Commentary

Richard Groff: 'We need to keep doing what we do well'

Longtime soccer executive and administrator Richard Groff, 71, grew up playing soccer in Pennsylvania and first became affiliated with soccer administration as an official with the Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association in 1986.

He began serving as U.S. Soccer Federation treasurer in 1990 and helped organize the U.S. Cup tournament that served a dry run for the 1994 World Cup and continued until 2000, and helped promote many international games during the 1990s. He was one of the founding members of the U.S. Soccer Foundation formed after World Cup ’94, and narrowly lost an election to incumbent president Alan Rothenberg on the second ballot that same year.

1994 U.S. Soccer presidential election:
First ballot: Alan Rothenberg (48.9%), Richard Groff (46.9%), Hank Des Bordes (4.2%)
Second ballot: Alan Rothenberg (53.6%), Richard Groff (46.4%).


 
He served as commissioner of the American Professional Soccer League as well as president of the United States Adult Soccer Association and on U.S. Soccer’s Board of Directors. He was named winner of the U.S. Soccer Werner Fricker Builder Award in 2014.

Groff says he supports incumbent Sunil Gulati as U.S. Soccer president and will not comment on rumors that he may run if Gulati does not.

First, let’s get people up to speed on your soccer background. What was your first contact with the sport?

I played soccer as a 10-year-old on a team through my Mennonite church. Just that recreational soccer at my church got me started. I played soccer in the fall, did cross-country and track and field. I even tried gymnastics but I wasn’t particularly good at it.

I played soccer in high school and college [Lafayette] and on Sundays. In fact, the Lafayette JV team that I coached just got inducted into the Lafayette Hall of Fame.
 
You were in Port of Spain in 1989 when Paul Caligiuri’s goal propelled the U.S. into the 1990 World Cup and went to Couva last month when a 2-1 loss dropped it short of qualification. There’s been incredible progress during that span but what is the state of the game and the federation with that failure in place?
I can talk about the incredible up and excitement of 1989 and I can talk about the loss and feeling down in the same country in 2017. I was not happy a few weeks ago.

I can understand the fans are angry and upset, but if you look back on it, no one expected that we’d have to make a coaching change. We did make a coaching change and I thought the change was a viable change and that worked very well for a while, and on the last day we lost.

That’s what the sport is all about. You don’t win every game and we have to do better.
At the same time, our under-17s and under 20s are performing better than they have in the prior five years. The women appear to be performing extremely well. I would say there’s at least a dozen high-level academy programs in the country and that’s a positive. There was none of that 30 years ago.
 
But finishing fifth of six teams in the Hexagonal? Isn’t that a sign that something is seriously wrong?
You have to admit that Mexico and Costa Rica are two quality teams. We got outplayed very badly in Costa Rica [4-0 loss]. I thought the team performed well in Mexico [1-1 tie]. If you looked at the Hexagonal, we were bumped by Panama and Honduras. What was the goal differential with those teams home and away? I don’t think those teams were superior. We beat Panama, 4-0, and Honduras, 6-0, at home.

It’s always tough to play away in Concacaf. I’ve been to many of those matches. We started out poorly against Mexico at home and Costa Rica away. That was a bad start. I can’t tell you how positive I feel except for one match in Trinidad & Tobago in a little 10,000- seat stadium that I sat in, in 2001 for the FIFA U-17 [World Cup]. Same one.
 
You’ve been to a lot of away games in Concacaf. What are you most vivid memories?
Other than Trinidad, my most vivid memory is a match I went to against Honduras in San Pedro Sula [in 2001]. The stadium was packed like I’ve never seen it before, I mean absolutely packed and we came out with a 2-1 win. I just sat there and said, ‘Wow, that was pretty remarkable.’
 
I was a little nervous when they played the [U.S.] national anthem but everyone was very supportive. it was a great night and a great win. We had no problems leaving and met with Bruce [Arena] and the players and had a great time. A perfect evening.
I’ve been to so many to Mexico City, which is tough because of Azteca. I’ve been to games in Costa Rica, in the old small [Ricardo Saprissa] stadium where you took your life in hand being so close. I was at the match in [Mazatenango] Guatemala [in 2004] they played in middle of the jungle in a stadium that holds about 8,000 people.
It’s what Concacaf is fantastic for: creating a tough atmosphere for the visiting team. We used to do the same thing in Columbus but it appears we don’t do that any more.
I would prefer to play in Columbus instead of Red Bull [Arena] against Costa Rica [2-0 loss Sept. 1].
 
