Coach Brad · Coaching · Development · Youth Soccer Development · Youth Sports

Youth Soccer Coaches in the United States: The 2014 Youth Development Dilemma

The job isn’t to catch up to the status quo; the job is to invent the status quo.”

  • Seth Godin

RoadToTheRoster_23_1200x800Youth soccer development for players growing up in the United States and then competing with the national team is at a crossroads in 2014. With seven of the current 23 players on the US World Cup team playing their developmental years (ages 5 to 17) outside of the United States, youth soccer coaches within America must be puzzled as to why 30 percent of the team developed their skills outside of the country they represent. Currently, 2.3 million boys participate in youth soccer activities in the United States. Even with this level of participation and a massive player pool, we were only able to develop 16 players within the United States that can compete at a World Cup level while the other seven participants trained and developed outside of the United States.

As a youth soccer coach who has a goal to get players to high levels and hopefully the opportunity to play on the national team, it is extremely frustrating that we do not have the ability to create 23 or more players within the US youth soccer system that have the ability to participate on our national team. What part of the system is failing our youth players?

  • Level and ability of coaches
  • Ineffectiveness of USSF and NSCAA coaching schools in dealing with how to teach coaches to develop high level pre-pubescent soccer players
  • Greed of soccer organizations, tournaments, and governing organizations
  • Number of games versus number of training sessions
  • Dedication of players away from training
  • United States culture of multi-sport participation
  • High School versus club soccer participation
  • Parent influence
  • Size of country and ineffective ability to find competitive games on a consistent basis
  • Ineffective communication between soccer organizations/governing bodies and youth soccer participants

These issues within youth soccer are felt throughout the United States and have an effect on our ability to successfully create soccer players that can perform at an international level. Over the course of the next few posts, each issue within the US youth soccer system will be analyzed featuring possible answers as to how these issues can be solved. I hope you enjoy reading this series on youth soccer within the United States and how youth development is not maximized to its potential.

Current United States national team soccer players that spent the majority of their youth developmental years outside of the United States:

Players Name Location of Youth Development
John Brooks Berlin, Germany
Timothy Chandler Frankfurt, Germany
Mix Diskerud Oslo, Norway
Fabian Johnson Munich, Germany
Jermaine Jones Frankfurt, Germany
Julien Green Born in Florida and moved to Germany at the age of 2
Aron Johannson Born in Alabama and moved to Iceland at the age of 3

Thanks for reading the blog and I hope you are able to participate in the discussion of this timely topic.

Coach Brad

2 thoughts on “Youth Soccer Coaches in the United States: The 2014 Youth Development Dilemma

  1. Brad,

    I feel all of the reasons listed below contribute not only to those seven players on the USA World Cup team. Some more than others (#1 U.S. Culture). And in addition, I feel that until soccer in America can offer big contracts to players and receive big TV contracts, the very elite athletes will still be attracted to Football, Baseball and Basketball. Hopefully this fantastic World Cup and all it’s exposure will help in that area

    Another factor is the nature of the game itself which requires the Americans to appreciate the game, and it’s tradition (which we don’t have here), rather than the scoring, which the American love. Americans want a 6-5 game, not a nil-nil game. Note: I’m curious as to when the shootout was instituted? Note: Has the “shootout” been worldwide for a long time? Or was it created when Americans demanded a winner (and a score!)


    PS Love these articles!

    . .

    1. Hey Doug,

      Thanks for reading the articles and I am so glad you are enjoying them. Matt and I will definitely keep them coming as we want to see change happen throughout the youth sports world.

      Every four years when the World Cup is on, it seems that the US becomes a soccer country. In regional pockets throughout the country, usually where MLS teams play, soccer is a major sport as local television deals and sold out stadiums (25 to 30 thousand spectators) are the norm.

      Major League Soccer just recently received a new television contract from ESPN, Fox, and Univision that will bring in $720 million between the years of 2015 and 2022. This more than triples the current yearly income (27 million to 90 million) which has the opportunity to allow the teams to purchase higher level players and pay American players and keep them playing in this country in a competitive domestic league.

      The new franchise New York FC is owned by the Manchester City owner and has stated they plan to go out and get players that can play at a world class level. It is an exciting possibility in that up to this point, MLS has been a place for young American to develop and high level older veterans to retire.

      The point I am attempting to make is with all of these happenings, the more elite athletes in America will hopefully begin to participate in soccer. The athletes from the national team that trained in America are significantly better and more athletic from even ten years ago and I can’t imagine where we will be over the next ten to twenty years.

      As far as the scoreline goes, I believe if Americans sit down and watch a game, learn the intricacies of the game, and develop a passion, they will learn that a 0-0 game can sometimes be as exciting as a 4-3 game. This process will definitely take time but I remember between the years of 1990 and 1994 how my dad, brother, and I became soccer fans through watching the US national team. It was a common bond we developed with my dad even going on and watching soccer games on his own when Matt and I were in college. He became a fan through bonding with his kids and if that happens with elite players over the next ten to twenty years, the sky is the limit with MLS and the US national soccer team.

      The shootout is only used in tournaments when ties occur. It is used in MLS Cup and during the tournament portion of the World Cup and other international events. It is only used when a winner must be found. Having been on the winning and losing side of this type of event, it is no fun and a horrendous way to find a winner of a game. I would rather see the soccer world begin overtime with 11 players and take a player off the field every ten minutes creating more space and a greater opportunity to score. It is done like this in field hockey where the overtime process is 7v7 on the full field to attempt to find a winner without having to go to the shootout.

      Looking forward to future chats and hopefully seeing soccer become a major sport in America.


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