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Fixing The Player Development Problem

Discussion in 'Breakfast with Gazza (with Sachmoneious Bullcrap)' started by soxfan121, Oct 17, 2017.

  1. soxfan121

    soxfan121 JAG Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    The title is a deliberate attempt to avoid the way this conversation typically goes: mostly me yelling about how much MLS sucks. It doesn't, entirely. But it is a part of the player development puzzle, so it's gonna come up.

    One thing (among many) I learned recently (maybe again?) is that Atlanta's MLS team hired a real coach. No disrespect to all MLS coaches but the gulf between Tata Martino and Jay Heaps is Pacific Ocean sized. I am suddenly much more interested in watching an Atlanta game. Call me a snob, call me an anti-American tool - but this is a potential path forward.

    For too long, MLS has insisted on targeting and paying money for "big name stars" - most of whom have been either over the hill or or downright decrepit. But there is a way to import big name foreign talent (and sell the product) while benefiting the NT greatly: spend that money on more Martino's. Give Laurent Blanc a blank check (ok, not really blank). See if Frank de Boer wants to spend a year in sunshine and warm weather before he goes back to Europe for a higher profile job. See if Louis van Gaal can be coaxed into making his semi-retirement a working one.

    Make the coaches lodestones for the league, and they can teach - and raise the level of play - for the clubs that hire them. And its harder to see when a coach has lost his fastball, whereas Steven Gerrard's concrete boots are so obvious that it drags the product down.

    So... spend your money on big name coaches MLS. Please.

    Next, comes an apprenticeship program and improved licensing training program. This would provide the needed youth/reserve team coaches for MLS's development machine to work. Hire a bunch of big name coaches, place a bunch of eager young coaches on their staff in a "watch and say nothing" role, and provide a generation of young coaches with invaluable exposure to the best training methods/styles in the world. Simultaneously, roll out a new youth level coaching/training program aimed at winning the World Cup in 2030. Blatantly copy Germany's program. Hire @Schnerres and a bunch like him for men's and women's youth programs.

    Increasing the number of quality coaches is key, so use MLS's need to sell their product by using their money to buy a generation of potential coaches. who will then work for and make MLS programs (youth and senior) successful. Which will lead to better players, etc.

    Oh, and do a bunch of the stuff TB suggested here, particularly the 100% of transfer proceeds. Players should be encouraged to spend their prime years playing for Dortmund, Tottenham, Man U, Real Madrid, Juventus, and the like. Not many will be talented enough to do that but many will be good enough to play for Schalke, Everton, Roma, Valencia, and the like - borderline Champions League qualifiers and Europa contenders. MLS isn't going to develop into a league that can compete with the quality of Europe's top two tiers, but being two or three clear steps ahead of the English Championship by the next WC is doable, I think. When it no longer makes sense for borderline talents like Eric Lichaj to spend their entire careers in the English second division, that's when MLS will have improved their own quality of play. Until then, accept who you are and encourage the best talent to seek out the best competition so they can be the best players possible (for the NT).
     
  2. Titans Bastard

    Titans Bastard has sunil gulati in his sights Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Be careful what you wish for. Or rather, be specific in what you wish for. Big name coaches who are great tacticians aren't always managers who are inclined to give chances to academy players, nor are they often accustomed to doing a great deal of teaching. Some are, but some aren't. When your resume consists mostly of big clubs, your experience is primarily working with fully formed elite pros.

    I'm not trying to knock Martino, who has done an excellent job with Atlanta. I'm just saying that smart low-profile hires like Chicago's Veljko Paunovic shouldn't be discounted. He's not a big name at all, but after a respectable career in Serbia, Spain, Germany, Russia, and briefly the US, he led Serbia's U20 team to the WC title in 2015 and was subsequently hired by the Fire. Chicago's gone from being the worst team in the league in 2015 and 2016 to the (currently) third best record in 2017 and he's finding ways to break in an 18 year old American attacking midfielder (Djordje Mihailovic).

    For all the hype about Martino, the jury is out on how well he'll integrate youth. Atlanta United have assembled a ton of academy talent in record time and 2018 is the first year when their manager will really have to think hard about integrating players like Carleton.

    We need managers who believe in the American player, give chances to young players, and can coach up players to a sell-able level. There are too many managers and organizations willing to import talent from CONCACAF and CONMEBOL instead of doing the harder work of development. (There's a hypothesis that this has caused MLS to improve the rest of CONCACAF more than the USMNT.)

    2017 was a good year for clearing out deadwood. Jeff Cassar (RSL), Pablo Mastroeni (COL), Curt Onalfo (LA), Dominic Kinnear (SJ), and Jay Heaps (NE) won't be missed.

    MLS has had a coaching development partnership with the French federation for a while. It's hard to know what, if any, effect it has had.
     
