Youth development - this year's thread

Discussion in 'Youth National Teams' started by voros, Sep 26, 2003.

  1. denver_mugwamp

    denver_mugwamp New Member

    Feb 9, 2003
    Denver, Colorado
    I have trouble with the financial calculations...

    Sure, there's no financial incentive for a MLS team to develop players. But our league owners were far-thinking enough to realize that everything that improves the quality of US soccer will ultimately improve the MLS. I don't think the idea is to make players to sell to other leagues. If that happens, it's a bonus for the league and the player. The idea is to improve the level of play, which most people would agree is not where it could be. And I don't care how we get more young players in Bradenton-type programs, as long as it happens. Maybe put a $1 surcharge on all MLS and USMNT tickets? Have people standing by the stadium entrances with a donation bucket? Require each team to start an academy? They're all fine with me. There needs to be more opportunity for high-school age players to develop--that's the bottom line. And this will end up benefitting both the MLS and colleges.
  2. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Practice Time

    You'd think but from my understanding that's not the case. Training is 2 - 3 hours daily for 5 days, a match once a week, rest once a week.

    But this is nearly year-around as opposed to college, plus of course the other advantages for European kids that I mentioned in the previous email still hold true.
  3. Karl K

    Karl K Member

    Oct 25, 1999
    Suburban Chicago
    Re: I have trouble with the financial calculations...

    OK, this is an interesting comment with some stated and unstated assumptions. Let's deal with them in turn.

    Is the idea in MLS to "improve the quality of play?" Yes, but I would say that this is a subsidiary objective -- subsidiary to making money and increasing the value of each ranchise.

    Too MUCH quality now, that is to say, fielding teams populated with the best of the best players in the world, would clearly be non-economical for the league. See the NASL. Too little quality and of course no one will show up. Right now, the league is at a quality level that is probably appropriate for its age, financial condition, and future aspirations. And having watched pretty regularly for the last five years, I can say the quality of play HAS improved, and is getting better.

    Next, there's the issue fans supporting the development of academies through some sort of ticket surchage. I'm working off the top of my head but isn't overall legue attendance about 4 million annually? If so, a $1 surchage gets you at best about a 1/5th to 1/3rd of the way there to funding your academies. Not enough.

    Again, I think there is zero financial incentive for each individual MLS team (apart from some promotional value) to develop its own REAL academy environments. First of all, EACH and EVERY team would have to do it. Second of all, there is simply no compelling need to. There are plenty of good USA players out there who can do the job, and often at a pretty high level. Despite efforts by some team to do this, if I were a GM, I simply wouldn't bother right now.

    Again, the American player youth player is, in worldwide global terms, not a particularly valuable commodity, and so it's not worth a lot of resources on the part of MLS to develop them.

    Of course, there are exceptions -- Freddy Adu (though he may be a once in a generation phenomena). And then there are guys like Kenny Cooper, Will Johnson, and Jonathan Spector, who the European clubs immediately determine ARE worth putting resources behind because they carry a passport that allows them to bypass work permit restrictions.

    But your journeyman American professional player -- a Ryan Suarez, a Steve Jolley, an Evan Whitfield -- the players who are more likely to be spit out by an academy environment than the Landon Donvan's and the DaMarcus Beasley's, just isn't very valuable in the globabl marketplace. The league has let their clubs, and then the San Jose States, the Dukes and the William & Mary's, develop these kinds of players. And guess what? Those clubs and those schools have delivered a reasonable product who can perform reasonably well.

    Here's another way to look at it. For overseas professional clubs, youth schemes are the equivalent of corporate Research and Development. In the competitive market they are in, they simply HAVE to do it, or they won't be able to generate the high quality product they must present to their customers. And you don't need a lot of new product successes -- just a couple every couple of years or so. So it's worth putting dough behind this new product development, because every successful player you produce costs WAY less to build than to buy. Whether you keep that player, or sell him later, he now has justified your R&D costs. You've created value.

