U.S. Soccer-bashing overlooks the rise of a promising new generation of players

World Cup qualifying for the USA is supposed to be like a movie with enough drama, action and intriguing characters to keep us entertained even though we know it’s heading toward a happy ending.

It’s a predictable script because the USA has been a fixture at the World Cup for so long we couldn’t imagine it missing the great quadrennial sporting event.

The USA has played in more World Cups in the last three decades than England, France, the Netherlands, Russia, Portugal or Colombia.

Goalkeeper Tim Howard was the only starter against Trinidad & Tobago alive the last time the USA failed to qualify for a World Cup -- the 1986 edition.

But this time we got a twist ending. The Hexagonal meets “Twilight Zone.” The USA loses. Honduras and Panama pull off comeback wins over Mexico and Costa Rica. Three results -- which included two own goals and a goal awarded when the ball never crossed the line -- that spell doom for the USA.

A shocking, nightmare ending. A dark day for American soccer. Calls for a complete overhaul of the U.S. game. Listen to or read some of the rants and it seems everyone in American soccer has been getting everything wrong, especially the U.S. Soccer Federation.

But how bad is it really? Unacceptable as it is for the USA to miss the World Cup, does this mean that there has been no progress?

For however miserable the qualifying campaign turned out, the performance of the leading man reminds us that not all is dire.

The 19-year-old Christian Pulisic, the best player on the field in Trinidad, had a hand in 12 of the USA’s 17 goals in the final round of qualifying, scoring five, assisting or involved in the buildup on seven others.

Two years ago, Pulisic was playing for the U.S. U-17 national team and he’s not the only sign that the development of exceptionally talented players has accelerated in the USA.

The 19-year-old defensive midfielder Weston McKennie, a product of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy program at FC Dallas, has won a starting job at Schalke 04, where he lines up alongside national team players from Germany, Ukraine, Switzerland, Serbia and Brazil.

New Yorker Tyler Adams, a U-17 World Cup teammate of Pulisic’s, is starting for the New York Red Bulls. The 18-year-old who also played for the USA at the 2017 U-20 World Cup was instrumental in the Red Bulls reaching this season’s playoffs.

The 18-year-old midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez, a part of the U.S. national team youth program since U-14s, is starting for Liga MX first-place club Monterrey.

St. Louis product Josh Sargent signed a contract with Bundesliga club Werder Bremen before leaving for the U-17 World Cup in India this month, and six of his teammates have already signed MLS contracts.

The recent rise of American teens into professional soccer is unprecedented, and although we don’t know how many will turn into top level players who prevent another World Cup qualifying debacle, it’s an encouraging trend: MLS signing teens and foreign clubs courting American youngsters like never before.

The failure in Trinidad may have unleashed raging anger at U.S. Soccer, but one cannot deny that its launch of the Development Academy (DA) 10 years ago is starting to show results.

U.S. Soccer can solve some problems in American soccer, but not all and not all at once.

Pay-to-play has been a uniquely American and significant impediment to becoming a soccer power. But the DA has vastly increased opportunities for lower-income players to climb the ladder and has made U.S. elite youth soccer more diverse.

While MLS clubs subsidize their DA programs so players don’t have to pay, U.S. Soccer’s financial aid program has paid out more than $2 million in DA scholarship funds. Non-MLS clubs have also increased scholarship funding for their players over the years to remain competitive in the DA. U.S. Soccer’s nationwide training centers to identify players with youth national team potential are cost-free.

U.S. Soccer may not have solved the pay-to-play problem – any parent in America knows that there’s a business out there pouncing to capitalize on any endeavor your child may pursue – but it has taken steps that its detractors often do not acknowledge.

One thing to keep in mind as we cope with the disappointment of missing the 2018 World Cup and point out all the problems with youth soccer is that, traditionally, U.S. Soccer played a limited role in the youth game. It managed the youth national team programs but left most everything else to the various youth organizations.

It was in 2007, one year after Sunil Gulati was elected U.S. Soccer president, that the Federation started to invest heavily and have greater influence on youth soccer.

