Hugo Perez: It's time for the USA to embrace creative, entertaining, total soccer

When Hugo Perez led the U.S. U-14 and U-15 national teams, he coached what is starting to look like an exceptional generation of American players, including Christian Pulisic, Jonathan Gonzalez, Weston McKennie, Haji Wright, Nick Taitague, Tyler Adams and Edwin Lara.

Perez was let go as a youth national team coach in 2014 and shortly after as a U.S. Soccer Technical Advisor during Jurgen Klinsmann's reign as U.S. Soccer Technical Director.

Perez's perspectives on the U.S. game are particularly intriguing because of his long history in American soccer.

One of the greatest and perhaps most skillful players to ever wear the U.S. jersey, he was on the field the last time the USA failed to qualify for the World Cup, in a 1-0 loss to Costa Rica in 1985.

But his playmaking and his goals were crucial in qualifying the USA for the 1990 World Cup and the 1988 Olympics. He scored the game-winner against his native El Salvador, no less, during 1990 World Cup qualifying. Perez also played in the 1984 Olympics and 1994 World Cup during his 15-year pro career.

He currently coaches at the Silicon Valley Soccer Academy, a U.S. Soccer Development Academy club, and serves as director of coaching of Juventus Sport Club in Redwood City, California.

SOCCER AMERICA: What was your reaction to the USA not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup?

HUGO PEREZ: As a fan or a former player and coach?

SA: All of it.

HUGO PEREZ: I remember in 1985 we didn’t qualify for the 1986 World Cup, and I was 21. And all I thought was I wanted to be in the World Cup. It might have hurt more for the guys who hadn’t been to a World Cup, thinking it might be their last chance. Of course, Christian Pulisic obviously has a great future ahead of him.

SA: As far as what it means for American soccer?

HUGO PEREZ: We’ve been qualifying since 1990. When that happens, we're blinded to things because we’re getting results and we’re qualifying for World Cups. In the long run, it comes to haunt you.

In the previous World Cups, I never thought we had gotten to the point where we can do more than just compete. To start dominating certain teams in Concacaf and in World Cups.

I’m not talking about the results, I’m talking about a better soccer for us. Sometimes, unless you hit rock bottom you don’t start thinking about very important things.

SA: Such as?

HUGO PEREZ: We need to start entertaining people. I’m personally tired of watching our players play a conservative, scared type of soccer.

We need to be getting people in the stands applauding because our players’ style of playing is creative -- total football. To be able to dominate with the ball. I still think our country is below those standards.

SA: What did you think about the Concacaf competion – Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and Honduras having finished ahead of the USA?

HUGO PEREZ: I saw most of the Concacaf games. The only team with very good players in every position is Mexico. And they do try to play soccer that attracts people to watch soccer that competes not only in Concacaf but against the rest of the world as well.

The rest of the Concacaf teams, they have good players, but I wasn’t too happy with the soccer that most of them played. Costa Rica was better. The others, they play a grinding soccer. A soccer of only results. The USA needs to go beyond that.

Can we do it in this country? Yes, we can. Do we have the players? Yes. We need people who believe in that type of soccer.

SA: In the wake of the failure to qualify, there’s been a renewed critique of age-old problems such as pay-to-pay and casting a wider net over potential talent …

HUGO PEREZ: We need more support, better scouting and better communication with non-Development Academy clubs, with inner-city clubs, with Hispanic clubs. U.S. Soccer can make more scholarship contributions.

Remember, not everybody can go to academies.

SA: Do you believe that despite the massive investment by MLS and U.S. Soccer, we are still missing talent?

HUGO PEREZ: I recently lived in Los Angeles for about a year and a half and I went to places where the Federation scouts don’t go and I saw players who were very good, 15-, 16-, 17-year-olds playing with adults.

They didn’t play in academies because they were too far away or they couldn’t afford to pay.

SA: Do you think that there has been progress thanks to the Development Academy?

HUGO PEREZ: The academy is a good idea, but I think it should be for U-12 to U-16. The 17s and U-19s, they shouldn’t be traveling around the country playing youth soccer. They should be playing in adult leagues. They should be playing against adults.

SA: Playing in local adult leagues would be better?

HUGO PEREZ: Yes. If I’m trying to prepare players to play first-team soccer for an MLS team I’d rather have 17-year-old players play against adults every Sunday than travel to play against other 17-year-olds, even if it’s against other MLS academies.

SA: Jonathan Gonzalez, one of the players you brought into the national team program – he’s an example of a player who has excelled because he played above his age group?

HUGO PEREZ: I found him playing at a very amateur Northern California club [Atletico Santa Rosa] that had nothing to do with the [Development] Academy who I thought could contribute to the U.S. national team.

He made the hard decision to go to Mexico four years ago. There, they had him play with the older age groups. Monterrey is not only best team in Mexico, but has the most expensive players in Mexico, and he’s starting.

If he had stayed in the USA, he would have gone up, but not as quickly.

SA: The players from the youth national teams you coached, Pulisic and Co., are giving us hope for the future of American soccer ...

HUGO PEREZ: I don’t believe that we don’t have good players in this country. I don’t believe it. The ones coming up, we have a lot of good talent.

I had two groups. I think those two groups were the best that I have seen play football in a way that was entertaining. In a way that was fun for them. In way they could express themselves with the talent they had.

It wasn’t because of my coaching only. The staff that I picked to help us also had the same sentiment, the same feeling, the same understanding.

When I had the national team, I was open to every type of player, whether it was Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, African-American.

But there was one thing I told the guys who were helping us throughout the whole country. There were certain things I want to see in the players. The technical ability. Their IQ of soccer. Their creativity. I never chose only big players or fast players.

But at the end it was the players. They were the ones who performed.

SA: In the wake of the World Cup qualifying failure there hasn’t been much talk about the style of soccer we’re playing ...

HUGO PEREZ: We will not play a different style of soccer, a more attractive, creative style of soccer if we don’t believe in it.

SA: Of course, the question I must ask is why you no longer work for U.S. Soccer?

HUGO PEREZ: I know people have been asking that for the last two years. There’s a lot of stuff that that people talk. A lot of stuff people don’t know.

The only thing I can tell you is that when I was there I stood up for certain things that I felt we could have changed. I was very vocal when I saw things that I felt were not good about our vision.

I felt if I didn’t say anything I would be cheating myself and the people who believe in our country. I was never disrespectful to anybody. I never went behind anybody’s back and said, look this guy’s is bad. Give me the job. No, never. No one can accuse of me of that.

SA: Since you left, there are even fewer Latino U.S. Soccer Technical Advisors. I see a good number of Latino coaches at the grassroots level, but at the higher levels, the Latino representation doesn’t even correspond demographically to the general population …

HUGO PEREZ: It hurts me to see that. I think we can contribute more.

I’m not going to say all Latinos are good coaches and can coach at the higher level. But we do have people in this country who have the credentials to be there. They need to be given the opportunity. And there needs to be more coaching education, but make it cheaper.

Whether we’re talking about players or coaches, Latinos or African-Americans, the flavor they bring to football is different, and we can integrate that into the American culture and help make our soccer more successful.

I had players from all different cultures, from different places and different soccer philosophies, and people said you can’t play your style of football with them. But I did it.

They played that way because we just had to give them the idea to do it and why we’re doing it.

What I talked to them about every time: Whatever you do, the most important thing is, when you have the ball, enjoy playing with it and don’t be scared, because we’re not going to play defensive soccer. We’re going to try and dictate the game, but with the ball, and have fun with it.

• Moved from El Salvador to USA at age 11.
• In mid-teens, responded to a notice in Spanish-language newspaper La Opinion about an open tryout for the Los Angeles Aztecs of the old NASL and was signed to a reserve team contract.
• Played three seasons of NASL ball with the Tampa Bay Rowdies and San Diego Sockers before the league folded after 1984 season.
• After six years with the indoor Sockers, played for Red Star in Paris, Sweden’s Orgryte IS, Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ittihad and El Salvador’s FAS, with which he won two titles, before retiring after 15-year pro career in 1996.
• Played a key role in qualifying the USA for the 1988 Olympics and 1990 World Cup and appeared in the 1984 Olympics and 1994 World Cup. Earned 74 U.S. caps (1984-94).
• Inducted into U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2008.
• Began serving as U.S. Soccer Technical Advisor in late 2000s and was U-14 and U-15 national team coach in 2012-2014.
• Served as El Salvador assistant coach in 2015.
• Currently coaches at the Silicon Valley Soccer Academy, a U.S. Soccer Development Academy club, and is director of coaching of Juventus Sport Club in Redwood City, California.

98 comments about "Hugo Perez: It's time for the USA to embrace creative, entertaining, total soccer".
  1. Tork Johnson, October 19, 2017 at 8:11 a.m.

    #USSoccer needs Hugo Perez involved in an inevitable reboot of the #USMNT and youth development in the USA.

