Commentary

Post-mortem: Will the USA Americanize soccer or globalize it completely?

A couple of weeks ago, I said that it will take a small miracle for the USA not to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.  Well, actually, that small miracle happened and the USA did not qualify for the WC 2018. Miracles do happen in soccer and that is the beauty of the game. Miracles in single games happen pretty regularly. Miracles even happen in tournaments and leagues. Winning the Euro 2014 was a miracle for Greece and the same is true for Leicester City by winning the EPL. Miracle is a positive phenomenon, so for Panama it was a miracle to go the World Cup for the first time. Also miracles do not happen for the same team over and over, and then it is not a miracle. I can assuredly say that USA will qualify for the World Cup in 2022 and Panama will not.

What we should look at is the direction USA has been going over the years. Let us not forget that Netherlands (finalist in three World Cups) did not qualify for World Cup 2018. Italy has yet to pass the playoff stage to qualify. So sometimes teams do not qualify for the World Cup and that is not the end of the world. But the USMNT is in a unique position; they are in Concacaf which sends 3 teams (plus one more with play-off) to the WC. In Concacaf, there are usually only two or three teams in the top 30 FIFA rankings. (Right now, Mexico is 16th, Costa Rica is 22nd and the USA is 27th.) Panama, which is ranked 49th, will go the WC and Honduras (ranked 69th) has a chance, too. That is what it hurts. I asked the question many times: If USA competed in UEFA or Conmebol will they have qualified for the WC each time since 1990? The answer is definitely not.

I see 1990 as the genesis of modern soccer in the USA. That is the year when USA  qualified for the World Cup since 1950. A few years prior to 1988, USSF made a courageous decision to bid for the 1994 World Cup. FIFA granted USSF the right to host the World Cup in 1994 with the condition that a professional league should start in the USA. In 1996, MLS kicked off. So it is safe and fair that 1990 was the beginning of modern and established soccer in the USA.

Did we -- as the wealthiest and the most overall successful sporting nation -- make the leap that everyone expected of us in the 27 years since then? I was here in the 80s (1978-1987). I watched the game to develop immensely for both genders in those years. In the late 1980s, there was not a single national outdoor professional soccer league. I came back two years ago. Although now we have 4 million registered players, three professional leagues for the men and incredible facilities -- both for grassroots and professional soccer -- I personally did now witness the development in soccer that one would expect from the superpower of the Olympics. My impression might be subjective, so let us have a look at numbers for the USA since 1990.

Since 1990, the USA competed in every World Cup. Even Mexico -- which is usually ranked higher than USA -- did not qualify for one World Cup -- it was barred from competing in 1990 -- in that time frame. We played 26 games in seven World Cups. We won five games, tied six and lost 15. It gives us a winning ratio of 19.2 percent and 0.81 points per game.

U.S. men's national teams (1990-2017):
Tournament
GP
W
T
L
Won %
PPG
Qualified
U-17 World Cup
46 16 7 23 34.8% 1.20 15 times
U-20 World Cup
41 17 6 18 41.5% 1.39 11 times
World Cup
26 5 6 15 19.2% 0.81 7 times
Note: Two U-17 World Cup ties were shootout losses (1991 and 1999). U-17 World Cup record does not include 2017.

On the FIFA rankings, we are currently 27th and with an overall average of 20th since the inception of FIFA rankings in 1993. Our highest ranking was 8th in 2002 and the lowest ranking of 32nd in 1998. If we look at the USA's graph of annual rankings, we do not see a steady improvement. At best it can be described as rather cyclical. If now you look at Belgium’s rankings or Germany’s graph, you will see a steady improvement over the last 10 years. The improvement starts a few years after the commencement of their new development programs.

How about the U.S. youth teams? The U-17s were 5th –- their best performances since 1990 -- three times (1991, 2001, and 2005). They qualified 12 times (out of 14). Excluding the U-17 World Cup, where the USA faces England Saturday in the quarterfinals, it has played 46 games, won 16, tied seven and lost 23 with a winning ratio of 34.8 percent and 1.20 points per game. (Two of the ties were losses on penalty kicks to Qatar in 1991 and Australia in 1999.)