  3. coremiller

    coremiller Member SoSH Member

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    I think, as far as player development is concerned, the club/front office management is much more important than the manager. Most top European managers have learned to be very short-term focused -- the nature of the job demands it. At top clubs, it's because they'll get fired if the results disappoint, while at lower level clubs, good managers don't stick around because they'll get opportunities to move up the ladder. Meanwhile the clubs with reputations for strong player development recently (e.g. Ajax, Southampton, Barcelona, Tottenham) are hardly beacons of managerial stability. The Alex Fergusons and Arsene Wengers are anomalies, if not anachronisms. A successful player development system has to be built for the long term, which means it can't be dependent on whoever the current manager is.
     
  4. OilCanShotTupac

    OilCanShotTupac Sunny von Bulow Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    This makes sense to me. Men in Blazers were discussing this and Roger Bennet said that even as the USMNT has been (has had pretensions of) improving so as to compete with the big boys, so have Panama, T&T, Honduras etc. been improving.

    Still no excuse for failing to get one of 3 1/2 spots in a 6-spot CONCACAF tournament, but it's persuasive.
     
  5. Morgan's Magic Snowplow

    Morgan's Magic Snowplow Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    I think the best policy would be to just encourage anybody with any talent to move to Europe in the age 16-20 window and develop there.

    Improving the development systems of MLS clubs is still a good idea, because you'll have some late bloomers or guys who didn't want to make the European move for personal/family reasons. At the end of the day, however, not matter what kind of coaches and club directors MLS teams have, you're only going to improve so much when you're playing and practicing with mediocre teammates. I firmly believe that player development has strong networking effects: The best environment to improve is an environment in which the other players around you are as strong as possible.

    I don't know a ton about the history of the program but it seems to me that initiatives like "Generation Adidas" are totally wrongheaded for this very reason. We should be providing incentives - like need-based scholarships for those for whom money is an issue - for young talented players to go abroad in their teens, not providing incentives for them to stay in the MLS system.
     
  6. wonderland

    wonderland lurker

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    Well, another data point is Mexico finished with 11 points in 2014 qualifying.
     
  7. OilCanShotTupac

    OilCanShotTupac Sunny von Bulow Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    Naive question -

    how are the development programs for young players in Mexico or CONMEBOL, and do American players go there? I understand that the best players from those countries go to Europe, and there may be non-football reasons to prefer Europe, but is there a level of player who is not quite good enough to get one of the limited slots in Europe, but would benefit from a better level of training in, say, Argentina than he could get in the USA?
     
  8. moly99

    moly99 Member SoSH Member

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    You guys are looking at the end of the production line when you should be looking at the beginning. The issue is not that MLS is not inferior to the major European leagues (it is in every way) but rather that so is everything in US soccer. You can't hand a chef a bag of baby poop and ask them to turn it into filet mignon.

    Big name national team coaches do not want to spend their time teaching players basic fundamentals like dribbling. Moreover the single biggest weakness of MLS and the US player pool is simply the time it takes players to see which passing lanes are open, which cannot be coached.

    We are behind Germany in everything. I have no problem with people criticizing MLS. But overall it is making faster progress in making up the gap between us and Germany than the other parts of US soccer. Youth coaching is the most important part of the whole process, and it is the area where we are furthest behind the Germans. So we should start improving there.
     
  9. Titans Bastard

    Titans Bastard has sunil gulati in his sights Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    CONMEBOL countries aren't a big destination because the pay isn't great, the pay isn't always on time, and I don't think most clubs are all that interested in looking to the US for talent anyway.

    Mexico is the single largest destination for American players going abroad, but the cohort that goes to Liga MX is nearly 100% Mexican-American. There are strict limits on the number of non-Mexicans in Liga MX youth leagues and clubs generally prefer to use international slots on South American talent.

    Youth tournaments in the US, especially in highly Hispanic areas, are crawling with Liga MX scouts. The latest Mexican U16 and U15 rosters had a combined 7-8 Mexican-American players on them.

    Mexico actually suffers from similar issues to MLS. The league is able pay top domestic players quite well - sometimes enough to prevent players from going to Europe. They also are attractive to second-tier South American talent, who are imported in droves and sometimes crowds out opportunities for young players. (Very little Central American talent goes to Liga MX, for whatever reason.)

    Ultimately, it depends on the club. For example, no player should to go Tigres, one of Mexico's top clubs, but one that rarely if ever gives chances to youngsters. It is possible to get stuck in endless U20 league limbo down there.
     
  10. Titans Bastard

    Titans Bastard has sunil gulati in his sights Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    The trick is that we need MLS to profit from their investment in youth players or else MLS clubs won't make the investments and improvements that US Soccer NEEDS them to make.

    We can check all the boxes if MLS clubs are more willing to sell young talent.

    Let's call it the NYRB model. They sold (draftee) Jozy at age 18, (draftee) Tim Ream after two seasons, (academy signing) Matt Miazga after his first season as a starter, and (academy signing) Tyler Adams doesn't look like he's going to stick around all that much longer.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the GA program. The MLS Draft only allows college seniors (which is dumb); the GA supplements the draft pool by signing a few underclassmen in advance. The majority of GA players are over 18, so if they have foreign offers they are welcome to take them rather than signing the GA contract.

