the previous group of 17s, and the previous group of 20s have shown that this is the case. Have you watched any of those teams play? We are talking about players like Hyndman, Pulisic, de la Torre, Carleton, Durkin, McKinnie, etc. This trend is only going to continue...

  30. frank schoon replied, March 21, 2017 at 6:17 p.m.

    Don, possession style? really, than tell me some of the technical qualifications that you notice with this style and who mandated this particular focus of style and what are the developmental aspects of it.

  31. don Lamb replied, March 21, 2017 at 10:03 p.m.

    Honestly, I think this has been "mandated" by the public. The accessibility of being able to watch the game at a high level on almost a daily basis has educated the soccer consumer a great deal. Watching teams like Barca, Real, Bayern, etc. on a regular basis has shown the masses how the world's best play the game. You saw it when Klinsmann was hired -- he said all of the right things, and there is a good chance that is because he knew that is what the soccer enthusiasts craved. You see with a much different emphasis on the type of players that MLS is targeting, too -- many more South and Central Americans, and many more technical players. I can see it with the youth national teams as well in the preference to play 433 and with the inclusion of players who can keep the ball.

  32. frank schoon replied, March 22, 2017 at 9:10 a.m.

    Don, "Honestly", I've asked you 3 times to point out some of the technical qualifications that the US soccer developmental program has instituted , and WHO has given that directive to uniformly apply this in the developmental training/coaching manner in order to support the style US soccer wants to emulated. And you have come up with nothing.You simply don't have a clue. You try to BS your way around. Your answer 'the public has mandated it because they watch high level soccer on TV. This is laughable and it has nothing to do about what I've asked you 3 times prior. You are trying to explain with causality and I'm asking you what are the "specs" of the process. This is why I don't like to converse with you when it comes to finer technical aspects of the game, because you're clueless.
    "Possession style" as opposed to "Non Possession style", LOL. All teams don't want to lose ball, but you call that a style. You don't even know what style is referred to. That is why I don't like talking to you because I have to go back to the basics first and explain other things and waste my time and won't do that any more. But let me say this and keep it simple for you,since you brought this up. There is nothing "mandated by the public"?, the US soccer has hired professionals,the licensed "paper poopers" to run their program , who decide what should happen in their soccer program of development. That we bring in Central and South American players because we want to improve our quality of soccer (which is sorely needed)has a ring a truth to it but more importantly it is all about the money for they are cheaper than getting a European players.

  33. don Lamb replied, March 22, 2017 at 10:07 a.m.

    Frank - Why are you so hung up on this movement being "mandated" by some centrally governed power? US Soccer, MLS clubs, DA clubs, etc. all have documents that would show you the "specs" that you are looking for. I haven't answered that question because it is pointless. It is much more powerful when the movement is being ignited by lots and lots of organizations and the general public than if it were "mandated" from one central organization. If you were actually in the field, you would see that the movement is happening on tons of different levels.

  34. frank schoon replied, March 22, 2017 at 11:46 a.m.

    Don, another BS answer another clever evasion from you. You can't answer the question. Well you just proved my original statement" There is no direction toward how to teach the technique in relation to what our style of soccer we want to play. This whole developmental program is too disconnected" and " As long as US soccer program doesn't initiate a certain style of play that we want to emulate then we're just whistling in the wind, because all the so-called development academies are just teaching programmed technical exercises that has no bearing to how we want to play soccer." Your cute little response to this was "Do you have any actual knowledge of what is going on with the current state of player development?' I do have knowledge on player development, much more than you will ever know, after all that is what I did/do for a living for 40years. And it isn't difficult to understand the state of technical progress by watching soccer to understand what level a player is at, BUT YOU DON"T! Your answer is "Why are you so hung up on this movement being "mandated" by some centrally governed power? Read article again here is a quote from it referring to centralization" It served as a model for academies across the country to follow. With the U.S. Development Academy having achieved high standards in preparing our young athletes, we are now able to impact future American professionals on a much larger scale." And BTW , I didn't ask for document specs. But that is a clever way of evading my question for you don't have a clue of how style is connected to technical development...