The U-20s qualified 11 (out of 14) times for the U-20 WC, which is also held biennially. Their best performance of fourth place came in before the “genesis” in 1989. After 1990, their best achievement was in 2003: fifth place. They played 41 games in 11 tournaments won 17, tied six and lost 18 with a winning ratio of 41.5 percent and 1.39 points per game.

It is obvious that our youth men’s national teams do better than the USMNT. Even then, their achievement is sporadic and not sustainable.
The numbers support my subjective observation that since 1990, the USMNT did not show a continuous and sustainable improvement trend. This is a fact.

After the “fiasco” a few days ago, one can easily point the finger at Bruce Arena, the players, the bad field or the “phantom” goal at the game between Panama and Costa Rica. Or one can easily blame the woodwork that did not allow Clint Dempsey’s shot. All those are meaningless, even blaming Sunil Gulati is meaningless.

Even if we qualified for the World Cup, the fact that the USMNT is not where it should be will not be altered. That fact would be overlooked by the stakeholders until USMNT is eliminated at the group or knockout stage in Russia. Even then stakeholders will be hopeful for the 2022 WC for no good reason.

The only thing to blame is the system. Unless we overhaul the system radically and completely like the Germans or the Belgians some other Ahmet Guvener would be writing similar articles 20 years later.

Right now, the soccer system is semi-Americanized. I never heard of Germanization or Japanization of football, but based on our cultural arrogance of being the wealthiest superpower nation and having the best leagues in the world in other team sports dictates us that we must Americanize soccer for success.

Currently it is semi-Americanized. My article on “13 Unique Applications” summarizes what is Americanized in soccer. So far, the semi-Americanized approach or system for 27 years yielded very few positive results. The fact is that since 1990 the USMNT did not show a continuous and sustainable improvement trend.

Being semi-Americanized is like being semi-pregnant. You are either pregnant or not. You have to decide what you want to be.

One option is to let the American culture take over completely. Some people support this idea. Let soccer flourish in high schools and colleges like football, basketball do. Let U.S. Soccer play the role of USA Basketball play in basketball and just be responsible for the national teams. They even think that MLS should play with the rules that the owners want and not by the LOTG. These people think that is the American way and that is the road to success. Although I do not agree with them, I cannot categorically say that it will not be successful although it sure will take longer. It will definitely be decades before USMNT becomes a first-tier MNT. Then you do not have to worry about the 13 unique applications of Americanization, the system will completely be Americanized. Of course, how FIFA will approach this is another question to ponder about.

The other option is to completely de-Americanize the game; get rid of all unique approaches to the game and play and manage the game like the rest of the world. Naturally in doing so; you have to consider the socio-economic and geographical constraints of the country when you are redesigning. You will also have to abandon the arrogant approach of saying that we are different than the rest of the world, so we will do it our way. Maybe the only difference in soccer for the USA is its size of the country and the diversity it embraces. The latter one could be a great asset. This approach will require quite a battle with the establishment; the businesses of the pay-to-play system and the professional leagues.

You need to have a very tactful, political but yet decisive approach. In other words you have to attack the windmills, but you cannot be a Don Quixote. The mistakes made in the past in creating the semi-Americanized approach will haunt you in your pursuit of the de-Americanization of the game.

After the USA-T&T game, Tyler Twellman was on ESPN, telling the public what has to be done after the fiasco. I thought that I was on TV. He said everything I had been advocating since I started writing for Soccer America. Not that I know better, but that is the road to go; follow the rules of the global game.

The new approach should have three lighthouses to take us through the stormy and dangerous sea:

-- Soccer is a global game we must play the game like the rest of the world. Playing the game includes the management and governance of the game like the rest of the world does. It includes everything from the structure of the professional leagues, the youth development landscape and finding a way to bypass “pay-to-play” model.

