Two weeks after Real Colorado and the Dallas Texans quit the Girls DA, the North Carolina Courage and Georgia’s United Futbol Academy (UFA) are also moving to the ECNL for the 2020-21 season.
The long-term impact of youth soccer’s suspension because of the novel coronavirus makes it difficult to predict just how the two national girls leagues will look next season
U.S. Soccer launched its Girls DA for the 2017-18 season, sparking a turf war with the well-established Girls ECNL, which kicked off in 2009-2010. The latest defections makes it 25 clubs that have withdrawn from U.S. Soccer's Girls DA during its first three seasons or withdrew after accepting an invitation.
This month's defections mark the tipping point.
The North Carolina Courage is the youth academy of the club that under Coach Paul Riley has won the last two NWSL championships and is affiliated through the Triangle Futbol Club Alliance with the non-profit North Carolina FC Youth, where Parlow Cone coaches and on whose board new U.S. Soccer CEO Will Wilson has served. (Parlow Cone, as the NCFC Youth director for the Durham/Chapel Hill girls teams, is not involved with the Courage academy). Riley also coached the Western New York Flash to the 2016 NWSL title. The North Carolina Courage Academy Director Sean Nahas was recently enlisted by U.S. Soccer to run a U-15 girls national team camp.
Real Colorado has been one of the nation’s most successful girls clubs based on U.S. national team program placement. Its director, Lorne Donaldson, and the Texans’ Hassan Nazari are among the country’s most accomplished youth club leaders.
The Michigan Hawks, who left the Girls DA after its first season, includes among its alum world champion Kate (née Sobrero) Markgraf, who now serves as U.S. Soccer's women's national team general manager. PDA, where Tobin Heath and Heather O’Reilly played youth soccer, also left the Girls DA after season 1.
United Futbol Academy’s departure along with the Courage leaves the deep southern part of the Girls DA East region with only five teams for the 2020-21 season.
In early March, U.S. Soccer announced it had finalized its DA’s 2020-21 membership and that it was downsizing its Girls DA. Soccer America estimates U.S. Soccer dropped five clubs from the Girls DA. Four clubs have since left by choice.
A comparison of how the ECNL and Girls DA maps for the 2020-21 season are unfolding indicates that the ECNL will be better poised for minimizing travel demands. That will be a crucial attribute in the post-coronavirus economy.
It’s also another reason why U.S. Soccer should lift its restriction on DA clubs from scheduling games against nearby ECNL teams.
• ECNL President Christian Lavers: “We are tremendously excited to welcome the North Carolina Courage and UFA as new member clubs to the league. Both clubs have tremendous history and leadership, will continue to raise the standard of play and competition in the ECNL, and they will finalize a fantastic conference structure in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic for the 2020-2021 season.”
• North Carolina Courage Academy Director Sean Nahas: “Since our inception, our NC Courage Academy has worked to establish a high level of training and standards for our female players and their development both on and off the field. As a program we look forward and are happy to continue that journey in the ECNL and the platform they provide for the female player across the country.”
• UFA Director of Soccer Iggy Moleka: “United Futbol Academy is extremely excited to be making our initial foray into the ECNL. We feel that the ECNL's high level of competition, showcases and recruiting opportunities, and travel schedule offers our membership the most comprehensive opportunity to maximize their development and dreams. UFA has been consistently working toward competing at the highest levels against the best talent and we are honored to be selected for this league and are looking forward to an exciting season.”
USSF should stop competing with leagues. They should add some value to the process like Germany does.
I can see the value in a USSF-sponsored coaching travel show with world-class players demonstrating techniques and when to use them. As Frank points out, these are obvious skills pros use all the time without thinking but kids/coaches who didn't grow up playing street ball never mastered nor indoctrinated their players with. Tape/stream for additional distribution. Get parents asking, "why doesn't my kid know how to do this already? We've been with the club for 3 years, including futsal in winter, and she's never seen this before."