    It's just not that central to the pathway of elite prospects anymore because so many of them are in MLS academy systems and sign homegrown contracts outside the draft or they go abroad at 18. NCAA coaches are recruiting more international players these days, which is reflected in recent GA classes. Only one out of seven players in the 2016 class was actually American.

    It's a mostly harmless way of putting some college players in the pros a few years earlier than they otherwise might.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_Adidas
     
  11. Morgan's Magic Snowplow

    Morgan's Magic Snowplow Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    Thanks TB. Great stuff and very informative, as always.
     
  12. soxfan121

    soxfan121 JAG Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Specifically, MLS should spend its "funny money" not on big-name, aging players. It should instead spend that money on big-name, aging coaches.

    And use those coaches to jump-start a massive overhaul in the coaching/development system.

    Right. Which is why I don't actually care about that. The youth programs are not NOW in such a position that a two-year program of using "big name coaches" wouldn't affect the actual player development that much.

    However, having a half-dozen coaching apprentices watching everything the big name coaches do would provide those 30-45 individuals a Ph.D. program in coaching. Soak up the knowledge of an LvG and then apply it in their own coaching development/careers. Training up a generation of youth coaches won't have an effect for a decade; this jumpstarts the process before 2022.

    This is an outstanding point, and perhaps "big name coaches" is too vague and/or limiting. MLS should be looking to poach 6-8 LEGIT coaches - be they big names or solid, no-name, experienced professionals - who can be the top tier of this jumped up training program.

    Yes. And that can either be done haphazardly, while MLS gives ZLATAN nine million dollars a year to bump the ratings a half a point OR we can embark on a project to dramatically raise the level of professional coaching in America. The managers who "need" to believe in American players are the apprentices, not the "big money coaches" we're bringing in to train the apprentice coaches.

    Then, those apprentices become coaches and do what you suggest.

    Eh, this is my bias showing but there's zero chance Jay Heaps taught anyone anything. If CONCACAF players are developing in MLS faster than they used to then that's pretty clear evidence that a shitty domestic league without a development system isn't a good environment for any player.

    Seems like a good opportunity to swap out deadwood for a program that will both boost ratings (though not as much as a big name player) and pay huge dividends going forward.

    A step in the right direction, especially at the youth levels - which this plan doesn't really address (specifically) though the trickle down in apprentices would obviously provide youth/reserve teams with better coaching, which in turn would train new coaches for further down the ladder.

    Yeah, I'm not suggesting that MLS throw money at Laurent Blanc so he can teach Kelyn Rowe how to pass the ball.

    The specific goal would be have Laurent Blanc coach the way Laurent Blanc coaches while embedding a half dozen apprentices as "Assistants" who can learn his coaching methods. Someone else will need to teach the apprentices how to instruct a player to pass the ball. I'm sure that can be arranged.

    But the value of learning the top-level methods and techniques of coaching would immediately improve the professional coaching options available to MLS, which would then in turn hopefully infect the entire coaching development pipeline.

    I'm gonna need to ask for a citation or a link or something on the bolded.

    Improving the youth coaching and development is very, very important. And if we start right now, it'll begin paying off in 2030.
     
  13. ninjacornelius

    ninjacornelius Member SoSH Member

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    I've been thinking a lot about Iceland recently. Everyone seems to a) marvel at its rapid rise on the international stage and b) agree that Iceland's footballing model can't scale to a country like the US (which has 100x more people, 100x more land area, and a bevy of professional sports leagues to drive focus away from soccer). But my question is: does it have to scale? Would it be possible to "do an Iceland" and devote an intense amount of national developmental focus on only one small area of the country?

    Let's say the USSF decides to build massive developmental infrastructure in someplace like the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. It's an area roughly the same size as Iceland, with three times the population, and soccer is by far the most popular sport. Let's say that the USSF builds several developmental academies, pays above-scale salaries to the cream of the youth coaching ranks (with a separate program for training more), constructs state-of-the-art training facilities, and sends so many scouts throughout the area so that every youth player who can kick a ball has a file on him by age 7 or 8. Offer scholarships to as many kids as possible, and keep them out of the pay for play trap by creating a hypercompetitive local youth league. This would take a big chunk out of the USSF's $100m war chest, but what's point of having that money if not to spend it? Maybe once the infrastructure is in place, have the academies partner with MLS clubs currently lagging behind in youth development so that the project can eventually be somewhat self-sustaining money-wise.

    The way I see it, this wouldn't upend the current structure: there will still be pay for play, and the Pulisics and other players of immense talent in Pennsylvania or wherever would still be found. Instead, it could supplement the existing model by building a baseline level of soccer competence for a pool of players large enough to buoy a national program.
     
