2011 - No More Excuses

Discussion in 'MLS: Youth & Development' started by Bora Fan, Nov 20, 2010.

  1. Bora Fan

    Bora Fan Member

    Dec 14, 1998
    New York Red Bulls
    United States
    Folks - we have everything we've always wanted now from the player development programs in the US.

    There are no more excuses for MLS/US Soccer to not start producing talent in the next 10 years that is of an order of magnitude greater than before.

    Let's start at the top and work our way down the vertically integrated structure that is US soccer:

    1. MLS teams have open developmental roster spots that don't count against the cap - making it easier for clubs to take chances on long term prospects at no short term cost to winning or the cap.

    2. The MLS minimum salary is now respectable at $32k and set to increase reasonably each of the next 4 years - making it more palatable for an 18 year old Academy kid to skip college for a few years and live the dream.

    3. The recent NCAA rule now permits kids to explore fully the MLS Academy option without risking the loss of a scholarship to a good college.

    4. Each MLS team has a fully functioning Academy team - and several have multiple affiliations - and a few have full residency programs.

    5. Kids don't have to pay a dime to be on an MLS Academy team from San Jose to NY - making it that much easier for any qualified kid from the depths of the inner city to the peaks of the Rockies to play soccer for free.

    6. MLS coaching squads are taking the Academies seriously with expanded staff being hired to take on the full time responsibilities of both the reserve and Academy programs.

    7. MLS squads are also fielding both U16 and U18 teams allowing for even more segmentation of the talent development process.

    8. The USSF's Developmental Acadamies - have created yet another market for talent development that benefits the MLS Academies because they compete in the league and the DA system also provides a secondary developmental network of 70+ clubs that are doing MLS' job in other markets - which makes sense given the size of the country.

    9. Rec and select soccer programs in the country are finally scaling down the playing field and number of kids on U10 and U8 teams so that the emphasis is on touches and fun - which is helping increase the foundational skills that are needed for higher quality soccer.

    10. Kids at a younger age are being exposed to soccer - through video games - the World Cup - EPL on tv - and in general the overall awareness of high quality US players like Landon Donovan.

    20 years ago none of this was remotely possible.

    10 years ago people would doubt we'd have all of these things.

    5 years ago people would think MLS or the NCAA were too rigid to make the necessary changes.

    5 months ago - it all started to come together.

    Now there are no more excuses.

  2. Jahinho_Guerro

    Jahinho_Guerro Member

    Apr 17, 2009
    Arsenal FC
    only missing is some sort of contracts, so academy players cant leave with no compensation
  3. scheck

    scheck Member

    Mar 13, 2007
    Colorado Rapids
    United States
    That's a very negative attitude to take, to say that US soccer owes you anything and that by not achieving a certain level they owe you some sort of collective apology. The pieces are in place to achieve great things. Now we should all work to achieve that vision and celebrate the triumphs we accomplish.

    I really disagree with the way you see things and to me it underlies a certain negativity that I just can't stand about our country. When MLS produces it's first top 10 player, it will be something to celebrate. The attitude you take is that it's a completely reasonable thing to expect and totally diminishes the immense difficulty of accomplishing it.
  4. SUDano

    SUDano Member+

    Jan 18, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Good post recognizing the huge jumps in youth development over last 10 yrs:
    Your #8 isn't quite accurate. Biggest Gap that I see is an elite DA player outside MLS mileage restrictions has no direct access to elite professional youth development leaving hundreds of top players out in the cold due to outdated MLS rule restrictions.
    International or college. It's not truly integrated when ALL elite youth do not have equal access to our top development academies and access to professional soccer while moving up the ladder to first team professional MLS soccer. Huge deficiency in my opinion. Change these rules and allow the Marc Pelosi's and Andrew Olivers' of the world to be able to play as an amateur or a youth professional at MLS academies.

  5. scoachd1

    scoachd1 Member+

    Jun 2, 2004
    Southern California
    You missed by far the most important point - we now are getting a critical mass of parents that know the game in many places. Here is an article on Sebastian Lletget that sums it up:

    Lletget rapidly progressing at West Ham

    "The Hammers sent Leigh all the way to northern California in June 2006 to check out Lletget -- 13 at the time -- after hearing about him from Santa Clara Sporting coach Carlos Brasil.

