Last Saturday’s Atletico Madrid vs FC Barcelona game was a perfect example of modern top-level soccer. It had everything – skills, technique, creativity, excellent off-the-ball movement, great defending and goalkeeping, playing out from the back, spacing, pressing, shooting, passion, pace, team work….the list goes on. This is how huge the gap is in our country. This is where we need to be if we want to compete internationally. And to reach this level of soccer sophistication requires a fundamental revamp of how we teach, play, and organize soccer. It starts with our coaching quality, and includes finding a way for our best/better players to avoid college soccer. I’m including here a 12-minute highlights clip, but it doesn’t do the game justice. I strongly encourage you to find a recording of the full game and watch it with your soccer-playing kids. It’s very entertaining and a great learning opportunity.

The declining role of high school (and college) soccer?

I came across this article from a high school soccer coach and I don’t understand what his point is. It’s quite simple in my (simple) mind: High school soccer is a great way to bond with classmates in your neighborhood and to learn what it means to be on a team. It can be fun and a confidence booster for youngsters. No question there is a place for high school soccer. However, the standard of play, the coaching, the practices, the tactical understanding, and the opposition for high school soccer is so far from competitive soccer levels, especially the top level, that boys and girls that are pursuing soccer at the top level cannot justify taking time out to play on their high school teams. The gap really is large and top players already have so little time left outside their clubs’ demanding practice & games schedule and keeping up with school work. Top players need to focus all their

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The state of U.S. Soccer – food for thought

I came across this blog post today describing in strong words the state of soccer development in our country. Food for thought. Here’s an excerpt: “Landon Donovan is painfully shallow and naïve calling for Jurgen Klinsmann’s firing if USMNT loses to Mexico in upcoming CONCACAF matchup. Firing Jurgen is akin to cutting off your nose to spite your face. Despite a player pool and youth pipeline chock-full of mediocrity, Jurgen has the highest winning percentage of USMNT coaches. If the feeder USMNT pool/pipeline (MLS, college, and USSDA) is serious about success, it must genuinely look within to fix the problem and not symptoms, or to quiet dissent from the USMNT coach. It’s without question the USMNT is an average team at the stronger World Cup international level, while dominant at the regional CONCACAF level against the likes of Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, El Salvador, et al. If Jurgen were shown the door and a new coach unveiled, there would have

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Klinsmann in 2010. Just as relevant today.

“Our dysfunctional developmental system emphasizes club soccer and the chase for college scholarships over true longer-term professional development. This is the only country in the world that has the pyramid upside down. You pay for having your kid play soccer because your goal is to get a college scholarship, which is the complete opposite in the rest of the world.” My personal view is that sports and academics don’t fit well together, especially for soccer given that it’s a truly international sport. College soccer is NOT a good place for a 18 or 19 year old to become a world-class player. Education is good in principle, of course, but it has nothing to do with honing the young player’s soccer craft to an elite level. So boys that have the potential to become professional players are at a fork in the road – they have to chose the academic route or the professional soccer route, like in the rest of the world. You

read more Klinsmann in 2010. Just as relevant today.