  14. Infield Infidel

    Infield Infidel teaching korea american SoSH Member

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    The Iceland growth was precipitated by a drastic improvement in coaching resources, by virtue of FIFA payouts. With a quarter million people, the per capita FIFA payout for Iceland is enormous. They built better facilities, but they also used that money to send as many coaches as possible to get UEFA licenses, to the point that 1 in ~850 Icelanders have a UEFA license. For everything above U8 in Iceland, a coach needs at least UEFA B license, which is the same license you need to coach amateur adults in the UK; a plumber or a teacher who coaches 9-year-olds likely has a UEFA B license. The country is filled with high-level coaches coaching kids at young ages. That's not exactly scaleable but we don't need 400,000 high-trained coaches. If we had half that it would be amazing, to do that, USSF coaching license need to be much cheaper. There are around 4million kids four to 19 years old playing in the US, maybe 2 million 10 and up who could benefit from high-quality coaching. The fundamentals are drilled way before a player is 16; under-12 is more important, and it's no wonder that many of our best players started their training when they were raised overseas, or are children of players or coaches.
     
    #14 Infield Infidel, Oct 18, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2017
  15. moly99

    moly99 Member SoSH Member

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    MLS clubs have begun to invest seriously not only in their own academies, but also in coaching development. For example Sporting Kansas City and its "National Training and Coaching Development Center."

    The USSF has the U.S. Soccer Training Center program, but its title is a bit of misnomer as it is really intended to help them identify talented players rather than providing direct training. They have also been thinking about building a national training center like France or Italy have, but AFAIK nothing is being done yet. Meanwhile Gulati and the USSF have done almost nothing to crack down on pay to play training programs. Nor have they done anything to reduce the costs of training coaches.

    To put it simply, if you are a soccer-loving kid growing up in Atlanta right now you will get far more benefit from joining Atlanta United's academy and new training facilities (https://www.atlutd.com/club/facilities/training-ground) than you would from joining a pay to play youth league and trying to get noticed by the USSF.

    I have no problem with people pointing out MLS' weaknesses, but these criticisms need to be balanced by acknowledging the positive training and player development the league is doing and the slow but steady improvement in the quality of the league on the field.
     
  16. soxfan121

    soxfan121 JAG Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    There are some valid points here, but it in no way answers the question.

    What is this based on? Who measured this "faster progress"? Where is the proof?
     
  17. Schnerres

    Schnerres Member SoSH Member

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    You have to take the clubs into responsibility for a working infrastructure. If it works, they get better grades and financial support.

    What that means?
    (1)Build urban football fields or smaller football areas.
    There could be a few trainings , but otherwise, that area has to be a starter for local kids to work on their football skills, to just play and to find new kids for football.
    (2)Install youth teams at the big clubs.
    I mean: Every level, U19, U18, U17, U16, down until U7. Every team should play regular competition and up to their standard. The older the team, the better the players. Around here, every team has a chance to beat a Bundesligas U8 team, it´s no biggie, they play normal kids. But between U8 and U10, they filter everything from outside, get the best kids. They have to be fast and technically skilled. They rest is training. This repeats itself after every season when they think there´s better guys around at smaller clubs (until U15). At age U17, you have the Bundesliga level starting, where they start travelling up to 500km for a game (an entire weekend basically) with bus ride, hotel overnight, match and back home.
    Every coach has to have at least a B license. The more A licenses you have, the more money you get.
    (3)You need a school in proximity of your club with the possibility of a residence for kids.
    Imagine living 2 hours away from your new club. And imagine there is a perfect school where your kid could stay overnight with a canteen, caretaker, 2bedroom, etc., right at that schools yard and about 10minutes next to that new club. And they have a partnership with that club (bus ride, people know each other,...). So you save many hours in car per day and have your kid in school and football (that´s how they have to live from an early age to be prepared for the life of a professional football player).
    (4)Give grades to the youth stables.
    The best players have something to choose from. If a team does not have a school with a residence next to it, they can´t get to 5* (out of 5, for example). If they don´t have 10 youth coaches with a B license and 4 A licenses, they won´t get 5*. If you only have one natural grass and one artificial turf and nothing else, you can get maximum 2*. If you don´t have every youth year/team installed and not at least 150 youth players in your club, you can´t get to 5*.
    A youth player like Pulisic would not go to a team like Dortmund, if they did not have 3* (in Germany, it´s only 3* maximum). And the 1st, 2nd Bundesliga teams are required to build youth stables (other teams can also) and they are regularly graded. If they get too comfortable and don´t renew things, their coaches leave and they don´t pick up new guys with equivalent licenses, etc., then they might only get 2*, which is a big thing. They are judged by 8 categories and it´s even done by a belgian agency called double pass to secure transparency and no ill will.
    (5)Improve coaching licenses for USSF training courses.
    That´s probably what all of you are saying by adding big-name coaches, etc. I would make coaching lessons harder/longer/with more content, but cheaper and more attractive. If you get the license, you should be able to get some kind of job at one of those newly installed youth stables, youth team trainer positions, etc. The new generation in the Bundesliga was coaching U17+U19 5 years ago and is younger than 40 years old. A third in the Bundesliga(6) is younger than 40 and 4 of them coached youth teams. That´s the way they are going (and teams are picking), because they are really improved tactically and playing a different brand of football. Plus, they know most of their young teams already (and are often cheaper).