Let's hope this is the beginning of the merging of DA and ECNL. Make the structure simple. Merge most Academy teams into ECNL and have it as the base for quality development of girls soccer. Let the Academy become a smaller narrower focused organization just serving the limited number of players that have a realistic chance of playing for the US team (maybe a limited number of regional super teams working with ECNL). Then everyone is rowing in the same direction. Good people in all the organizations. Hopeful it's the right time with good changes at US Soccer.
And for coaches who did not grow up playing the game, televised high level European soccer offers a continued parade of world-class players using top level technique making the best decisions, except for the occasional startling gaffes. At least, until recently. There are countless YouTube videos encapsulating high level technique, game summaries, and training videos. It's all there for coaches to watch and to learn, and to pass on to their players to see.
Ben ,Your suggestion has some merit,but not all that much. Granted Youtube can be an aid to certain aspects of the game like learning how to do a certain move or some tactical alignments, formations. But here is the problem, soccer is very fluid and ever-changing, moment to moment forces one to be able to read the game, not only prior to what might occur( anticipation) but also be able to know what to do at the moment( tactically) and how to do it it( able demonstrate it technically). All that means interpreting the flow, the nuances, the technical and tactical capabilities just for starters. Sure, turn on the Youtube and you can learn this.....Ben, I only wish that it could be that easy....
This is why Cruyff , knowing how much he knows about the game, states that he only considers about 4 people in the world that really know the game. He also thinks that only about 3% of the coaches have the capability of teaching how to teach and play possession soccer. This is why whenever Cruyff commentates on the game that I watched as well, would say things and point them out, nuances, and more which is clear as day, that I just totally never even saw, or recognized, or even barely noticed. That is called "seeing' the game. Everyone can see the game but "SEEING" the game , the game within the game and more, is what few can see and that is not to be found or learned on Youtube, sorry to say.....
I don't consider myself a dummy when it comes to soccer, but I do feel like one whenever I listen to what Cruyff has to say about a game for he 'sees' the game. You can obtain all the coaching licenses from A to Z including the new Pro-coaching license in addition watching all Youtube instructonal videos that still doesn't do anything for 'seeing ' the game. This is why I want 'real expertise' to come over for our soccer development who have a much deeper understanding of the game and able to demonstrate what they are talking about, an aspect Cruyff was so good at for he was able to demonstrate with his feet what his mouth says.
Watching Youtube is just a little band-aid on a big wound that calls for more direct solution...
I agree that watching others play soccer is inspiring and that studying matches may provide tactical insights for coaches and players (if the broadcast doesn't focus on players shirts, shoes, and the bench).
We we part company is on your view of "top level technique". IMO the primary difference between levels of soccer is the speed of play which is largely influenced by the skill of the players. A mathews is still a mathews at any level.
If you mean "top level skill" by "top level technique" then I would say that you don't develop skill watching TV. Especially first touch which is the most important.
IMO the problem is we need better coaching at the fundamental stage and a greater emphasis on fundamentals rather than team tactics at that stage. No coach of older players can make a world class player out of a youth who didn't master the fundamentals by age 14.
There are kids mastering the fundamentals, but it is rare and I want it to be a lot less rare.