It may have turned out to be a longer-term project than we had wished, but not all the factors are under U.S. Soccer’s control. It’s only recently that MLS began fielding reserve or under-23 teams in the USL and PDL, adding a key ingredient: providing a competitive adult soccer environment for players in their late teens who aren’t ready for the first team.

And U.S. Soccer has continued to advocate many of the methods for which there is wide agreement on being valuable for player development at the early ages.

Futsal, on which South American skillful stars are often weaned, became a part of DA programming. More recently, U.S. Soccer implemented small-sided standards and the build-out line, an excellent way of creating an environment at the early ages that's conducive to long-term development over short-term results.

Of course, there must be reevaluation, critique and accountability when the USA fails to reach a World Cup. But one bad ending doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any progress.

39 comments about "U.S. Soccer-bashing overlooks the rise of a promising new generation of players".
  1. Kent James, October 12, 2017 at 9:30 a.m.

    Well put, Mike.  Missing the WC is a setback, but there has been substantial progress. I think the push for futsal is good, and if the USSF has the money (and they should), they should replicate the German model in which USSF trained/paid coaches work with promising prospects (at no cost to the prospects) and without pulling them out of their clubs.  While not all the promising players in this new generation will pan out, the fact that there seem to be so many of them is very encouraging (and should make it easier on them, since they can share the burden of being the next great hope for the US).

  2. M S, October 12, 2017 at 9:51 a.m.

    "But the DA has vastly increased opportunities for lower-income players to climb the ladder and has made U.S. elite youth soccer more diverse."
    Ussf is sitting on over 100 million and doesnt see it as a priority to get low income players into DA for free? Even when historocally low income players turn out to be the best ever? How is that not under their control to do?
    "U.S. Soccer may not have solved the pay-to-play problem but...."
    But what? They havent because they simply dont choose to. Because they cater to politics. They could easily enforce or publicly encourage Training Compensation but they wont because Mls wont want to pay it. I think you know this Mike.
    Also nothing stopping Ussf from limiting foreign players in Mls and requiring young domestic players minutes in Mls and Usl, especially at U19 U17 U15 levels there should be minutes required for younger players to play up.
    Have we improved? Sure maybe but so have many coubtries and most of them have imrpoved at a much higher pace and level than us. Slight improvement should not be our goal and quite frankly is mediocre.

  3. Mario Cesarone replied, October 12, 2017 at 10:06 a.m.

    Exactly, while we are improving, other countries in CONCACAF have improved much faster.  We were holding our own with Mexico and beating all the other countries...now we failed to defeat a "B" team from TnT which is last in qualifying.  You dont need a road map to see that the current MNT players have not kept pace.  

  4. ROBERT BOND, October 12, 2017 at 10:09 a.m.

    and get rid of the coneheads!

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, October 12, 2017 at 11:57 a.m.

    Mike, I think you are daring to say these things at this time. I agree with you and applaud your courage. 

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, October 12, 2017 at 11:59 a.m.

    Wow. Was that reply displaced.

  7. Nick Vanduyne, October 12, 2017 at 10:14 a.m.

    Let’s be clear. Saying that we’ve played in more Works cups recently tan European powerhouses merely speaks to the lack of competition in the NorthAmerican arena. You point out a great number of US players playing in Europe. Why are they there? Because the competition and level of intensity is missing in the MLS. MLS was a business venture first and foremost and not an organization like the FA in England that brought regional pride to each team and built players and teams based on fear of relegation if you don’t perform. If my team plays like crap we’re still in the MLS and there is no collective urgency to actually learn to play as a team. The US still puts 11 players on the pitch not a team

  8. Gus Keri, October 12, 2017 at 10:21 a.m.

    There are a lot of reactions to this defeat but a lot of it are not correct. US Soccer had done a lot of good things for the game in the last few years. US Soccer is on the right path with all the changes they implemented. The defeat at T&T reminded me of France 1994. They were cruizing in their group and needed only one point in the last two games which were both at home against weak opponents, Isreal and Bulgaria. But the snobbishness and cockiness of French superstars, among them Cantona and Ginola, led them to lose both games. They were celebrating their qualification before stepping on the field. The same thing happend in T&T. The USMNT superstars thought they were in Russia before kicking the ball. this is how cocky and snobbish they were. In France 1994, the Frence federation made a lot of changes to the national team program. They started rebuiding with getting rid of all these snobs and bringing young players to buid the team that won the world cup 4 years later. The US soccer should do the same. Get rid of all these US snobs and rebuild the team with young players. 