    You can´t expect to make a few changes and then have them "in effect" for WC 2022. Germany had their huge problems froms 1998-2002, then changed everything (WC 2002 was not a nice football, it was the success build on Kahn+defense, Ballack, Klose´s goals) and it took a long time for those youth guys to join senior team. The first major championship was WC 2010. The youngest guys 2008 were Schweini+Poldi, which weren´t affected by the new youth stables. 2010 was a drastic change, as there were already 10 guys who could be affected (at least age-wise, I didn´t check everybodys youth career) by those changes. Make the changes now and they will be in effect for WC 2026.
    You have to have such a system installed in every bigger city(100k) and not just in Texas or another local experiment to mimic Iceland. Do your own story of success and use the entire country.
     
  18. Infield Infidel

    Infield Infidel teaching korea american SoSH Member

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    I apologize for cutting this quote out of a longer post, but isn't this thread about player development? Youth development is player development. You don't develop players that are already developed. Developed players can be improved at the margins, but what we should want is more players with a higher base of skills at a younger age, so they can start their career from a more technically and tactically adept position. The fact of the matter is this World Cup qualification didn't fail in 2017, it failed years ago. As Schnerres says above, there's no quick fixes. This isn't American sports where players can make big jumps later in their career. In soccer you more or less are what you are by 22 if not 20, and you're done 29-32. (edit - except for keepers obviously)

    As for MLS academies, they've only started hitting their stride since many didn't get going until recently. They are getting better at it simply because most MLS clubs literally weren't doing it at all before. They had to start from scratch because, until MLS made enough money to invest in academies, they couldn't compete with pay-for-play. Now they can. The US U17 and U20 made the quarters of their respective World Cups, and most of the rosters on both are MLS academy products. For 2022 the quality in the U20 team is pivotal, and the U17 team will be in their last stages of development. (The U20 will be fundamental for our Olympics 2020, but that's probably best discussed in a different thread). Ideally, MLS academies comb their regions and filter through players who then play for the big club or USL affiliate between 17-19, and then transfer to Europe. The better those 17-year-olds are, the more European scouts are here, and the more MLS teams will profit*. To paraphrase another thread, it's a big country. We need to a lot of coaches out there to develop young talent, and a lot of scouts to get that talent to where foreign scouts are.

    *Another benefit for MLS would be that their "stars" will invariably be older players with lengthy tenures, and the young guys are only there 2-3 years and don't develop as strong a fan-following before being transfered to Europe.
     
  19. moly99

    moly99 Member SoSH Member

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    If you are asking for a quantitative analysis, then I can't give you one because it is impossible.

    Prove to me that Leo Messi's development is more due to Barcelona than being naturally talented and growing up in an environment in Argentina that fostered his young talents. After all Neymar did not leave for Europe until he was already 20 and one of the best players in the world.

    Moreover the improvements being made at the academy level in MLS right now will not show up in the US national player pool for at least another five years. Those are improvements that benefit the coaching of kids who are 8-14.
     
  20. soxfan121

    soxfan121 JAG Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    No worries, you make several really good points. And when looked at in retrospect, the absymal failures of the various youth teams and Olympics qualifiers over the past five (or so) years should have signaled this calamity.

    FWIW, I agree and my top down suggestion on how MLS could use their desire to spend money more wisely does nothing to address it. But that's because I think investment in youth coaching/development can't pay dividends for a long time - though I agree it is essential, and needs to start yesterday.

    In trying to figure out a way to make the next several years useful, I've pitched an idea that doesn't address foundational issues - and that's why I'm done explaining it and I'm listening to TB and folks like you and Schnerres, who do understand it.

    I probably should have used the phrase "in conjunction with a massive investment in youth coaching..." somewhere in that wall of text.

    So, you made it up? Well, that's a productive use of everyone's time. Thanks.

    Nah, I'm not going to do that. In fact, I'm never going to read another post you write because you've made shit up, failed to produce the promised evidence, and now you're asking ME to "prove" something you just yanked out of your ass.

    Oh, and you've moved the goalposts from Germany to Argentina to Barcelona to Brazil all while pumping the tires of your favorite soccer league.

    You sir, should go wherever Don Garber's whores go.
     
  21. Titans Bastard

    Titans Bastard has sunil gulati in his sights Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Two excellent posts from @Schnerres and @Infield Infidel. I want to annotate Schnerres' post with what I know about recent developments in US soccer.

