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Discussion in 'USA Women: News and Analysis' started by lunatica, Jan 6, 2014.
The problem here isnt that they lost because u can always run into someone as good or better than u. The problem is US still doesnt seem to be evolving. Despite all the lip service to moving to a more possession style with more technique, the truth is if it is happening its at a glacial pace. A lot of criticism was heaped on Rowland because she chose to kick the ball long and give back possession instead rolling it out and playing from the back. Maybe Rowland didnt trust her players to play it out of the back. If ur going to give the ball the back, it's better to at least have it past half field.
Regardless what u think of French, and I certainly didnt agree with some of her decisions, the coach is rarely the problem at this level. She just doesnt have the players long enough to have a great impact on them. I will say she kinda got herself caught halfway style wise. If ur just trying to win the thing and u realize that no matter who u pick they wont possess the ball well, she might have been better picking more direct players. If ur determined to play possession regardless of the skill of ur players, u certainly could have picked a better formation.
The replacement of players like Morgan Andrews with Andi Sullivan at deep holding mid is fairly emblematic of what Ellis/French were trying to accomplish. I think in trying to have it all - when "all" probably is not yet available in our girls youth soccer system - they succeeded in having nothing.
Taking a different tack, I scratch my head at the idea of a "USWNT style" that can be said to "evolve".
We don't have a pervasive, top-down infrastructure with consistent doctrine and resources.
What we have (i.e. what players return to when they're not in WNT camps) is, as I see it, a loosely-bound gaggle of local efforts, each with fairly small resources: one school / university, or sports club. Even a pro academy (cf. Bradenton) is pretty insular and self-contained. It may have a feeder hierarchy below it ... but does it have a feedback mechanism to return knowledge / doctrine to the lower levels?
We've been content to pit these small groups in open competition vs. each other (they'll do that regardless), with the idea that the cream floats. Every NT's premise is to skim the cream of battle-proven winners (and then hope they mesh).
Now consider the "pyramid" of a sport to encompass all of its activities within a nation. The WNT sits at the top. At the bottom would be local teams, e.g. a high school or rec league. Each nation naturally self-organizes into a hierarchy. I'll explore the idea: to what extent can a pyramid support a "style"? (I'll then argue that our pyramid doesn't, really: we lack, um ... macronodes at medium depth.)
Hierarchy within a pyramid encompasses both upward-feeding of talent (the best ones move up a tier), and downward-propagation of lessons and knowledge (by outreach, teaching, maintaining flocks of satellite youth academies). Think Top Gun graduates returning to their squadrons and spreading their new skills.
(There's also indirect diffusion of knowledge by osmosis, in that all players are free to watch / follow higher-level soccer on their own, so knowledge can seep in that way. All JC bb players watch March Madness, all peewee gridiron fb players watch NFL, etc. We're already seeing some benefit from this: all of our youth players have grown up watching other WNT/W20/W17/NWSL matches, seen international play, heard the commentary, maybe even read some BigSoccer . They see what ping looks like, how Japan plays, how to press and counter, etc. And they're trying to emulate that. But just seeing it does not compare to 2,000 hours of experience in doing it well vs. other 2,000 hour opponents. Anyways, I will discount this "osmotic" knowlege because it happens regardless, so it's essentially pyramid-agnostic. It might become a teaching tool if you hold structured viewing events, where instructors and players analyze a high-level match together, and point out things. At high-enough levels of competition, those are your film study sessions, they're already a standard tool, and you can't compete without them.)
We take as given that nodes at every level of the pyramid will compete vs. other similar nodes. Now add a new axis of "resources" (time? history? sprawl?), defined thus: Some competitions are so old and vicious, and some nodes (= teams within those leagues) have grown so wealthy and wise, that the winning uber-strategy is to become your own mini-pyramid to find and farm the talent to rejuvenate you. (Plan B is to be an oil billionaire and buy talent you can become a millionaire this way) Hence, in most entrenched Euro leagues (Eredivisie, EPL, et al.), the first-tier node is also the tip of its own small pyramid of youth academies, affiliated minor-league teams, talent scouts, etc.
Let macronode denote a team with sufficient resources to organize its own mini-pyramid. That implies ... money, fans, many coaches, scouts, schools, etc. Each macronode can organize, and directly affect, several hundred(?) to a few thousand(?) kids in a relentless hunt for talent -- maybe like Julliard School of Music, or any top-class (and very exclusive) culinary school.
For completeness, let leaf node denote a team with no pyramid under it -- i.e. a degenerate pyramid of depth 1 I conjecture that USA woso is mostly a flat pyramid of leaf nodes, and that this confounds any attempt to impose or evolve a "style".