  9. carlos delpino, October 12, 2017 at 10:42 a.m.

    Very positive article however just a couple of comments as to this article.

    Your quote "While MLS clubs subsidize their DA programs so players dont have to pay, U.S. Soccer's financial aid program has paid out more than $2 million in DA scholarship funds. Non-MLS clubs have also increased scholarship funding for their players over the years to remain competitive in the DA. U.S. Soccer's nationwide training centers to identify players with youth national team potential are cost-free.

    To be identified and invited to become an academy player what system does that player come from? As far as I have witnessed these players come from a state affiliated club which are not sponsored and from ages U8 to U20 the cost to be a part of that club is significant. So parents pay, pay and pay some more to have a chance of their child making a DA program. Broken?

    The second comment:
    You mentioned players that have already risen or rising. I am certain they are many more. Why did we only have 1 of those players on the field? Agreeing that there is talent in the US but somehow through the politics, nepotism, and flat out favoritism the best talent gets overlooked or worse never get a chance. Our current system of identifying talent is horribly broken.

  10. K Michael replied, October 12, 2017 at 11:19 a.m.

    ...but getting fixed day-by-day.  The US Scouting network has doubled just in the past year; kids participating in the DA system has gone by 40-50% in the last two years alone with the addition of the u11/12, u13 age groups and the separation of formerly combined age groups into u14,u15 groups.  Its very easy to look backward and see a mess; its more realistic to drive by looking out your windshield.

  11. M S, October 12, 2017 at 11:03 a.m.

    Exactly. Alit of cheerleading from our journalists.

  12. K Michael, October 12, 2017 at 11:14 a.m.

    Well stated rational article.  The future is very bright, indeed.  Do keep in mind that all of the many initiatives and youth develepmont strategies put in place over the past ten years were too late for our current senior team.  I have commented many times before that 2018 would mark the end of the uninstinctive, non-organic senior team; that is, players who were not born into the sport, that didn't have goals in the schoolyard, that couldn't watch world class players live on television every weekend, that played mostly on the practice fields with very little freestyle, unorganized time on a ball starting at age 4/5.  By 2022, we will likely field a very youthful team with an average age of 22-24, but they will have much better movement, instinctive reactions, and better first touch.  By 2026, it will be a typical veteran team being pushed by more than a few young talents and will from man 1 through 18 be a very technical, pacy group.  The 2026 team will be our first upper tier team that has a realistic shot of being that dark horse like Belgium in 2014.  By 2030 (Pulisic's last WC), "its on like Donkey Kong!"

  13. Gary Miller replied, October 12, 2017 at 2:09 p.m.

    Pulisic will be 29 in 2026 and 32 in 2030. How is this OK in the future but not OK now?

  14. John Lander, October 12, 2017 at 11:30 a.m.

    All the success that US Soccer is claiming about the youth development programs and DA programs are not really success. They are by default. They are just because, not because of the quality of the programs. Every U17 or U20 world cup cycle we highlight the top 3 or 5 players and say we are having success and they are from the DA programs. We have to select a team, so if the top programs were college or high school soccer, we would take the top 3 to 5 players from there and claim success of those programs. That’s not logical.


    We throw dollar number around claiming DA programs spend $2 million in scholarship as if that is a good thing. When in fact it is what is killing the soccer in this country.


    More involvement by US soccer in player development is not the answer. It is actually part of the problem. There is no top soccer country in the world where the soccer federation is responsible for player development. Not Brazil, Germany, France or Belgium. Messi was not developed by Argentina federation, Nemar was not by Brazil, Dembele was not developed by France.


    Ask yourself why is it that the US can develop world class players in basketball, football, baseball, hokey, women’s soccer, track& field, golfers, and all the other sports except men’s soccer. Take a look at the similarities between all these other sport and the difference in men’s soccer. It is not rocket science folks.