  2. R2 Dad, October 19, 2017 at 9:43 a.m.

    Not sure playing in a men's league as a U16 is going to have the speed of play and thought required to improve. Especially where there are fights on the field, stands and parking lots, which is what I see in the big city (maybe monoculture LA avoids this?). Most lenient officiating might  prepare you for CONCACAF or MMA--not soccer! I don't like the idea of bringing back retread coaches, but Hugo Perez has done it all and gotten results (ie helped develop youth players)--hope the new regime takes another look at him. NOT because he checks an identity box, but because he's an ex-pro who can help our U teams and we don't have many of them interested in our youth set-ups OR they're not given a chance because of the Licensing farce.

  3. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, October 19, 2017 at 10:27 a.m.

    Yeah, I agree.  I think Hugo makes some good points but U17s playing in a men's league isn't one of them.

  4. Ric Fonseca replied, October 19, 2017 at 2:50 p.m.

    R2D2:  First I want to thank SA/and Mike W for the article, and second I also want to thank Hugo for his dedication to the sport.  Thirdly, R2D2, your comments are extremely narrow-minded and very shortsighted, as result of your myopic view of futbol-soccer in the Greater Los Angeles and I certainly do not agree with it.  However, there is a glimmer of truth in your astatement re: Los Angeles, a place I've called home since 1970 (lived in the SF/Oakland Bay area '50-70 -minus three years in the Army) and have traversed the county as well as Orange County. Also, as a founding member of the old LATIN AMERICAN SOCCER COACHES ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA (LASCA) that affiliated with the former NSCAA, now UNITED SOCCER ASSOC, we also had the blessings then of A. Rothenberg, Hank Steinbrechers, et. al. I know  only too well that of which Hugo talks about, and I most c ertainly hope that those in "soccer power" that let him go - or should I say, "fired" him will rue the day - or wait maybe they're doing that now?  TO M S, your view that Hugo got players that mirroed him, is also very myopic, so myopic that it also mirrors that view of players that "American" trained (read: USSF, NSCAA, trained-licensed/credentialed-diplomaed) that the players they ID and bring in must be "X-ft" tall, etc. I am sure you've heard this argument time and again, however, I do know that Hugo spotted and signed SKILLED and CAPABLE players.  Golly and gee-whiz and willikers, this piece must be made MANDATORY reading, 'cause as I write this, I know for a fact that I can ID a handful of youth players on a daily basis where I work and teach; lastly that you say that "...we also need to be able to pick the best players no matter hwat their physical attributes are...(sic)" must be kept close to your heart, but it does sort of defeats your argument.     

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, October 19, 2017 at 3:31 p.m.

    I agree with Ric (although I wish he could have been less blunt).

    Attending the last NSCAA annual conference (pun intended) was an encouraging experience, seeing several thousand US coaches dedicated to growing the sport and improving as coaches.

    I think too often we focus too much on the bad things we see and miss all the good. Time to pull together for the good of the sport.

  6. R2 Dad replied, October 19, 2017 at 9:25 p.m.

    Ric, Not sure why LA mexican monoculture is a problem for you. My opinion has come from the mouths of all the non-Mexican who traveled up from down south. They've all told me the same thing: LA hispanics/Mexicans are not welcoming other non-Mexican hispanics. "Keep on moving north", they're all told. Since you're of Mexican heritage, I'd think you would have seen this and understood. How many Hondurans, Guatemalans and Costa Ricans do you see in LA? Not many--they're in the SF Bay Area or further north. I just thought this was an obvious fact when living in LA, no?

  7. Ric Fonseca replied, October 19, 2017 at 10:36 p.m.

    R2D:  It is obvious  that your view and knowledge of the Hispanic/Latino dynamic of the Greater Los Angeles/Orange county region is very myopic. Imagine if you can, at the very moment I write this I am at a South Gate soccer center that "caters" to small-sided games. Just about 90% of the participants are Hiapsnic/Latinos, that represent virtually all of the countries south of our border. Imagine that every nowe and then we see some Asian born players, that boggle the mind when they speak Spanish with aperfect Argentine accent - Korean-Argentine born immigrants that make up the Hispanic/Latino global communities that reside in our counties!  As for you saying that many other Central Americans move north because Los Angeles Mexicans do not "let them" (my emphasis) into their leagues, I'd like to invite you to do a "recorrida" here in LA and see just how many leagues - Latino - there arehundreds of them, and conversely some Central American leagues do not sign or are loathe to sign Mexican players. Sadly this is never ending scenario. Lastly where I teach - Los Angeles City College - is located just due north of a very transient and ever demographically changing Latini-Hispanic demographic, most of the residents ARE Central American, a beautiful combination of Salvadorenos, Guatemaltecos, Hodurenos, and a sprinkling of Nicaraguense, Costa Ricans and Canaleros. And lastly for you to say that I have a "problem" with the Mexican monoculture, all I can say is HAY DIOS MIO, Y VALGAME DIOS, pobrecito de este Senor norteamericano!  Saluidos cordiales!!!

  8. R2 Dad replied, October 19, 2017 at 11:45 p.m.

    Very well, Ric, thx for the explanation. I supposed it's possible that since I'm speaking english to central americans perhaps its been at least a few years since theyve made that trip and things have changed? LA is a big town.

  9. Ric Fonseca replied, October 20, 2017 at 2:53 a.m.

    Bob, re: your comment of 3:37pm:  Thanks for agreeing with me, however, truth be told, at times it is more accepting for one being blunt.  So, had Hugo not said what he felt (bluntness?) would he not been "let go" - read: fired - do you think that he could've lived with himself?  Truth be told, up until we formed LASCA back in the early 90's (ironically at the suggestion of Steve Sampson - do you remember our meeting way back then, Steve?) I don't think we would've gotten some notice.  In fact, I vividly recall speaking to a friend of mine from Chicago - whose family had been very involved in the social political movement, La Raza, or ChicanoMovement (take your pick) as to why I was now involved in sports, or soccer while there was still a greater need to be just as or more involved in the "movimiento."  When I explained it to her and her family, she was more accepting and understanding.  So Bob, if bluntness is what will get people's attention - even in the field of sport and in soccer, I sure as heck ain't gonna let up.  BTW, I was also at the NSCAA Convention in Los Angeles; my first Coaches  Convention took me to P.) Just thought I'd let you know!hiladelphia in 1977-78.  PLAY ON!!!  

  10. Goalie001 Armstrong replied, October 20, 2017 at 9:43 a.m.

    R2Dad n Ric....It's fun reading u 2 banter. R2dad, this is no offense but you sound like a helicopter parent, had to be at every practice, if kid wasn't playing all over the coach and other annoying factors why I stopped coaching Club and now only train keepers and coach college so I don't have to listen and deal w HELICOPTERs. That's not just this article, you can see it in everyone you write.

  11. Jorge Gonzales replied, October 20, 2017 at 3 p.m.

    When Hugo says Adults. I don’t think he’s talking Sunday leave ball. 
    Hes talking expro leagues. College players. Adults that just didn’t make it and are playing semi pro. Definitely not a Sunday beer league 

  12. R2 Dad replied, October 21, 2017 at 3:15 a.m.

    Goalie, I certainly have those tendencies so I could see that. But very early on I determined I didn't have the right disposition to coach kids/herd cats, so started to referee. That was something I could do that was another way to appreciate the game; the leagues actually needed referees so I wasn't hovering at my kids practices & matches. Worked out best for everyone (says my wife!)

  13. Fred Rweru replied, October 23, 2017 at 7:59 p.m.

    i think he has a good point about players playing in the adult leagues. his main point is the diversity of skills and talent available. its like just dancing with the same group all the time. to really get better players need to have diverse playing experiences in their learning years. they can play other academies, but it shouldn't be just academies. they will get different experiences and see different experiences and skills in those other environments. remember, when they go to play the rest of the world, those players in other countries have a very total and wide experience!!! their systems are very open. they play their agemates, they play adults, they play everybody, so their skills are very versatile. you bring on anything and they adapt. but, if US players get too "mechanized" which i think he seemd to notice, they're in trouble. cause those players elsewhere are organic players, theyre not automatons. i do a lot of dance, and one can often see the difference between "performers" and "social dancers." the latter are usually more stiff and unnatural, they seem to see social dancing as a competition or show, they're moves tend to be more mechanical, and they seem to have much less fun. in fact, many don't social dance. they just have no social dancing skills it seems, which is quite surprizing cause people often conflate performing on a stage with "great" dancing, but they often don't. the best ones are the ones who can use the regimented routine of perfformance and infuse the freedom of social dancing and also retain the fun of social dancing. many performers just don't seem to understand how to have fun, they seem to take dance seroiusly, theyre concerned about doing moves "right" etc. this "organicness" i think is necessary in any physical activity.
    i think one mistke US soccer people might be making is copying the systems in say basketball and assuming they'll get a LeBron in soccer from such a system like basketball has gotten all those stars. but they forget basketball and the LeBrons have actually developed in an organic system first in their neighborhoods, so they have organic skills. their AAU teams didn't totally beat those organic lessons out of them. players need those skills.    

