What is Bradenton worth?

Discussion in 'Youth National Teams' started by Femfa, Nov 28, 2004.

  1. Femfa

    Femfa New Member

    Jun 3, 2002
    Los Angeles

    This is a rather creepy article in the NY Times about the sports programs at Bradenton. Soccer is only peripherally mentioned, but it makes me wonder - is the USSF paying forty thousand a year in tuition alone for the residency kids?

    Assuming another ten grand for housing expenses, that's fifty grand per kid in residency - without taking into account any travel expenses.

    Is Bradenton a good value for the USSF?

    Any thoughts?

  2. Tmagic77

    Tmagic77 Member+

    Feb 10, 2003
    Chicago Fire
    So, 2 million a year. I think they'll get their money's worth.
  3. ChrisE

    ChrisE Member

    Jul 1, 2002
    Nat'l Team:
    American Samoa
    What constitutes value for the USSF?

    Obviously Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley would still exist without Bradenton, although it's impossible to know how measure their impact.

    The Academy has produced seven National team players, in Donovan, Beasley, Onyewu, Convey, Gaven, Spector and Johnson, plus several others who will likely soon be capped.
    (actually, Quaranta may have a cap, I don't remember...)

    It's impossible to say what impact Bradenton had on these players, but I think we can at least assume that Spector would not nearly be the player he is today if not for Bradenton.

    How much is a USMNT goal worth? A win?

    What value does the USSF take from youth national teams? Have we performed significantly better since Bradenton's foundation, even?

    Do we factor the impact on MLS that Bradenton kids have into the value to the USSF?

    I dunno, this is a pretty broad question, Femfa.
  4. Femfa

    Femfa New Member

    Jun 3, 2002
    Los Angeles
    True, it's a broad question, but the truth is, fifty grand a pop is probably underestimating things, mainly because the teams travel a heck of a lot. A hundred grand per resident is probably more like it.

    I brought it up partly because the article mentions certain development problems that have been discussed before.

    For one, how youth soccer has been taken over by expensive entities:

    "Organizing, coaching and tutoring young athletes has become an industry, and a big one. It is also one that is hard to measure fully (an estimate in The Boston Globe put it at $4 billion) since instruction at the lowest end -- for example, high-school or college athletes charging by the hour to tutor younger players -- occurs off the books. Many large, multiteam soccer clubs, especially in affluent communities, are now run by paid directors, and their upper-level teams are coached by professionals rather than parent volunteers. In some areas, the whole youth soccer industry has been taken over by pros who come from countries with deeper soccer traditions than those of the United States."

    Two - the current development model is not grabbing the best athletes:

    "Left on their own, children are natural cross-trainers. They climb trees, wade in streams, play whatever sport is in season and make up their own games. The lure of the great indoors -- cable TV and the Internet -- has made them, in general, less fit. But what is recognized less is that the way youth sports are now organized has made even those who are dedicated participants less athletic than they should be. The culprit is early specialization: many young athletes can perform the mechanics of their own sport, but too often in a repetitive, almost metronomic way, and they lack many of the other elements of all-around athleticism. ''I see it all the time,'' Sullivan said. ''I look at some kids, and they look good with the bat in their hands. They're perfect. And then they go out on the field, and I say, My God, this kid is a horrible athlete. He can't run. He can't move. He's spent all his time in the batting cage. So many of these kids have played no other sport. They're one-trick ponies.''
  5. Femfa

    Femfa New Member

    Jun 3, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Three - focusing so much on one sport in a pressure enviroment may cause serious injury.

    "They are also more at risk for injury. ''We're seeing stress fractures, overuse injuries of all kinds,'' Jordan Metzl, medical director of the Sports Medicine Institute for Young Athletes at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, said. The day before we talked, an 11-year-old boy came into Metzl's office complaining of a sore arm after throwing 120 pitches in a game -- more than a typical starting pitcher throws in a big-league game. The boy had an injury to the growth plate, which had been ''pulled off the inside of the elbow.'' Metzl had also recently treated a 9-year-old girl for a pelvic stress fracture. She had been playing soccer six days a week, two to three hours a day.