-- U.S. Soccer should not position itself behind the “law of the land” but rather the FIFA statutes. There are many countries in which there is a clash between the law of the land and the FIFA statutes. In those countries, either the law of the land is modified or a method is found for the FIFA statutes to be in line with the law of the land.

It is nearly impossible if not impossible to develop soccer stars from the kids of overprotective suburban families who have no soccer culture. We must embrace the kids that are left outside the system due to financial hardship. The suburban families feed the pay-to-play system. We have an immense population of rural or urban African-Americans and Latinos that are left outside the pay-to-play system since they cannot afford it.

Research shows that NFL and NBA players do not come from suburban wealthy families but USMNT players do. Who are more successful? The NBA/NFL players or the USMNT players. The kids of affluent suburban families always have a comfort cushion to fall onto in case they are not successful in sports.  The African-American kids of Caribbean origin and the Latino kids come from families with a soccer culture. Coming from a family with a soccer culture is extremely important in developing soccer stars. Even if you come from a suburban family if you have a soccer culture in the family, you could be an exception and become a soccer star; have a look at Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah. We must embrace the talented kids left out by the “pay-to-play system." Those kids will bring us the success story of the USMNT that all of us are craving for. U.S. Soccer has the finance for it. In 2016, the assets of U.S. Soccer were $121.9 million and its revenue $125.3 million.

We must decide whether we will Americanize the game or globalize it completely. There is no compromise or middle ground. We have seen that being half-pregnant is futile.

Ahmet Guvener (ahmet@ahmetguvener.com) is the former Secretary General and the Technical Director of the Turkish FA. He was also the Head of Refereeing for the Turkish FA. He served as Panel member for the FIFA Panel of Referee Instructors and UEFA Referee Convention. He now lives and works as a soccer consultant in Austin, Texas.
37 comments about "Post-mortem: Will the USA Americanize soccer or globalize it completely?".
  1. Dennis Mueller, October 20, 2017 at 12:09 a.m.

    There is no reason to believe professional coaches develop soccer talent befor the age of about 14.  It is too much of a crap shoot to try to identify which 10 year-old will end up with the athleticcism, skill, temperment and soccer brain need to be a successful professional.  It is largely the parents who determine how a players talents will develop up to the age of about 14.

      In a lot of the world, free play works for young kids, but in the US (and most of Europe) that is no longer the case.  It is parents who determine what most kids do. 

    The first generation of the youth soccer movement in the US is just now becoming parents of young players and those children will be, on average better players than their parents.    But they will still not be good enough.  I think it will be another generation before the US will approach the likes of Germany.  Everyone wants to find a quick fix, but there is none, it will take time (and some luck) for a culture of better soccer to emerge in the US.

  2. Ben Myers replied, October 20, 2017 at 12:26 a.m.

    Two points. 

    Yes, it is possible to identify soccer potential in 10-year olds, nurture and develop players, with a reasonable probability that the players will become very good.  How good is always the question.  There is a significant amount to be done in earlier years to develop the physical, technical, tactical and psyschological aspects of players.  Been there, done that at the grass roots level.  I never have trained players who eventually became pros, but I have identified at an early age, trained and will continue to train players who play college level soccer and start on their mostly NCAA Division 3 teams.

    It will take time for a better soccer culture to emerge in this country, but little depends on LUCK!  Improvement requires identifying what needs to be done, putting together a plan, and executing the plan.  Well, maybe the luck has to do with having the right leaders for this daunting task.

  3. Wooden Ships replied, October 20, 2017 at 12:41 a.m.

    Dennis, in many areas of the country we are already approaching the 4th generation. And, I will dispute the claim that todays players are by default a more technical and imaginative player. Our cone coaching methods in and of themseves is a large part of our lack of really talented pools. Prior to incorporating tactics, the technical (touch) skills are lacking and then the tactics all too often are the players responding like Pavlov's Dog. Dennis, while I can agree that the explosive growth of the game is exciting, the corresponding growth of the quality player hasn't it. 

  4. Scott Johnson replied, October 20, 2017 at 2:07 a.m.

    I think a lot depends on where you are.