    The USA is very very different. There is simply no demand for that kind of player yet, and besides, other entitities are taking care of that for the league. Youth academies are uncessary for now.

    Yes, Bruce Arena wants professional youth development, because he knows that that's what gets you your pipeline of INTERNATIONAL quality players over the long term.

    All you have to do is the arithmetic. Suppose you have a league, like the EPL, with 20 teams who have to develop players out of their own youth ranks because they need the supply. Let's assume the 20 teams in your domestic league produce, say, 60 1st division level professional players every three years or so. However, only 5 or 6 of that group of 60 will be consistent INTERNATIONAL level players.

    But, over every 10 year period -- two world cup cyles -- your clubs are producing 10-15 top international players. That's enough to take care of 40% to 60% of your roster in any given world cup cycle. Then, as a senior men's national team coach, you fill in with guys who have blossomed in the professional ranks, as opposed to being stars right from the academy environment, and players from the league's of other nations.

    You've then got yourself a pretty good team.

    In the rest of the soccer world, the relationship between the club development arms and a country's internationl team is really an accidental symbiosis. Clubs develop players because they HAVE to, to compete in their leagues. That they develop a few, a very very few, INTERNATIONAL level players is just a natural result of that process, not the reason for it.

    These circumstances simply do not apply for the USA in the early 21st century. Rob's prescription is a way to get around our unique circumstances.
  4. Martin Fischer

    Martin Fischer Member+

    Feb 23, 1999
    Kampala. Uganda
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Pretty interesting debate with some ideas that have made me challenge my conceptions on this.

    However, I do have a few simple questions:

    1. If the USSF took the money it spends on Brandeton and gave it to the MLS to use on youth academies, would more players be affected than through the current residency system?

    2. Why wouldn't this system work better than the current system?
  5. voros

    voros Member

    Jun 7, 2002
    Parts Unknown
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Yes. All 40 of them. :)

    I _like_ Bradenton but it is has all sorts of gaps.

    In my opinion, the biggest issue we have with youth development isn't coaching or practice time (though those are huge). In my opinion the biggest problem is that "pay to play" casts WAY too narrow of a net to provide the best quality players. As an example, looking through MLS' site, USSoccer's site and top drawer soccer for top players, prospects and youth national teamers, I found 24 players from the Chicago area. One of these players (Johanes Maliza from the prestigious Latin School) is actually from the city of Chicago.

    To highlight the problem, the city of Arlington Heights accounted for three of the 24 players. Arlington Heights has 76,000 people living there. The City of Chicago has 2.9 million.

    The reasons for this are many. One of the main ones is that a fairly substantial portion of the soccer players in Chicago cannot afford club fees. To further exacerbate the problem, the clubs, who need these fees to operate, tend to concentrate on areas where they're more likely able to find players who can afford the fees, and so Chicago gets largely ignored. Some of it simply has a lot to do with the sport being more popular in the suburbs, but then it's the chicken and the egg scenario. Are the clubs suburban because the sport is more popular there, or is the sport more popular there because the clubs are suburban.

    People often hit this problem from the subject of race, but that's the wrong issue. There's plenty of non-white players coming from the suburbs and a lot of white players in the city. The problem is that a third of the Chicago Metropolitan Area lives in the city. If virtually no one is being developed from there, that's a third of the third largest metropolitan area in the country that is uncovered when it comes to talent identification.

    Can designating the Chicago Magic (based in Frankfort, IL) or Chicago Sockers (based in Palatine, IL) to run the Chicago area academy lead them to shift more of their concentration into the city and away from the suburbs? I don't know, but it's a concern, particularly if "pay to play" remains the order of the day.
  6. Karl K

    Karl K Member

    Oct 25, 1999
    Suburban Chicago
    FYI, there's a whole Hispanic soccer sub-culture in Chicago -- and believe or not, increasingly in the Chicago suburbs.

