A British Coach Abroad: Observations of the Growth of US Soccer

Discussion in 'MLS: Clubs' started by Alwaysazzurre, Sep 5, 2011.

  1. Alwaysazzurre

    Alwaysazzurre Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    Club:
    FC Internazionale Milano
    I've spent the last two summers coaching football or soccer over in the USA and thought I would write a piece discussing the growth of the sport.


    Firstly I just want to make it clear that I love the USA. For the last two summers I have travelled to the States to work for a company called Challenger Sports and coach football on the British Soccer camps. They have been the two most enjoyable summers of my life and the people I have stayed with and coached with have made the time so memorable. Now that's out of the way and you know I have no American prejudice, I must begin to discuss the issues with US soccer and the reason for its lack of immense growth and why it continues to fall behind their three main sports of Baseball, Basketball and American Football in popularity and quality.

    The young kids that I coach over in America have all the necessary ability that is required to become good football players. In fact because of soccer camps and the competitive nature of school sports their youngest players can sometimes have more of a grasp of basic football skills than those back in the UK. The question to be addressed must be, why does this basic ability not transcend through the teenage years into a high standard of domestic league player? I have also noticed that girls can quite often be better players than boys which if all the British and Irish young ladies will please forgive me is a stark contrast to back where I come from. I feel both of these things can be explained by the same fact, if you want to make huge amounts of money in US sport soccer is not the way to go unless you are female in which case with the exception of the WNBA soccer is the best option to try and obtain a college scholarship. With the mention of scholarships that is another massive factor in the sports stunted growth amongst the teenagers of America. The size of college sports in America is something that I have spent time gazing upon with envy. When I play football at the weekends I play in front of possibly 20 people and a few dogs, with the most people I've ever played in front of being about 200, and that was a cup final! Texas A&M have an 118,000 seater stadium for their American football team and they fill this on every single game day.

    To put that into perspective that is bigger than Barcelona's Nou Camp stadium and they are the best professional football team in the world....Texas A&M's players are 18 -22 year old college kids. To experience something like that in your life so young must be incredible but also mind blowing but discussing the ups and downs of US college football is something I'll leave for a whole other article.

    I experienced quite a lot of MLS soccer on television this summer and was also fortunate enough to catch a game between the New England Revolution and the New York Red Bulls at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro New Hampshire. There were about 18,000 fans there for the game, which was only a fraction of the stadiums 68,000 capacity, but it generated a decent atmosphere. The strange thing for me was that it wasn't the atmosphere of a European football stadium. Fans mix and sit side by side with the opposition, which simply could not be done in Europe and only certain areas of the stadium sing (without swearing), which also doesn't happen although some cynics might say it does at Old Trafford or the Emirates. The game I attended was an exciting game finishing 2-2 with the 10 man Red Bulls coming back from 2-0 down. The quality was probably somewhere between League 1 and the Championship with some players maybe able to just about make a lower premier league team. Sadly for the MLS it just does not generate the same amount of interest as its competitors in the world of American Sports. Major League Baseball goes on at the same time as the MLS and it generates huge revenue and has one of the largest wage bills of any sporting league in the world. At its current total of 1.81 million pounds beating the English Premier league's 1.4 million. Just for good measure I'll also let you know that the NBA is the league with the highest salary in the world at 2.62 million...continued at Growth of US Soccer
     
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  2. ganderif

    ganderif Member

    Apr 10, 2011
    Houston
    Club:
    NSC Minnesota Stars
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Texas A&M's Kyle Field has an official capacity of 83,002 with an attendance record of 90,079, while Camp Nou is 98,787. There are however 5 or 6 college stadiums bigger than that though.
     
  3. IrishSniper87

    IrishSniper87 Member

    Jan 3, 2011
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    He probably mean UT. However Michigan and Penn State are the highest capacity stadiums in the US and 3rd and 4th in the World at roughly 109k and 105k capacity.
     
  4. CyphaPSU

    CyphaPSU Member+

    Mar 16, 2003
    Not Far
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Michigan Stadium capacity: 109,901 (record attendance: 114,804)
    Penn State's Beaver Stadium capacity: 107,282 (record attandance: 110,753)

    And as mentioned above:
    Texas A&M's Kyle Field capacity: 83,002 (record attendance: 90,079)
    Camp Nou: 98,800 (record attendance: hard to find, but it looks like it can accommodate more than 106,000 fans)
     
  5. firstshirt

    firstshirt Member+

    Mar 1, 2000
    Ellington, CT / NK, RI
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    When did Foxboro move to new hampshire?
     
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  6. ultrium

    ultrium New Member

    Aug 7, 2002
    Kyle Field home of Texas A&M has expanded. It was expanded piecemeal. One side then the other. In the intermediate year the capacity was 106,511, after the other side was finish the capacity changed to 102,733, The record attendance is 110,631. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyle_Field
     
  7. Paul Berry

    Paul Berry Member+

    Notts County and NYCFC
    England
    Apr 18, 2015
    Nr Kingston NY
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Rungrado 1st of May Stadium holds 114,000 (though the pesky North Koreans have claimed 150,000).
     
  8. FirstStar

    FirstStar Hustlin' for the USA

    Feb 1, 2005
    Time's Arrow
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Neyland Stadium in Knoxville is 103,000. Gets rocking for games. All that aside, I really appreciate the perspective and the dedication of everyone who coaches youth soccer in America, especially foreign coaches who comes here with a fresh perspective.

    I disagree that the NFL and NBA are the reasons that MLS hasn't developed more. The best players in those other sports have bodies and cognative abilities that are ill suited for soccer. A few players could possibly cross the lines, but basketball players are tall and football players are big. All such pro are explosive athletes graced with immense abilities, but I'd say only the best of the best guards in basketball and corners in football can change directions as fast as the average pro soccer winger. None of the other American sports utilize eye-foot coordination. And, finally, there's an enormous pool of potential athletes in the USA, with our 300mm+ population (compares favorably to Belgium's 11mm and Spain's 46mm).

    I don't think the "problem" is the kids being distracted by other sports. I think it is how they are being coached and the understandable lure of college (which is a much better bet on your future vs. trying to be a soccer star).
     
  9. Paul Berry

    Paul Berry Member+

    Notts County and NYCFC
    England
    Apr 18, 2015
    Nr Kingston NY
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The kids in my neighborhood play basketball, even the smaller kids who aren't built for the game. There's actually space to play soccer with a big wall you could kick a ball against but it's not used. In that sense there's potential soccer talent being lost.
     

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