  35. don Lamb replied, March 22, 2017 at 3:20 p.m.

    Frank - Why don't you be our savior and tell us what the mandate should be? I am sure you will have it complete in a couple of paragraphs, and then we will be on our way to producing a hundred Messis. If only we had a mandate from some almighty, omniscient organization, then everything regarding player development would be solved! Seriously though, are you talking about the ssg type of mandates? I guess I don't know what you're talking about when you look for a mandate to tell everyone how to play. If you are looking for something that gives people a blueprint for developing world class players, it is not that simple.

  36. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, March 22, 2017 at 5:56 p.m.

    Don, according to Frank, Messi is a "very limited" player so we need to do better than 100 of him.

  37. frank schoon replied, March 22, 2017 at 11:12 p.m.

    DON, Sorry , accept my apologies , I didn't mean to get so testy with you....

  38. Liane Sims replied, March 23, 2017 at 11:19 a.m.

    Frank we live in a country full of experts where almost all at one point said that Adu would be the next Pele and was better than Messi in a game they played each other back when they were teenagers. Think about that.

  39. frank schoon replied, March 23, 2017 at 11:44 a.m.

    Liane, I agree with you...I remember ADU, I was never really impressed with him. But the American fan is so hard up to look for one of their own to be a big star and as a result tend to over judge the capabilities of a player..

  40. frank schoon, March 21, 2017 at 10:46 a.m.

    Hey Guys, Here is quote from our Dear Leader "Commander Paper Pooper",Our plan is to continue to work closely with Academy Directors and club leaders, providing them with support and education ". This quote could come from a Superintendent of Public Schools applying for a job, if you didn't know it was about soccer. Do you actually think a Beckenbauer or a Cruyff or a Guardiola would talk like that if they ran the show.
    This is the problem, we have professorial types running the show and you can tell by just how they talk. These types can whip up a mean seminar for a coaching class, group presentations and lead meetings galore. They look good in their presentation, and expressing their ideas with a nice methodology, but don't ask these types to chest trap a ball for the numbers on the back of their jersey would fall off. TALK ABOUT DRAINING THE SWAMP!!!

  41. Goal Goal, March 21, 2017 at 11:31 a.m.

    Still challenging. Have you attended any of the DA showcases in the last couple of years. I was in Dallas last year and I am going to tell you I was very disappointed in what I saw. Couple of teams playing the pass but everyone else kicking the cover off the ball. When a player who was skilled and went one on one with the someone getting the job done the remaining part of the game he was in the sites of the rest of the players and they were just continually taken down. The worst is there was very few calls for obvious violations by the refs. FP if you think these clubs as a whole are providing better coaching either I or you are missing something. That is verified by the poor play we see on the field.

  42. Ginger Peeler replied, March 21, 2017 at 2:58 p.m.

    Fanfor... I know how discouraging it is to watch the better players on the field getting hammered. My daughter used to wear in knee braces. During one tournament, opposing players from more than one team were keying on her knees. Of course, it's bad when a coach lets his players do that, it it's absolutely inexcusable for the referees to allow it. Obviously, you were watching some games with very poor refs. I sat in on a couple sessions years ago when my daughter was taking the referee's course. One of the instructors was very emphatic when she told the class that one of the main responsibilities of the referee is to protect the players. She pointed out that you'll usually be able to spot the better players early on in the game and that it's very important to see that they aren't repeatedly and needlessly fouled. You watched some games with the kids "playing to the whistle".

  43. Ginger Peeler replied, March 21, 2017 at 3:09 p.m.

    I see it in MLS games, too. Within the first 10 minutes of the game, players have tested the referee to see how much he'll allow and what they can get away with. Some refs call offending players over for a nice "don't do that" chat. Useless! I always liked it when the ref had a talk with each team before the start of the game to let them know he would be watching them carefully for fouls...and then calling them during play and distributing cards as necessary. Certainly, you should call or write the MLS-sponsored DA team to voice your concerns. AND contact the local referee association that was calling the tournament and let them know their refs aren't calling dangerous play. They sometimes forget that the lifetime health of a player may be at stake.