    This reminded me of something I saw a few days ago, where NYCFC partnered with New York to build 50 mini-pitches in poorer neighborhoods.



    We could definitely use more of that. I couldn't really say how common this sort of initiative is, but I'd guess the answer is not very.

    The USSF runs the Development Academy, which is the highest level of club soccer. It covers the whole country, but clubs only play regionally in a similar fashion to the youth Bundesligas.

    DA operates leagues at U19, U17, U15, U14, U13, and U12 levels. Although the DA started in 2007, for a good while it only operated with the oldest two divisions. In recent years it has expanded to younger age levels. There is uneven coverage across the country, especially at younger levels, because of the imperative to minimize travel. For example, Sporting Kansas City's U19, U17, and U15 teams have to travel to Denver or Texas for all of their intradivision road games. They don't field U14, U13, or U12 teams in the DA because traveling that much at those ages is dumb. Maybe there will be enough halfway decent clubs in KC, St Louis, Omaha, Des Moines, and Tulsa to launch a division there someday.

    The more ambitious clubs are doing something like this. IIRC, most of the time clubs partner with a local school district, though Philadelphia has set up a school geared 100% towards soccer academy players. SKC has recently signed a bunch of players from random parts of the country who they recruited; I think they have a network of host families.

    The Development Academy gave public grades a few years ago but AFAIK they've stopped doing that. We should work towards something like this, although a significant question is whether the USSF can be trusted to issue accurate grades.

    The USSF recently revamped its license system, but the licenses are far too expensive.
     
  22. Titans Bastard

    Titans Bastard has sunil gulati in his sights Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Here's something specific that needs to be done better.

    Dan Hunt, talking about FC Dallas development:

    Dallas has a tremendous amount of academy talent and a manager who until recently placed a huge amount of faith in unproven youngsters, but 2017 has been a bad year for them in multiple ways. They've moved away from being aggressive about using young players. Because they've totally tanked in the second half of the season, it sounds like they are moving back to their old ways, which would be good.

    But:

    If you want to bridge the gap, then bridge the fucking gap and launch a USL team. Nobody needs one more than Dallas and Atlanta right now.
     
  23. Cellar-Door

    Cellar-Door Member SoSH Member

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    so jumping slightly into the Moly/soxfan conversation:

    Brazil and Argentina both have great domestic youth development AND European clubs have great development.
    Messi didn't just show up at Barca after playing on playgrounds, he was at Newell's Old Boys from age 7 to age 14. Newell's is known as a great youth setup that pumps out good players and like many of the bigger Argentinian clubs is known as a starting place for excellent inventive managers. (Martino, Bielsa, Bernardi, etc.) They develop tons of kids well and the cream of the crop they sell off for millions to fund the operation.

    Neymar was discovered at age 7 by his local club Portugeuesa Santista, then when he showed promise moved to Santos at age 11. Santos is much like Newell's it is both a power in the Brazilian league, and a terrific youth development scheme that sells off their elite to Europe (Coutinho, Alex etc.).

    Tl:DR- Domestic leagues don't need to be competitive with elite leagues to have great youth development. MLS was built on maximizing the first team, and didn't really ever consider the development chain until recently. That's probably because of the stupid as money system in MLS where they tried to copy other US sports w/ salary caps and trades instead of the selling players model where developing 1 gem is worth more than several years of ticket and kit sales.

    For all the "pro/rel" arguments, not enough people are talking about what would really be best for USSoccer (but not MLS owners' wallets) which is scrapping the stupid league rules of player distribution and going to the European model of transfers and solidarity payments.
     
  24. Titans Bastard

    Titans Bastard has sunil gulati in his sights Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Worthwhile interview with Hugo Perez here.
     
  25. speedracer

    speedracer Member SoSH Member

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    Aren't the import rules pretty restrictive in Europe for US players under 18, though? I thought you pretty much already had to be a MNT regular to get a work permit in England, need a proper passport (by having a native parent/grandparent) to play in most other countries in Europe, etc.
     
  26. Titans Bastard

    Titans Bastard has sunil gulati in his sights Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    FIFA mandates no international transfers until you turn 18. There are a few exceptions:
    1. Players with citizenship somewhere in the EU can move to other EU countries at age 16
    2. Players can move if parents move for non-soccer reasons (often, "non-soccer reasons")
    Some domestic rules to consider (AFAIK):

    ENGLAND: work permits for non-EU players; since the appeal process seems to have been tightened up you need to be an NT regular

    FRANCE: four non-EU players. Cotonou Agreement players count as domestic.

    SPAIN: three non-EU players. Cotonou Agreement players count as domestic. Latin Americans have a quick & easy path to Spanish citizenship.

    ITALY: limits on the number of non-EU players who can be signed each season (I think two)

    NETHERLANDS: no nationality rules, but there's a high salary floor for non-EU players


    Germany, Belgium, and leagues in Scandinavia don't have as many rules.
     