The ecnl , usda, or any other form of pay to play are an abomination if your goal is to make great magical players. If your goal is for kids to have fun, fight youth obesity, learn life skills and deal with a little adversity than this format can be very positive. But let's talk about staying number one in the world. The reality is that the world is catching up to our ladies and soon Spain and few other counties are going to pass us. This here is the reality check. In the last womens World Cup u17 final Spain vs Mexico both starting teams were playing pro soccer not high school, ecnl, USDA or any other alphabet. Our top 15-18 year old ladies Need to be playing pro soccer not kiddy soccer. We need radical change for our ladies. Ussf needs to invest in our ladies. Our ladies have been winners and to keep our ladies on top Ussf must spend money on them. Here is what I propose to Ussf. There are two tiers. One is to establish 30 soccer schools of excellence for the top 6 to 14 year olds in the US. The training is all free, it's all year long, it's 6 days a week of training and playing local boys teams. Our top 40 15-18 years ladies every year are selected to play in the NWSL. They are under pro contracts which Ussf will pay for until they graduate from college and their high school and college are guaranteed paid for by USSF. If we don't do this our USA ladies will falter and never be number one ever again. High school soccer, ecnl, or USDA are not the solutions. They are a determent to the future for our ladies to continue to be number one in the world. Soccer in America on the boys or girls side is al about buying and selling gimmicks and lots of smoke n mirrors. We need a soccer revolution in the US. We need 600,000 futsal courts. We need new leadership. We need a new vision. We need a 21st century master plan. And most importantly to need to create our own way, The USONIAN WAY. REVOLUTION!!!!!
Far too much organized team contact time in your proposal cony. More is not always better. Sometimes it is worse. And the program has to be age approriate, which means changes as players progress in development, both in soccer and general.
Trouble with this approach is that as soon as girls turn 'pro' they give up 'amatuer' status and scholarship. For too long USA has 'forgotten' that we have the number amatuer men's and women's league in the world in our colleges and universities. For the women, it was these that very framework, infrastructure and know-how that got them all their national trophies. The 'pro' leagues for girls a 'red herring' for me for now. You have to know your strengths, not walk away from them. I predicted the girls DA would have the same stiffling effect on girls in short order that is has and still does on boys. I agree with Bob A., it's not only Germany that does not have it's national soccer association running league, none of the top nations do that. It is a complete waste of time and resources. Look at the two maps and you see what I saw when the created girls DA - two silos - and - division of resources - and the best not playing the best - and - a recipe for girls with talent slipping through the cracks. I am hopefully Parlow Cone and Wilson are going to bring back sanity, help us focus on our strengths and work on areas we need to improve and that after they resolve the lawsuit the next move is to start breaking up the silos so we have an identifiable pyramid for boys and girls youth soccer.
I wish the Boys non-MLS DA clubs would follow the same route as the girls. I don't understand why U.S. Soccer doesn't see that the restrictions they are enforcing on the non-MLS DA clubs, both boys and girls are actually too restrictive and hampers the love of the game. The restrictions that prevent young players from playing school soccer and in other leagues are actually ruining the love of the game for most players. In addition, most non-MLS DA's are not all 'that'. I can say that for some MLS DA programs too!
In Cincy I've often observed carefully our local DA sessions. They train on a HS field with a Track and the track is open to the public. I also often poach onto the field to get my touches ... always watching as much as possible when possible. I train kids and am always curious.
1) I'm often amazed by the overall ability that I see ... so so ... and these are supposed to be our best.
2) Quality of sessions is basically mediocre. Still lines, conditioning which easily could be done w ball and other problems. Looks like typical session at typical clubs.
3) Games ... watched plenty, better than HS but they are riddled w so many turnovers due to poor touch or IQ. Why do we constantly rush forward to loose the ball 85% of the time???
4) I occasionally talk to the coaches ... typical egos thinking it's so superior ... but I don't tell them I've seen U11s w better play. One coach did admit that only maybe 2 girls really spend time on their own w the ball.
This would be fine if a typical club team/training but this is supposed to be our best. I hope ECNL is better around here?
Also, if we're honest ... how good is the girls College game? I try to watch bits whenever I see a game on TV ... but usually turn it off after about 5-10 minutes. Just too much like HS in many respects ... but better athletes.
And if we're honest, having seen far too many kids over the last decade playing both seasons and now winter Futsal ... how few really have a complete ability.
Our current model w younger players is simply not working, didn't work and will continue to not work. Teams, traveling, tourneys ARE the problem ... when this is the formula and all other types of pick up and such do not exist and are not nourished. So many more touches could happen, more fun added which creates passion and so on.
Sadly, I'm only about a decade into all this but realized this then and it's still the same. It still will be in another ten years as well.