A macronode can, and often does, impose a single doctrine throughout its pyramid. e.g. if Ajax wants every one of its teams, from U6 to U19, to play 4-3-3 with close-ball skills and high pressure, they can teach that consistently. This is where the downward return-of-knowledge path in the pyramid shows up -- you're not just plucking ripe talent upward, you're also teaching downward. (N.B. I think this is what's missing in USWNT's pyramid.) Those of you who've taught a class and seen the light bulb go on over students' heads know how rewarding this can be when you do it right ... so it's a noble endeavor in its own right.
At the very top, every NT's challenge is, firstly, to select the team. But each nation's pyramid determines the ... um, quality of available choices.
If your pyramid contains a tier 1 league of macronodes, then you can be pretty sure you're picking some very thoroughly trained personnel. Example: USA's vast military. Pick 2 brigades from any 2 divisions, doesn't matter which ROTC they went through, nor where they're from, what fort they're assigned to -- you know you'll get the same basic skills. Or, Google hiring the best from, say, Stanford and MIT (or poaching them from Apple and Microsoft ) In fact, you can often assess the candidates based on what you know about the doctrine their macronode espouses. If you want to play Lyon's way, you pick 9 players from Lyon.
If your pyramid consists of leaf nodes only, then it's more haphazard. Your players may suffer from ... smallness of scope in their knowledge and training. Using competition as the measure of fitness has a flaw of "locality": it suffices to be just a little better than your local pool. (This is intrinsic to evolution: it's a great mechanism to adapt the survivors to local, current environments -- which lets it behave like a vast index fund over geological timescales. Evolution is lousy for making game-changing innovations. Hence big brains evolved, and that is the winning uber-strategy )
To say that we can just select a W20 team and have them exhibit a coherent evolution of playing style over time strikes me as demanding too much order from an inherently undirected process. Japan achieved this in about 2 decades precisely by re-building their entire pyramid from top-down, importing external expertise and imposing a doctrine throughout. So it can be done, and that's exactly what it takes. But within USA's societal history of sports teams as essentially self-run leaf nodes that compete for fun, competition alone cannot quickly converge to any breakthrough or rapid change.
Consider an open competition among inexpert, incompletely trained youths, in any other field of endeavor:
U20 five-course dinner preparation (you taste-test all entries)
high school musical competition (you listen to every contestant)
24 hour hack-a-thon for grades 9-12 (you compile and execute all entries)
drivers' permit school (you air-brake in the right seat)
You are virtually guaranteed that:
the winner is not "good" compared to an instructor or judge ... just the least worst among peers;
there is no carry-over or continuity from one year to the next.
Hence, our society generally sees such competitions as for fun, or to win admission as a student (i.e. an admission that you are only ready to begin real training). But we don't hire job candidates this way, nor elect officials. (Exception: Winning Top Gun means you return as an instructor ... and he goes free.)
Recasting this in W20 context, I conjecture that we cannot expect any "evolution toward possession-based play" just from selecting the winners of leaf node competitions that do not already value it. That would be like shaking your mocha and hoping for latte art to emerge. One way in which the system could evolve such a result would be if a meme such as "ping wins" catches root, starts winning competitions, and gradually out-competes all other memes ... then everybody would ping, or fall behind. (N.B. this actually happened once, in memory so recent that I watched it live: early 1980s, revolutionary USA mvb coach Doug Beal had epiphany: let's serve-receive the entire court with just two specialist passers. The meme won, and everybody copied it. It was so strong a meme that FIVB eventually tweaked let-serves to be legal, which swung the pendulum toward hard jump-serves just to force the other team to use five passers again. Now that's a meme.) The "Reyna dogma" sidebar, or Ajax/Japan's history, illustrate the edict-based approach (and perhaps we can distinguish the results thereof based on the degree to which it was backed up by resources and authority).
It's been argued (to death) that this state of USA's woso pyramid is "systemically flawed". I'll bypass that topic , and focus on the outcome of having a flat pyramid of leaf nodes. Essentially, this means there is no basis for evolution. We have no single, consistent style of play, nor single doctrine of instruction. We don't have two-way flow of talent/knowledge, so the leaf nodes are not seeing positive reinforcement saying we teach ping thus and won all these trophies, the players have no awe of their instructors' past glorious successes, the coaches exude no confident aura of I have molded champions before (well, maybe Dorrance), etc. More ephemerally: I think there is no collective confidence in "the system" (leaf node's local history) to just give young, impressionable kids the quiet, borderline-arrogance confidence that all they have to do is plug away like generations have done before them, and there's an end product to it. So ... there's very little retention or carry-over. Leaf nodes with no history are perhaps doomed to produce no history, a very negative feedback loop.