  14. M S, October 19, 2017 at 10:09 a.m.

    Hugo is certainly one of the best coaches we have had at any level on National teams without a doubt. But it did seem like he passed up on a few very skilled players that could more efficiently play certain positions. I think he prefered smaller players over equally skilled taller ones.
    I dont know if it was the case with him but sometimes coaches pick players that mirror what they were once as players. Like he said, we could offer much more as a country if we pkay an attractive style and for that we also need to be able to pick the best players no matter hwat their physical attributes are.

  15. Goal Goal, October 19, 2017 at 10:30 a.m.

    Amen, I say to Perez's comments.  I would hope the DA would pass this on to the clubs and then make sure its happening.  More than that the National Team Coaches at the U14, 15 and 16 need to be enlightned.  Any kid in these programs that do not play the heavy athletic type of bang bang soccer is eliminated.  We have many excellent technical players who have been sidelined at the national team level in all age groups who have become victim to this type of thought and play.

  16. Gary Allen, October 19, 2017 at 10:31 a.m.

    What a wonderful player Hugo was to watch. And coaches like him and Diaz Arce are few and far between in this country. Sure, there is fault at the top, but predominately the crux of the issue is our youth development,for which the top deserves a large shame of blame. However, we all must recognize our role as the adult shapers of our youth programs. Our society's focus always on results at each level leaves little room for the inefficient experimentation from which true development emerges. The type of creative play Hugo talks about does not come predominately from coaching, but playing in environments where it is encouraged. When Hugo talks about teenage players playing with adults, he is talking about envrironments where the young players constantly assess and adapt their play not only to their own strengths and weaknesses, but to the players around them.  What is missing in the US is informal play with and against many different types of players where each player must be creative in solvong problems. It is this general level of play that is mssing here because everything we do (including our training)is choreographed from the coach's point of view.  We supposedly don't have time to allow, nor do we encourage, the players to solve the problems around them. If Brazil entered two teams in the World Cup, both would probably reach the second round. By comparison, if the US lost 3 key players we would not ever qualify. The technical level of our players and speed of play are below much of the rest of the world. Why is it that countries with virtually no organized youth programs have players that generally are so much better technically and tactically than our players? As Hugo points out, he discovered Jonathan Gonzalez playing in an amateur adult league, not a developmental academy. In many countries without formal youth programs young players play in the streets where they are free to experiment. One of the important parts of this type of play is that players learn skills in the 360 degree environment of the game, not in a vacuum. These chances to just play the game ingrain technical and tactical speeds of play upon which to build. Players are free to try things, emulate others without fear of being benched for making mistakes when they experiment. Formal coaching is important, but it should guide young players' decisions  rather than dictate a style of play or where to run. Just imagine basketball in the US there were no street basketball. Do you think we would dominate the rest of the world? Hardly. We need more focus on developing our young players' decison-making  abilites in game-like environments before the age of 14. We need to include more players without always trying to separate out the most "elite" as young as age 9.

  17. frank schoon, October 19, 2017 at 10:38 a.m.

    He is right on about kids playing with adults. I took one of my 13 year old from my youth team and placed him on my sunday men's team. The guys didn't like it for he started, because I saw coaching on the youth level  as a means of developing players not just to coach and win. Since  I was into developing players and not making the weekend warriors feel good, as a result he became the star player on the high school team and made the all Met team in DC area. This is how kids learned to play soccer in the street "soccer era", playing with older kids, learning not only to survive against better and older players but also learn from these older and better players. How else are you going to learn ,certainly not by playing with your own age group. Don't worry about your kid playing youth soccer, put him on an adult team, and also take him anywhere where adults play pick up games on saturdays. OH, you say, but he will miss being coached by a bonified LICENSED COACH who knows the game (BARF) ,"oh, the humanity of it all". Like Cruyff says , "coaches have the potential of doing more bad than good".  Marco van Basten , once stated "Out of the 10 coaches, you might experienced in your life, 6 will make you worse, 2 will won't effect you either way, and the other 2 will make you better". As far as I'm concerned it is not coaching but developing of the youth player which is the most important aspect in formative stages. How many coaches can actually develop a youth player? Developing a player is different from coaching since it applies to individual growth ,and coaching takes on the concept more of group or team organization and thinking. 
    Perez is right about the US playing a dominating attacking style of soccer. That means teams should play an attacking system 4-3-3, with WINGERS!! We need to have an Academy that specializes in developing WINGERS. Look at the most exciting players in the past 15 years..Ronaldinho, Figo, Bale, Messi, Neymar,Ronaldo, Robben, van Persie, Riberi, Henri,etc,etc..You want to play exciting soccer than employ wingers. Allow kids in the youth to dribble and not restrain them, glorify ball hogs and not punish them. Accent the skills as ball artistry. 

  18. Goal Goal replied, October 19, 2017 at 10:58 a.m.

    Frank have no idea where you live but if possible get by the National Camps from U14 and UP and see how creative play and on field decision making is brought to a screeching halt.  If a kid holds the ball too long "see you later".  Craziest approach to the game I have ever seen.  There are kids out there that can play but the coaching is questionable at best.  These coaches have no idea how much damage  a player who is technically accomplished can bring to the game by drawing two or three defensive players in their direction and passing off to the open player.  Growing up as a kid we always played mixed age groups which included the mens senior divisions.  It was tough but it was a learning experience and most everyone was better for it.  Ask Clint Dempsey what made him competitive in the game.

  19. frank schoon replied, October 19, 2017 at 11:29 a.m.

    FAN , I live in Reston. Nothing has changed, it is the same old ,same old garbage. You would think with advent of sooooo many licensed,supposedly making the system a great organ for improving youth players,  the technical skill level and creativity would flourish. Well, OFCOURSE NOT, for coaching in fact means control ,organiziation, team oriented concepts, which runs counter to individual creative development which kids in the "street soccer " era obtained for they had no coaches around them. In my days  the coaching was poor for the players knew the game and were very  skilled due to having played street soccer WITHOUT COACHES , as compared to today the coaching is better but the players are worse for it. This is why Cruyff stated when he compares the technical abilities of players when he played he would grade them a 8 with today's players a 5. Players today are not game savvy and not  smart as compared to players who learn to play in the streets. Now players have to be told what to do by the coach, which in the old days was unheard of..

  20. Tyler Wells replied, October 19, 2017 at 9:40 p.m.

    I really disagree with the "street soccer, no coaches is best" idea that seems so prevelant in many comments.  It is extremely outdated if you don't think that virtually every great player currently playing was involved in organized (coached) soccer since at least 11.  I would say that street soccer plus organized soccer is best.  
    Also, I disagree with the slam on licensed coaching.  I'm told that Spain has four times the license coaches per capita than England and it doesn't hurt them.  I did the basic license for the US (U littles) and I found it excellent.  I also reviewed the materials from the Spanish federation (benjamines), I don't qualify for the license, and found it also excellent and more extensive.  The philosphy between both is basically the same.  
    In my admittedly limited experience the problem isn't the guidance that US Soccer puts out, it is that it isn't followed.  Every weekend we play clubs that advance the ball through cherry-bombing keepers and "the guy with the big foot."  Most opposing teams have limited combination play and all put "the best player" up front.  Few try to work the ball from the back. 

  21. M S replied, October 20, 2017 at 7:36 a.m.

    Who develops better players Spain or Brazil? I would bet that Brazil has the least licensing of Spaina md England and the most street soccer for sure. Argentina as well. Uruguay.
    Spain still the pays the most to those coubtries for the very best. South Americans dominate the French league as far as scoring is concerned. Why are we still talking about Europe as far as developong players?
    Tge very best players in history will always tell you that they credit most of it to street spccer or futsal. Same difference.
    In brazil the most successful coaches will always be the ones that encourage creativity and risk takong. they seem to understand the game on a whole different level than us and Europe.
    Lets be humble enough to understand that we have been wrong all this time at looking at Europe for answers and lets start lookong really hard at the kongs of developing the very best whoch are all in South America.

  22. frank schoon replied, October 20, 2017 at 10:26 a.m.

    Tyler, thanks for your comment. I understand where you're coming from and you need to realize that guys like me, Fan, and others who have criticisms about coaching, have been around the block a few times more &nbsp;than you can ever imagine. &nbsp;There is nothing wrong with coaching , but the question is all about when coaching becomes a more prevalent part of youth's development. Yes, I agree that "street soccer" and organized soccer is the best, for that is how I grew up playing in the streets of Amsterdam. I played 20-30 hours a week in the streets and then &nbsp;played club ball,"organized", on the weekend. Here is the problem, the former, street soccer" is gone or rather not stressed and thus the kids missed the MOST important stage of their development, "the street soccer" stage or I would call it the 'me,me,me," stage, or the "self expression" stage or the ' let me learn in a natural manner without outside interference " stage, or last but not least the " GTFO of here coach for you're messing me up" stage. So&nbsp;what&nbsp;is happining today the kids right away learn only through an organized and programmed stage by coaches ,most, who have difficulty even taking on a lamppost one on one, but for the saving grace have a license. You mentioned Spain and the amount of licensed coaches without realizing that youth coaches there have one big advantage that American kids don't have is that these Spanish kids are born with a soccer ball in their crib and the moment they step outside it's soccer,soccer,soccer. That youth coaches in Spain get kids with who have a decent skill foundation, learned by playing pickup soccer. Here, we think licensing coaches is the answer to&nbsp;the missing "street soccer" learning stage, which it&nbsp;really&nbsp;isn't. MS mentioned Brazil ,again, this is similar to Spain.<br />Johan Cruyff had mentioned one of &nbsp;problems that has hurt youth development is the institution of licensed coaches. With the advent of licensed coaches you introduce the element &nbsp;of coaches who are not that good technically but since they are licensed are allowed to coach. See next post

  23. frank schoon replied, October 20, 2017 at 10:26 a.m.