     


     


     

  15. K Michael replied, October 12, 2017 at 11:37 a.m.

    You've hit on something here for sure.  those other sports have had literally generations of organic development in schoolyards, parks, etc. Soccer in the US is just now reaching that level of unorganized critical mass.  In other words, its NOT something that can be created from a program, it kind of grows on its own once the numbers hit a certain threshold.  Thus, we are finally seeing a Pulisic emerge.  And he is just the tip of the iceberg.

  16. M S replied, October 12, 2017 at 12:44 p.m.

    John has it right. The grass roots cultures have been here for a while. We just dont care to look. No money in it. Thats why our federation now offers $5000 Fantasy Camps. Does any other Federation do this? I would bet Brazila and Germany dont do this. Do you need more proof?

  17. Gary Miller replied, October 12, 2017 at 2:20 p.m.

    I've seen this script before. Over the last 3 decades there have been multiple times where we had some moderate success at the U-something levels on the world stage and US soccer has claimed progress. Only to have most of these players at this level not even rise to the men's national team and if they do they fizzle and fade into mediocrity. Something at the highest level of international soccer in this country just stinks. I don't know if it's the coaching, tactics or training or what but the analysis in this case has to be on why we can't compete at the highest level. 

  18. K Michael, October 12, 2017 at 11:33 a.m.

    Please don't blame the US Development Academy for our ills.  Do they emphasize winning at ages u11-u15 and then adversely select only early physical growers to claim that all-important State Cup?  No, but USYS, MRL, and the rest do.  Do they trot out refs that allow wholesale thugging and mugging up and down the field , thereby stunting any real shot at developing high-level defensive positioning? No, but every other youth level does.  Have you seen the average travel game. Woe be to the small technical wizard in the average  game, as he will wind up a broken down piece of ground meat by the end from being kicked, kneed, elbowed, body-slammed by a two-left-footed brute who will be encouraged to "let em' play" by his maniac, overfed momma screaming on the sideline.  
    I am not suggesting its perfect by any means, but the deficit of youth development is not a DA problem anymore.

  19. M S replied, October 12, 2017 at 12:48 p.m.

    You obviously have not watched enough DA games to see that the same quality reffing is used as in Mrl or Uysa. DA is all about winning the National event and little else. DA is pay to play and winning at the highest level is still #1 priority for marketing to the rest of those clubs. Mls DA have still not set themselves above and beyond pay to play even though its free and that is the biggest tell tale sign that something is very wrong.

  20. R2 Dad, October 12, 2017 at 11:39 a.m.

    The under-20s are promising, but we are missing a whole generation of players (20-25 YO) that failed to qualify for 2 Olympic cycles, and now a World Cup. Perhaps this is a hiccup, now rectified by the DA system but our U20s are deciding a transfer to Europe at 18 is the way to go if they can manage it. MLS owners are going to whine about missing out on these players they "developed", but if they really were developing players there would be a lot more than just a handful, wouldn't there?

  21. Bob Ashpole, October 12, 2017 at 12:04 p.m.

    The latest USSF initiatives including the build out line is just the lasted USSF idea of how to make do with unqualified coaches at the fundamental stage. It is a band aid for the lack of qualified coaching, not a eureka moment in youth development.

  22. Tim Silvestre, October 12, 2017 at 12:06 p.m.

    My 15 YO soccer playing son, who was crestfallen with the loss to T&T, asked me, "Dad, how do countries like Honduras, CR and Panama have better teams than the USA when we have like 50 times more people?"

    My answer, "I wish we knew."

  23. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, October 13, 2017 at 10:29 a.m.

    Those countries don't have better players.  They just played marginally better over a ten game "season".  

  24. MA Soccer, October 12, 2017 at 12:07 p.m.

    US soccer bashing?  Are you kidding me we were just eliminated by T&T.  Is well deserved criticism.  
    The young players are very promising, how do you think they felt after Bruce’s post game comments? Where are they training? 
    Time will tell re the DAs and US Soccer youth development, very little impact at this point.
    We could have used the build out line Tuesday night

  25. Miguel Dedo, October 12, 2017 at 12:59 p.m.

    A few points for pay-for-play:


    1.  Many of the soccer clubs I know price like Ivy League universities.  Those who can pay more than the per player cost, this helps to finance numerous “scholarship” players.