The women’s team is also coming off a disappointing finish in the Olympics; elimination by Sweden in the quarterfinals. You were present for that game, too. How did you assess that outcome?
I go to a lot of these events and unfortunately I was there as well. That was a quality team that we sent to the Olympics, they played against a quality team in Sweden that had a very good coach, who coached it perfectly and it came down to penalty kicks. I can talk about the Italians in 1994 [World Cup final] and all kinds of people who have lost penalty-kick events.
It was disappointing but it happens. I wasn’t happy that day either. I’ve been to so many Olympics with the women’s team and they’ve done extremely well but that was not a good day.
I don’t think you can blame the president or the secretary-general. The team was very well supported, they had what they needed and the staff had what they needed. The financial backing was there for the team and the staff and the players. It didn’t turn out well that day.
 
Several ex-players have announced they will run for U.S. Soccer president. How do you assess their qualifications?
It’s great to see that our athletes from the early '90s and even more recently have matured to the point that they consider themselves capable of doing that task. I remember back in the '90s, we didn’t have many athletes qualified to be broadcasters, let alone leaders of the sport. It’s a testament to the development that they are all interested.
We have lots of coaches, we have a lot of broadcasters, and after a few years we have a few politicians who are ex-athletes. I’m excited that so many athletes have grown into a position that they can be excellent commentators, they can be excellent coaches, and now they think they can be president of the federation. That’s all positive.
I’m surprised that not one of the journalists have stood up and said they’re going to run for president.
 
Well, not yet. There’s still a month to go. Maybe we realize we’re better at finding fault than solving complex problems.
But certainly the journalists are equally qualified.
 
Well that probably means we’re not qualified at all. The ex-players may be. In any case, what is needed to not just run for the presidency but do a good job in that position?
It requires someone who has a passion for the sport and is willing to spend the time to understand how it functions, and has a life experience in the sport. They certainly have the background that they can want to run. I don’t see any of them as getting my vote, but we will see.
 
Who does get your vote?
I am hopeful that Sunil will announce that he’s running for president. I think he’s the most qualified candidate.
I think Sunil’s qualified because of his 30 years of experience, because of his contacts internationally, because he’s passionate about the sport, and he’s very intelligent on how to approach that. That’s why I’m supporting him.
Keep in mind it’s not just the president. U.S. Soccer is much better than it was in 1990 because of people like [secretary general and CEO] Dan Flynn and his staff. Dan Flynn has been remarkable in his entire tenure at U.S. Soccer. I’ve been saying it for 20 years. I’m so happy he’s been there. We are so lucky to have had the team at the top that we have had for the last 20 years.
We lost a match. Now everyone’s thinking that the end is coming and it’s not. We need to keep doing what we do well.
 
And what do we do well?
Organize soccer matches. Create a market. Develop players. It’s not a surprise to you, is it, that every year we have all these teams under Mr. [Charlie] Stillitano’s leadership come to the United States? Is it not remarkable that Mexico plays as many games in the United States as they do in Mexico?
We’ve built a market, we’re developing players, we have money in the bank, and we’re trying to get the World Cup for 2026. I see it only as a positive. Some of the candidates for president would think it’s the end of the world.
 
Regardless of who wins, what are the most pressing issues that must be addressed sooner rather than later?
There’s no question that the No. 1 priority each year is the national teams. Certainly we’re adding the 2026 World Cup. In 2019, we have the Women’s World Cup. We have to get the men’s Olympic team to qualify [2020]. Every year we have national championships. All those things are important. But at the same time we have to develop the grassroots and the pro game at the same time. The NWSL has to be supported. We can’t go away from that.
My opinion is we have to do all of those things. You can’t just say one’s more important and because we have to do one we can’t do the other.
 