    U.S. Youth Soccer, the governing body of state soccer associations, recommends a series of measures intended to put the brakes on go-go youth soccer culture, like no travel tournaments for players under 10 that ''promote winning and losing and the awarding of trophies.'' Also: no encouraging of specialization until players reach at least the age of 12. ''We teach in our coaching courses that there's no advantage to it,'' said Sam Snow, U.S. Youth Soccer's director of coaching education. ''Soccer is a late specialization sport. Players do not peak until they're in their mid-20's.'' I asked Snow if he felt his advice was being heeded. ''No,'' he said. ''It's not.''

    Finally, how about the argument that organized soccer can not replicate the most important aspect of the beautiful game - the creativity? Can Bradenton teach that? Even Adu has said he learned to be creative in the games he played in Ghana.

    "The more-is-more, overcoached, overscheduled approach to youth sport in America has led some coaches into an odd role -- reteaching (or teaching) athletes how to engage in free play. Tom Durkin, director of IMG's soccer academy, spent much of his childhood in Brazil, where, as he put it, ''they play soccer in every form -- on grass, cement, dirt, in the street. Our society is one of constant supervision -- it doesn't allow for that.'' The consequence, he said, is that some of his best players come to him technically proficient but lacking an important ingredient of soccer that comes from playing for low stakes and away from the censorious eyes of coaches: creativity."

    I guess I wasn't looking so much for one conclusive answer as I was for feedback. Bradenton isn't the only option these days. MLS teams are adding reserve teams and will perhaps expand their youth programs. A kid could potentially get quality training and still live at home.
  6. ChrisE

    ChrisE Member

    Jul 1, 2002
    Nat'l Team:
    American Samoa
    Despite the criticisms proferred in the article, there's no doubt in my mind that Bradenton is a better training ground for these players than anyplace else they could be.

    Regarding the individual objectsion:

    1. youth soccer has been taken over by expensive entities - Well, sure, this is true, but this is what everybody seems to want. Although it may not be pros training pros, or whatever the catchphrase is, it's surely better training than an average parent.

    2.,3. Two - the current development model is not grabbing the best athletes; Three - focusing so much on one sport in a pressure enviroment may cause serious injury.

    The first issue doesn't address Bradenton - the average Bradenton kid begins training at, what, 15? The article is talking about specialization at far earlier ages than 15. The second really refers to younger players as well - looking at the first bradenton class, none of these guys have had debilitating injuries because of overtraining. The only player who this may apply to is Santino Quaranta, and even that is very debateable.

    4. Finally, how about the argument that organized soccer can not replicate the most important aspect of the beautiful game - the creativity?

    What is the alternative, though? If you don't believe that creativity is something that can be coached in the first place, then it's not something that the USSF can improve by reallocating funds. Bradenton makes good soccer players, whether or not it fosters creativity isn't really too important, I don't think.

    I don't think it's fair to include travel costs - USSF would likely be footing the bill for the Milk Cup et al. anyways, so that expenditure pertains more to the U-17 national team, rather than Bradenton in specific.

    I might even suggest that it's less than $50,000, because the U-17 coaches happen to also be the Bradenton coaches - I don't know how much more they get paid since Bradenton is a year-round job, but at least part of the Bradenton salary should be subsumed in the U-17 costs..
  7. Bob Morocco

    Bob Morocco Member+

    Aug 11, 2003
    Billings, MT
    I would think that the USSF gets a discount from Bradenton to put all its best players there. IMG accepts this discount so that they can see up close and have a relationship with the top soccer prospects in America. The thing about Bradenton not geting the best athletes is not about the soccer program and more about the pay for play program in other sports. Guys come to Bradenton at what 15, 16? The creative game is probably learned from the time you can kick a ball so the problem is that really young kids aren't allowed to learn to play this way. Soccer is growing in Montana and while I rarely see young kids playing at parks, durring recess at the elementary school I live by there are usually big unorganized coed games. I'm pretty sure the coaches for my town's one club have encouraged kids to do this which is heartening. I too think creativity could be fostered by encouraging onorganized games. If I were coaching a young team I'd have a practice where the kids just played, very little input from me.
  8. Karl K

    Karl K Member

    Oct 25, 1999
    Suburban Chicago
    I recall that Nike foots the bill.