    2. Competition among clubs for local championships, state cup berths, etc., pushes toward pricing at the max the well-to-do parents are willing to pay.


    3. The scholarship players for larger clubs tend to be concentrated on a club’s best team in each age group.  (This a matter that demands skillful management; to balance between the rich parents’ wanting their kids on a winning team versus their pride in the club’s success.)


    A problem the system produces is that the players who are not going to be big-time players are kept in an adult controlled, professionally organized and coached “development” program when they should be transitioning to playing for the pleasure of the game − their picking up more and more responsibility for organizing their own teams, their own play.  After all, for almost all of us, soccer will be a lifelong recreation and distraction, not a profession.  “Development” should not be ignorant of what we are developing for almost all of the players.


    For many of the coaches, etc., who make or supplement a living in youth soccer, maintaining lots of teams that are “professionally” coached is more important than developing the one player in a million who will play professionally.

  26. Ray Lindenberg , October 12, 2017 at 1:14 p.m.

    The US didn't miss out on the World Cup because of a sub-par performance at T&T. That was just the final bullet in our journey of World Cup 'Russian' Roulette. It was a bad day, on a day that begged to have been an especially good, or at least even an average day -- since the US had played just mediocre, and oftentimes poorly enough over the previous 9 tilts to earn its predicament of not having the luxury of mailing in that stinker.


    Sometimes it's better to fail miserably than to just barely flop (or than to just barely succeed, for that matter) ... and I think this is a classic example of that. Who cares if the US narrowly escaped and made the World Cup with a B-level international squad, and limped along with hopes that they could 'upset' their way to an upper-notch World Cup performance in Putin’s playpen.


    Our feeble spot all along in the CONCACAF hexagonal standings pretty much solidified the fact that we were 'not ready for prime time players'. If we're gonna make it to that dance in Qatar in 202, I want us to go as Fred Astaire, and not as two-left-feet-Louie!


    We don't need to just become better over the next 4 years ... we need to become MUCH better, and stop convincing ourselves that just showing up guarantees a punched ticket to a World Cup, in this regional, relatively junior circuit that we're a part of.


    We need a whole new mindset, attitude and approach to our soccer-ing. We need to commit to playing and developing our own unique American brand of true, pure, fluid, space-creating, one-touch passing and weaving rich, simplified yet dynamic soccer (the kind that Rinus Michels imagined before the bottom fell out) -- and not this chop-chop kickball crap that the rest of the world satisfies itself with.


    Yes we can ... we have the developing talent ... the resources ... the resourcefulness ... and the stinging pain that commonly jumpstarts great results. We just need the verve and nerve – plus the committed and uncompromising coaches that understand that there is a better way forward as long as we don't become knock-off imitators of the gosh-awful, staccato kickballing habits of much of the rest of the world, and instead come up with our own home-grown brand and interpretation of the Jogo Bonito.


    We lost nothing against T&T unless we don't improve dramatically over the next 4 years. We lost if we don't learn and fortify our resolve to solve our imbroglio with greater imagination and inspiration; and stand taller than ever, going forward. The T&T experience can and should serve as the requisite TNT that we need to perennially rise to the top of the pack, like the US Women’s National Team did in its universe. Yes we can!

  27. Gary Miller replied, October 12, 2017 at 2:45 p.m.

    I would rather back into the world cup and go 3 and out in Group play than not have world cup soccer for 8 years.

  28. cony konstin, October 12, 2017 at 2:17 p.m.