Let’s start with the men’s U-23s failing to qualify for three of the last four Olympic tournaments. How much has that affected the senior program?
Take a look at two classic examples. Take a look at the [U.S.] team in 1992 and what impact that Olympic team had on the national team, and then look at the Olympic team in 2000 and what impact it had on the national team.
If I remember correctly didn’t Mexico win [the gold medal] in 2012? Therefore that became the basis of all we’re looking at today in Mexico. It’s a simple thing and as far as I’m concerned whoever becomes the new coach I hope he takes an interest in the Olympic team.
For me, the highest priority and it has been for the last 20 years, is the Olympic team, and the reality is for the Olympic team it’s harder to qualify for the Olympics than it is for the World Cup. We have two slots in Concacaf, that’s it. And our two slots – take a look at the record – do extremely well at the Olympic competition.
If I was in charge – and I’m not – but it’s something I’ve been saying to Dan and Sunil, I would say the first question for the new head coach of the men’s team is, ‘How do we qualify for the Olympics? What are you going to do to make sure we qualify for the Olympics in 2020?”
It’s not enough to say, ‘Oh we have to qualify for the World Cup and win it. I want them to say, ‘We have to qualify for the Olympics, and win it.’

Somewhat connected to that are all the issues of youth player development. You’ve cited the recent success of the U-17s and U-20s, along with the importance of the next level, the U-23s. What needs to happen in this area?

It’s expensive to have an academy program. The MLS teams are making an investment and it shows. Maybe that’s what the Foundation should be doing with its $60 million.
I think those [club] programs are very nice but they cost a lot of money. They spent a lot of money on themselves with their overhead. They Foundation should take at least a million dollars a year and just say to all of the academies, ‘If you can find a player who’s qualified and needs financial help, this money is available.’ It should be that simple.
I’m not asking [the Foundation] to not build fields and do what they do in the inner cities, but they need to have a more direct mission than they have at the moment.  If U.S. Soccer can set aside some money to do the same thing we’re talking about funding 100 additional players in the academy a year who need the financial help. I think that’s a good thing.
 
So the toughest issue is how to spend the money?
We have plenty of money. If we need to hire staff to do that, we have to do that. Money is not a problem any longer. Money was a problem in 1990. It’s not a problem in 2017.
It has grown so quickly it doesn’t appear that we’re spending it too fast. You hear all the commentaries and they’re absolutely right. The qualified 12-year-old player needs to get into a quality development academy and he shouldn’t have to worry about whether he can pay for it or not.
Here’s another area: Are we developing enough quality referees? We have to concentrate on doing that better.
 
As a former president of the Adult Division, you have a different perspective from people involved in the youth and professional councils. What are the issues regarding that group?
The adult perspective is that we probably have as many leagues unaffiliated as we have affiliated. It’s just one of those things. You can have an adult, amateur soccer league and not be affiliated with U.S. Soccer, and we have to come up with a formula that makes it attractive for all of them, which we haven’t done yet. And I’m not sure it’s an easy thing to do.
You have adults who have a dream of still playing at a high level and you have adults who are playing for fun. They are both important to the system. I think the changes made to the Open Cup are a positive. Unfortunately, adults need fields, they need insurance, and they need organization, and U.S. Soccer could do a better job in helping to see those three things happen, and it’s probably time to do that.
I’m an adult player so I need to have a league in my neighborhood to go play in. We have exceptional local organizations and we have others that aren’t so exceptional that need to be developed and until U.S. Soccer stands up and says, ‘Look, these are basic, minimum standards and you need to meet them,’ whether it’s on referees or league management or the development of the state association, we don’t have that. U.S. Soccer does not have a quality control system at the moment.
It’s the responsibility of the federation to make sure that all of the state associations and all of the leagues are meeting that requirement, in my opinion.

Is all of this backlash and vitriol to one bad result indicative of an exponential increase in not just fans, but their incredible passion for the game in this country?

We went to the World Cup in 1990 and what did we have? 400 fans, total? And today, it’s totally different. We had 12,000-14,000 fans go to Brazil? It’s so remarkable what we have today compared to 30 years ago.
And of course, they got angry because we lost so they got on social media and everything is a disaster. But it’s not. It’s going to continue.