    But it's not hidden. Everyone knows about it. The State association has an Hispanic liaison that is connected up with it. I know of one kid in particular who was observed in that environment, and immediately put into the ODP program, and in turn onto the Regional Team.

    This notion that there is some vast untapped fertile field of urban players out there who are somehow ignored or overlooked is a myth. And that fact that the top clubs, located in the suburbs, are only for rich kids or parents who had zero problem paying is also a myth. Believe me, many parents make some hefty financial and other sacrifices. And clubs will help make the financial side of the ledger work. Players and parents aren't "priced out."

    Let me tell, if you're very good, and you're in the city, you will be known. And if you want top club training opportunities, you can get them.

    But you know, it's also about meeting the situation halfway. It's not about "ignoring" the vast sea of poor urban talent -- assuming there is such a thing, which is doubtful -- it's about them making a committment, too. Parents of kids have to take some responsibility for understanding the overall youth soccer scene and making some choices. It can't all be -- "Gee, you're great, we'll just bend over backwards to get you onto OUR top club." There has to be a two way street.

    However, the fact is that if you were take any of the top 20 clubs in the country -- say the Irvine Strikers, Solar, Delco, CASL, Vardar -- and play any local area Hispanic all-star team in the same age group, the clubs would wipe the field with them.

    And it's not me who said. Bruce Arena has said it.

    Why? Because these clubs ARE the closest thing we have to a professional environment.
  7. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    City vs. Burbs

    Karl -

    Voros himself is the best source, but I didn't read his comments as perpetuating the "great unknown players in the city" mythology.

    Rather, it's a simple statistical argument that, relative to the suburbs, kids born and raised in the City of Chicago are underrepresented in top-level soccer.

    You know and I know that an excellent city player is not "shut out" of the system by the Great White Man. No doubt Voros knows that, too. That player wants to be on the Sockers, the Sockers will find a way.

    But ... it's still a damn hassle, reverse commuting from Chicago to Arlington Heights or New Lenox or Highland Park.

    Let's put it another way. Chicago may have one third of the Chicago-area kids, but it sure as heck doesn't have one-third of the top level competitive programs. Thereby putting Chicago kids at a big disadvantage to their suburban neighbors.
  8. Nutmeg

    Nutmeg Member+

    Aug 24, 1999
    I think your numbers are correct, but you are misidentifying the source of the problem.

    It is not that there is a huge base of soccer talent in the inner city that is not being identified.

    The "problem" (if you can call it that) is that comparitively, not many inner city kids play soccer, period. When I say comparitively, I am comparing the percentage of kids participating in organized sports in the suburbs who play soccer to the percentage of kids who participate in organized sports in the inner city who play soccer. Comparitively, there are just not that many of them.

    Why does Arlington Heights produce so many players in the Chicago area? My guess is because there is a relatively high percentage of kids in Arlington Heights who play soccer.

    The first step is to simply get inner city kids playing soccer. Until that happens, you will have to recruit inner city soccer players off the basketball courts.
  9. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    City vs. Burbs

    Nutmeg -

    Again, I don't read Voros stating that the Great Panacea is tapping into the cities.

    It is not correct that Arlington Heights has more soccer players than Chicago. Yes, there are large sections of Chicago with very few serious soccer players. But Chicago also has more than 500,000 people of Hispanic origin. We're talking a population base 8x the size of Arlington Heights from a culture where soccer is the dominant sport.

    And the one kid from Chicago attends Latin School? That ain't exactly mainstream Chicago, friends.

    Bottom line is, for sure there are quite a few promising 8, 9, and 10 year old soccer players in Chicago, and the system totally misses them.
  10. Nutmeg

    Nutmeg Member+

    Aug 24, 1999
    Re: City vs. Burbs

    Hi John. For starters, I am not sold on the idea that soccer is the dominant sport among hispanic youth in the United States.