    Tyler, thanks for your comment. I understand where you're coming from and you need to realize that guys like me, Fan, and others who have criticisms about coaching, have been around the block a few times more &nbsp;than you can ever imagine. &nbsp;There is nothing wrong with coaching , but the question is all about when coaching becomes a more prevalent part of youth's development. Yes, I agree that "street soccer" and organized soccer is the best, for that is how I grew up playing in the streets of Amsterdam. I played 20-30 hours a week in the streets and then &nbsp;played club ball,"organized", on the weekend. Here is the problem, the former, street soccer" is gone or rather not stressed and thus the kids missed the MOST important stage of their development, "the street soccer" stage or I would call it the 'me,me,me," stage, or the "self expression" stage or the ' let me learn in a natural manner without outside interference " stage, or last but not least the " GTFO of here coach for you're messing me up" stage. So&nbsp;what&nbsp;is happining today the kids right away learn only through an organized and programmed stage by coaches ,most, who have difficulty even taking on a lamppost one on one, but for the saving grace have a license. You mentioned Spain and the amount of licensed coaches without realizing that youth coaches there have one big advantage that American kids don't have is that these Spanish kids are born with a soccer ball in their crib and the moment they step outside it's soccer,soccer,soccer. That youth coaches in Spain get kids with who have a decent skill foundation, learned by playing pickup soccer. Here, we think licensing coaches is the answer to&nbsp;the missing "street soccer" learning stage, which it&nbsp;really&nbsp;isn't. MS mentioned Brazil ,again, this is similar to Spain.<br />Johan Cruyff had mentioned one of &nbsp;problems that has hurt youth development is the institution of licensed coaches. With the advent of licensed coaches you introduce the element &nbsp;of coaches who are not that good technically but since they are licensed are allowed to coach. See next post

  24. frank schoon replied, October 20, 2017 at 10:28 a.m.

     TYLER ,In Cruyff's days as a youth there were no licensed coaches and at Ajax they employed coaches who were former players who knew the game and could DEMONTRATE ALL of the technicals skills. These guys were not programmed with theoretical garbage acquired at the Coaching School when getting a license. As a matter of fact the Ajax kids were not coached but were guided by these former players. What I mean by guiding, they allow the kids to express themselves and perhaps say once in a while to a kid who is a ball hog, like I was, either nothing or say 'see this guy over there , he is wide open, he could have helped you out". They realize the benefit of being a ball hog, which is "CONFIDENCE ' on the ball and not afraid of taking somebody on (Boy,do we miss that in today's pros). But a licensed youth coach today, would criticize the kid, telling him to pass it, be a team player, one-touch it for they think in team concepts not individual. The coach doesn't look at individual development of the kid in the formative stage but team aspects which is where the problem lies. 

  25. Pasco Struhs, October 19, 2017 at 10:50 a.m.

    Here is what stuck out to me as ringing true from what Hugo said was important:  "The technical ability. Their IQ of soccer. Their creativity. I never chose only big players or fast players."  I think too many of our soccer coaches and talent scouts value size and speed over technical ability, soccer IQ and creativity.  It's this American football - results oriented mentality that seems to seep into our soccer program.  It's great to field a player like Zlatan Ibrahimović.  He's both tall and skilled, but we shouldn't be fielding big strong and fast players over players with technical ability, creativity and soccer IQ.  Moreover, this is not lost on our youth players.  My 14 year old son had a similar conversation with one of his team mates about how some coaches pick tall fast players over players with more technical ability and soccer IQ.

  26. M S, October 19, 2017 at 11:31 a.m.

    I agree with you but now I see once small tecnical playerd that are now coaches snubbing tall tecnical players over small tecnical players. A tall Tecincal and skilled player will always have an advantage over the smaller one if IQ is similar and even if it isnt depends on how they are used by coaches. Thats if developing pro players is objective

  27. Pasco Struhs replied, October 19, 2017 at 11:47 a.m.

    @MS - I agree.  A 6'3" 220 lb player who runs a 4.5 40 yd dash and has the technical skills of Pulisic would dominate the Pulisic's, Coutinho's and Giovinco's of the world.  

  28. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, October 19, 2017 at 2:20 p.m.

    Yep.  Technique is more important than size and speed.  But you have both technique and athletism, that's even better.

  29. Bob Ashpole replied, October 20, 2017 at 4:46 a.m.

    Sigh. Being taller and heavier is generally a disadvantage for field players in soccer. The heavier person requires more energy to do the same work over 90 minutes. The taller person generally has longer legs and a higher center of gravity. Shorter limbs are generally quicker. Lower center of gravity is an advantage in physical contact. Strength is an advantage, not height.

    The crossbar is only 8 foot off the ground and most short adult soccer players can jump that high. Aside from defending flighted balls in the box, greater height is not an advantage. 

    With youth the problem is with coaches picking the oldest, most mature players. Picking the best athletes would be a good practice, but don't confuse temporary advantages of physical maturity with athletic talent.

  30. M S replied, October 20, 2017 at 7:44 a.m.

    The fastest athletes in the world are usually 6 ft tall or ever. Usain Bolt? So that right there throws your entire argument out of the water. Yea many can jump up tp 8ft but a tallet person can jump to 9ft and place a ball at 8ft. Advantage.
    Can also chest control a ball at a higher point. Advantage. Can head place a ball witjout jumping when a smaller player would have to jump. Advantage.
    Longer limbs covers more ground and if used right can shield the ball better than a shorter player. Advantage.
    Zlatan and Drogba consta tly displayed these physical advantages that seem to have extended their careers well past mormal ages for shorter players as well.

  31. M S replied, October 20, 2017 at 7:47 a.m.

    Also, Long legs in the box have a striking advantage as well. It is hard to find tall skilled playwrs for sure. My guesd its because bad coaches stick them on defense and goalie. Just like it is hard to find tall basketball players with point gaurd skills but those few that do have those skills tend to be the very best players in the nba even tjough its much more common for point gaurds to be smaller. Same difference.

  32. humble 1 replied, October 20, 2017 at 1:10 p.m.

    I'v been to american Football games and met the players and wow! those players are phsically impressive!  Tall, big, powerful!  I've been to NBA games and met the players and wow! immpressive hall big strong and TALL are those players!  I've also met the entire Uruguayan national team and watched them play in three differnt countries and guess what?  They look like you and me!  Ordinary people!  What sets them appart is what's between between their ears.  Grasping this ditinguishing feature of soccer will not make the USA an international soccer power, but it will remove a stumbling block.

  33. Jorge Gonzales replied, October 20, 2017 at 3:03 p.m.

    M S 
    messi. Maradona. 
    being tall in football means nothing. 
    American athleticism in basketball and American football does not translate the same to football. 
    Again it means nothing. Zlatan. Pique. Great players with football skill set but messi Maradona Iniesta Xavi. Coutinho. All players that can play regardless of their height. 
    Thats an American view point that has nothing to do with the beautiful game 

  34. Bob Ashpole replied, October 21, 2017 at 12:49 a.m.

    MS since your example in response (to my comment about short limbs being quicker) is favorable body type for sprinting the 100 yard dash event, you have no idea of what I am talking about.

  35. Bob Ashpole replied, October 21, 2017 at 1:11 a.m.

     "Yea many can jump up tp 8ft but a tallet person can jump to 9ft and place a ball at 8ft."

    MS, please explain why striking a ball at 9 feet instead of 8 feet or lower is an advantage. In soccer the ball must travel below the 8' crossbar. This is not basketball where the ball must travel above the 10' rim. Heading from 9' actually reduces the target area. Vertical angles work just like the normal shooting angles we talk about in keeper tactics (as in "narrowing the angle").

  36. M S replied, October 21, 2017 at 12:34 p.m.

    Bob, People with longer limbs have proven they can be as quick and as fast. Comprende?
    Longer limbs are and advantage in winning a 50/50 ball and shielding without a doubt. Faster playerd have an advantage in certain situations in a game than smarter more tecnical ones. Taller goalies have a certsin advantage over Smaller ones that may have a better vertical jump.
    There is a reason why many top clubs accross the world will pick a taller player with equal skill than a shirter player. Even if not as skilled. But I guess you know more thsn them.