46 comments about "Richard Groff: 'We need to keep doing what we do well'".
  1. Asa Christiana, November 7, 2017 at 10:29 p.m.

    No offense to Richard Groff, who has served soccer well, and makes a lot of important points about our current system, but I'm a little tired of these interviews with old-school U.S. soccer administrators who have never played on a high level. We lose to tiny countries and fail to get players into the top leagues for one main reason: we lack on-field quality and we lack grit. And we'll only get that when we get access to our best, fiercest young players, and get them into competition and training with high-level coaches and other great young players. That's how it happens in every successful soccer country in the world. There are other potential Pulisic's out there, but we are losing a ton of our grittiest competitors with a pay-to-play system that leaves low-income kids out in the cold. How many of the world's best players came from middle-class/wealthy suburbs? Not many, I'll wager. Clint Dempsey is the only player I know who grew up playing with immigrant kids (I'm sure there are others), and look at his quality, big-game nastiness and swagger. Big players are ice-cold killers. Sorry to say it but it's true. Watch the games in the hex. How many times did we lose the desire battle? That's not to mention all our soft players who refuse to go to Europe and see where they really stand. Hello Jordan Morris.

  2. Wooden Ships replied, November 8, 2017 at 2:36 p.m.

    Well said Asa.

  3. R2 Dad, November 7, 2017 at 10:32 p.m.

    This reads just like a Bruce Arena interview. Seems like a nice guy, supports the teams by traveling to these away matches, been around a long time, but definitely looking in the rear view mirror too much instead of the road ahead. He's right, there's been a lot of progress. But we've progressed less than our competitors, especially for those with the budgets to make a difference.

  4. Ridge Mahoney replied, November 8, 2017 at 2:14 a.m.

    I've never heard Arena say one word about the adult soccer issues nor recommend the Foundation dip into player development directly, or call out the federation for staging the Costa Rica game at Red Bull Arena and its lack of quality control. 
    You can disagree with his support of Gulati and rationale of how the Hexagonal campaign fell apart, but those are relevant points he makes.

  5. R2 Dad replied, November 8, 2017 at 2:16 p.m.

    Fair enough. And to be honest, I wouldn't want to be on the inside because it would seem to be very difficult to continue relationships with the soccer hierachy and at the same time be critical of it because you could lose access. This environment seems similar to the Times vs Disney tussel in the news yesterday. My sense, though, is that his proposed changes are nibbling around the edges when greater transparency and change should be required.

  6. Marc Vermette, November 7, 2017 at 10:46 p.m.

    This dinosaur is part of the problem...he needs to go away, with Sunil. They can’t see the forest from the trees...

  7. Bob Ashpole, November 8, 2017 at 12:35 a.m.

    Good interview. Thank you Ridge.

  8. Thom Meredith, November 8, 2017 at 8:12 a.m.

    l don't want to get into an extended back and forth with the first commenter re 'being tired' of those administrators who did not play at a high level...what the heck does that have to do with ANYTHING..let's check the sports history books (oh, doesn't matter i guess) but l don't remember what positions Pete Rozelle played in the NFL OR David Stern in the NBA OR  for that matter Jerry Coangelo(don't know who that is do you-- apologies for being derisive) as the current head of USA Basketball  There are a number of current National Team players l wouldn't follow 'over the hill' on any mission...the basic criteria needs to be 1) can they articulate their position 2) , Do they understand BOTH sides of an issue and 3) can they lead...NOT that they played 27 times(for an example) for their country....just sayin'  

  9. Bob Ashpole replied, November 10, 2017 at 3:34 p.m.

    Pete Rozelle was not hiring head coaches or telling coaches how to win games or how to scout talent and train players.

  10. Fanfor soccer, November 8, 2017 at 11:46 a.m.

    You don't have to be a cow to know what milk is but you do have to know what to do have to know where to place the bucket when your doing the job.

    I would just like to know what it is that we do best.  Besides draining the money from parents bank accounts to support a faultering system point me in the right direction.

  11. frank schoon replied, November 8, 2017 at 2:25 p.m.