    "I was in shock when [Leigh] came up to me and started talking to me about Sebastian," says Lletget's father, Francisco. "I used to be a player, but I didn't have Sebastian's skills. To be honest, to hear that, this was a like dream come true."...

    "According to Leigh, West Ham super scout Jimmy Hampson once told him that Lletget is the best 14-year-old to ever play for the famed club. Keep in mind, West Ham has developed, among others, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole."

    Lletget's run to EPL glory began when he just a young boy. His father brought him to Brisbane Park in south San Francisco with a soccer ball as soon as he could walk.

    Francisco instilled a passion for the game in Sebastian.

    Back in June 2006, when the younger Lletget learned that Leigh's eyes were fixated on him, he lit up a U-14 tournament in Sacramento, with the scout on the sideline; Lletget recalls scoring at least 10 goals in six games.

    By July 2006, Lletget was at West Ham on a two-week trial. Only 13, Lletget was assigned to the club's U-18s, because the Hammers didn't have any younger squads. Even if it was just training, Lletget remembers the experience well. Here he was, an American kid, unknown at this big-time academy across the pond. Lletget gathered the ball on the run for the first time at the 18. He beat a defender and then the keeper far post.

    "Within 10 minutes of seeing [Lletget], Tony Carr [West Ham's director of youth development] said that the kid is special," Leigh says. "He thought Sebastian was fantastic; he just blew Tony away."

    So long before most of your points come into play, the chance for a kid to be a future star will have been made or lost. Do the things you mention help - absolutely. But biggest facter is that we have more and more dads like Lletget's dad.

    In the past we had a few such as Hugo Perez who's dad played in El Salvador; Tab Ramos who's dad played in Uruguay; or Migeul Reyna and Luis Balboa who both played in Argentina. Unlike the rest Marceloa was actually born in the US and spent his first 10 years in the country as did Taylor Twellman who's dad Tim played in the US. We even had Joe Max-Moore who's dad wasn't a player, but was instead an NASL owner. But they were often few and far between. Now I see club teams were almost every kids dad was a former player and guess what, all the kids have very good technical skills and know how to play. Some who are athletic and dedicated enough may even turn out to be extremely good by any standard.

    Here is a post a made about a year ago that explains my reasons in more detail Why Bradenton and DA are far less critical to US success than people imagine. Now in that post I was writing about the US National team. In the case of MLS, the academies are more critical to the league because they allow exceptionally talented players like Lletget to play locally with MLS teams rather than travel across the world. For example, I thought I read that the kid in the videos was doing some training with the Red Bull system.
  6. Bora Fan

    Bora Fan Member

    Dec 14, 1998
    New York Red Bulls
    United States
    Good point.

    It seems like two things are happening with equal influence at the bottom and top of the structure.

    As you mention at the bottom/base we have more parents who know the game who are influencing the earliest interest/soccer spark. . . so out of the gate the pool of players with the right qualities to grow into pros/USMNT candidates is increasing by an order of magnitude.

    Then at the top - the point of the spear/pyramid is being sharpened better by the revamped DA and supporting high level club environments that have been growing better.

    With more kids flowing into the system - and better grooming of that talent at the top - plus more avenues for kids to play/develop longer - it just naturally translates into better players coming out of the system.

    You also have something unique happening in the US with different clubs sort of prescribing different styles of soccer - so you could have multiple gems that eventually emerge that look different from say the uniform type of soccer player that would come out of Holland.

    Not saying this is good - it might hurt us to have guys who develop with different ideas of how the game should be played - but ultimately you're going to have variety in country as deeply rooted in multicultural/class freedom and as varied in terms of topography, climate, culture, etc. . .

    Ultimately I believe it's a good thing - our next problem might though end up being how do we piece together all the talent that I believe will be coming off the conveyor belt.

    Maybe that's the next gap/excuse to overcome - coaching development!

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