Actually, we are evolving, through the osmosis channel ... but that's true evolution, on decadal or centural timescales. What you guys want is really really fast quasi-evolution right now, in this cycle :handsonhips:
As a fan, I'm as frustrated as the rest of you. But as a CS geek, I must think in hierarchies with leafs at the bottom and how they evolve over time (or not). I don't know the solution, either. I will soon spend another fall semester watching one leaf node (WSU Cougars) beat up on other leaf nodes -- and I'll look for signs of osmosis-learning in their play. I may see Rowland live on Halloween when UCLA plays in Pullman. For what it's worth, I volunteer us to start a meme by winning the Pac-12 As an amateur astronomer, I shall somehow relate this to the Mie vs. Rayleigh solutions for the diffraction scattering of light ... maybe when I try to record WWC'15 from the cheap seats ...
But, the USFS' intent is to change what you describe and to impose a top down regime. The real question is whether it can work in the United States' culture. It would not work for a lot of BigSoccer posters, you already can see it in their saying, "I don't give a damn what the USFS says, it's own coaching pool should dump what the federation says if it isn't working."
However, what will get it working is if USFS' coaching pool in fact stays with the USFS program, whether it initially works or not. Sooner or later, it will trickle down at least to wherever there are players who have national team aspirations.
I'm not advocating for this or against it, and I'm not advocating for the particular regime USFS is trying to impose. But I am saying they're trying to do it. And, I believe some of the recent U20 experience can be explained by what they're trying to do.
Well Id take a page from every civilized country in the world and put these players on NWSL clubs. The purpose of the NWSL other than to amuse me for five month is help in the development of NT players. I say let it. I say let the USSF allocate 2 youth players to each NWSL club. Ud need some rules of course
1. player arent paid but receive food stipend and r placed with a host family.
2. They would join their club at the completion of classes
3. Only player who have completed high school are eligible.
4. Players can not be traded or released.
5. Technically speaking these players r consider in USSF residency
6. Add two roster spots but only allow those spots to be filled with allocated youth players
Practicing every day with older, better players will cause immediate improvement in players. They will get crucial in game experience against top players and organized systems. It will also benefit the clubs as it will give them 2 additional roster spots that they dont have to pay for.
What will the NCAA say...who gives a frack. These players r in US residency and representing their country.
Soooooo..... basically you want intelligent young athletic women to skip over a college degree to play in a league with no guarantee they'll even end up on national team roster or be able to make a living.....
hmmmm.... and hmmmmmmmmmmmm
Keep the girls in school please, unless they are crazy talented like Horan then have them go pro early.
That's basically how it works in every non-pro sport on this planet. I firmly believe you do sports as a hobby first of all. Now IF you're lucky to be good enough and IF this sport is so popular that it has a pro branch you can make a living of it. Perhaps. and only 0,1% get there to the top. You dont start sports with the goal to make a decent living of it. You do sports because you love the sport. Period.
If you can combine that love and talent with attending college. Congratulations. If not, so what? People everywhere in the world get along with it and you dont get to hear that often from all those poor soccer players dying in the streets.
I read it differently, and maybe @kernel_thai could come back and clarify. He said they'd join the team at the completion of classes, which I took to mean college classes. Because of the schedule of NWSL, they could play in the league and go to college the rest of the year. However, they wouldn't compete with their college team as they'd lose NCAA eligibility.
Fwiw, I used to say the same thing as well...always hated to see young atheletes skip college to go pro, and its how I lived my own life. While I played in college, the first focus in college choices was definitely academics. However, the world is changing. With many young people choosing to take a gap year or two and many adults going to college in their 40s and 50s, people are realizing that college is always there. Gaining experience is important, too.
Honestly, the idea is interesting, but I'm not sure its any better than what we have. With many college players' involvement with W-League teams in the summer and college fall season and spring practices, players get to play more months out of the year with their college team than they would with the short NWSL season. The problem is that colleges do not really focus on development, but the NWSL with young players wouldn't really either. The focus for both is on winning. I'd much rather see professional teams have development academies that are focused purely on development, as we see in men's leagues. However, we're not there yet. The NWSL first has to show that it can be financially viable for more than three years. Right now, the NCAA college system is the best we have....but that's not to say that it always will be.
more girls going pro early is the only solution.
and that will take forever. the women's pro game is not yet the popular and lucrative attraction that the men's game is.
still, there's no other way extant for teenagers to play enough top notch games to make a significant difference.
in the short term therefore, we're screwed....
...unless we recognize our problem and put team speed and team quickness back in the mix with skill. a u.s. team without speed, quickness and fitness along with skill is a team that is not likely to win. we do not have a soccer culture in the u.s. that makes it easy to soak in the technical aspects of the game. we must continue to develop skill, but also continue to include the tradional american aspects of speed, athleticism, quickness, and fitness.
enough times in the nk game, the u.s. was outquicked to a ball in the goal area and elsewhere....
enough times the u.s. player was played thru but could not round the defender or cut back quickly enough to create space...
enough times there was that opportunity to press in the attacking third...
that a little bit of dunn or ohai would have made a big difference, and we would not even have needed extra time.