  27. 67YAZ

    67YAZ Member SoSH Member

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    Over in the previous USMNT thread we had a back & forth about youth development at the youngest levels, and NYFC seems to be blazing a fantastic trail here. This is exactly the kind of thing USSF needs to invest its reserves in. Where there is at least a way to align financial incentives for MLS clubs to invest in 15-18 year olds with European transfers and solidarity payments, building pre-teen youth program is pure community outreach for a club. But for USSF, it should be the very broad base of the development pyramid....so USSF should assign funds to MLS clubs to build publicly accessible pitches and run youth programs on them. The initial expenditure doesn't have to be huge: pick 5 MLS clubs in 5 cities to run 5 year pilot programs for the U5-U10 age groups with the stipulations that participation is free and all coaches get subsidies for USSF coaching licenses. Focus on low income and immigrant communities, boys & girls. Hire an external evaluator and convene an annual meeting to review and share promising practices across sites. Scale up based on evidence and outcomes.

    USSF definitely needs to drop the cost of coaching licenses, but they also need to do two things: grow the value of having a license and help build a meaningful coaching ladder. One the first point, more people will pursue licenses if there's more actual return on investment. USSF needs to work with state-level agencies that regulate public school athletics to encourage soccer coaches to get licenses, schools to preference hiring licensed coaches, and offer steep discounts for licenses at the D/E/F levels. There should also be a public education push to get parents to look for soccer camps that advertise licensed coaches and to get camps to adverse as much, too. The headline on most of the camps will always be "Come meet former Chicago Fire (backup youth reserve B team) Goal Keeper X!" Who can say no to that?

    The coaching ladder is tougher. There has to be a tangible return on investment to motivate people to get people to pursue ever higher licenses.
     
  28. jkempa

    jkempa Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    7,855
    For what it's worth, I've been thinking about the same thing. Iceland proves that you don't need to have a massive population to have a major impact in the game. If we could set up 5 Iceland-like regions and pull talented players from them (talent developed by the intensive coaching we all see to think necessary, that's impossible to scale nationally), you'd probably see a bump in the quality even in the places that didn't get the USSF attention, as those areas fought to keep up with the quality of play in the concentrated areas (or secure their own favorable financing in the future). I'd like to see an attempt.
     
  29. robssecondjob

    robssecondjob Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    As anybody who has the misfortune to watch middle school or high school soccer can attest. There are some quite respectable players that are getting no sort of development. I am 4th official today for a local high school match and I can rest assured I will hear "boot it" for at least one coach.
     
  30. 67YAZ

    67YAZ Member SoSH Member

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    982
    This post also belongs over here.

    I’ll add that the other reason why 11v11 is not useful at the youth levels is that it rewards physical development more than skill development. The bigger, faster, stronger kids tend to rise to the top when there’s lots of space and sloppy play; those kids don’t really need to develop high level skills to be among the best in these leagues. Small sides and futsal require much more balance between skill and athleticism.
     
  31. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

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    These are the money quotes from the article IMO. Thanks @67YAZ !
     
  32. 67YAZ

    67YAZ Member SoSH Member

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    982
    Also...



    George Dohrmann
    Big News: I've signed up do a book on America's youth soccer system, a deep dive similar to what I did with hoops for Play Their Hearts Out
     
  33. Titans Bastard

    Titans Bastard has sunil gulati in his sights Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    7,870
    I came across an interesting compilation of observations from a large youth tournament. Not pretty and goes to show how important basic coaching improvements at the 6-12 age bracket will be for the US. I'm not familiar with the source, but take it FWIW. The author is from WV and based on some stuff he wrote on Twitter, I think the tournament may have been in the OH/PA area.
     
  34. speedracer

    speedracer Member SoSH Member

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    1,700
    ^ wow, that was a depressing read. Even more so after I googled 'build out line'.
     
  35. speedracer

    speedracer Member SoSH Member

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    1,700
    I'm hoping the Italian coach's team did well, otherwise we really might need an entire parallel youth setup in this country.
     
  36. soxfan121

    soxfan121 JAG Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    That's... that's not good. By game 12 I was just wishing for it to stop.
     
  37. Titans Bastard

    Titans Bastard has sunil gulati in his sights Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    7,870
    Yup.

    The next person who claims that our main problem is that we don't have enough good athletes playing soccer will be forced to copy that article on the board ten times.

    Youth coaching is largely what stands between us and the best countries.
     
  38. 67YAZ

    67YAZ Member SoSH Member

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    982
    One the key take away a for me from the article @Zososoxfan posted was that Belgium made the entry-level coaching course free.
     
  39. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

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    My experience growing up playing BAYS was that some random kid's dad always coached the team. Of all my early teams, only one coach knew a damn thing about soccer (funny enough he was of Italian descent and his two sons were among the better players in my town). After getting into MAPLE (club soccer), my first coach was a dud. But my second coach was very very good. Not only did he have good tactical acumen and know how to train a team, he also knew how to recruit players. I also went to a private HS that had an excellent soccer program (I'd argue that the JV coach was more astute than the varsity pair, but I digress). After going back into public schools, the coaching was back to piss poor.