  37. M S replied, October 21, 2017 at 1:04 p.m.

    I agree Jorge. I never said you had to be tall to be better. Soccer is the one team sport you can excel in at any height but there are certain attributes that help playerd execel over others at certain positions. Messi is freakishly strong for his height and that helps him on the dribble. Not alk short people are as strong as he is along with Maradona.
    Pulisic is quick. 
    Udually #9s are wanted to be as tall as possible with skill and playmaking ability. Not all are but thats an attribute they look for at Pro level. Same for center defender. Mascherano is the exception and like in every sport there are exceptions. We have had 5'5 Nba allstars as well. 6' and over is tall for a soccer player. So i am not talking about 6'5" players.
    You guys think height isnt an added attribute that helps Xlatan and Drogba? CR7?
    Bob, if you can get higger for a head ball its an advantage both on offense and defense. Is that really that hard for you to ubderstand?
    Is Zlatan blazing quick or fast?
    Cr7 is and he is 6'1" which for Soccer is pretty tall.
    Font let your dhort complex cloud logic guys.

  38. Bob Ashpole replied, October 21, 2017 at 5:32 p.m.

    MS, I very much regret disagreeing with you. Being taller than an opponent is an advantage for a CB because it increases the window of opportunity for clearing flighted balls. It is not an advantage for attackers because any smart attacking player will easily beat a tree trunk CB with movement and timing. Smart teams play to take away any advantage an opponent has. Superior height in a CB is easy to defeat.

    My comment about angles is high school physics. My comment about shorter limbs being quicker is also high school physics.

    Building a theory of play around CR7 is a mistake. He is a unique aberration. And if his legs were shorter, he would have even quicker feet. :)

  39. Bob Ashpole replied, October 21, 2017 at 5:43 p.m.

    MS I thought of another way to think about the height issue. For teams who just want to send hopeful flighted balls into the box all game, height is an advantage. For teams that cannot dribble and compensate by knocking long balls forward to a target forward, height is an advantage because their play is predictable. But, a technical possession style of play does not depend on penetrating by knocking long balls forward to a target forward and does not depend on scoring by sending hopeful flighted balls into the box. Their play is less predictable and creates and plays to open spaces.

  40. M S replied, October 22, 2017 at 1:01 a.m.

    so its a mistake to use Cr7 as exampke but not Messi for your argument? Isnt he also an exception?
    Bale is also 6ft by the way and i can keep going.
    If all you do is one thing attacking wise you are predictable and therefore easy to defend. A tall skilled and creative attacking player is probably the hardest to defend because he can beat yiu on the ground and over you on headers. A shorter player can beat you in many ways but not as effectively as a taller player that is skilled in the air and is equally as skilled on the groubd. Simple to understand.
    It probably bitherd you because you are on shorter side but this is just logical.

  41. Bob Ashpole replied, October 22, 2017 at 9 a.m.

    MS, I don't know where you are going with this: "so its a mistake to use Cr7 as exampke but not Messi for your argument? Isnt he also an exception?"

    I wasn't talking about Messi, CR7 or any individual to make my point. My point is physics and the length of a lever. I am not trying to explain the physics and I don't expect that everyone understands or should understand physics. But everyone is subject to physics, whether they acknowlege it or not.

    Regarding your question, I said CR7 was an aberration, not that he was an exception to the laws of physics. Aberration means abnormal. Messi is also abnormal. One should not build a theory of soccer or anything else based on abnormalities, unless it is some theory about abnormalities, which is not relevant to talking about the game of soccer, but more relevant to predicting the probability of a player of CR7 or Messi-like talent randomly appearing.

  42. M S replied, October 22, 2017 at 4:53 p.m.

    Bob, ok physics and Advantage. If you are taller you can physically beat a shorter player to a header on defense or offense. They can also chest a ball with an advantage to shorter players. Sure shorter players have other advantages. An ideal pro team is not made up of 5'5" players for very good reasons. For abyone to argue agaibst this is to be arrigant enough to think we know a secret that the best clubs in the world dont 

  43. Bob Ashpole replied, October 23, 2017 at 1:31 a.m.

    MS this is where are thinking differs. If you have a situation like a jump ball in basketball, being taller than your opponent is an advanatge. But in soccer the players are not required to stand in the center circle, rather are free to move. Why would a smart team ever create a 1v1 heading situation like a basketball jump ball when the opponent has a height advantage? The attacking team is going to play so as to take away the opponent's height advantage, i.e., make the CB chase the play, which takes away his height advantage. It is very easy to take away the CB height advantage, unless your offense consistes of sending flighted balls into a crowded box hoping that someone can get on the end of it. Both US NTs are regularly using moving targets for their set piece plays. 

    That is what a technical possession-style team would do. They would not send hopeful flighted balls into a crowd in the box because it is too low a percentage play. They would create and play into space. 

    If you follow the WNT you may recall some people were saying that the team's dependence on Abby Wambach a few years ago had become a crutch and was keeping the team from improving its play. This is not a criticism of Wambach. It is a criticism of the rest of the team for chosing too often to keep knocking the ball to Abby rather than work to create an alternate opportunity. 

  44. M S replied, October 23, 2017 at 10:41 p.m.

    Bob you just said it yourself. Tge shorter team has to play to "try" to take the "advantage" of playing in the air for the other team. Lol.
    Unless that shorter team can hold ppsession and keep on the ground for an entire game the threat/advantage of getting beat in the air is there by the taller opponent. A tall #9 that has skill and is creative is a triple threat againsr any team. 
    A slower team can also play to slow down the game and try to keep the ball away from the faster platers on other team to take away the "advantage" but like everything its all in the execution of both teams game plans. 
    Come on Bob, you really dissapoint me with this argument.
    You wishing that height or speed is not an advantage in soccer or shouodnt be doesnt make it true.

  45. M S replied, October 23, 2017 at 10:46 p.m.

    One of Usa best CB before he got injured ever was Gooch who went to Milan, if I remeber correctly. What was his body type Bob?
    Yes team overplayed Abby in the air too much but that doesbt take away the fact that she was a constant threat in the air vs other teams. Problem there was game management. Are you saying they should have started a shorter striker to be a better team?
    I wiuld keeo Abby as starters and get team to play to all their strengths and mix it up to be unpredictable ans therefore more dangerous.
    Can you imagine Abby with great footskills and creative pkay? Woyld she not be consideted thr best ever if that were true and offesnively complete player?

  46. Bob Ashpole replied, October 24, 2017 at 8:34 p.m.

    MS, it is a bit frustrating to try to discuss coaching with you. For instance, you asked what body type Gooch was. Mesomorph, same body type as generally all professional players. Apparently though you don't know that. Gooch's ball skills were not good enough to make him a first choice for a technical possession style of play. The one bit of progress that I credit JK with is generally not selecting CBs that were only great defensively, and not great with the ball in possession.

  47. Goal Goal, October 19, 2017 at 12:20 p.m.

    I find it very interesting that for lack of a better description  people with knowledge of the game and US Soccer are coming out of the closet speaking up about problems that have been talked about on here forever.  If we keep doing what we have been doing we will keeping getting what we have been getting.

    Where has US Soccer been?  It appears that they equated progress with the number of participants vs the quality of the player or the ROI of money invested by all compared to what was showing up on the field and that includes coaching both at the club level and at the national team programs at all age groups.  All of this is a result of poor management from top to bottom.  I would like to hear some comments on this.

  48. VIC Aguilera, October 19, 2017 at 12:23 p.m.

    How tall are Messi, Neymar,Robben,etc.?

  49. M S replied, October 19, 2017 at 1:16 p.m.

    Neymar 5'9", Zlatan 6'5", Suarez 6', Cavanni 6', CR7 6'1", Pogba 6'3".

  50. VIC Aguilera, October 19, 2017 at 12:25 p.m.

    Also, what was the REAL reason Martin Vasquez was let go by Klinnsmann??

  51. Ric Fonseca replied, October 19, 2017 at 10:55 p.m.

    Vic, do you really have to ask?  Read what Hugo said about his getting "let go..."

  52. aaron dutch, October 19, 2017 at 12:43 p.m.

    Lets be honest we have a very real problem with diversity of the regions, states, players, coaches, support US Soccer. Until there is much more bottom up approach we will not be much better then we are. We have 14 of the 22 players over 30 years old. only 1 under 22. This is a classic rebuild cycle, these take 1-2 cycles to do a rebuild. If we don't go young under 26/27 we will keep losing. 

  53. cony konstin, October 19, 2017 at 1:46 p.m.

    Hugo is 100% correct. US soccer needs radical change. 

  54. beautiful game, October 19, 2017 at 2:20 p.m.

    We have the talent; it's the system that has failed. Until the system is geared to "develpment" youth players to 18 yoa, nothing will change. I can see, i.e.,  trying out a 12 year old talent in a U-14 or U-16 competition in order to determine the player's metal...but only to use this as a measuring barometer of the player's abilities to handle adversity. Moving up a aplayer is a good idea as long as the response is positive.

  55. Bob Ashpole, October 19, 2017 at 3:21 p.m.

    What Hugo said--That is what I want!

    A common failure among managers is to surround themselves with people who agree with them. The most valuable assistants are those who will disagree with you. Not because they might be correct but because it challenges your conclusions and makes you rethink your assumptions.