    It doesn't matter who coaches the U.S. At this point. We have No flair, no creativity, no genius, no elegance, no beauty and no spectacular.. It was one dimensional, robotic, boring football. The question you have to ask yourself is why? First reason. Did these kids grow up playing King of the court 24/7/365, for free and with no adult interference? No! Did these kids grow up playing on dirt fields? No. Did these kids play on broken glass and rocks? No. And why do we know that? Because most of these players are stiff in the hips , have a weak first touch, and are afraid to take on one or two players... Bottom line. We need radical change.. We need a new vision. We need new leadership.. We need a 21st century master plan. We need a soccer revolution... We need 600,000 Futsal courts in our inner cities and suburbs so our kids can play king of the court, 24/7/365, for free and with no adult interference... For the past 20 years US soccer has spent billions of dollars and promoted  gimmicks, smoke n mirrors, $400 cleats, robotic coaching, and pretty uniforms... It is time for a Soccer REVOLUTION!!!!!!!! in the U.S. This is not about one person. We need a national movement. Not a national coach...
     
    Think about it. We take our number one resource in the U.S. which is our 5 to 8 year olds and we hand them to a nice parent that can't even kick a ball and we ask this nice parent after a nice volunteer hands the nice parent a bag of balls, cones and bibs, then ask this nice parent who can't kick a ball to teach the basic fundamentals of the beautiful game to a group of children who barely can tie their shoes. This is a total disservice to the children, our country and the game itself. No. I am sorry it's a travesty. No, I am sorry again it's an abomination. Now I am not running for president of the U.S. So I am going to speak my mind. I have been coaching for 41 years and it is time for a national movement to straighten this menusha out. Our kids can't dribble, pass, shoot, head, trap, and their first touch is their last touch. People in charge need to be kicked out. We need a SOCCER REVOLUTION in the U.S. We need to create a NEW SPARTA!!!!!!
     

  29. Ray Lindenberg , October 12, 2017 at 3:55 p.m.

    To the comment that: "I would rather back into the world cup and go 3 and out in Group play than not have world cup soccer for 8 years" --  nobody wants to be on the outs when it comes to the signature moment of the sport they are passionate about. But the real question is: A) would a false sense of standing and true, collective ability serve us well? In other words, if we're generally going on a wrong track, should we be satisfied with just being on that track? And B) what is the right catalyst to getting on the right track -- hanging in here and limping along with a bad product, or getting a kick in the pants and feeling the reality check that gets us to realize that we gotta get cranking … get on a much more superior track … and quick?


    I suggest that we have been going nowhere slowly, with the national game plan we got. Christian Pulisic should've been the phenom du jour, and set the standard to build even greater talents, in 1994, not 2017. By now, with all the resources, raw talent and other advantages we have as a resourceful sporting and media-rich nation, we should be a perennial powerhouse at each World Cup, instead of putzing around with a flimsy qualification wish, on a dot on the Caribbean map that would have had more spectators attend a Soca festival than at national Soccer match.


    The T&T experience wasn't a fiasco as much as it was a blatant expose and confirmation that there is something rotten in Denmark. We need a major attitude change in our approach, expectations and especially our standards.


    We need to be an Americanized version of Brazil or Germany, in that regard -- and there's no reason why we can't be (even with the distractions of all the other sports in our sandbox … we did it with hockey, didn’t we?), but we first determine that we want to be super. We gotta be gazelles, not turtles, on the fast-track road to soccer supremacy. What the quick-sands of T&T underscored for us is that we got a heckuva lot farther way to go than we've been willing to admit.


    We need to create a whole new fresh, dynamic, breathtaking brand of true, free-flowing, imaginative, dynamic, American Jogo Bonito … and put an end to relying on this staccato, mish-mosh that we see on ESPN, GOL TV, etc. as being our North Star.


    But we can't do it if we're complacent and accept a hand-me-down product. It's not what happened at T&T that's our bugaboo ... it's what we'll turn into if we don't wake up and take a radical new path now that we got our marching orders, that really matters at this stage. We need to be more audacious and dare ourselves to be great in our soccer-ing … no more chop-chop kickballing … no settling … no settling.

  30. I w Nowozeniuk, October 12, 2017 at 7:46 p.m.

    As cited Tyler Adams is playing for NYRB and the other players are attached with overseas clubs...I've watched Adams now for two season and he isn't getting better. I watched pulisic at the U-17 level and his game has gone up several notches...MLS at todays level will not develop a quality player of potential. The dynamics of MLS are such that it won't happen.