    Secondly, I was not trying to assert that Arlington Heights has more soccer players. I am guessing, though, that AH has a heigher percentage of soccer players (formula = soccer players/kids participating in organized sports) than inner city Chicago by a wide margin. Of course I have no data to back that up. I am guessing, and am certainly open to being proven wrong.

    In Portland, the same is true. The suburbs produce great soccer talent. The inner city produces relatively little. Again - it isn't that the inner city kids playing soccer are not being looked at. It's that there are not many inner city kids playing soccer, comparitively.

    If you wanted to recruit soccer talent out of Portland's inner city schools, you would have to recruit them off the basketball courts or football fields.

    The key to tapping the athletic talent of the inner cities is to first take a step back and get a significant portion of that talent pool to actually play soccer. If/When that happens, believe me, the US will have arrived as a force to be reckoned with.
  11. Karl K

    Karl K Member

    Oct 25, 1999
    Suburban Chicago
    Re: City vs. Burbs

    OK, what I am going to say here could be construed a VERY politically incorrect. So, be forewarned.

    First, from what I have observed, it's not that the "system" misses the Hispanic kids. It's that the many Hispanic kids who play soccer (and Nutmeg may be onto something that the numbers there aren't as large as you think) have their OWN system, and choose not to participate in the more mainstream State/USYSA/USSF channels. One of the better Hispanic leagues here in Illinois is totally outside the State youth structure. These leagues have their own adminstrative apparatus, their own special indoor leagues. Some kids play High School and turn around and play for the Hispanic league on Sunday. I knew of one kid who was rostered to three teams.

    It's pretty wild.

    Second -- and now we come to the politically incorrect part -- I would put forth the proposition that the soccer in general in these leagues is not very good. It is a false assumption that ethnic heritage leads to quality play. I don't think the coaching is all that great, and that the developmental environment is all that great.

    What I HAVE seen is that some of the better Hispanic players in those leagues, and those who have parents who understand the nature of soccer in the USA, eventually have their kids move to the elite suburban clubs. Why? Because they realize that it is these clubs who can showcase their kids better, and get their kids opportunities.
  12. voros

    voros Member

    Jun 7, 2002
    Parts Unknown
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Re: Re: City vs. Burbs

    But you therefore assume that this is _their_ fault.

    I have no illusions that there are some great soccer players out there in the inner cities who are missed. But there are obviously _potentially_ great soccer players out there in the city who never develop into great soccer players because there's no means for their development. Again, how does an academy being started with a predominantly suburban club, with predominantly suburban coaches located in a suburban area, do anything to improve the visibility of the sport in urban areas.

    There's an absolute crapload of soccer being played in the city. It just isn't the organized version of the sport. It's kids whacking the ball around in forest preserves or Welles Park or up against a wall in Logan Square and there's been little effort to bring a higher level of participation to these kids. There's no way that more people who live in Arlington Heights have kicked a soccer ball in the last year than people who have lived in Chicago.

    So what do you do about this? Well a good start might actually be locating the free of charge youth academy in the city where city kids can see it.

    AGAIN: I'm not talking about Hispanic kids (I made that exact point). I'm talking about city kids. Kids in the freakin' city. Irish kids, Italian kids, Polish kids, German kids, Korean kids, Hispanic kids, Black kids; the whole lot of them have no real opportunity to play on these club teams. We're not talking about Welfare Hispanic kids that these fees keep out. We're talking about a situation in which the kids in the city find themselves at a disadvantage from the moment they're old enough to take up the sport.

    The problem with your argument is that you assume that the way things are, are also the way they necessarily have to be. You think that the clubs don't use the cities because there aren't any players in the city, when just as easily it could be that there aren't any players in the cities because the clubs aren't there.

    Look, we can't just take a group of 2.9 million people and decide they're a lost cause. That's a ridiculous way to behave. It's easy, either:

    a) There's soccer players in the city not being found,

    b) There's no soccer players in the city.