    USSF from top to bottom needs to be more inclusive. We don't need to bring in outsiders to run our programs. We need to use our own talent, our own coaches, and work together for the good of the sport. Hugo is not alone in his views. USSF's problem has not been a lack of a plan or knowledge. Failures in the past have been in the lack of successful execution. 

    You build success in small steps, not one leap to the finish line. 

    Yes USSF and MLS has become a business success. Now is the time to become a soccer success too.  

  56. Goal Goal replied, October 19, 2017 at 3:42 p.m.

    Bob you use common business terms  to try and describe US Soccer.  If you have been in business in the past or have been involved in running a business you would know that this module would have crumbled a long time ago.  There is no competition here inside the organization or outside the organization as it pertains to offering a better program.   I would describe it as a dictatorship the way it is run.  Tax the participants with these rediculous fees and then provide poor results.  The results are poor but where else can the tax payers (participants) go?  

    Gulati needs to go and he needs to go now.  The ROI by this management has failed and it has failed miserably.

  57. frank schoon replied, October 19, 2017 at 4:23 p.m.

    BOB, You can't run a program with noses pointing in different directions ,they all have to point in the same directions to be succcesful that is how you run a club like Ajax. Once the goal, plan and direction has been established everyone should be on the bandwagon, the only difference might be in nuances but that is it. Yes, I do  believe success is measured in small steps. We do need outside help as well to lift things to a higher level which is all part of the process. Like Reyna says, we can't be arrogant enough to think we can do it with our own people. We need high level expertise (I'm talking here more about player improvement, level coaching experience, etc.), this is why MLS is a second rate leaque as compared to European leagues and that is why we also like to have our boys send to Europe to play and learn what we're not getting here. And the fact that 50years of player development has not improved all that much, we have to ask ourselve why,  for that needs to be answered first, otherwise we'll keep spinning our wheels.
    Yes, we have not been lacking in plan or knowledge ,that's for sure for we are great organizers but somehow the other side of the equation the execution, in your opinion has failed. Perhaps , you may right but I think it is a little more complex taht to do more with the faulty planning not the execution. 

  58. Bob Ashpole replied, October 19, 2017 at 8 p.m.

    Frank overseeing 100 clubs is different than overseeing 1 club. For the larger job you do need to establish core values and a general plan, but there is no need for identical, inflexible execution of the plan at all 100 clubs. 

    Additionally in any organization, large or small, change is necessary to success. Supressing different ideas and their discussion inhibits change and likewise problem solving and growth.  

  59. frank schoon replied, October 19, 2017 at 8:36 p.m.

    Bob, whether at a club level or a national level it is not efficient and can be detrimental in carrying out a plan when those in charge have different ideas....differences should have been  worked out before implementation occurs

  60. Goal Goal replied, October 19, 2017 at 9:59 p.m.

    Bob that is exactly what we have now.  Clubs going in the direction they want to go. How is that working?  

    Kind of like anarchy in the sports world.  The plan has to be in place system wide no matter how big the system is 1 or 500.  Decision making in most cases has to be autonomous but in line with the plan.  It works in business and in multilevel sports organizations.  If you don't have everyone moving in the same direction you experience what has happened and continues to happen in US Soccer?  It all starts with management.  Poor management = poor results.

  61. M S replied, October 20, 2017 at 7:51 a.m.

    The #1 large scale change that needs to happen is Paying Training Compensation. #2 is Pro/rel. This on its own handles most of developmental problems and will improve rapidly as the competition to perform intensifies. 
    Whoever doesnt see this is because they purposely have blinders on.

  62. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, October 20, 2017 at 11:25 a.m.

    Pro/rel immediately solves all developmental problems?  The irnoy in your post, Kumar, is that you then accuse others of having blinders.

  63. Bob Ashpole replied, October 21, 2017 at 1:28 a.m.

    Frank, perhaps you didn't understand the core values concept. Core values are what everyone needs to follow for success. Things that are not core values are descretionary. Everyone must buy into and follow the general plan and the core values. Not every detail needs to be planned nor every possible problem anticipated at the top.

  64. frank schoon replied, October 21, 2017 at 8:03 a.m.

    Bob, that is what I meant by Nuances......

  65. Jay Wall, October 19, 2017 at 3:29 p.m.

    Interesting that the posts favor developing technical and/or physical players. The players we need most are those rare and valuable players that are so extremely savvy and unselfish they both anticipate what will happen and creatively direct and help teammates like a chess grandmaster who is many moves ahead of the opponent. 

    Soccer is an invasion game and requires the sensory abilities to anticipate what will be happening, the mental library of knowledge to understand what is happening and the decision making personality to instantly know what must be done and who on their team needs to do what to make it happen. 

    The perfect technique at the wrong time and place, spectators admire, but achieves nothing. The perfect physical play of a 6'3" 220 lb player who runs a 4.5 40 yd dash, spectators admire, but achieves nothing if their opponent is savvy and knows what must be done and who on their team needs to do what to make it happen.

    The best team have one or several "grandmasters" who are so savvy they lead by directing their teammates to do what must be done, when it needs to be done. 

  66. Bob Ashpole replied, October 19, 2017 at 3:48 p.m.

    "The players we need most are those rare and valuable players that are so extremely savvy and unselfish they both anticipate what will happen and creatively direct and help teammates...."

    IMO this is the mental aspect of our player development model. Our challenge is to eliminate the word "rare" from the description. Another way of saying it is that off-the-ball play is more important than play on-the-ball. The former can make the latter more effective, but the reverse is not true.

    In my view the "best" team will have great players at every position, while what you describe is merely a "good" team. In my mind, the crucial number of superior players is 3, not a coincidence, but the same number as the number of lines in the typical system.     

  67. Wooden Ships, October 19, 2017 at 4:24 p.m.

    Hard to know where to start after not qualifying, still depressed, but not surprised. Hugo's career overlapped, in his early days, with some of my former teammates. Wonderfully gifted player and he touched on many areas some of us have known for 3 to 4 decades. Many capable players were overlooked and passed on because of style. Had we evolved back in the day and allowed the more possession-creative player to emerge and fill the National team roster spots, I think we would be going next summer and be expected to compete beyond group. I've heard Twellman's (played with his dad and uncle) and other's commentary, but Hugo's is more telling. Make no mistake, our style of play choice, says more about those leading the USMNT than players not being able to play with more skill and imagination. Witnessed these shortcomings/oversights/slights for many years now. I would feel more optimistic if Hugo took the helm. Frank, Fanfor is another from the St. Louis area. Looking forward to our friendlies next month and the women tonight. 

  68. frank schoon replied, October 19, 2017 at 5:37 p.m.

    Ships, yeah, I'm looking forwards to it as well . I'm glad you reminded me of the women's team tonight, almost forgot. This loss is perhaps for the best for now we're forced to look closely at the situation, for obviously something here isn't right. &nbsp;I wish also that Klinsman will be interviewed and see what he can add to the situation, for it is now time. I do hope that Hugo &nbsp;will have more involvement. I like to see both Hugo and Tab take over the USSF Coaching School and bring a fresh approach to how soccer should be taught with more attacking oriented philosophy which means placing emphasis on more creativity, allowing the kids to be more freer in their development. Ships I watched the ManCity-Napoli game, very good. Guardiola is doing a great job again...

  69. Wooden Ships replied, October 19, 2017 at 10:14 p.m.

    Yes, Frank, Pep has it going again. Fun to watch and they're the team to beat in England, curious to see how far they get in Champions. Napoloi was a good side as I saw some of the match. That first 20/25 Man was everywhere, Napoli had no time to come up for air. I don't know how things will shake out Frank, if Ramos and/or Perez can get past the Gatekeepers I'll be pleasently surprised.

  70. frank schoon replied, October 20, 2017 at 11:33 a.m.

    SHIPS, I watched the women's game USA vs Korea. What stood out so amazingly is that every pass made to a teammate, regardless of team, is to the feet and with the receiver never  even taking a step or two towards the ball to either speed up get away from the defender. A 15yard pass for example they wait till it comes to the feet or the pass wasn't pass in a space front in order to run onto.  It is like pass ,receive ,do something; pass ,receive do something; Who taught these players this? I watched the US team's braintrust on the bench but there was not one coach that even blinked. I would be going nuts on the bench watching this.
    This is so bad technically and tactically that this can only blamed on USSF Coaching School for it is so prevalent that this type of low level soccer is just another example of why things are going wrong.
    Good article on Pep Guardiola  Why big spending has almost nothing to do with Manchester City’s success this season | FourFourTwo
    Watching that ManCity vs Napoli game ,I think Pep is experimenting on the most difficult aspects of the game and that how to build up from the back while under extreme pressure applied high up by the opponents. He forced his defensive line and some midfielders to NOT kick the ball long downfield when there are no options ,instead force the backfield to find or create a solution in the BACKFIELD. This was done while 2-1 ahead and he could have cost City a goal, instead he made them do it regardless of the pressure. If he gets this particular aspect honed to a fine method ,it wil be very tough to beat City...