    Some clubs do focus on technical development in the younger ages.  Others skip mastering the technique and go straight on to tactics.  It's always frustrating to see coaches encouraging kids to pass the ball, when the passes go awry half the time and the other half the time, it bounces away from the recipient.

    Someone who is an expert (not a sideline gawker like yours truly), ought to write an article on How To Tell If Your Coach Is Good.  Such a thing might be useful; though I suspect there might be disagreement on its contents.  (In general, I suspect there is widespread agreement here that Something Must Be Done, less on what that something ought to be).

  5. Ben Myers, October 20, 2017 at 12:17 a.m.

    Put me in the same camp as Ahmet.  Globalize soccer in this country.  His "13 applications" are spot on, another symptom of American arrogance.  We in this country always seem to know better than the rest of the world, whether it is soccer or all of our current political potboilers.  Not enough Americans have seen other countries, allowing them to reach the realization that these other places are pretty good, too.

    But globalizing American soccer will take assertive leadership to confront the various issues and to deal with all the vested interests that require sacrifices.  I prepared a soccer strategy paper after Brazil 2014, detailing not the current state (The 13 Applications) but very positively what needed to be done.  Sent it to Gulati and Klinsmann, the most likely recipients.  Got a thank you but little action from Gulati.  This says to me that it is time for new USSF leadership who go forward with the goal of laying out the steps needed for soccer to improve in this country, and then follow the steps, one by one.

  6. Wooden Ships, October 20, 2017 at 12:27 a.m.

    The game in this country started with global populations and then was hijacked by non-soccer parents and athletic administrators. Approaching the game like our other sports doesn't fit, never has even though the attempt has been crammed down our throat. The international schedule, indoor soccer instead of futsal, synthetic turf, eggball administrators influencing high school and college soccer, pay to play juggernaut, the consistent obstacles faced when trying to get field access in the traditional sports areas, and many other examples. The ridiculous belief that if are best athletes played soccer we would dominate. Good article as always Ahmet, not sure which way we will wind up going, but Sunil and the phantom decision makers have been off course for years and years. Rather than accepting an inferior national body (USSF) perhaps a parallel body can vie for supremacy.

  7. Nick Daverese, October 20, 2017 at 1:27 a.m.

    I think Trinidad and tabago got into the WC in a similar way the US got in on that long goal that Paul Caligiuri scored. That team could not put three passes together as I recall.

    i think Greece miracle in 2014 was because they played man defense. Old tactic become new again when no one saw it for decades.

    The Dutch have not forgot about it either just ask Frank he will tell you.

    i think not starting our best in this game as a big mistake Clint Dempsey would be considered one of our best don’t  you think?

    i have been watch a show called do you think you can dance because I considered dancers athletes. The winner this year was a Japanese American male. He started as a little kid. He was on Broadway as a kid. He has been a professional as a kid. He was no amature when he tried out for the show. One of the guys that choreographs on the show encouraged him to try out. He has danced for the choreographer last season. 

    This kid was totally self self motivated to get better in every aspect of dance. These people get hurt a lot but know or we’re taught how to take care of themselves. They dance injured and just work threw it.

    i say if you get a kid like this who is self motivated like a player like Messi. He would be a star as well in our game. How bad do they want to get better?


  8. Scott Johnson, October 20, 2017 at 3:02 a.m.

    Damn.  I had just written a lenghty response, which got eaten by the website because it was too long.

    A shorter version:

    1-4 and 11 go together.  You can't have pro/rel without a unified league structure, and leages that are independent from teams.

    5-6 go togther.  Someone has to pay for it all; if it's not transfer fees or subsidies from the pro leagues, the federation, or the State, it will be Mom and Dad.

    7 is probably a minor issue, as the differences mainly affect substition and timekeeping rules.  College is a bigger deal for women than for men, due to more scholarships available (that due to Title IX rules).

    8 may be an area in which the US leads the world.  Due to the problems with American football and CTE, this is something we yankees are more sensitive too than other countries.