  44. Matthew Arnold, March 21, 2017 at 12:34 p.m.

    Frank,
    I'm not sure how to respond directly to your response. So I started a new thread.

    He has already put in the work. He is 17. Plays for a little developmental club in Columbus Ohio. Was invited to the Crew Academy and they were so disorganized it wasn't funny. Kids didn't show up for training sessions because they didn't feel like it. The OP Green team that won at National League two weeks ago wants him, but the only thing it would give him is exposure. He was an all region selection in High School and probably should have been an All American last year.
    He will graduate this summer from High School to allow him to start University in August.
    It's a small club in Spain, but they have put more faith in him than anyone in US Youth soccer ever has. That was just after a two week trial in February. Having trained with the Crew and with the Academy in Spain it wasn't even close from my son's opinion.
    Don't really have the money. We are getting fundraisers in the works, but he has wanted to play professionally since he was 8. He has trained hard, year round and sacrificed a lot of his child hood to get to this point. Can't let the opportunity pass.

  45. Goal Goal replied, March 21, 2017 at 12:49 p.m.

    Have you gone through the process for European Citizenship.

  46. frank schoon replied, March 21, 2017 at 1:42 p.m.

    Matthew, 'he has put in the work" what does that mean? Can he cross the ball with either foot, can he kick the ball with his instep with either foot, how 'bout passing the ball with the outside of either foot. How good is he dribbling the ball with his weak foot under pressure. How dribbling 109yards and then passing the ball long in a diagonal path landing between two flags(4yards apart) about 45yards away, either foot? How someone 10yards away passing the ball on the ground to him and he executing a one-touch pass back in the air over a set of flags 3-4 yards behind the passer landing right behind the flag. He need to alternate the outside of the foot and the inside of instep. (later he should try it with the weak foot). Having personally trained for 40years , I'm willing to bet he'll have problems with it. Is he able to trap a long, high ball, a la kicked out of hands of goalie, dead. BTW. Do watch
    "Gerald Vanenburg- Van Straat Tot Stadion(1984) , fast forward the interviews. You'll like it and it is very inspirational for him. I've used this video since it came back in the 80's for kids of all ages. This Vanenburg (17years old) tape can give him some ideas as well. here is so much can do work on, for none of the kids work on it.