  31. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, October 13, 2017 at 3:24 p.m.

    Tyler Adams isn't getting better?  What are you talking about?  At 18, he's arguably the best player on an above-average MLS team.  There's plenty of legitimate criticisms of MLS but Tyler Adams isn't one of them.

  32. M S replied, October 14, 2017 at 9:07 p.m.

    Lets see. Come up with another criticism of Mls and lets see if Fire wont argue against it.

  33. Scott Johnson replied, October 15, 2017 at 5:54 p.m.

    NYRB should do the right thing, assuming Adams is game, and shop him to Europe once the MLS season ends and the winter transfer window opens.  If he is the best player on an MLS team, he needs to move on.  (And the Timbers should be open to offers for Nagbe, although I'm not sure Scottish football is much of an improvement over MLS).

  34. MA Soccer, October 13, 2017 at 10:50 a.m.

    As American who follows USMNT and is involved in youth soccer this article is insulting. This is a symptom of the problem with USSF and I guess some of the media that cover US Soccer.  No accountability. Dont apolpogize or let USSF off the hook by clouding the issue. I assume this was directed at the casual fan, who probably does not care we were sent home.  Of course we are aware of promising young players, one was only bright spot in this failed WC campaign.  And then to site 30 year record vs European and South American qualifiers is a joke (Are you suggesting we would have qualified out of Europe and S America for the last 30 yrs) .   The bigest joke of all is the impact on youth soccer for the last 10 years: futsal, small sided game and build out line and US Soccer making a positive impact on pay to play? Mike are you kidding?
    We need to stop being defensive and correct a horrible result and a bad trend. Starting to get the feeling we have a very big problem, that is going to get worse before it gets better.

  35. Tony Damiani, October 13, 2017 at 12:11 p.m.

    I agree with some of the things in this article, but the following statement is just wrong:  "one cannot deny that its launch of the Development Academy (DA) 10 years ago is starting to show results." 

    The players who have a real chance to make it are leaving the US before they turn 16, when historically the DAs begin (now many DAs have younger teams, but that is a VERY recent thing and, quite frankly, a mistake).  In fact, I would argue that the complete marriage between the YNTs and the DAs are slowing down the development of soccer in the US.  Many quality players remain outside of the DA system and these players are ignored by the YNTs (this is 100% by design.  There are many, many stories of kids excelling at the National Training Centers, but not getting called up, only to join a DA and get called up 3-4 weeks later).  

    Furthermore, not all of the DAs have development as their central theme.  Watch them play.  How many compromise playing for winning in the playoffs?  How many of them rely on an overly direct style?  There are some fantastic DAs, no question (PA Classics comes to mind), but they are the exception, not the rule.  

    US Soccer is myopic.  The DAs were a great idea, but not the ONLY place for quality kids to hone their game.  We have more kids playing soccer than the entire population of Holland.  It's time we stop trying to simply "compete" and set as our goal winning a WC within the next 5 years.  

  36. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, October 13, 2017 at 3:25 p.m.

    Players can't join foreign clubs until they are 18.  If they have an EU passport they can join a club in the US at 16.  The best players in the US aren't leaving the country before age 16.

  37. Fanfor soccer replied, October 14, 2017 at 11:11 p.m.

    Fog you don't have a clue as to what you are talking about.

  38. Scott Johnson replied, October 15, 2017 at 5:47 p.m.

    Since we didn't qualify for 2018, the only world cup within the next five years is in 2022.  Even with the most aggressive timetable, winning that is likely out of the question.

    Getting to the quarterfinals, without depending on luck to get out of the group, would be a nice first step.

  39. aaron dutch, October 14, 2017 at 3:25 p.m.

    The US Soccer Board model has failed. Who is benchmarking it vs. the top 25 FA's in the world.

    If you look at the US Soccer Business Plans they are 15 years old.

    https://www.ussoccer.com/about/governance/board-of-directors/business-plans

    vs. every other "normal" top 25 FA which updates every 5 years their plans.

    http://www.thefa.com/about-football-association/what-we-do/strategy

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