    Fan, see that is part of the problem. Regardless of who is chosen president, you will not see a diminution of money paid by parents who really think paying is the way for their son to get top quality development. This system has become a big "Cash Cow" for those who realize getting a license going through the ranks can be very lucrative. These parents don't know any better assume and any Joe Blow, USSF sanctioned, can develop their son. Taking a son to any men's pick up games on saturdays and throughout  the week let him play in a hispanic neighborhood with older kids will do more for his development and if possible see you can put him on a men's amateur team when in his early teens, and  includin a lot of individual work with a ball, is better than throwing out tons of money on a DA program. Regardless of who's president, there is one thing USSF soccer needs put a lot of focus on is "street ball' or pick up games. I'll say it now, without the nurturing of 'STREET SOCCER",this element of pick up games for youth, player development will not be what it shouild be regardless of a DA program. Going to practice, being trained and coached by a licensed program coach, although helpfull but will not be sufficient without plenty of pickup game experience to develop a youth. This is why ,I think , it is important for the USSF to initiate a drive, so to speak, to make pickup games part of our soccer subculture which we don't have today. THe day after soccer season is over, the fields are empty, no kids to be seen. Wouldn't be nice to see kids in the offseason or even during season play pickup games on fields, tennis courts, basketball courts or empty parking lots behind schools or any parking lot where there is space, or in the cul-de-sac. This is the next project the USSF needs to seriously think about - creating , nurture a feeling of playing pick up games for just playing under DA is just not enough










     

  12. Wooden Ships replied, November 8, 2017 at 2:34 p.m.

    I agree Frank, just had this conversation before a Parks and Rec board, again. I purchased-donated futsal goals and balls and have left it to them as to where and when to use it. Fan, you must have missed what we do best, organise soccer games, create a market and develop players. Yippy. Oh, we also insist on turf, our own international schedule and clocks and countdowns in high school and college and we snub less fortunates. We have to be the envy of the World.

  13. frank schoon replied, November 8, 2017 at 2:50 p.m.

    Ships, I remember back in '72 one summer we had a pickup game everynight during the summer on a field by an elementary school from about 6-730pm. It was great the high school age kids after playing for 3 months every evening grew in their technical ability especially under pressure. One player an 8th grader who became  a freshmen in the fall made varsity ,very untypical,by playing with the older high school kids...We'll never as nation be able to compete unless we begin establish a culture of pick up games. Just going to team practice 2/3 a week a play on weekend isn't going to cut it.....

  14. Wooden Ships replied, November 8, 2017 at 3:12 p.m.

    I'm with you Frank and we did much the same in St. Louis. Its been a much softer, helicopter driven society for awhile and yes, dangerous too. The kids have to find the passion-fun to play on their own and of theor own devices. I'm not optimistic.

  15. Bob Ashpole replied, November 8, 2017 at 4 p.m.

    The one predictor of future success that can be relied on is that the more you play the better you get. Development is not all that complicated, especially at the fundamental stage. There the program focus should be on providing positive playing opportunities to as many children as possible. 

  16. Bob Ashpole replied, November 8, 2017 at 4:01 p.m.

    I know. I am preaching to the choir. Heck, I preaching to the preachers.

  17. Wooden Ships replied, November 8, 2017 at 6:04 p.m.

    I've always enjoyed your preaching (views) Bob. And, you're right there's no substitution for time spent with the ball. 

  18. Fanfor soccer, November 8, 2017 at 3:06 p.m.

    You know when I was a kid, and I did grow up in city there were always kids playing something.  On any given day in the summer or after school you could cover the neighborhood and play a game of basketball, baseball, soccer and football (touch or tackle)  in any park and school play ground in the area I lived in.  Today you have a few kids who are committed to the sport they love and will do anything to play it.  But the biggest numbers are a bunch of couch taters who have ideal conditions.    We used to throw the soccer ball up on the garage roof and practice heading trapping etc and bounce if off the walls receiving passes.  We used to play in the alleys all the time.  Now I hear parents and their off spring complaining about the fields being bumpy, grass isnt  cut right or the field isnt level and a thousand other ideal wishes.  All these attributes that parents exhibit in front of their kids is going to carry over and we are proving it today.  They can't roll with the punches so to speak.  