  71. Bob Ashpole replied, October 21, 2017 at 1:43 a.m.

    Frank you hit on one of Pep's and presumeably Cruyff's key principles. He wants the team to move up field into the opponent's half as a unit, i.e., a compact shape. He doesn't want to simply make a pentrating pass to rapidly get the ball into the opponent's half if it stretches the team shape. He prefers to take the time necessary to maintain a compact shape, then once the team is in the opponent's half in good shape, the team is free to make deep penetrating passes if the opportunity arises. You will recoganize the Dutch principles. 

    My understanding of what makes Pep different is that he is using Spain's postional play system to control off-the-ball movement during the team's travel up the field on top of using Dutch Style principles. I don't know but I assume that is what Cruyff did too.  

  72. frank schoon replied, October 21, 2017 at 12:28 p.m.

    Bob, you're right about that, Pep is following Cruyff's philosophy. But there is nothing wrong with making a penetrating pass into the opponents half if when the opponent's backline move up to midfield leaving a lot of space behind them. In other words you use the space that is given to you by the opponents, regardless of the build up. Cruyff believed that the distance between the backline(sweeper) and frontline is no more than about 30meters or yards, making it close and compact and thereby denying a counter from the opponents due to a sloppy pass. Also players should be no more than 9 meters apart thereby making defense less of an effort for you play more of a positional defensive game. This results in having to employ less defender types and less fight involved. When you watch the "Dream Team" in the early 90's with Cruyff as coach, he had Guardiola and Koeman in the middle of the defense ,#3,#4, in the 3-4-3 system of the field with outside backs #2,#5 as former wingers. Koeman and Guardiola are not defenders but offensive players and not even build for speed, size or fight.
    What Pep is doing in the backfield making them hold on the ball under extreme pressure like he did against Napoli , to the point that it could even have caused City a goal ,tells me he is preparing a backline that is totally unlike a defensive backline. This could mean in the near future a whole new type of defensive line in soccer that is much better in ball handling skills than ever before. Thereby making following Cruyff's adage of as long have possession the opponents can't score.

  73. frank schoon replied, October 21, 2017 at 12:55 p.m.

    Bob, you are also right about the positional play for that is much faster because you let the ball do the running not the player and it is more efficient energy wise, for nothing is faster than the ball: the cardinal positions need to covered for created the triangles....
    In order for the ball to be moved around quickly, Cruyff wanted as many lines (linies,dutch) as possible. The average coach sees 3 lines, defense, midfield , frontline). Cruyff used 7lines, the more the better; Goalie( became a field player as well),sweeper, backline, defesive midfielder #6, other 2 midfielders, wingers, centerforward. Within that concept, one man can create a linie or line to help the ball movement; and sometimes Cruyff employed 5 lines, backline, def.mid, midfielders, wings, centerforward. Note the front line is made up 2 lines, therefore NO square or front line in a straight line, it needs to look like a triangle ,inverted or otherwise. That is why I don't understand the flat back defense or square centerbacks. There is a reason why the front line should not be square and that concept should be followed through to the backline; for otherwisethus the defense line is inefficient ,positioned wise, and overemployed forcing much more work on the midfielder. That is why I'm for a sweeper or man of last resort who is also able to stop sneaky passes penetrating on the blindside behind the defender for the  uncoming attacker. As you see Pep's manner of play in the backline is maybe the dawn again for the great offensive libero to come behind the defense who has not only great skills, a la Beckenbauer, but great passing capabilities ,a la a Koeman who can speed the attack by skipping a linie ,creating a 3rd man play, or two and there creating a  quicker attack by foregoing the need at times in building up starting with the backline but instead the midfield or frontline. By skipping the lines going forward also has the advantageous of effect of playing right away more players behind the ball, making it safer for any build up mistakes from the back where there is no back support...

  74. Bob Ashpole replied, October 21, 2017 at 4:10 p.m.

    Frank, I agree with criticisms but your are wrong to blame the concept, because the problem is with the implementation of the concepts and not the concepts. For instance a flat back four system simply refers to a system with 2 CBs instead of a dedicated stopper and sweeper. The system is not literally "flat" on the field. It should play exactly like a zonal system with a dedicated sweeper, except that the sweeper role is shared rather than assigned to one player. A back line without any depth (i.e., cover) happens when coaches don't understand the game. 

    You could complain about the system in theory, but the system was adopted to offset the most common way to beat a sweeper (commit the sweeper to one side and then switch the ball to the other side). In the senior game, good coaches should be pick a system based on the opponent they face. 

    My current interest has switched from Pep to Marcelo Bielsa. I mention this because he uses FBs as CBs and attackers as wingbacks/winghalfs in order to have better ball skills in the back. My thinking is that his approach can be adapted for US development and the US senior national teams (mens and womens) easier than directly copying Pep's approach or Spain (and Barca is not the same Barca of 10 years ago).  He is Argentine, but his coaching philosophy is Dutch-Spanish like Cruyff and Pep. Bielsa works with great players, but I think his approach would work with amatuers too.

    The problem with trying to copy what Pep is doing is that I think having Pep as the coach is essential to replicating the play. He is a genius at match analysis and game management.

    I suspect you are already, but, if you are not familiar with Bielsa, check him out. I think you will find his coaching approach interesting.

  75. frank schoon replied, October 21, 2017 at 5:01 p.m.

    Bob,that's true what you say about the concept and yes the flatback is not flat for the outside backs  are not square with the centerbacks. But that is only when the team has ball possession. But during ball loss on defense during the transistion they all run back and as a result they end up square in the back. When a goal is scored, count  the number of defenders as compared to the number of opponent attackers. And worse see how much space is given to the opponents in front of the goal. Also in the flatback system all the defenders run  backwards if a particular defender doesnt' have a man. 
    Yes, it is true you make the sweeper  go to one side and then cross the ball to the other side. But that is nothing new it happens all of the time it is called switching the field of attack with a crossball regardless if you play with a sweeper or not. Just like a sweeper,one of the centerbacks has to come out and support his back on the outside so there no difference there. Actually in a 3-4-3 system in a nuanced way you can say you have a sweeper, the last man ,the centerback, actually is positioned as a sweeper behind the defensive midfielder, therefore the 2central players don't play next to each other. THis zonal flatback system has ruined good man to man defense for the  attackers are much space around the penalty than otherwise.  Everytime a goal is scored I look at the space given to the attackers around the goal, it's unreal. So on paper these concepts looks plausible but on the field it doesn't work out that way..
    Pep's approach is very fluid,for you seem to think of Pep way of doing things when he was with Barcelona. Pep approach is totally different with Bayern as it is with City for the players and culture and technique is different. As a matter of fact with Bayern he often played a 2-3-5 system and what I see with City since he doesn't have a Robben or Ribery the approach is also different. I find he's changed so much so you can't compare what he did when he was with Barcelona...

  76. Bob Ashpole replied, October 22, 2017 at 10:14 a.m.

    Pep's application varies from team to team and match to match, but his underlaying principles and philosophy remain the same. When Pep went to Germany, he did exactly what Cruyff did coming to Spain (applying Dutch Style prinicples to Spanish football). Pep applied Dutch style principles to the German style he inherited. 

    What interested me the most was how he melded Dutch Style principles with German Style play. My understanding is that he controlled everything until the team possessed the ball in good shape in the opponent's half, then he allowed the team the freedom to use the familiar German Style of play. I believe his view is that he sets the team up to be in the best position to score goals (or perhaps better said "to dominate the game") and then lets the players play.

  77. frank schoon replied, October 22, 2017 at 12:31 p.m.

    Bob, that is true the underlying theme, is domination and ball possession. But I like is how atttained it with players of a different quality and culture and technical ability and thinking. For example, German like to run for that is in their DNA. Pep main thrust is more vertical soccer and quicker attack as compared to what  he did with Barcelona which was more horizontal, more passes and look for a penetrating pass. 

  78. Bob Ashpole replied, October 22, 2017 at 4:32 p.m.

    It will be interesting to see how lasting an influence Pep will have on German football.

  79. frank schoon replied, October 22, 2017 at 7:51 p.m.

    Yeah, Bob, I wonder how much of Guadiolas influence will remain. Look at Barcelona, it has dwindled there just look at how many Barca youth are now playing on the first team...very few. In Germany Bayern definitely was influenced by Guardiolas style of play but I'm afraid that will dwindle. Look at Total soccer of Ajax and the Dutch Team of '74. Total soccer became part of DNA of dutch soccer, like running is part of the DNA of German soccer. The reason it became part of the Dutch DNA is that Cruyff instilled it after Michels. But realize after '78 it sort of lost it's shine until Cruyff came to coach Ajax, but real Total Soccer has never been the same since '74. But with Guardiola gone in Germany I wonder how much of his stuff will become watered down.  

  80. James Madison, October 19, 2017 at 4:29 p.m.

    Wonderful nterview, but I thought the Caligiuri goal in the 1990 run-up was also an away goal.

  81. M S, October 20, 2017 at 7:54 a.m.

    Frank, It really strikes me odd that you correctly advocate for street soccer snd detail specific training but dont see a need for Pro/rel.
    Why in heavens would a club focus on this type of training if they dont have the incentive to do so?
    What really motivates a kid to go out and play pickup if they dobt see a realistic opportybity to pkay pro or move up the ranks?