  47. Matthew Arnold replied, March 22, 2017 at 10:13 a.m.

    NOT YELLING. JUST TRYING TO SEPARATE THE ANSWERS.
    Matthew, 'he has put in the work" what does that mean? TOUCHES THE BALL EVERYDAY. TRAINS 3 TIMES A WEEK IN SEASON AND WINTER. 5 DAYS A WEEK IN THE SUMMER. PLAYS PICK UP GAMES 3 TIMES A WEEK IN THE WINTER AND 5 DAYS A WEEK IN THE SUMMER. NOT AGAINST GUYS HIS OWN AGE, BUT WITH GUYS 3-6 YEARS OLDER. HAS BEEN DOING THIS SINCE HE WAS 12 OR 13 YEARS OLD.
    Can he cross the ball with either foot,YES can he kick the ball with his instep with either foot,YES how 'bout passing the ball with the outside of either foot.YES How good is he dribbling the ball with his weak foot under pressure. CAN DO IT, HOWEVER HAS TO TRUST IT MORE. How dribbling 109yards and then passing the ball long in a diagonal path landing between two flags(4yards apart) about 45yards away, HAVE NEVER TRIED TO HAVE HIM DO THAT. HELL, OUR NATIONAL TEAM PLAYERS CAN'T DO THAT. either foot? How someone 10yards away passing the ball on the ground to him and he executing a one-touch pass back in the air over a set of flags 3-4 yards behind the passer landing right behind the flag. NEVER DONE, BUT PROBABLY COULD He need to alternate the outside of the foot and the inside of instep. (later he should try it with the weak foot). Having personally trained for 40years , I'm willing to bet he'll have problems with it. PROBABLY NOT AS MUCH AS YOU WOULD LIKE TO THINK. AGAIN OUR NATIONAL TEAM HAS PROBLEMS WITH THIS. HIS SUMMER TRAINING IS SKILL WORK, BUT IS ALL JUGGLING. Is he able to trap a long, high ball, a la kicked out of hands of goalie, dead. HE HAS PRETTY GOOD FIRST TOUCH. HAVEN'T SEEN A PLAYER THAT DOESN'T NEED TO WORK ON THAT. BTW. Do watch "Gerald Vanenburg- Van Straat Tot Stadion(1984) , fast forward the interviews. You'll like it and it is very inspirational for him. I've used this video since it came back in the 80's for kids of all ages. This Vanenburg (17years old) tape can give him some ideas as well. here is so much can do work on, for none of the kids work on it.
    HE WAS NOT TRAINED BY AMERICANS. HIS COACH IS FROM BARBADOS (PLAYED FOR THE NATIONAL TEAM), HIS MENTOR IS FROM HAITI ( MAGIC CELESTIAN ON YOUTUBE) AND CLUB DIRECTOR IS JAMAICAN.

  48. frank schoon replied, March 22, 2017 at 11:42 a.m.

    Matthew, "HELL, OUR NATIONAL TEAM PLAYERS CAN'T DO THAT". That is EXACTLY my point! First of all did you notice the technical exercises I brought up were very specific and the reason for that is when the player gets older ,around your son's age, technique becomes more focused as related to the position he plays as well what is MOST FUNCTIONAL .So how can he separate himself from the other players his age is by being able to execute these basics ,but very difficult under pressure and under game conditions. Did you watch, U20mens , USA vs Mexico a couple of weeks ago. Did you notice the crosses in the first half, for example, coming from the left side were HORRIBLE!!! I don't think the ball even left the ground. An election of a Simple cross ,Right! but so bad.
    The dribbling 109 yards should 10 yards,LOL.and then give a diagonal passes 40yards between 2 flags space about 3yards apart. The pass need to be in the but land between the 2flags. Why this exercise? because soccer relies a lot on diagonal balls ,switching the field of play in order to change attack to the week side. This is a must to have and how few can do that. When is the last you have an outside attempt this..ZERO, because they are not confident, although it be executed more by an outside halfback. Again it looks like a simple pass but in order for your son to stand out, from the others HE NEEDS TO WORK ON THAT. It is good that your son works out a lot, but it his age now it needs a FUNCTIONAL purpose. When is the last time you have an outside back receive a ball from the goalie or center back and he faced all of sudden with an opponent 5yards in front him then passes the ball back to the goalie to the center back ; instead of passing the ball over the head of the opponent dropping to the ball the next station, his teammate behind the opponent. (left or right foot). That is the exercise with the short pass over the flags. IF he plays pick up games then do it with a purpose in mind, let him try to play with his only his weak foot ONLY, dribbling ,passing, receiving the ball. Don't play for fun but with purpose in order to learn. Another exercise is to place 6or 7 flags in a straight line of a distance of the corner flag to the goal, for example. The let him kick the ball in a STRAIGHT LINE , following the flags ,the ball's flight waist high, and alternate to the other side along the other side of the flags. This will teach him the kick a ball in a straight line, don't let the ball cross over the other side. He needs to control the direction of his kicks. Another one get a couple hula hoops , hang them on the baseball diamond fence, about a yard off of the ground, then aim to shoot the ball at the hoops, later try dribbling and shooting, aiming at a hoops...It is good he's had training with foreigners but then again the exercises I mentioned had nothing to do with foreigners or American training but technical aspects of the game that transcends culture but functional things.