I know it's difficult.
but I'm not yet convinced that it's impossible.
Where did I say that? The NWSL goes from April to the end of August. If these players played from the end of May to the end of August it would not interfere with college. And no it would not hurt their college eligibility so they could still accept their scholarships and play for their universities. As long as they r on US duty and dont accept pay they can play both with and against professional players. If this were not true then everyone on the US U20 team would be ineligible for playing with Horan.
unless the players have the great skill of horan, (who I can maybe forgive for being achingly slow at times), they need to have a speed/quickness/athletic advantage to their game.
I know we don't have any ronaldo's or messis. but think of what speed and quickness does to their skill. it throws the whole defensive scheme into wack.
we had no players, none, whose speed or quickness made the defense quake.
I know we have this new focus on technical growth etc., but for an american team, that's just stupid. it ached to watch large parts of those games. lavelle's skill seemed the only bright points. pugh didn't stand out. and horan was good, but often too slow to get to the ball.
While summer leagues r good for most players, they dont really help the elite players. What the elite players need more than anything is to not be the elite players any more. They need a league where most of the players r as good or better than they r. This forces them to grow and improve. It challenges them and that's the key. As an example look how much Kealia Ohai has improved her game for the Dash in just one year. Why? Because she quickly figured out that just being fast wasnt enough on the pro level. Everyone is fast. Now she holds the ball much better, can play with the back to the goal and has more moves than just a stop and go. It also improves their confidence. If u dont think scoring on keepers like Solo and Naeher arent u huge boost for a young player like Ohai ur missing something.
Now does this sole the US development problem? No. We still dont produce technical soccer players here for various stupid reasons. What it does help with is the advantage other countries currently enjoy by having their pro players against our college players.
Someone needs to explain to me why fast players cant be technical as well. Is it genetics? Is the fast gene dominant over the technical gene? The unfortunate answer in most cases is they just dont have to be. Fast players, especially forward tend to get by as long as they can with their speed. They push the ball past the defender and beat them to it. This is a failure in development. Players should never be allowed to get by with just their speed. If the effort was made to force this development in practice at the youth and college levels, ud start producing players who were fast and technical and that is the real goal.
When a player is slow she's "technical" when a player is fast she's "athletic" I think that was invented by slow players. Marta, Morgan, Rapinoe, Dunn, Pele, Ronaldo Messi, etc..etc. all fast all technical. Especially if in technical you mean they have touch and can make a decent pass which seems to be missing among so many players.
Recent experience with US girls soccer: our 18 year-old daughter was cut from ODP at 13 - too small, too weak and too slow even though she was and still is a ball-wizard, spending countless hours with the ball on her own juggling, learning tricks, passing drills, you name it. Compounding her problems was her idolization of her older brother and his Barcelona obsession - they both modeled their games after Andres Iniesta. If you want the shortest route out of US soccer attempt to play tiki-taka with your teammates like Iniesta. Especially in US girls soccer.
Also like her brother she took up track and the 400m her senior year, making the state finals with a 58.51. Not so small and weak anymore . As a bonus she has both ACLs and never had a concussion.
When a player is slow she had better be technical.
I had a HS heptathlete who placed in the state meet...she started her track career as a barely 5' long distance runner. Identification is an ongoing process and they r way to obsessed with how early kids commit to soccer.
I see Nigeria lit up Korea DPR 6-2...maybe fast players r actually a help.
and anecdotes are always interesting. but they don't necessarily point out to the correct conclusion.
and neither will the answer to the following question. but it's one i'd like to know the answer to.
so, from the evidence of ussoccer's u20 roster, if they're kicking out iniesta-like tiki-taka players post haste, what kinds of players are they keeping?
the fast, athletic ones?
all the evidence points to the opposite....that is all the evidence i have - which isn't much.
Actually, I agree with the anecdote, not because April/Jill choose against technical ability (they don't), but because (as far as I have ever seen) they utterly and completely hate short-pass, possession soccer on the international stage.
but the anecdote does suggest that they choose against technical ability.
and if they "utterly and completely hate short-pass, possession soccer on the international stage", why doesn't jill yank solo off the field every time she makes a short pass to start the play out of the back, or sit abby down every time she tries a short thru pass into morgan in the goal area, or take leroux off every time she makes a short pass back to holiday, or give lloyd a stern lecture every time she makes a short sideways touch to hao - ad infinitum.
Well, I have to say the first thing that stuck me when I saw the team was the size. Very tall in the back...very solid in front and then kind of small in the midfield. Guess Im more used to bigger players in the spine and smaller players on the outside.