    So many parents today think they can throw the kid in the car and drop them at practice three times a week and after a period of time they will be a succesful soccer player particularily  when they put down a bunch of cash to cover it.  And the clubs appreciate it because it is giving people jobs who otherwise would have a hard time finding one based on their actual knowledge and skills.  We have created a mess.  God bless the kids and parents that are committed but the ones that arent should get out of th way.  I am rambling.  The whole scene is sickening when a country this size can't get 22 players to the best tourney in the world. I am done.  Sorry group.

    Ships I love your Satire.

  19. Wooden Ships replied, November 8, 2017 at 3:31 p.m.

    Don't be done Fan. But, on that note, it sounds like our discussions are going away unless we pay, as a part of Pro Talk that begins next week. I appreciate the SA forum, but I haven't decided if I'm signing up. I want SA to not go under and I don't know their financial status, nor has there been an explanation as to why. Stars and stripes FC is still free and on occassion I post there, but SA started much of soccer journalism. I would miss the exchanges and I still haven't heard from Ginger since the Florida hurricane. Would SA be doing this if we had qualified for Russia? Looking forward to seeing how Sargent does vs Portugal. Has anyone heard an explanation as to why only one friendly during this window?

  20. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, November 8, 2017 at 3:55 p.m.

    I wasn't aware this forum was going away.  Can you elaborate?  

    I heard the USMNT had a game with Wales lined up for Friday but it fell through for some reason.  Not sure why exactly.  So only one game this window.

  21. frank schoon replied, November 8, 2017 at 4:01 p.m.

    Ships, what is this Pro Talk ?...Am I missing something here...Do we now have to pay SA for commentary...?? I haven't read anything about this...

  22. Bob Ashpole, November 8, 2017 at 5:40 p.m.

    Frank, I don't have a clue. I checked my account. Originally I bought the magazine at the news statnd. I have been a subscriber for years. (The magazine used to be frequently "lost" in the mail.)

    Soccer America, however, has apparently changed their business model several times. I am totally lost as to what is going on now. First they stopped publishing the paper magazine, and now apparently they have discontinued the seasonal publications. My account currently shows the digital subscriptions I have but no longer shows any billing information.

  23. Wooden Ships replied, November 8, 2017 at 5:58 p.m.

    It's called "Soccer America Pro", for $3.90 monthly. I've received two emails regarding this membership from Soccer America and my understanding is that much of what we have access to now and our postings will be a membership based option. It is unclear to me what will be available if you don't subscribe. The first email arrived sometime last week and the second email arrived this morning. I hope that Mr. Kennedy can provide more clarification. I do appreciate their (SA) work, although there is still a need to dedicate someone for all the news regarding the women's game in the states. Sort of like the underservice provided by the USSF, IMO.

  24. frank schoon replied, November 8, 2017 at 6:44 p.m.

    Bob, I've never paid anything towards SA. I've only posted on this here, nothing else...Also ,I've never received an email explaining anything from them or a bill...I don't get it...

  25. Wooden Ships replied, November 8, 2017 at 7:09 p.m.

    Frank, if you want to shoot me your email, I can forward what SA sent me?

  26. frank schoon replied, November 8, 2017 at 8:51 p.m.

    Frank_schoon@yahoo.com

  27. frank schoon replied, November 9, 2017 at 10:08 a.m.

    Bob, I understand, I think, that  next week we are no longer able to comment on the SA website. We have to pay a subscription fee to SA Pro if we want to comment....let me know ifm right on this...

  28. frank schoon replied, November 9, 2017 at 10:08 a.m.

    Bob, I understand, I think, that  next week we are no longer able to comment on the SA website. We have to pay a subscription fee to SA Pro if we want to comment....let me know ifm right on this...

  29. frank schoon replied, November 9, 2017 at 10:08 a.m.

    Bob, I understand, I think, that  next week we are no longer able to comment on the SA website. We have to pay a subscription fee to SA Pro if we want to comment....let me know ifm right on this...

  30. Bob Ashpole replied, November 9, 2017 at 7:06 p.m.

    Frank, you have it right. The newsletters used to be free while you paid for the magazine. The internet has changed everything for the print media. 