    Either way it's a problem that ought to be addressed because it's an absolutely vital untapped resource that all of our competition in the world is using.
  13. Attacking Minded

    Attacking Minded New Member

    Jun 22, 2002
    I think the current discussion misses the point that many inner city kids and Hispanic kids just don't care to play the suburban version of soccer. They just don't like it. Part of it is certainly cost items like travel. However some of it is also the "culture" of suburban soccer. You might as well try getting these kids to listen to the latest Jars of Clay album.
  14. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Soccer Culture

    My limited experience suggests that it's more the case that they don't know it's there. We're talking 8, 9, 10 year old kids.

    Even in the suburbs, knowledge about top-level club soccer is pretty modest. You think the U11 kids (and parents) on my town's community travel team have ever heard of Chicago Magic? Not a chance. To them, youth soccer begins and ends within 10 miles of home.

    Now, they probably will know about the Magic by the time that they're 14 years of age. So might the city kids.

    But guess what? Come to Chicago Magic at age 14 after being in a second-tier (or worse) soccer program and you won't make it, unless you're the second coming of Freddy Adu. We're talking B team.

    I'm totally with Voros here. The players are there. More than in the suburbs? No ... the City doesn't have as many people as do the suburbs. But still, a lot of players, and they nearly all get missed.
  15. Nutmeg

    Nutmeg Member+

    Aug 24, 1999
    Re: Re: Re: City vs. Burbs

    Actually, it's the third option you didn't list -

    c) There are very few soccer players in the city

    Is this a "problem?" I guess it depends upon how important soccer is in your corner of the universe. I'm of the opinion that if a young talent chooses hoops over soccer, more power to him. In my eyes, what would be a "problem" would be if a young soccer talent who wants to pursue soccer from the inner city had no avenues to develop his talent.

    Honestly, I just don't believe that right now there are that many inner city kids who want to become professional soccer players. The discussion on how to address that problem is a subset of the larger and never-ending discussion of "how to make soccer more popular in America."

    My answer - one small step at a time. And I think that is exactly what is happening.
  16. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    The City

    Guys -

    I took my kid to Mayor's Cup a couple of years back. 64 5 vs. 5 teams were entered at U9. About half of them were from the city. At that time and that age, most of the city teams were better than the suburban teams, although of course there were exceptions on either end.

    Maybe in a very good year the Arlington Heights All-Star U9 team could compete with the City U9 team, but the City would still suit up a pretty good "G" team, while Arlington would be suiting up guys who can't walk without tripping over their feet.

    Darn right there are soccer players in Chicago. A lot of them. OK, many of them dream of playing for Tigres or Chivas as opposed to the Fire, but they're there.
  17. Nutmeg

    Nutmeg Member+

    Aug 24, 1999
    Re: The City

    OK - that's great information. Truth be told, my guess is there are a lot of young kids in the city of Portland who play soccer, too. My question is, do they keep playing recreationally, or does their interest taper off when it comes time for the real athletes to decide which sport(s) they want to pursue?

    Since joining this discussion, a thought has been kind of developing in my mind. Why is it that many of the inner city high schools that turn out professional basketball and football players have not turned out professional-caliber soccer players? If it is true that there are so many inner city kids playing soccer at the U9-U12 levels, why do they apparently stop playing during their high school years?

    Again, I don't have the time to research this, but I would be willing to bet that if you looked at the soccer state champions in every state, not one of them would come from an inner city public school (where inner city kids are most likely to attend). Furthermore, I would bet that of the top 50 college recruiting classes in 2003, less than 10% of those recruits come from inner city public schools.

    If these schools can turn out college and professional athletes in other sports, why are they not doing it in soccer?

    Again, I think it is largely a cultural issue, but I'd be happy to hear some other opinions.
  18. GersMan

    GersMan Member

    May 11, 2000
    I think players 6 to 9 should just get a chance to play, somewhere, anywhere. All they need is an opportunity. The gifted ones will gravitate to playing more and more on their own. Coaching at that level is largely organization and just encouragement to have fun and work on developing some basic skills.