My opinions ... founding member of 3four3, TOVO, Tom Byer and Horst Wein influenced.
Courtney,"<Sadly, I'm only about a decade into all this but realized this then and it's still the same">
I';m into my 5th decade and it's still the same.....
Bruce Arena and USSF think everything is fine, just fine. Couva did nothing. Maybe when our ladies lose in the knockout stages of the 2023 World Cup will anyone pay attention--again. Twellman will just replay his 2017 rant.
Something is keeping US Soccer from developing reasonable numbers of great international level players. Years ago it was predicted that the first US players to play overseas would be goalies because of their size and athleticism and lack of need for great footwork. That has proven true. We keep trying to emulate what other nations have done to improve their national programs and communicate those approaches here in these comments. Frank's approach is attractive on one hand but trying to train players to have the skills he accurately insists players develop would take many years. How many? I've asked a few soccer minds and their estimates say players with that skill level would take about ten years. A worthy plan, but who can wait that long? From my experience, the fastest training method for US players is futsal. I've seen great improvement in my not-very-skilled players with just a modicum of futsal play. And despite their preference for full-field scrimmages, most players stay much more engaged while playing futsal than other game play, even small-sided games. The futsal I'm referring to is on a basketball court with futsal goals and balls, not on a different surface with other equipment. My guess is that transitioning youngsters to futsal situations would be much easier than trying to promote street soccer or focusing on technical skills instead of some form of play. In my futsal sessions, we warm-up with a technique and ball juggling (promotes good first touch) and then play. Warm-up is 10 minutes followed by 45 minutes of play. The kids are engaged thoughout and their speed of play and technical skills improve as well as their ability to function in small spaces. I'm all for tossing our present approach and building from the ground up but it'll take too long.
Philip, technical skills are not something that is esoteric, ALL IT COMES DOWN TO IS TRAINING. The very fact that those who tell you it would take 10years to do, absolutely have no idea what they are talking about. Let me ask WHAT skills are those that take 10years to learn?....
You mention playing futsall ,for instance, that is just a form of small sided pickup, which is great. But don't use the same ball, use a normal soccer ball ,a size 4, or sometimes a heavy ball like a futtsal, a tennis ball, or very bouncy ball. What I"m saying is employ different balls for that teaches the players to think about their skills and capabilities in relation to the type of ball you play with. This is how we played street back in my day and never ever used a real soccer ball. Playing MIXED ages further develop players' capabilities to grow, TECHNICALLY AND TACTICALLY AND SPEEDWISE. I just want to let you know that there is more to just playing Futsall, for there are factors that need to be into account. In a nutshell what players under these circumstances is TOUCH on the ball, and being to survive under various circumstances.
Let me go back about taking 10 years to learn skills. I don't know whom you were talking to for I sense they no clue what really transpires in learning technique. For example , technique of passing a ball accurately, with the right velocity, to player on the run who receives it without having to change his tempo, or stride. That is not easy, but 10 years?????? Another aspect is passing the ball in a manner to a guarded teammate to his foot furthest away from the opponent, which takes just training... 10 years??????? There is more to passing than to someone in a open position, for example does the pass put the receiver in the best 'light', meaning he doesn't have to create extra touches for controlling the ball; meaning he's able to play it in the most opportune manner, fast, and quick thus giving the opponent less to adjust; meaning the field view of the receiver gives the best chance for attack; meaning, not to pass the ball to another with the intention of "I got rid of it ,now you do something with it". There is more but I'm not going to go further into these little details, but these are just some things that coaches DON'T teach here, whereas at Ajax the players are constantly confronted with how you pass ,for you better have a good reason why one makes a passes. Now I ask you what has that got to do with having to take 10years... NEXT POST.