    9 and 12 kind of go together, though I'm not sure how much these affect the qualty of play on the field.  A bigger headache than the separate organization is separate registration database, separate cards, etc.  And a lot of the hassle seems to be FIFA requirements (especially concerning youth players born abroad), which I doubt is specific to the US.

    10 is interesting--how are referees licensed and employed in other countries?

    13 is probably not a big deal, as it is specific to MLS (we've had this debate in other sports, particularly baseball--the introduction of divisional play was highly controversial many years ago).  In a country as geographically large as the US, divisions are probably a necessary evil.

    Other issues not in your list.

    * territorial exclusivity (teams being given a monopoly over a particular city or geography).
    * NCAA amateurism rules that treat amateur status like virginity (lost it and its gone), forcing an early choice between a college path and a pro path.
    * MLS not respecting the international calendar--again, there's a good reason for this (avoiding soccer in the snow), and it probably has minimal impact on youth development, but it's a pain in the but for professional and international players.
    * Our tolerance for turf.  Where I live, grass fields are swamps six months out of the year and are unplayable.  Many other parts of the country are essentially deserts where grass won't grow unless irrigated.  A lot of soccer in this country is played on turf, including in MLS, and some local clubs train on it exclusively (and act confused when confronted with a grass pitch, especially if the grass is long or the field is uneven or has lots of divots).  

  9. Kent James replied, October 20, 2017 at 4:16 p.m.

    Well said.

  10. Bob Ashpole, October 20, 2017 at 6:23 a.m.

    I agree with much of Mr. Guvener's sentiments, but it is the details where we part. First, this Americanization vs Globalization I see as a false dichotomy. It sounds attractive, but it is not realistic. 

    The basic problem is the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. To a great extent we romanticize anything foreign: players, coaches, clubs, leagues, and especially the game. Sure we see some great soccer when the best clubs play each other, but that is not representative of most soccer. Most soccer matches overseas are mundane.

    I don't want US soccer to be like the rest of the world. I want US soccer to be better. To be blunt, we are already better than most countries. What we need to do is learn from other countries successes and mistakes and use them to grow the game in the US. 

    Some of the problem with US youth soccer are common to other youth sports. It is over-commercialized and over-organized. More over I don't think people are recognizing that youth sports and the development of professional players are two different things with different objectives.

    What would I want changed the most about youth soccer? I would put more emphasis on "play" and "fun".  What would I change about player development? I would put more emphasis on fundamentals and less on team tactics and "positions" prior to U14.  

  11. Tim Gibson replied, October 20, 2017 at 9:40 a.m.

    Having put 2 boys through the system all the way from U-6 onto college, I think the real disconnect isn't so much the youth clubs. I actually think we do OK there & that the real problem is post U-14. Yes we do need to pull more inner city kids in etc, that's a no-brainer but overall, so many kids are getting touches at an early age. So many of these same kids that have several years of decent training behind them, once they finish U-14 and transition onto High School Soccer = THAT is where we lose them!
    Seriously, if your kid is still developing at that point in their careers and/or have not hit that growth spurt yet, sadly  he/she ends up on a Freshman Soccer program with some part-time gym teacher as a trainer. Nearly all Freshmen & JV High School Soccer programs are the dead end for tens of thousands of the Soccer Moms dreams. Even if your kid is good enough in 9th grade to make the Varsity  20 - 25, most H.S. varsity programs & their coaches simply suck. Additionally, what happened to the likely hundred or so other kids that came into that same school from U-14 programs who were still developing and were overlooked? Is a 15 year-old that has played for nearly 10 years done? Maybe, maybe not but at that point they have very little choice but to take up Track or join the bowling team & THAT's sad.
    High School Soccer is basically the last stop for the multitude of American youth & sadly, Collegiate ball is not a whole lot better.
    I firmly believe that US Soccers new vision needs to "somehow" unite Youth programs, High school programs with NCAA with the pro leagues. How?....good question, but there needs to be a common vision if we are to ever fulfill this great lands potential.

  12. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, October 20, 2017 at 9:44 a.m.