    I enjoy the newsletters so I don't mind paying for them. I am hoping we can still get the good coverage that was available in the past. The daily coverage is more like a newspaper than the the old monthly magazine format.

  31. frank schoon replied, November 10, 2017 at 6:50 a.m.

    Bob, Thanks, I'll pony up for the membersip as well.  

  32. frank schoon replied, November 10, 2017 at 6:50 a.m.

    Bob, Thanks, I'll pony up for the membersip as well.  

  33. frank schoon, November 9, 2017 at 6:51 a.m.

    Ships, just got the message from SA...

  34. Wooden Ships replied, November 9, 2017 at 9:45 a.m.

    Thanks for letting me know you got it Frank. I'm confused as to what forums will be available if your not enrolled. 

  35. frank schoon replied, November 9, 2017 at 9:56 a.m.

    Ships , it seems like SA will remain without able to comment ,like now. Commenting will only be allowed when paying a subscription fee... That is how I interpreted....

  36. Fanfor soccer replied, November 10, 2017 at 1:33 p.m.

    We have pay to play and now we have pay to say.  What a world we live in.

  37. frank schoon, November 10, 2017 at 1:43 p.m.

    Fan, LOL, you know what they ,'they have got you by the b*lls". I paid today for a year ,so will see...

  38. Fanfor soccer replied, November 10, 2017 at 2:34 p.m.

    I am making signs.  I am picketing headquarters. Power to the PEOPLE!

  39. frank schoon replied, November 10, 2017 at 3:07 p.m.

    LOLOLOLOL, it is crazy....

  40. Allan Lindh, November 10, 2017 at 5:45 p.m.

    Takes brains to play soccer.  Takes more brains to play at a high level.  Takes even more brains to coach well.  Take a LOT more brains to administer well at the highest level.  Very few high level players have that kind of brain, and very very few can administer at a high level.  None of the explayers running for USSF president have that kind of brains.  Kaisy Keller might, and he's smart enought to not run.  Don't know enough about Tad and Claudio to know what they might be capable of some day.

  41. peter grill, November 11, 2017 at 9:56 a.m.

    Well, I'v lived and played soccer in both Brazil and Kenya. It is my contension, backed by observation and experience that we will never become a "great" soccer nation until soccer becomes part of our social fabric, not just another sport. This is in no way a new idea. The question is, how can kids play ""street" ball when there is :
    1) no safe place to meet and play
    2) parents don't seem to value the notion of kids doing something just for kicks when they could be doing something more profitable with their time, most often exemplified by winning something or gainning noteriety.
    When I started coaching soccer I had a day set aside where anyone could come and play with the team regardless of team affiliation or skill level. In order to secure the pitch, an adult had to be present for legal reasons . My assistant and I usually traded of, but once it got started, others volunteered...and often played. In this wayteam members could socialize with friends who were non team members or friends from other schools. No rules, no time restraints just fun.Granted this was Varsity and J.V age players both male and female. Later when we bought an indoor arena, we had pick up game night when mom's ,dads interage kids could play just for fun. I believe this current hand wrining about soccer's future is focusing on the correct remedy, if in fact there needs to be a remedy. I think the paradigm of what can we do TO soccer should be replaced with what can we do With soccer . The more often soccer becomes a social event the greater the chance that creativity will arise in how it is played and concomittantly how it is percieved as our game not some intrusive foriegn activity. 

  42. frank schoon replied, November 11, 2017 at 11:02 a.m.

    Peter, I agree with you about the social fabric issue that is why I want street soccer street or pick up games to become a natural function not a structured one for the kids to do. This is how I grew up in Europe. But I disagree on your assertion that there are no safe places to play. I'm from the DC area where we have the biggest rush hour  traffic, (just saying) in the country but don't tell me we don't places to play pick up games. Right here in my cul de sac, try the nearest school in the neighborhood, how 'bout the parking lots. or small little field or basketball courts..come on , there is plenty of space.......

  43. Bob Ashpole replied, November 11, 2017 at 5:03 p.m.

    I think a lot of what is holding the US back is organizations thinking you have to have expensive facilities to play soccer. They are thinking inside a box, and it is a very small box.