Philip, lets take crossing the ball ,stationary, or on the run, head high, or low ,with a bend or curve away from the goalie, towards the goalie. Does this take 10years. And don't forget these types passes are made by specific players like a wing...This takes training. Ronald Koeman who had one of the hardest shot in the world, his forte at Barcelona was to pass a diagonal 40 meters into the players 'backpocket' or let it drop in front of the player on the run. He stayed after practices and did this exercise 40 times ,everyday until he got it....10 years?????? If I were one of the MLS players this would have been a perfect time to work on crosses with the weak or strong foot. Look at Ronaldo , he is the hardest working soccer player in the world. He arrives an hour before practice and works on moves and other aspects and leaves an hour after practice.
It has nothing to with 10years, it all has to do with training and coaching, knowing what to look for, to teach it and capable of demonstrating. It is a step by step process depending on the ages one works with and ofcourse the older players MLS would have an easier time of it since they have more playing experience......
Right now, the only coach in the MLS ,with the possibility of Henri at Montreal, that can teach positioning soccer, is Frank de Boer. He grew up playing at Ajax, learned all the whole "positioning', including learning from Cruyff ,played at Barcelona, played for the dutch national team and therefore there is noone that comes even close to knowing the 'positioning game'. It is coaches like that can raise the awareness, the insight details of positioning for he played it. Most coaches who tried to teach it ,at whatever level don't have no a clue. But to learn it doesn't take 10 years ,it takes someone with expertise ,which we don't have. And for that someone to tell you it will take 10years , well I can say it will take more than 10years or rather never if the person teaching doesn't have the expertise.
I forgot to mention that our soccer league is co-ed, from 5th-8th grade. This gives me the opportunity to encourage the girls to get physical, toughen up, and learn how to play effectively against boys who are usually more athletic. Unfortunately, our league is strictly outdoor full-field soccer. I'd rather it was futsal.
Before the girls can get physical in these co-ed 5th-8th leagues, the boys need to learn to pass to the girls and that may not happen. The coach, if not a woman or experienced coach, will be blissfully unaware this goes on. You might be surprised how many elementary school boys would rather lose than let the girl score the goals.
R2, I'm not sure what you meant by your comment but I had girls that not only could get physical with the boys, but, in a few instances, were tougher. I also coached a girl in high school, years ago, who could have made a very good varsity boys team. She was outstanding and strong. Within my 5-8th grade league, a Catholic school league, the competition isn't that strong but my boys played and passed well with my girls.
Philip, then you were one of those coaches who would have seen the situation and addressed it. I'd hazard to say many/most wouldn't. My daughter was the best player on her 5th grade co-ed team, but the boys wouldn't pass to her and the coach wouldn't intervene. No, the level was not high but the nature of boys was quite evident all spring season. If that was possible in PC-centric San Francisco, I'd image it would be even more so in many other places across the country.
The 10 year time frame has more to do with the total development of the player than just good crossing or any other singular technique. If we were to institute a system that emphasizes street soccer, positional soccer, and is run by ex-great Dutch professionals, how long would it take to make another Xavi or Iniesta or Cruyff? Unless I'm missing something, we'll not see anyone of that caliber coming out of Frank De Boer's coaching for quite sometime. If we can expect greats like them coming from his expert coaching and knowledge, how long will it take?
Philip, Total develoment is a big package. There no such thing as total development.... all players have weaknesses and therefore when a coach makes team he has to place players together in a way the other player hides the other's weakness of the other. This is why 11 Peles don't make a great team. There is a basic skill level players should have and you don't expect a good fullback to make nice and accurate crosses. That is a job for those who can. Likewise a good ball distributor has better passing abilities than others. Different have different skills. You don't expect slow players to make runs ...
Players like Xavi, iniesta, or a Cruyff are exceptions, they have already have built in talent. It is all about those players who have mediocre ability and raise them to play a level higher, that is what development is all about. Players like Van der Vaart, Wesley Sneyder by Ajax we're already a rough cut diamond that needed their edges smoothed out. So don't expect greats to come out of Frank de Boer's coaching, for no one develops great players.
If someone could he would become an instant millionaire.