    They started in 1996, committed to 10 years at $5 million per.

    Again, I am working from foggy memory, and may be wrong, but that's what I recall.
  9. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Bradenton/IMG is indeed a creepy place, a fools' paradise for rich people to buy their children sporting fantasies.

    The USSF/Nike soccer development program is a meritocracy (or nearly so) and a fine thing.

    Let's be certain not to confuse the two entities.

    What I don't understand is why USSF/Nike finds it more economical to place the kids at the Bradenton facility rather than make alternate housing arrangements and have the boys attend a public school. But I figure those guys have scoped out the alternatives and have good reason for making those decisions.
  10. Peretz48

    Peretz48 Member+

    Nov 9, 2003
    Los Angeles
    I agree with free play. Unfortunately, in urban Southern California, it's not feasible for kids just playing in their own unless there is some adult supervision (safety & security issues). But I sense that what you're getting at is something I've recommended for a while. Have a structured practice once or twice a week, where a coach instructs the young players in all the different fundamental skills (Coerver stuff, trapping, passing, etc.). Then, once or twice a week have a coach (or parents) present on the premises. But these other sessions are for the kids to sort things out for themselves. Maybe they can choose up sides for small-sided games. It's up to them. Adults are only present to ensure a safe and secure environment.
  11. Femfa

    Femfa New Member

    Jun 3, 2002
    Los Angeles
    What a relief! That's great. As the Adidas MLS contract is now funding the new reserve teams, it's great to see sponsorship dollars supporting the young soccer talent we have.

    It's probably a win win for Bradenton, actually. They can charge the rich parents tons of dough and then point to the U.S. soccer talent "they" have developed. Great marketing ploy. :)

    I guess another question would then be - if you were the parent of a 15 year old - living in say, DC, and your kid was talented enough to be asked to Bradenton - as well as invited to join the DC reserves - which would you pick?

    He'd possibly scrimmage or practice with Adu if he joined DC, but he'd travel and represent the U.S. internationally in Bradenton.

    Of course, you might say that you'd let your kid choose, but what would you personally prefer.
  12. numerista

    numerista New Member

    Mar 21, 2004
  13. Martin Fischer

    Martin Fischer Member+

    Feb 23, 1999
    Kampala. Uganda
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    There have been some darn fine players come out of residency. And some darn fine ones who went into residency.

    My opinion is that it is not the best expenditure of money and that US Soccer could get more bang in terms of future full National teamers if they spent the money over a wider pool -- like giving contracts to MLS or A League teams to set up youth acadamies without residency and expand the pool that way. It would not be as effective in getting results at the youth level and I hope that this is not the reason US Soccer uses the residency method.
  14. davide

    davide Member

    Mar 1, 2001
    Teen-ager makes his goal -- national team SOCCER A Murrieta boy will
    move to Florida to attend a sports academy and play on the under-17 national

    The Press - Enterprise Riverside, Calif.
    Sep 1, 2001

    "School officials said the type of scholarship Brandon earned would
    cost $60,000 a year for the school alone. Tack on travel costs to Costa
    Rica, Brazil, Germany and Australia for tournaments, and the price jumps
    another $10,000."