  49. frank schoon replied, March 22, 2017 at 12:17 p.m.

    Matthew..this spell check is driving me nuts, if constantly influencing my writing. I have the same problem whenever I write Dutch... For example I wrote execute and I got "election". On the diagonal pass, the ball should be in the air above the heads of the players and then let if land between the flags. The pass of the outside back for example going over the head of the opponent just enough to let it land to the next station feet. This could be a 15yard pass or so. On the hoola hoops try placing some flags 5yards in front and then aim a nice touch pass going over the flags and land in the hoop. I was working with a college player from William and Mary using that drill...and the first thing he notice the lack of touch on the ball for it went way to hard. Another exercise is to dribble the ball 10 yards,stop then attempt a square pass about 40 yards across, place 2 flags. Notice what happens

  50. Liane Sims, March 21, 2017 at 12:41 p.m.

    Im curious is to why Don and Fire are so quick to write off what all of us have seen and lived with the DA and overall system? Kind of makes you wonder.

  51. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, March 21, 2017 at 1:02 p.m.

    I'm not disputing that the DA system is far from perfect or that improvements are needed to it in many aspects (coaching, player ID, affordability etc.) but it is clearly better than what we had 10-20 years ago. Progress is being made, that's what Don and I are saying. Neither of us is saying that we are done and don't need to progress any further.

  52. Liane Sims, March 21, 2017 at 12:44 p.m.

    Frank, check out the "What They Are Saying: Nelson Rodriguez" thread about the Chicago Fire acquiring Bastian S. For 1 year and calling it "raising the standard".

  53. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, March 21, 2017 at 1:06 p.m.

    And of course, you are talking about the worst team (and most backwards) in MLS over the past several seasons. If every team operating like the Fire, you'd have a point. But that isn't the case.

  54. frank schoon replied, March 21, 2017 at 1:43 p.m.

    Liane , i'll check it out. Thanks

  55. frank schoon replied, March 21, 2017 at 1:58 p.m.

    Liane, the way develop is to have mix of old and new. Young players need guidance and the only way is to have experienced players. One player is not enough. They should have one in the backfield one in the midfield and one up frontline. Without the old the new won't ever learn the ropes, the discipline , the short cut, tactics, and why's. Cruyff learned a lot from the older players when he began as a young pro. A team should not buy one old player but at least 3, if they are interested in teaching the young MLS players....

  56. frank schoon replied, March 21, 2017 at 2:15 p.m.

    Liane, I don't like this mercenary approach of Chicago. But it is more of a reflection of the MLS if they want to improve the level of play, they need to hire more older players and tie them down for at least 2years out of . don't like to watch MLS soccer but will watch if there is a good foreign player out there regardless if he's 80years old. Just look at Henry before he retired how an old guy looks so good and makes it looks so simple.

  57. don Lamb replied, March 21, 2017 at 2:18 p.m.

    Liane - Of course you point to this one signing and cherry pick it to make a bigger implication that is false. Of the 100 or so new players that MLS has signed this season, almost none of them are over 30. I'd think a 32 year old with the track record of Schweinsteiger might be the type of player that could help an MLS team out. And, the one year contract allows them to fully determine how healthy he is and how much of an impact he can make before offering him something longer term.

  58. Liane Sims replied, March 21, 2017 at 3:02 p.m.

    I have nothing against Bastian or even hiring him for a year. What I have a problem with is no real effort on the other side of this program which is youth development. There is no one developed by Fire for Bastian to help mentor. It's nothing more than a patch job. The worst team in Mls? Sure but Mls is a single entity which means it can dictate more than any league what the Fire does on the development side.

  59. Liane Sims replied, March 21, 2017 at 3:46 p.m.

    Don and Fire, I had no idea Chicago Fire were the worst team in Mls. Can you give me names of all the Mls clubs that are doing the right thing development wise?

  60. don Lamb replied, March 21, 2017 at 4:13 p.m.