    Good post Bob.  Thanks.

  13. ROBERT BOND, October 20, 2017 at 9:03 a.m.

    the young kids that are good need something more than pay to play-would Suarez have developed in this country, or Pele'?

  14. Georges Carraha, October 20, 2017 at 10:07 a.m.

    As a Coach and Trainer for two youth teams with urban and suburban players, I must say that the"soccer cuture" makes a difference in the player's attitude and growth.
    If the USSF creates a plan to reach out to the children of immigrants, whether they come from Europe, Latin America, South America, Africa or the Caribbean, US Soccer will develop and find great success.
    I also currently have two boys who sleep, breathe and live soccer every day because they are passionate about the sport and all their friends are also soccer players.
    We cannot separate ourselve from the world soccer community becaseu we are Americans.
    We must love the game, train it and compete within the FIFA rules.
    Until I came to this country, scoring too many goals was never a problem because we never focused on the number of goals but on the concept of playing for fun and winning.  This is what competition is about.  Whether the score is 1-0 or 100-0, it does not matter.
    We will always have people who will pay for their child to play sports but that child should not be privileged to climb ladders without the necessary skills to play the game at the highest level.
    There are no easy solutions but including all parties in the discussion is key to find answers on how to move from this dire time.

  15. Bob Ashpole replied, October 20, 2017 at 6:36 p.m.

    Well said Mr. Carraha.

  16. Mauro Nobre, October 20, 2017 at 10:29 a.m.

    -- U.S. Soccer should not position itself behind the “law of the land” but rather the FIFA statues. There are many countries in which there is a clash between the law of the land and the FIFA statues. In those countries, either the law of the land is modified or a method is found for the FIFA statues to be in line with the law of the land.

    I think you meant "statutes", not statues. 

  17. Kent James replied, October 20, 2017 at 4:19 p.m.

    I don't know Mauro, some of those FIFA administrators don't move much....:-)

  18. Ahmet Guvener replied, October 20, 2017 at 5:18 p.m.

    It is a typo. It definitely should be FIFA statutes.

  19. MA Soccer, October 20, 2017 at 11:12 a.m.

    Lets start with a new USF President. Segment the issues, set priorties and then exceute a plan.  Need new leadership with experience and ability to execute.  I'll wait and see, not optimistic. 

  20. Al Gebra, October 20, 2017 at 1:08 p.m.

    Re there are no quick fixes, look at how quickly Iceland completely revamped their entire approach to the game. The results are astounding

  21. Ric Granryd, October 20, 2017 at 1:16 p.m.

    IMO, the T&T result serves as a wake up call and is creating a lot of excellent discussion and introspection - all excellent for continued development of the game and players.  But, I do not believe it was the US soccer environment that had any root cause in this failure.  To me, the MNT's presently and of several iterations in the past, have rarely committed to individual and collective defending.  So many goals conceded over the years are the result of careless, emotion-less defending.  And we play with an arrogance that I just don't understand.

  22. Nick Daverese, October 20, 2017 at 1:57 p.m.

    Got a point Ric we don’t consider defending a skill. We consider it a waste of practice time. 

  23. Kent James, October 20, 2017 at 4:33 p.m.

    Ahmet, I appreciate your data concerning the results of the various national teams; you're good at incorporating data into a discussion that is often based on emotion.  But twice you said something, then corrected it later without recognizing the conflict.  More superficially, miracles are associated with good things, so it was not a miracle for us not to qualify (it may be a miracle if Panama does).  More importantly, you argued we cannot rely on sheltered suburban kids for talent, then point out that two of our best prospects are such kids (Pulisic and Weah).  While I agree that we cannot rely on them exclusively, we should not write them off either.  