    All you need is a ball. I have played in my front yard complete with trees, bushes, and sidewalks. I have used the wall of my house despite porches, stairs, windows, and deck furniture. And did all of that while I was an adult playing competitively.

    There is a scene in Rise and Shine: The Jay Demerit Story where he shows the areas in the neighborhood where he would practice, including a small paved and brick walled courtyard, while he was an adult trying to break into pro soccer. 

    People talk about needing to build futsal courts so that kids can play pickup games. Futsal rules allow any safe surface for a match, including dirt and pavement. Again thinking inside a box that sets unnecessary obstructions in the way of progress.

  44. frank schoon, November 11, 2017 at 6:14 p.m.

    Bob, so true, so many think inside the box. We don't even need futsal , dimensions, rules or whatever, just a ball and any surface , probably mostly of a hard concrete surface to play on, that simple! Like you stated, it is from the kids own inspiration that he wants to play. Our parents in my days had to drag the kids from the street to eat dinner because we were into playing ball. 

  45. aaron dutch, November 16, 2017 at 6:35 p.m.

    2 Parts part 1 Until we face our major issues head on and build a plan that has proven to work in prior periods of weakness other countries have faced we will not recover. We have massive issues that have been building for 10 years and now have all come out. I have a list of real actions that could be done tactically and don't require a kum ba ya event but could each be led at a local, state, regional & national level with real metics that would all be online and measured quarterly for progress over the next 40 quarters (10 years). A) USSF should use its $140 million to subsidize a coaching development program that needs to have a new national coaching standard for professional, youth, college, high school, etc.. just like europe/south america, asia. Pro lic, A, B, C etc... it would take 10 years but become the most important change in the quality of our coaching. Audits, retests, one time fee of $100 to become a coach (make the D, E, F into the new D) and $250 to get your C, B if you were good enough. $500 for A & $1000 for Pro. This would be lifetime cost. B) U23's can't qualify for the Olympics (and other countries are not even fielding teams) C) All national teams U15- U23s are not good enough to play a road game. We need to get them 2 tough road matches for every 1 at home. (we use home matches to pad scores & money makers but that has failed) D) MLS/SUM & USSF is our own little FIFA with board games, Game of Thrones BS. They need to seperate USSF board and build a SUM2.0 which is transperant and all contracts, deals, resources, money is visible. E) We have a scam in the USSF/State/ Local setup to collect fees for teams, tourneys, rec, travel, club, ODP, ECNL, Adult, etc.. We need to simplify it all and you have 1 youth and 1 adult card 1 time and pay a youth fee ($20 for ages 4-17) and $40 for life for adults. This would be your new USSF football ID and it would cover you wherever you went to play. Just like Tennis and Swimming and everything else. 

  46. aaron dutch, November 16, 2017 at 6:36 p.m.

    Part 2
    F) There needs to be a support system setup at a state level to get fields from rec departments, schools in towns. This would include legal, insurance, political, operational etc.. Work with School districts for during & after school use of fields. Weekends ( complete waste of fields in the US) 25,000 school fields are not leveraged across the US. This would drive the cost of fields for soccer.

    G) We don't have a full national mens/woman's Fusal/Beach/Indoor teams that compete in world cups and global/regional torneys. Also, our New D, C, B coaching badges would include Futsal/Beach/Indoor. We can have A & Pro versions that are focused to build world class thinking.

    H) We miss the latin/south americans in the US, their parents, local engagement everything. There should be dual language versions of media, USSF website, videos everything. This would help drive engagement with millions of missed kids. Have Point of Contacts in their community to help them get their kids into teams, leagues, etc.

    I) Sponsor Prizes for best of in every regiona, state, local for youth players. These would be "old school" college bonds $500, 1,000, 2,000. for players and small sided teams. They would become part of the new generation that could be promoted on USSF new media platforms. All prize events should be streamed live.

    J) Solidarity payments need to implemented. Period! We need to use the model same terms, everything. If MLS doesn't want to do it then see you in court. Take it out of SUM funds. There needs to be a new way to drive the value of players back to the clubs that helped them become good players. It will also bring in tons of clubs from Latin/South America & Europe to setup academies to build talent and we are off the races.

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