    Liane - Chicago have a couple of big prospects. Djordje Mihailovic seems to the most highly regarded -- I am not familiar with him, but he is an 18 year old central midfielder. He has one appearance so far this season and seems to be in line for some minutes in order to get his professional feet wet. As to your point of which MLS clubs are doing it right, most are taking serious steps to get to where we need them to be. This link shows all of the active homegrown players in the league: http://www.mlssoccer.com/glossary/homegrown-player. Standouts are Carleton, Trapp, K. Acosta, Ferreira, Pomykal, Gonzalez, Arellano, Zardes, Tabla, Fagundez, Adams, S. Davis, Ettienne, Jones, Glad, Saucedo, Lima, Thompson, Morris, Palmer-Brown, Davies. Many of these guys were just signed within the last year.

  61. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, March 21, 2017 at 5:44 p.m.

    When I say Chicago are the worst team in MLS I was relying upon the standings the past two seasons. Check it out - you will find Chicago firmly at the bottom in both 2015 and 2016.

  62. Liane Sims replied, March 21, 2017 at 6:39 p.m.

    I was talking solely about development about Fire and you said it was easy to pick on the worst team in the league. Does being at the bottom of the table go hand in hand with not being good in the developmental department?

  63. don Lamb replied, March 21, 2017 at 9:53 p.m.

    Liane - There does seem to be a correlation between youth development and success in the standings. And, given the length of time that the Fire franchise has been around, I don't think it's a stretch to say that they are among the 2-3 worst.

  64. Goal Goal, March 21, 2017 at 12:51 p.m.

    MLS is a grave yard and money pit for players being put out to pasture in Europe and surrounding planets. I don't quite understand the MLS and its intent. The amount of money they spend on youth soccer is minimal. Whats the catch.

  65. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, March 21, 2017 at 1:05 p.m.

    Some clubs do it better than others. As a RBNY supporter I've seen a number of young players come through the academy to the first team. Matt Miazga went to Chelsea, Matthew Olosunde signed with Man U and is playing in their EPL 2 this year at age 18. Alex Muyl, Derrick Etienne, Tyler Adams all have progressed to the first team and will be important members of the first team this year. And this is from an academy system that was only set up a few years ago. Dallas has done even better. What we need is every MLS club operating at that level. It will happen but patience is needed. This kind of infrastructure doesn't spring up over night.

  66. don Lamb replied, March 21, 2017 at 2:21 p.m.

    Fanfor - This comment totally exposes you as completely uninformed. MLS signed dozens of players this season and almost none of them were over the age of 30. Many of them came from South America. Many of them are creative types and shorter in stature.

  67. Bob Ashpole replied, March 22, 2017 at 11:18 p.m.

    To understand you need to think about TV executives and advertisers and names that they would recognize. Most people don't play soccer and don't have a sophisticated appreciation for the game, but they do recognize the advertising value of big names.

  68. Goal Goal, March 21, 2017 at 2:42 p.m.

    Don Lamb you are right and I am not questioning that. Fire Paul gave a great example with Dallas. They have an outstanding program top to bottom and. And they spend money on the Academy. If you think MLS soccer is the way it should be played more power to you and enjoy. I don't and I can't.

    MLS is a grave yard for European players.

  69. Liane Sims, March 21, 2017 at 3:05 p.m.

    Don and Fire, this interview pretty much saids it all 100% on point. Take the time. http://343coaching.com/podcast/soccer-by-3four3/american-coach-creating-pathways-american-players-europe/

  70. don Lamb replied, March 21, 2017 at 4:25 p.m.

    I'll check it out. If the premise is that MLS is not a good place for young players, and Europe is much better, then there is a ton of recent evidence that suggests that that is not true.

