Sunday, April 28, 2019

Bucky Channel Rerun: USA Misses World Cup

This was originally posted on October 17th, 2017

First, I can't believe I wrote that headline and it's real. The USA Men's Soccer team will NOT be headed to the World Cup in 2018. They have failed to qualify. They lost to a team on Tuesday night that is represented by a country of 1.3 million people. The USA has 323 million people to draw from. And they lost! What is happening?!?!?!
What is happening is that the entire system is broken.
Everything needs to be changed.... EVERYTHING!!!!
I get it - our best athletes play many other sports before soccer. That's the easy argument. There are 323 million people in this country, with a ton of money and great resources to draw from. You should be able to beat a country with 1.3 million people to represent it every single time. 
* And that's one thing that needs to change, the attitude. I don't get what is with this country right now. We are so desperate to proclaim how patriotic we are and are forcing our athletes to stand prior to our sporting events, yet there is an actual team that is representing our actual country and so many people belittle them. "What's soccer?" "Soccer is a sport?" "Who cares" are the three go to comments every time we post a soccer article on every one of our social media platforms. This portion of the population needs to get over themselves, and if they can't, those that are rooting for U.S. Soccer to succeed just need to figure out how to ignore them. I'm working on ignoring them. It's hard.
* Even if you don't like soccer, your kid might be in soccer. But It's as a time wasting activity. Your kid playing soccer once a week and having a coach half ass a practice isn't going to make them good. Things need to change and that needs to happen from the top.
* The top being US Soccer which needs to fire everyone and bring in someone with passion that sees the American soccer structure as more than just a money making venture. Analysts like Taylor Twellman and Alexi Lalas get brought up in this discussion only because they have been at the forefront of speaking out. And that's fine. But they have to do it with a forward vision and not repeat the same mistakes that this administration has been making.
* US Soccer, MLS, NASL, the USL, any other lower tier league. It all needs to be under the same umbrella. These leagues are competing with each other, suing each other, ruining each other. Bring pro/rel into America. I know owners won't want to go for it at the top level but give them incentives to do so. Everyone needs to be on board. The future of American soccer can't be destroyed because of a couple of rich guy's pocketbooks. Pro/rel can work here if everyone is on board and it will give the American sports scene something that we've never seen before which could bring in more attention. Plus it will create more competition and invigorate clubs at a local level.
* The MLS needs to have academies and youth programs, as do some of the teams from these other leagues. Kids need to be developed as soccer players, not just be kids that are playing soccer. Just because kids are playing soccer doesn't mean we are going to havee a good national team. Most of these kids turn out to be mediocre at best. Develop talent.
* Those American players that are good enough to play in Europe need to for as long as it's where the best competition is. American players like Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, and Jozy Altidore can not be playing in the MLS if they are good enough to play overseas. Christian Pulisic should never play a minute in MLS until he's 40. I love the MLS but the league is killing the National Team while at the same time making the other CONCACAF teams better. It's a great league for American prospects to continue their development in but as soon as Europe comes calling, send them there. Get that transfer fee and reinvest it into the league. The fan bases that are here are passionate, they will survive their favorite player being shipped off.
* Youth players should have a developmental track that they can follow. High School and College teams should not be a part of that. They should exist, but they should be more recreational in nature. The good kids need to be playing in clubs. At least these were my initial thoughts. A better change for collegiate soccer can be found here. In it, the author says, "As the MLS SuperDraft wanes in importance, collegiate soccer needs a desperate fix. The season is only three months long (plus a month of playoffs) with matches every few days, and once the campaign begins there isn’t any time for practice sessions between matches. A current young MLS pro told me that only about fifty percent of the players on his high-ranking college squad took the game seriously. The rest were simply there for a good time. In 2016, a proposal was introduced to make NCAA Soccer a year-round sport, mimicking the pro game with one match per week and a premium on training. It should be implemented immediately."
* You can't make it so damn expensive for kids to play in clubs. Soccer sometimes gets viewed as a sport that only rich kids can play. That's terrible. Soccer should be everywhere. Country clubs, inner cities, small towns, mid sized markets. Setting up a soccer field is the easiest field to set up, all you need is a ball and some markers for goals. And you don't even need a ball, tape a bunch of duct tape together and make an impromptu ball or something. Just get soccer to more places, make it more affordable, and keep it that way for as long as you can. Another exerpt from the linked article above -"Today’s youth moves from activity to activity, with a lot of down time spent inside in front of screens. Kids need to be outside, unsupervised, with friends, in an open (or confined) space with a ball. That’s where they’ll learn a love for the game." Please do read the rest of that Matt Fiskin piece.


Make it worth something.


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