  82. frank schoon replied, October 20, 2017 at 10:46 a.m.

    MS, I don't want to rehash this pro/rel discussion we had earlier. I didn't say there is no need for Pro/rel. Pro/rel is more for teams than for the individual. When we're talking about improving youth/player development, Pro/rel is way down the list for me. And if you think the major problem in our player development is pro/rel and that is also perhaps why we missed out on the WC or Holland missed out on it ... Well, that's your prerogative and I'll leave it at that......

  83. M S replied, October 21, 2017 at 1:13 p.m.

    Frank its all connected. To develop or even scout for the very best an incentive to do so is needed. We dont have that, hence the results.
    To want to play street soccer is to have a realistic chance to play pro. A patg must be in place easy enough for a kid to understand which is exactly what Pro/Rel brings.
    If im a 10 year old and I see there is a chance for me to help my hometown D3 or D2 team get into ahigher division and know that I will be scoutef if i am better than my other neighborhood friends I am pkahing every day. I am looking up ti my hometown top players and wantibg to prove myself. Its called motivation.
    You can talk all fat about pointers for development which I actually enjoy but its meaningless without proper system in pkace but realitt is unless coaches are profiting from doing things right they just dont care.
    Its LaLa Land at best. You are going around in circles if you think an entire generation of coaches will suddenly start actualky developing individuals or promoting street soccer out pf the goodness of their hearts , well you are completely lost.

  84. M S replied, October 21, 2017 at 1:21 p.m.

    And of course that pro/rel is not only answer but is needed to implement the right developmental ideas but if winning the world cup is the tell all about systems then tell me, which country has won it that doesnt have a pro/rel system?

  85. M S, October 20, 2017 at 8:01 a.m.

    I really wish Hugo would have said all this back when he got fired. Maybe woyld have started this push for change sooner. Just goes to show how scared people are for their futures over doing or saying whats right.
    I agree with everything he said.
    DA excludes many top players because of cost and logistics. If Mls had a higger interest in tapping into that Hispanic leagye talent there is nothing stoppong them from setting a "satelite" club in tjose negborhoods, unless of course, profits are the objective.
    The best players should play up an age or 2. No doubt. The fact that we dont see this as much in DA shows that these clubs are not fully committef to developing the best possible players or in any hurry to do so. Duh.
    If it is clear that the DA is not doing the most to develop the best why are Ussf scouts to mostly or only scout DA events?

  86. Jorge Gonzales replied, October 20, 2017 at 3:08 p.m.

    He did. That’s why he was fired. He said it himself in the article. He had view points no one agreed with so they gave him the boot. Getting rid of the 17&18 academy...not popular. Get out. 

    Picking better players. Having a unified identity. He who speaks gets let go. 
    I think we need to read between the lines. He’s basically saying he can’t say why he was let go but he’s saying his view points were not well received so eventually they let him go so that he’d stop causing problems. 
    These articles can come out and shed light but th media holds no power in the US. USSF can do whatever thy want. No one will get to change anything unless it’s someone on the inside. 
    I laugh with all these articles asking for change. USSF is the equivalent of the White House right now. Most Americans don’t want trump. Too bad. Nothing is changing. 
    The election is rigged. Gulati contains the majority vote with 75%. We the people, the majority ...we’re good for 25% of the vote. 
    No change. Mediocrity forever. 

  87. Ric Fonseca replied, October 21, 2017 at 1:27 p.m.

    MS, Latino/Hispanic players, Rene Miramontes, Luis Sagastume, et. al. have been saying this now since the 70's and into the 21st Century, and hugely ironic several days ago as I was on the phone and just before Hugo's piece was published,  a very good friend of mine who not only earned his USSF coaching licences (all three) and also went to England for his FA licenses, told me that after dedicating a little more than three decades to the sport, he feels like a pariah just as much as many other Latino/Hispanic coaches do that spoke out against the strange and myopic approach to Latino/Hispanic players. I also remember only too well when US Soccer (before Gulati) announced they'd be ID'ing and hiring scouts of Latino/Hsispanic descent, and these scouts would travel the country to ID not just Latino youth players, but players of all walks of life. I think the number they hired was a huge one... probably not more than ten!!! to cover this vast land of ours. As for the DA, we saw this coming in the late 70's and into the following decades, with the pay for play club system that was constantly battling the rec leagues, to include ayso, as well as US Youth Soccer, and here's something for you to chomp on: when my son started in the K-leagues of ayso the cost was $35.00; when I moved him to competitive club competition, I had a choice of signing him with the local Real Madrid or the Real Santa Monica Club, I chose Santa Monica, the cost was then $65.00, now that cost is more than $3,000/year. So what does this have to do with the DA concept? It is just another pay-for play scheme and is not widely known in the East  or South LA areas, only in the more affluent regions of LA county.
    As always we can go on and on and on and on, but I will just close with let them PLAY ON in the streets, parks, schools, or where ever.

  88. Bob Ashpole replied, October 21, 2017 at 4:33 p.m.

    I cannot imagine soccer in the US without Hispanic players and coaches and their influence. I have never played on a team without Hispanic players and, when I played competitively, I had a Hispanic coach. I played about 800 adult matches, but then I wasn't playing USSF sanctioned matches and I never played youth soccer. I have also played with ethnic Portuguese. Different language but same soccer.

    USSF's rejection of Hispanic coaches and players, at the top, is completely out of touch with US soccer. 

    I don't have a problem with a business expert like Gulati serving as president. I do have a problem with business experts making soccer decisions, like selecting the technical and coaching staff.

    I know that in the past USSF on at least one occassion used a committee of former NT players to review WNT coaching candidates. Why not for every decision. I think USSF ought to use a formal technical committee of former NT players to make the soccer decisions. Who is elected president should not be determined our technical direction. That committee should be inclusive.

    We need to embrace our nation's Hispanic and immigrant roots and their influence still today on the game, not pretend that they don't exist.    

  89. frank schoon replied, October 21, 2017 at 5:47 p.m.

    RIC, AMEN!!! This whole pay for play is a RIP off .....

  90. M S replied, October 22, 2017 at 1:08 a.m.

    Jorge, I meant he should have said publicly back then through the media. The more people luke him talk openly and without fear the more other people like him start talking themselves and that creates a movement.
    I agree with you that its rigged so thisvdefenitely needs a revolution. 
    Have to speak up loud and clear. Nothing to lose but a job and everything to gain.

  91. David Mont, October 20, 2017 at 10:26 a.m.

    Frankly, to me this sounds like a rather meaningless, generic comment.  Who wouldn't want to play "creative, entertaining, total soccer".

  92. Bob Ashpole replied, October 20, 2017 at 7:37 p.m.

    Basically in the pay-to-play system they use soccer philosophies as catch phrases to sell parents. Generally the popular catch phrases change as a new nation wins the world cup. The current phrase is "positional play." I suspect many of the clubs using this phrase don't actually use the system. In the past, it was Dutch, Brazilian, German and once upon a time, English or Continental. I imagine it difficult to have an intelligent conversation with the vast majority of the population about "creative, entertaining, total soccer". Their head is full of catch phrases describing pay-to-play clubs that all too many times play the same stunted uncreative, boring "subtotal" soccer.

  93. frank schoon replied, October 20, 2017 at 8:57 p.m.

    Bob, see my post in the John Hackworth

  94. frank schoon, October 20, 2017 at 10:32 a.m.

    GUYS  can anyone tell why I'm getting these extraneous letters like "&nbsp" continuously in my posts

  95. Kyle Hawthorne, October 20, 2017 at 11:25 a.m.

    I would love to see Hugo as the next president of the USSF.  I believe he has the vision (and passion) to take us to the next level.  It won't be quick--as noted, a big part of his philosophy is youth development--but we need to change the way we've been doing things.  I think with his leadership and installing coaches, administrators, etc. who can follow his philosophy and execute the plan... we could finally find ourselves as as a true football powerhouse, respected as a nation, not just for the occasional outlier talent.  

  96. Jorge Gonzales replied, October 20, 2017 at 3:11 p.m.

    You’d waste him. He’s not a bureaucrat. He belongs on the field. Even with the first team. 
    Will never happen though . Let’s move on 

  97. MA Soccer, October 20, 2017 at 11:26 a.m.

    This is rainbows and unicorns stuff.  The USMNT was not good enough to play that style.  They were sent home by T&T, probaly should have packed it in for the draw.  That is the current state of USMNT!  
    I like many of the young players, enjoy watching their devlopment on their club teams but have very low expectations for the men in next WC cycle.   USF has had a negative impact on youth socccer in last 5 years.  Only hope USC can have some positive impact on direction and programs @ USF.  Again not optimistic   

  98. Ric Fonseca replied, October 21, 2017 at 1:34 p.m.

    OK. to  MA Soccer:  When you used the accronym, "USF" are you referring to the University of San Francisco or the University of South Florida?  And what about USC:  The University of Southern California?    Just a couple of silly and joking queries.... PLAY ON!!!

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