    About 10 to 14 is the time when they start to get a little more serious/organized. Tons of posts about the danger of beign too organized, and the players need to be enjoying playing. AGain, the natural talents tend to want to do it more. The coaching is still primarily about organizing and facilitation opportunity, but they are going to learn a bit more about team play.

    I think that 14/15 is about the time when players/families need to start making some serious decisions about how bad they want it. We can argue all we want about the best way to organize that, but this is still kind of a decision-making time re commitment.

    I say all of this to say this: any player should have the opportunity from age 6 to 13, no matter where they live, what coaching they have, etc...

    These academies I propose HAVE to be set up to select the best players from all over, who have shown the natural ability, and who are willing to do what it takes to go through that system. The other less time-consuming avenues (mainly what we have today) will be available for everyone else).
  19. Isisbud

    Isisbud New Member

    Mar 10, 2003
    Re: City vs. Burbs

    The system doesn't really MISS them, the system just fails to develop them. ODP eliminates 90% of the NT talent pool in the cities because of cost. Sure, if there was a Freddy Adu, they would pick him up, but that's not what we are talking about. We are talking about the 99.9999% of the players who at age 11 maybe not as great as Freddy, but certainly as talented as 3/4 of the current u-17 nats.

    Why Johnny gets developed as opposed to Jose is money, AND location. You don't see lots of ODP practices/tryouts held in the city.
    Other posters have, like sheep, built their whole world-view on Bruce Arena quotes, even word for word now, but that quote is only 1/2 the picture. The reason there is no Maradona in the inner city is because no one is developing a Maradona in the inner city. Does a bus even go to Naperville from the bario?

    Have it so that the $500+ for ODP is covered (5 times that amount if they MAKE a REGIONAL/national team), $2000 in club fees, hotel costs, money so they can eat when at a tourney--ALL WITHOUT MAKING THEM FEEL VERY VERY POOR, then you will have a few Maradonas. Having been the poor kid who played suburban soccer, who made ODP, but couldn't afford to attend camp, who had to lie about allergies and eat at McDonald's when the team went to a sit-down steak house, because I was given only $10 for the weekend for food--and I'm of European descent. I just think many of you don't think of how hard it is for a poor kid to step into the suburban world--but many of you are wrong when you say THEY are the ones that are excluding themselves. Many of you believe THEY choose to not get their child the best development. Just wrong.
    Sure, you give the old "suburbanites sacrafice too..." argument, but do you realize what a luxury it is viewed at to be able to travel every other weekend during the spring and summer, and stay at a HOTEL--(note how suburban teams aviod the practical motel6's, but rather stay at the Ramada)?
    Here's where culture seeps in as well---in case you don't notice there are ALOT of rich hispanics, but steer their kids away from the suburban excesses such as $5000 costs in soccer in order to develop grounded human beings. In short, I don't think the wealthy Hispanic values the "American" suburban lifestyle.

    Though in my typical scatalogical style, I hope you understand my points, and am not trying to bag on anyone personally.

    You are uh, not in touch with the game, or the community, in my opinion if you don't think soccer is #1 with the Hispanic community. Even a casual restaurant goer in my city knows that you can go to the Chivas supporting restaurant, or the restaurant with Tigres sympathies.

    There are no Dodgers or Yankees hispanic restaurants.
  20. Nutmeg

    Nutmeg Member+

    Aug 24, 1999
    Re: Re: City vs. Burbs

    I'd be convinced with some data to back up the assertion that soccer is the dominant sport among young hispanics. I haven't seen any.

    Show me where high school-aged hispanics play more organized soccer than football, baseball, or even basketball and I'll be convinced. Honestly, though, I would be surprised if that were the case.

    Here is what I have seen, but again this is based off of first-hand experience and is just my unproven theory -

    1st generation hispanics tend to closely follow the teams and leagues from their country of origin, while 2nd and 3rd generations have a stronger connection with "American" sports and follow and pursue those to a greater degree than they do soccer.