    All of this is to say that I find it quintessentially American to formalize something as simple as youth travel soccer, even if there's no real expertise (the BAYS experience above). Whereas in most countries, all those kids would just be playing with their friends and on the street. Once you get into club soccer, there's probably not enough good coaches, but they are out there and hopefully more are getting into the system. I have no doubt that I could now coach better than all my coaches growing up save 2-3.
     
  40. Titans Bastard

    Titans Bastard has sunil gulati in his sights Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    USSF has hired Tom Byer to run a pilot program in Seattle focusing on technical development at young ages:

    1. I've heard of Byer before. He's done a lot of work in East Asia and his name comes up every few years when somebody advocates the USSF should hire him. I'm not sure if he's legit or whether he's a self-promoter.

    2. Targeting young kids and their parents seems like a good idea.

    3. It's interesting that it's a joint venture between the USSF, Washington state youth soccer, and the Sounders. I don't know whether or not this specific program will make a big impact (and it would be really hard to know from the outside for a long, long time - the 2030s, basically) but I am encouraged to see MLS clubs being proactive in raising the base level of young players in their region.
     
    #40 Titans Bastard, Oct 26, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2017
  41. 67YAZ

    67YAZ Member SoSH Member

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    982
    This is fantastic news, especially since the USSF actually got itself involved and that they could lure a respected, experienced professional to run it. Also love that it focuses in ages 2-6.

    As for big impact, the goal of these programs can't be to produce the next Pulisic or even to produce a regional bump in UMNT or professional players. The goal should be increased, sustained participation in organized youth soccer to grow the broadest possible base of the development pyramid.

    I hope they hire an external evaluator because this is pretty straightforward project that could generate a lot of valuable insights. They can use recent years' data from Washington state youth soccer to generate a baseline about participation levels and persistence; these can be easily tracked over time (at least 3 years to start). A random sample of child & parent interviews can provide a sense of satisfaction and quality of program (could even get frisky and conduct interviews with a matched sample in Oregon). Systematic documentation of program implementation would be massively beneficial for replication. And if they really wanted to get crazy, they could compare aspects of different program models across regions of the state, see which ones have bigger impact...give me until Monday, and I can have this proposal and budget on Byer's desk.
     
  42. Titans Bastard

    Titans Bastard has sunil gulati in his sights Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    7,870
    You should coach!
     
  43. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

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    I really would like to sooner than later. Getting married in February and the future missus is ready for kiddos yesterday, so I figure I'll be coaching little Zosos at some point! Even if I can just be a good youth coach like the Italian dad I mentioned I'd be super pumped.
     
  44. Titans Bastard

    Titans Bastard has sunil gulati in his sights Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    I really enjoyed this interview with a guy who runs a nonprofit soccer program near Oakland.
     
  45. Titans Bastard

    Titans Bastard has sunil gulati in his sights Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    I thought I'd put this here rather than the MLS thread.

    Tenorio is reporting that the league will be changing some transfer budgeting rules:

    1. MLSHQ currently takes a cut of any transfer fees. For an academy signing who is sold outside the league, the MLSHQ cut (currently 25%) will be eliminated.

    2. Currently, only $650,000 of the proceeds of a transfer sale can be put back into a club's annual salary budget. Any extra proceeds have to be used for non-salary expenditures or on the salary of a Designated Player. This means that, from an on-the-field spending standpoint, there isn't a huge difference between a $1m sale and a $5m sale because you are very restricted in how much of that money you can reinvest in players. Tenorio says that the $650k limit will see a "substantial jump".


    Both of these rule changes would make selling players a more attractive option.
     
  46. Titans Bastard

    Titans Bastard has sunil gulati in his sights Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Youth coaching!

     
  47. Titans Bastard

    Titans Bastard has sunil gulati in his sights Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Apparently you can't get a B or A license unless you are coaching at a Development Academy club.

    That's really dumb.
     
  48. Cellar-Door

    Cellar-Door Member SoSH Member

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    13,389
    Well only if the goal is to have good coaches. Smart if the goal is to make money for yourself and your credit cronies.
     
  49. DrewDawg

    DrewDawg Dorito Dink SoSH Member

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    You might be able to get an inkling on if it's working sooner.

    If there's some sort of "control group" (and since this is a USSF thing I'm sure they will track it) perhaps we'll see a larger number than expected kids from this area start to dominate the very young youth teams--granted we're still talking a decade out or so. That doesn't mean that cohort will progress on as they hit their late teens, but it'll be something.
     
  50. Zososoxfan

    Zososoxfan Member SoSH Member

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    4,031
    Youth Technical Development guru Tom Byer coming back to the States:

    https://www.si.com/soccer/2017/10/26/tom-byer-us-soccer-pilot-program-seattle-sounders-japan-china

     

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