    Not sure if these figures are accurate ...
  15. DamonEsquire

    DamonEsquire BigSoccer Supporter

    Sep 16, 2002
    Leeds United AFC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    In public school systems, you still cannot recruit. I know this from Fort Knox High School. They had run to state championship in football (80's). Situation came under scruntiny from accusations. That general sought good football kids and had parents transfered to Fort Knox. I know Army and Football might not mix. IIRC, nothing came from situation. This might have been. Rich kentuckians persuded or High Ranking Officers pleaed for promotion.
  16. cumonref

    cumonref New Member

    It is worth its weight in gold in the present climate because until such a time comes when all MLS teams operate their own reserve teams and youth academies, it is the only way that talented kids can get anywhere near the coaching and playing experience that is needed to produce players, that hopefully will become good enough for professional and then full international soccer. I know that not all of the players that are produced at Bradenton end up at the top level, but this is the same with every soccer club worldwide.
    I read an atricle once where an English National Youth U16 Team Coach was quoted as saying that he expected only 4 or 5 of the top 50 players in the country (the whole player pool for Engkand U16'S) at that age to make it at Premier League level, and all of those 50 players where already signed to league clubs, probably from an early age.
    If you think that Liverpool alone spend about $3m per year for their academy I think that Bradenton is a steal.
  17. John L

    John L Member+

    Sep 20, 2003
    Alexandria, VA
    In terms of the value of players coming out of Bradenton (after going there at the age of 14/15), I'd say its worth the investment - Their impact on MLS and then the Nats teams (U20 and U23 and Full) has already been incredible - US Soccer would be no where as good as it is now without this program - Where would all the good talent be? - Getting good coaching but only so-so competition in Colleges - And NO COACHING in youth oriented semi-pros - And getting lost in European Clubs Youth programs

    Some complain (and mostly pontficators in these articles) that this is way too early for soccer development - Either they're anti-soccer, or they nostagically think that all these great foreign players came directly from the streets - They don't come from the streets - They come from Club Youth Programs that start them at 8 or 9 -

    What else do we need? - Somehow I always think that even this is way too small a talent pool to be looking at nation-wide - Only 20 or so per year for the size of US is paltry - This is all there is? - This assumes that the screening program finds all the kids that will ever be any good - Hardly - Many, many, many star athletes were late-bloomers (didn't really come along until 18/19/20 - And/Or were always considered 2nd-3rd tier players in HS

    How about another "Bradenton" ? - Are there any other "Sports High Schools" (that support HS education for tennis, golf, whatever) around the country? - It would be too expensive for USSF/MLS to start one totally on their own - Are there any other small outfits that soccer could join?

    Promoting and Strengthening Youth Programs by MLS Teams - DCU has a Youth League and John Harkes is taking over as director of the program - But seriously, this is mostly community involvement type of program - To be truly effective, kids need to be signed up and locked into this program starting at 12/13 and come this program almost exclusively - NO other travel clubs and certainly NO high school teams - The program DCU has is a good start and may morph into or approach this goal - Any other MLS clubs with Youth League Programs? - Like the Reserve Team program, this needs a sponsor as well
  18. Squash

    Squash Member

    Mar 8, 2003
    Bradenton is worth every penny for sure. It has produced some fine players and is still in it's infancy. I looked at the kids that are coming through it the last few years, and I'd guess in 2010 for World Cup, you'll see 5-7 that came thru the system on the team. It's been one of the smartest things our country has done for soccer ever.

    I honestly believe it wouldn't hurt to have it for the women too. The last few years countries on the womens side have gotten closer and closer to the US. We need to stop that trend asap. We need to make sure we keep our dominance at least on the womens side, and it's definitely slipping.
  19. 2leftshoes

    2leftshoes New Member

    Sep 17, 2003
    bay area
    FC Bayern München
    Nat'l Team:
    United States

    US Soccer is about as separate as you can get from IMG World. The boys are housed in separate town houses from the rest of the students. They eat in the cafeteria with the other 300 kids but that is where the similarities end. US Soccer have their own office space and soccer fields at the academy and contrary to what one person posted the coaches do not coach the IMG students. They are hired by US Soccer and only coach the U17 team. There are other ancillary staff at IMG that work with all the athletes but the coaches do not. The 40 boys are bused to a school about 40 minutes from campus. They do not attend the same high school as the students at IMG. And Nike foots about 50% of the bill for all US Soccer events. The boys are equipped totally with nike equipment thanks to their sponsorship.
  20. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Good information. I did not know that. Thank you.

    IMG Academy = housing + cafeteria + access to playing fields, it would seem. No more, no less.

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