    If that is correct, I hope that changes in time. But in my opinion, the reality of inner city youth is that basketball and football are far more popular than soccer, regardless of ethnicity.
  21. voros

    voros Member

    Jun 7, 2002
    Parts Unknown
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    And there's all the evidence in the world that this is the case (I constantly see 11 year olds and younger playing soccer in the parks, forest preserves, even schoolyards of Chicago, Illinois. I almost never see 14, 15 and 16 year olds playing). And you're also not taking into account the reality that very few kids choose a _single_ sport at those ages. Almost any reasonably athletic kid plays mutliple sports when he's 8 or 9 or 10. The disadvantage soccer has is that the city kids have ways to play the other sports, and soccer becomes a large difficulty. Basically, when soccer starts to require uniforms and shinguards and such, the city stops providing and then, understandably, the kids stop playing.

    There's plenty of soccer in the city. It's just when organized play starts to become more developmentally important as kids get close to Junior High, the financial resources of the suburbs provides for these kids, and no one provides for the city kids.

    Furthermore, particularly at the youth level and particularly when the talent gap between different players is largest, just because a suburban team pastes a city team 7-1 in a tournament, that doesn't mean all of the suburban kids have more talent than all of the city kids. It doesn't necessarily even mean that on the whole, the suburban team has more overall talent than the city team. The Chicago Magic doesn't just coach to develop players, they coach to win tournaments.

    So the city team might have 11 talented players, but they don't know where to run to as balls are played. They don't communicate with one another. The backs don't know when to overlap. The forwards are constantly caught offside, and VOILA they lose badly. It's not their ability that's the problem, it's their tactical awareness. It's the story of playground players in all sports. They can be loaded with individual technical skills, but know nothing about what needs to be done to win a competitive soccer game.

    And that's the issue. The Chicago Sockers want to win soccer tournaments, not develop soccer players for the USMNT. How you decide to go about doing things changes depending on what your goal is. I'd rather go with an entity whose interests matches USSoccer's (MLS) than the average top clib team.
  22. voros

    voros Member

    Jun 7, 2002
    Parts Unknown
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    And my point has been that the Suburban Soccer powers who have existed for years on player fees from suburban kids (and will continue to do so outside of the academy program), who have other fish to fry than doing USSoccer's dirty work for them and who have traditionally not mined all of the talent available due to financial considerations...

    ...I don't think these are the right people to run such a program. It's not what they do. They're experienced in running fee based suburban club teams. They have no expertise running professional player development. MLS at least has the motivation to develop better players.
  23. Karl K

    Karl K Member

    Oct 25, 1999
    Suburban Chicago
    On the subject of inner city/ethnic/less-well-off kids and top level soccer opportunities, I find the phraseology used throughout some of the posts pretty interesting:

    To wit:

    • The system doesn't really MISS them, the system just fails to develop them.
    • it could be that there aren't any players in the cities because the clubs aren't there
    • More than in the suburbs? No ... the City doesn't have as many people as do the suburbs. But still, a lot of players, and they nearly all get missed.
    • Basically, when soccer starts to require uniforms and shinguards and such, the city stops providing ….,
    • …when organized play starts to become more developmentally important as kids get close to Junior High, the financial resources of the suburbs provides for these kids, and no one provides for the city kids…
    • a good start might actually be locating a free of charge youth academy in the city where city kids can see it.

    In other words – words that I am formulating in politically incorrect terms that exaggerate for effect -- what we need is a soccer “welfare system.” Now, believe me please, I don’t mean to make light of the cultural and socio-economic differences between certain strata of society. They are there; they have an effect, often a very debilitating one.

    But in order to address any problem, we have to face reality. And the reality of developing elite level youth soccer players, players who can move onto professional careers and national team careers, is this:

    Developing youth players with the necessary professional methods and in the necessary professional environment costs money.