I understand your thinking. Does Frank de Boer have anyone that is at the same 'rough cut diamond' stage as Sneyder or Van der Vaart were before they got smoothed out to work with? That would be fantastic and extremely hopeful. Are there players here in the US ready to be smoothed out that could end up with a similar level of performance as those two?
Philip ,that is a good question. There are no players in the US ready to be smoothed out and become a great player...Look at Frenkie de Jong who use to play for Ajax and now is playing for Barcelona. He didn't begin for Ajax in his youth and was groomed to be a star. He began his club play as a kid for Willem11 , way down the southern end of Holland. But people could see already he had a lot of talent, it showed and that's why he ended in the Ajax youth system later on. This talent was not obtained and gotten by some coach, Sneyder ,van der Vaart, idem ditto....
Realize it helps to be around an atmosphere where there is soccer played, which we don't have...Pickup soccer. I'm not saying Pickup soccer made Frenkie,Vander Vaart or Wesley, but it all helps in their in development. And you know as well as I know that Pickup soccer has to be part of one's development. Read how any great player learned the game. Read Zlatan, Zidane's autobiographys, where it shows pickup soccer is a great part of their learning.
Here our players develop through a club soccer basis with no pickup experience. Our kids learn to play soccer via the 'numbers', remember "Garanimals" LOL. It is all programmed, settings, and structure. Then look at the coaches who teach you. They are licensed and programmed. You have older sons, can any of their coaches demonstrate specific techniques. For example , I was an attacker, and therefore I was not that good in tackling an opponent unlike an defender and neither was I known for great heading ability but I've scored enough goals with my head.
Cruyff stated that a club needs to bring in specialists, to help out in teaching the finer elements for no coach has the ability to teach all the necessary skills. And realize as you play at higher levels, the skill that needs to be worked becomes more focused and specialized. A wing needs to be able to take defenders on 1v1; able to cross on the run, or stationery or able to bend the ball around a defender to across, obviating the need to beat an opponent. Does your club hire anyone who has the ability to teach and DEMONSTRATE this aspect. NEXT POST
All our kids learn to experience soccer through club level and I say club soccer is 'wanting' in teaching what is necessary to further develop the potential of players. Club soccer, reminds me of the college days when you need to wash your clothes , you just threw in together black and whites colors in the washer than in the dryer, that's it!! That is club soccer and that is how our kids develop here. Kids our trained from the beginning under the tutelage of coaches and structure following a prescribed format.
Get this, a few years ago I had U10 team , I noticed that coaches who were all licensed made their backs run down the flanks on attack consistently running 40 -50yards. Realize these are little kids with little lungs following how the pros play. At this stage of their development it is a lot more important to let them play and let them experience opposition, allowing their individuality to come out with the ball. What is so sad is that parents watching their kids play like that think their kids are receiving top-notch coaching. And I feel they're gettting top-notch garbage.
We as a nation thrive on individuality, and Zlatan ,to me, is a perfect example of Individuality. But ironically we don't produce individuals in soccer for our kids from day one , come into structure, pressed , programmed, washed, dried, hung up, folded and through all this we can't figure out why we don't created individualists in soccer...but robots.....And you are asking me do we have any latent talented players, who only need to get their rough edges smoothed. I don't think so.....
This is why I believe there needs to be some serious changes made , in addition to what we do now in our development and training. But I'm afraid Cindy Parlow is not the answer or even understands what is really needed here.... And if you think the boys have a problem the girls are much worse off but it somehow it is flowered over and hidden due to their beating all their weak competition. I remember when Cruyff back in an interview in the early 90's warned Ajax and Dutch soccer as whole was bad, that Ajax youth are not receiving good training.( I have the interview) They all laughed at him and pointed out how Ajax just won the '95 European cup;and ofcourse he was right for Dutch soccer went down hill until a couple of years its beginning to come back. I think when you watched Spain vs USA women, you were getting a sample of why the women need a change in their soccer....