  71. Liane Sims replied, March 21, 2017 at 4:38 p.m.

    No. This interview talks about the proccess of development compared to Europe. Seem very honest comparisons to me. One of them that stood out to me was the fact that a player can't just pick the Mls club he wants to play for even on the basis that his hometown club doesnt play the style that would benefit his play or even if this player's position is of no need to that Mls club. This is probably why we dont see Mls scouts at any events. What is odd to me is we see no Mls scouts at any local venues. Not even the top leagues or tourneys. This is conpletely opposite to Europe or Mexico. Kids are scouted at 12 there.

  72. don Lamb replied, March 21, 2017 at 4:58 p.m.

    MLS clubs have partnerships with local and regional clubs around them. They can listen to the recommendation of another coach and then go see that player in training. Better yet, they can have that player come train with them. I'll listen to the podcast, but the differences might not be as vast as you think. Kids in Europe play for their local club just like kids here do. Of course, there are many more professional clubs there, but where a kid ends up playing usually has little do with their actual style of play -- they play for the highest profile team they can get to regardless of if that team is FC Barcelona or Stoke City.

  73. Liane Sims replied, March 21, 2017 at 6:46 p.m.

    Don, I live in a Mls city and I know exactly how these partnerships are handled. Those partnerships are nothing more than local pay to play clubs that pay a close to $100 per player membership fee per year for permission to use that Mls partnership name to market. Thats it. These clubs have to charge more to make up for that additional fee and tag on some more to take advantage of membership. Nothing to do with development or identification of better talent. That is not what proffessional clubs all over the world identify talent. That would be the worst possible way to rely on new talent to come in the club if in fact that is a major emphasis of the club. As the podcast saids, in Europe, scouts are always on the hunt for talent. We are no where near this level.

  74. don Lamb replied, March 21, 2017 at 9:56 p.m.

    Teams obviously have different strengths and weaknesses. Maybe the Fire operates that way, but I know for a fact that others are having more success. If done correctly, partnering with other local clubs is much more efficient than scouting. That said, scouting is important, and I just read an article yesterday about how most MLS teams are ramping up there scouting departments, although mostly abroad. That is just another part of the development of the league that takes time. Scouting is only important if you have other pieces of the infrastructure in place.

  75. Liane Sims replied, March 22, 2017 at 12:08 p.m.

    Fair enough. I just wonder how many more Mls teams operate the same and why Mls allows it. Correctly? Pay to play targets a few and usually not the best. Dont see what is correct about Mls involvement with that and banking on it. I read the same article and have yet to read something about heavier scouting in each Mls city at the very least.

  76. don Lamb, March 22, 2017 at 10:20 p.m.

    Liane - Listened to the podcast... I admire him for what he's doing, but he is also a little bit naive. First of all to think that what he is doing is special. There are lots of Americans in Europe trying to get players over there. It's just really fing difficult, for a litany of reasons. I also think that he grossly underrates how quickly MLS is growing and evolving. He said that we are unlikely to see another Jordan Morris, he followed almost the same route that DeAndre Yedlin and Gyasi Zardes did. And guys like Nick Lima Alex Crognale are currently following suit this year. Other college players like Matt Polster, Steve Birnbaum, Kyle Larin, etc. have done really well despite the degradation of the draft by the host. Kephern says over and over that teens aren't looking to make the first team in MLS, but there are a bunch of teenagers who have been breaking through over the first three weeks of this season. The fact of the matter is that the US player is developing better and in more ways than ever before -- the DA, NCAA, MLS, USL, are all playing a role, even if each have their limitations. Yet this guy seems to have completely given up on the US development system. Props to him for moving with his family to Holland -- that might give him an interesting perspective, but it hardly makes him an expert.

  77. Liane Sims replied, March 23, 2017 at 1:58 a.m.

    What makes you more knowledgeable than him.

  78. don Lamb replied, March 23, 2017 at 8:01 a.m.

    I did not say I was. But nothing he said was news to me.

  79. Bob Ashpole, March 23, 2017 at 6:08 p.m.

    Probably this is unnecessary, but I wanted to say that this has been the best discussion on this forum I have had the pleasure of reading in a long time. Thank you everyone for your contributions.

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