    As for your 13 ways soccer int eh US is different than the rest of the world, again, kudos for bringing data.  But I disagree that we have only two choices; being exactly like the rest of the world, or being uniquely American.  Soccer development is not pregnancy.  We need to adapt what the rest of the world does to our unique American landscape.  For example, our weather means we can't play on the same schedule as the rest of the world.  Geographic distance, and competition from more other sports (basketball, American football, and baseball) add difficulties to US soccer development that don't exist in other countries.  Unified ownership (at the MLS) was instituted because we tried it the other way (NASL), and we couldn't make it work. It's not arrogance to do things differently, its practicality.  So let's look at what others do and learn from them, but we can't adopt their methods blindly, or we'll fall flat on our face.


    Finally, yes, we may develop better soccer players if we had lots of young kids growing up in neighborhoods with nothing to do but play soccer, and no hope of living a good life unless they escaped their poverty by becoming professional soccer players, so they always play as if their life depended on the results. We don't want to force kids to be so desperate, so let's develop a more positive model (giving kids in poor ares the opportunity to play, but working so that they have other (non-soccer) options to have a nice life.  Soccer should be a love, not a necessity....

  24. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, October 20, 2017 at 5:56 p.m.

    Great post!

  25. Scott Johnson replied, October 20, 2017 at 6 p.m.

    The defending World champs are Germany, and the previous two countries to hoist the Cup are also well-to-do European nations.  I'm pretty certain that children in those lands don't view soccer as an economic necessity.

  26. Gus Keri, October 20, 2017 at 7:19 p.m.

    I disagree with the term "half-pregnant." In soccer, there is some uniqueness to each country. Have you noticed that most of the proponents of globalization are foreigners or Americans who lived outside the country in their youth or they were born to ethnic families? the reverse can be said for the pro-Americanization crowd. They are mostly American who grew up on other American sports. The division is based on each person's culture of sports/soccer and not on facts or research. I don't think either one is completely right or completely wrong. The situation in this country is different from any other country. I don't see any thing wrong with single entity structure or with not having Pro/Rel for ecample. I don't think changing soccer from the top would help much. I would rather focus on getting more kids involved in soccer in a proper way. I would start with 2 points: 1- remove pay-for-play for good: Kids should not pay at all for playing soccer, no matter what. 2- remove play-to-win mentality for good also: Teach kids to play for the love of the game and not for winning. This is how you build a soccer culture that will bear fruit in adulthood regadless if you follow the law of the land or FIFA statutes.

  27. uffe gustafsson, October 20, 2017 at 7:33 p.m.

    Ahmet
    for your thoughts on the pay to play system.
    here is my comment.
    it will never go away for a simple reason.
    thats the use of fields to practice and play games.
    its one of the biggest cost for every club.
    i have never understood why municipalities are charging for field use its already been paid by tax dollars and it's a money making thing for them.
    im originally from Sweden and know that clubs do not pay field use, since the clubs are part of the community. But here clubs are not a community organization they are seperate from the municipalities.
    so the only way is either the municipalities stop charging the field fees or clubs going to be part of the community and no longer a seperate entity.
    and none of this will happen.

  28. uffe gustafsson, October 20, 2017 at 7:49 p.m.

    One more comment on the pay to play.
    yes some players get reduced or free club fees.
    but if you are on a traveling team and think that's the teams we talking about.
    then you have team fees and they usually is close to $1k a year to cover tornament and coaches costs.
    those alone will keep players from playing in the higher levels. You don't have to be from poor families to not afford it, you have several kids playing and it's out of reach for many families.
    this is a reality for many families.
    soccer is very expensive sport to play.

  29. aaron dutch, October 20, 2017 at 8:45 p.m.

    None of this will change, we could have had this discussion 20 years ago and the system has only become more entrenched. We are who we really are. We are not a top 32 team, luckily we will get bailed out in 2026 as 48 teams are in the world cup. So we can spin our wheels the next 4 years and then make a quick dash for 2022 get knocked out quicly and back to our passion about how much the game could change etc..

  30. Ric Fonseca, October 20, 2017 at 10:28 p.m.

    Ahmet:  Amen and muchas gracias for your very inghtful commentary.  Arrogance and humility don't mix, like oil and water.  

  31. I w Nowozeniuk, October 21, 2017 at 11:03 a.m.

    Not enough coaches at youth level (both travel & high school) that have the know how as to combining the technical & mental development of their players...this is a fundamental flaw.

