Steve orino this is ClevelandMo talking. I've returned from my long FOF exile under the guise of Duffbeer. With FUSA out of action, I miss these types of conversations so with the help of HatterDon I got my exile sorted. Here is my two cents, but its actual value is priceless:
1) First of all, Klinsmann's logic doesnt add up. He criticizes our upside-down pyramid, college-centric system, but then he uses American basketball as an example of what works. Last I checked, the NBA is still primarily fed by our college system and US basketball is among the best, if not the best, in the world. So these poor inner city kids have managed to make it in a sport that is college based. And if they manage to graduate with a degree they are better off as individuals in the long run so what is so bad about that. Jurgy should have used baseball for his example but it just goes to show he doesnt know what he is talking about and that is one of the reasons I'm thankful that he is not the new US MNT coach. Also, the US WNT is one of the best, if not the best, in the world (just hammered the WC champs 4-0), and yet these players go to college. Furthermore, many of the best female soccer players in the world come over here to play college soccer (Kelly Smith from England is a good example).
2) I'm sick of people bashing our college system when it comes to US soccer, it makes absolutely no sense. The college system has served athletes well not just in the US but from around the world in numerous different sports. The college system is a good thing, it gives athletes an option if they dont know about or havent been offered the opportunity for a pro career at the ripe old age of 16, 17, or 18. One thing Klinsmann is right about is that we are the only ones that do this, but what he doesnt realize is that it gives us an advantage over other nations. Our athletes have options, there is not just one way.
3) People blame the college system because it was for decades our most developed "soccer system" and it hasnt put us among the top teams in the world (for men). I dont think this is because there is a problem with college soccer, it is because we didnt have a viable pro soccer league until 1996. So the Kasey Kellers and Brian McBrides of the world had to go to college. If it wasn’t for our college system McBride probably would have stopped playing competitive soccer at 18 and as a result, you and I wouldn’t be posting on a Fulham board. After only 14 years I think that you can say MLS is now a viable and competitive league. With the cooperation of the USSF most of the MLS teams now have youth academies that have begun scouting the country for talent, including poor hispanic areas. Furthermore, US soccer has chosen additional clubs all across the nation to be US development academies so kids can stay close to home but still be part of a competent program – they don’t have to live in Bradenton, FL.
4) Steve orino, you complain about the cost, but then at the same time you complain about the general lack of soccer knowledge in this country. Well, it is the latter complaint that has caused soccer to be so expensive. It created a market for europeans and south amercians to come to the US and turn soccer into a business. The surbanites trying to steer their child away from the dangers of American football started demanding the best, as spoiled Americans tend to do, and the soccer coaching/premier academy industry was born. And everyone buys into their sales pitch that Americans dont coach the game the right way. I find it funny because if there is one thing that the US has shown it knows how to do successfully, it is sports. Soccer is not rocket science. I think Americans can figure it out much the same way it sounds that you did with coaching your boys' team. If you’re talking about developing the top talent then yes, the US has needed and in some areas of the country probably still needs the help of foreign coaches, but if you’re just talking about the average youth program then I think people have been overthinking this issue a bit. Will the programs be ideal and perfect everywhere in the nation, no, but so what, we just need kids playing soccer.
5) The Hispanic factor – aaaahhhh this is another one that I find tiring. The idea that US soccer has excluded Hispanics and that stopping their exclusion is the silver bullet for US soccer. On the first point, how have we excluded Hispanics? Because a bunch of soccer moms, whose volunteering is the engine for the local league to function, havent gone out to recruit them. Or is it the immigrant eastern European director of the local select team who has excluded them because he needs money to pay his bills and put food on the table. Or has the USSF purposely based it’s youth system on these questionable characters for the sole purpose of excluding Hispanics? Have the police gone to their fields and shut them down, confiscated their soccer balls. Please someone show me all of these undiscovered, excluded Hispanics that will translate into a sure semi-final each WC for the US. And when you find them, ask them if they want to play for Mexico or the US. The US has had plenty of Hispanic players given looks and caps on the national team (more or less depending upon what people mean by Hispanic) – Boca, Reyna, Torres, Perez, Borenstein, and numerous others in the youth teams. As I said before the MLS academies are scouting local hispanic clubs and US soccer (or MLS) has also launched an American Idol-like show on Telemundo precisely for the purpose of discovering soccer talent from low income families. It is not that Hispanics have been ignored or excluded, it is just that you had to have the infrastructure in place for there to be any point in uncovering any undiscovered talent. As for the silver bullet that Hispanics represent, I would say look at the USA v. Mexico record over the last decade and tell me what their hungriness, skill, and soccer breeding has given them over our team of wealthy, college boys. One final thing as far as rich kids, plenty of the US MNT team came from poor or working class families like Klinsmann says needs to happen, and on top of that many were immigrants too.
6) So what is the problem then? It is simply that soccer is not popular in the US so our best athletes do not know that they can make a living at it equal to what they would make in our more popular sports. They also wont be famous (in the world as they know it) if they play soccer. And even as soccer becomes more popular and people realize the fame and fortune that can be made, how many of our best American athletes will choose to do this if it means moving an ocean away to a different culture in order to do so. For me, the answer is all in the popularity of the sport. We need it to be popular enough so that MLS players make big salaries, are famous, and are idolized by American kids. People need patience. Why is it that people think there is some kind of fundamental problem with our soccer programs just because we aren’t a world powerhouse. I still think our men’s team is pretty damn good, I have a great time watching them, and I couldn’t be more proud of they way they have represented our country.
Sorry for the long reply, but it sounds as if I am as frustrated as you Steve-orino - only for opposite reasons. I haven’t quite articulated everything swirling in my head, but maybe another time. Steve, our soccer club is directed by a guy from the Netherlands with a national dutch license and a national US license. I’ve seen what he does and while a lot of it is very good, I think it is lacking too. He also brings Dutch coaches over every summer for a battery of camps (they make money from the camps but the purpose is to scout talent). Our director is good at making the practices fun for the kids, especially the young ones, so if you want I can relay some of the more popular ones to you.