    It isn’t a philanthropic venture in Brazil, England, or Holland – and it isn’t a philanthropic venture in the United States of America. Somebody, in the end, gets presented with a bill.

    As with any economic problems -- and make no mistake, economics is very much at the heart of this issue and has a ton of explanatory power to illuminate the problem -- we have finite resources with which to address it. Those resources have to be deployed efficiently against the problem we have. As a result, it is certainly possible that we won’t find EVERY potential great player out there. To use micro-economic terms, there are negative returns to producing that last marginal product item. What we need to do is find ENOUGH great players to produce the most EFFECTIVE team for the DOLLARS we (that is everybody who pays into the system in one form or another) have.

    Frankly, it’s intellectually suspect to say, “Gee, there are players who could be great players we are missing.” I am sorry, that is just not a very helpful perspective. You can’t prove the negative—there’s no way we can test that hypothesis and either confirm or refute it. Of course, there is a way you could do that – send an battalion of “A” licensed USSF coaches into the urban core of each of the largest 25 US cities, create new /manage existing leagues at U9/U10, and then academies for the older kids, all in an effort to maybe, just maybe, spit out a cadre of professional players and, in turn, say, a half-dozen or even two dozen national team level players in the next 10 years.

    But who writes the check for that?? Who?

    Really, it’s naïve to simply say “the system misses kids” or “the system doesn’t provide” or “the system doesn’t develop kids.” Negative after negative after negative, all of which in the end descends into the realm of the anecdotal and the impressionistic (to which I admit some guilt myself).

    The thing about Rob’s prescription is that it is a POSITIVE, proactive approach that offers A PARTICULAR solution in a not-perfect world. That’s right, let me repeat: the world is not perfect, especially the world of youth soccer in the United States of America in the early 21st century.

    If the objection to having elite clubs run the academies is that they are for profit ventures, and therefore don’t care about development, I say this. Some do in fact care, some don’t. But if you give them economic incentive TO care, they will.

    If the objection to having elite clubs run the academies is that they don’t know how to produce professional players, I say this: Some don’t, but many of them have, and some of those players dress for MLS teams and youth/senior national teams.

    If the objection to having elite clubs run the academies is that that it will cost too much for the players and their families, I say this: Make it free for those academy players, but remember that somebody, somewhere, somewhere, HAS to pay for it.

    If the objection to having elite clubs run the academies is that they won’t tap the inner city pool of players, I say this: they will if it’s cost justifiable, and are given incentives to do so (although the incentive of getting the best players so you can be the best academy is ALWAYS there). But don’t expect them (or ANYone else ANYtime soon) to transform the landscape in that regard. It ain’t gonna happen, and wishful thinking about it ain’t gonna make it happen.
  24. Martin Fischer

    Martin Fischer Member+

    Feb 23, 1999
    Kampala. Uganda
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Absolutely, money is the issue. But the question is, why not use the money that is presently used for residency to be used by MLS clubs to develop free youth academies? Or to put it another way, why would that money be used either for residency or for elite clubs to run the academies.
  25. Karl K

    Karl K Member

    Oct 25, 1999
    Suburban Chicago
    I don't know what Bradenton's budget is -- I have heard $2 million per year, but I am guessing.

    However, doing some rough back-of-the-envelope numbers shows you the scope of the economic resources required.

    Assume 25 academies, 4 teams each (u15-u18), 18 players each team. That's 1800 players (as opposed to 40 or so at Bradenton). An academy, boarding school type environment (room, board, facilities cost, iaddtional personnel) we'll assume to be $15K per player annually

    That's $27 million.

    And that may be understating it.

    However, I think that is consistent with academy budgets overseas, where you have 4-6 teams (young teams, then 17s, 19s, and reserves). In other words, my guestimate would be $1.5 to $2 million annually at these professional team set ups.

    But, really, it's just guessing on my part.

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