  32. R2 Dad replied, October 21, 2017 at 2:29 p.m.

    ...but plenty of opportunity for novice coaches, by trial and error and years of neglect of their player's development, can eventually become mediocre/competent. Yay.

  33. Tony Chervets, October 21, 2017 at 3:07 p.m.

    I totally agree with those who say that parents should not interfere with a development of a youth soccer player and let professional coaches make those decisions such as who will and who will not make it in a serious level of soccer. But, having said that, there are also a lot of garbage coaches, who instead of developing players - do complete opposite. They, indulging their ambitions, break and danage kids in the very early stages of their development. My son, who is now 19 and plays for college, had gone from an 8 years old beginner to an NPL Finalist in 2014, as well as played on USDA level for two years. And so I have seen both types of coaches, the good and the bad. Until the youth level development is somehow uniformed and coaches are inspected by USSF in the unannounced manner, to make sure that such development takes the correct course,we will be going in circles, trying to figure out why our kids are not developed according to the world's standard and become marketable, as many of them dream about playing a very high level soccer.

  34. Nick Daverese, October 21, 2017 at 3:08 p.m.

    R2 dad that was the reason coaches take coaching courses so you don’t learn by trial and error. You learn to teach without all those trial and errors.

  35. Tyler Wells, October 21, 2017 at 10:58 p.m.

    Research shows that NFL and NBA players do not come from suburban wealthy families but USMNT players do. Who are more successful? The NBA/NFL players or the USMNT players. The kids of affluent suburban families always have a comfort cushion to fall onto in case they are not successful in sports. 

    So wait a minute, doesn't this contradict the idea of globalizing American soccer?  Or perhaps you are one of those who think that England and France represent globalized soccer?  As I recall, Spain and Germany have done quite well recently with teams with solid bases of white and middle classed players.  
    I am 100% for increasing the popularity of the game and for making it more economically accessible.  I also find it bizarre the suggestion of so many US fans that the soccer player base should be the same as that of the NFL or NBA.  Andres Iniesta is an excellent soccer player, maybe it is the NFL that is missing out by not recruiting more players like him?
    At the end of the day, what needs to be done in US soccer isn't really rocket science.  Find ways to make the best practices of successful countries like Germany and most of Northern Europe (but not the British Isles) work in the unique environment that is the United States.  I really think that the US Soccer Federation has been moving that way (small sided games, build out lines, no punting by young goal keepers, licensing coaches, etc.) but they need to put much more effort into outreach and bringing all the myriad youth associations into the fold.  They also need to work harder on educating the parents of the players.  Also, yes, they need to work harder in bringing in the immigrant and ethnic minority communities.  

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  37. Joe Linzner, October 22, 2017 at 11:35 a.m.

    I agree that it is possible to identify athleticism and soccer acumen at 10 yrs of age. It is also possible to identify an affinity for the game. I will grant that doing so is easier in a Nation where soccer is the national game. Athleticism is very easy to identify at a very young age. While it can be learned it is much more evident when inborn. We even have a term for it right here in river city. We call the "Naturals". (TIC)  It is also relatively simple to identify a soccer player and separate him/her from dilettantes. Have been tasked with rating talent in HS soccer and invariably a player will stand out in many areas of the game. It is easy to identify skill on the ball, dribbling, touch and general interaction with the ball. What is not so easy to rate are the less obvious skills necessary to elevate a player from plebian to star. Vision. Which includes for me, awareness of personal space in relation to both attack and defense, anticipation and the ability to rate movement of players both in attack and defense. Movement, personal and partners in attack and defense and positioning which is based on the foregoing talents.  Once asked to scout a HS team, the coach was disappointed that I had to tell him that out of his 22 players he had a single soccer player. Many of these had grand plans to play for university soccer.  Not a single one ever played soccer at University, not even intramurally. So yes, athleticism is easy soccer acumen takes a bit of observation but is also possible.  Just my personal opinion and observation.
      

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