Friday, September 14, 2012

The State of the States

Correpondent Ed on the current state of soccer development in the United States:
In the '80's, soccer training was trapping and passing. It was full 11 v 11 games from the earliest of ages. It was not having coaches who played the game or understood the game. It was rigid positioning, and tactics – poor tactics – only. We never saw soccer on television. We had no heros, no posters on the wall, no teams, no players to emulate. In short, we didn't know what we were doing.

I know twin boys that are seven. One can juggle a soccer ball off the ground. Both can do scissors, step-overs and Cruyff turns. The boys and their team train almost exclusively on footwork. At the end of each practice they engage in one v. ones. Sometimes many of the boys have to be told to stop laughing during the competitions because they are having so much fun. For most of the boys this is their 4th year and 10th season. Many have jerseys of their favorite international players; some play fantasy soccer online. These boys are just a few of the millions.

America beat Jamaica one to nothing in a must win game on Tuesday. They dominated the pitch for most of the first half. Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley did not play. Graham Zusi from the MLS was a game changer. Two big, strong defenders with international experience, Geoff Cameron and Carlos Bocanegra, dominated the center of the pitch. America won the game one to nothing, but hit about a half a dozen posts on the way there.

America is nowhere near the level of the top teams in Europe or Brazil. We still don't have as many academies as the rest of the world. And we still lose most of our best athletes to American football and basketball. But the beast is starting to awaken.  Just ask the twins.
This is farlieonfootie for September 14.

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