Fans' View

Fans’ View: It’s not Klinsmann

Photo: Earl Gardner

Ok, Jurgen Klinsmann may be part of the problem, but last night’s demoralizing performance for the USMNT was another damning piece of evidence for the frustrating state of soccer in our country.

For the next few days, we’ll all endure the endless discussions about what’s wrong with our system. Klinsmann and Sunil Gulati will be at the forefront of much of the discussion, but deep down, most of us know that we just don’t have the players to compete at the highest level.

The problem is still the culture of soccer in the United States.

The “our best athletes play other sports” argument is false. We were not out-athleted last night. Man for man, every player on Argentina possessed superior technical skill compared to their often bigger, faster, stronger US counterparts.

Superior skill development begins at very young ages, some studies suggest as early as 3-5 years of age with significant development happening in the preteen years.

In the US, we have professional athletes who never played soccer until high school.

Watch the game over again, and you’ll see a stark difference between the US and Argentine players. US players look at the ball when they receive it. They have to concentrate on the shape of their foot in hopes of making a good first touch. In contrast, the Argentine player already has his head up scanning for space before the ball even arrives. The first touch is automatic, effortless. As a result, they are one step ahead on decision-making. Play moves faster and space seems abundant.

This comfort with the ball is not coached. It is not a rare genetic gift. It is purely a result of hours and hours of practice and play.

The single biggest factor holding the US back is that kids don’t play soccer for fun. They go to organized practices, and if they’re lucky, they play maybe 3 hours of soccer a week. In contrast, children in the majority of strong soccer countries probably play pick-up soccer for 3 hours every day.

How does this change? Frankly, I don’t know. It’s a culture shift.

For kids to play for hours and hours, there needs to be a few main ingredients.

First, it has to be fun. Sure, in some autocratic countries, you could force kids into soccer academies where they play from dawn til dusk, but that’s not going to happen in the US. Our over-coached youth system and focus on winning sucks all the fun out of soccer for youngsters, and it needs to change.

Second, kids will play endlessly when they are trying to emulate their heroes. In my practice, I routinely meet kids who are excellent soccer players, but when I ask them what they want to be when they grow up, they usually say “football” or “baseball” players. The more exposure soccer gets on TV, they more we’ll see kids emulating soccer players instead. This is already happening, but it’s going to take a generation to become the norm.

Lastly, not all, but many of the world’s greats, have used soccer as a way out of poverty. Yet, I honestly don’t think many seven-year-olds in Argentina are making conscious decisions to play football in the streets because they expect that it will result in increased future earnings. Rather, there is good evidence to say that kids who grow up in poverty tend to play more sports for more hours per week. Concentrated urban populations with limited indoor entertainment options leads to parks filled with kids playing pickup. We see this with basketball in the US, but it’s soccer in most other places in the world. The efforts to build more mini-pitches in US cities is a nice start, but it’s not quite as simple as “if you build it they will come.”

Sure, I wanted to see Darlington Nagbe and Christian Pulisic start last night, but I don’t think it would have resulted in a win. Likewise, I don’t think getting rid of Klinsmann will do anything to create better youth development.

The discussion over what’s wrong with US soccer will be long, arduous and sometimes ridiculous, but it is a discussion that is worth having.

From my vantage point, the kids are the key.

63 Comments

  1. Steve Grim says:

    Maybe so… or maybe not. Does this only pertain to men’s soccer, or is the culture differently affecting the very successful USWNT ?

    • I’d say apples/oranges, but again due to culture. In the rest of the world, it is much less common for girls to be playing in the streets. USWNT success comes a significant athletic advantage that is not countered by technical skill from other countries.

  2. your big picture view about why the US isn’t as good as argentina is true but jurgen klinsmann is still a fraud and a terrible coach/technical director. i don’t think even the most well constructed and trained roster/XI from the US would be on even footing with argentina but klinsmann sunk any hope we had through his ridiculous choices picking the roster and the starting XI. it was also clear that the team had no plan in what they were going to do to at least give some kind of semi competent showing

  3. I’m sorry, I missed the “…bigger, faster, stronger US counterpart.” player. Who was it?

    • Ok – maybe not Zusi and Beckerman, but Brooks, Cameron, Zardes and Guzan were biggest on field. Yedlin beat Messi in a foot race. My point is that these attributes (size, strength, speed) are often the factors that lead to success in youth sports in the US, but are rarely the determining factor of success at the international level.

  4. Lucky Striker says:

    There is no fast-track to success in American Men’s soccer. I don’t know for sure so I’ll ask:

    In re: the girls……..did they have similar intl. juggernauts to compete against on the way up? Confidence and early success go a long way toward belief and acceptance.

    I would piss the entire American soccer crowd off beyond belief if I ever wrote what I truly think about the national effort-so I won’t.

    Mr. Sunny-and all the Gelato-lickers will hopefully wake up one day and recognize that all their works toward instant relevance & acceptance will end like they always do: ill-informed and frankly; counter-productive.

    If what they seek someday arrives-and I doubt it ever will-it would be achieved long beyond any of our lifetimes.

    They have an agenda though, and nobody will slow it down until it is completed. I look forward to the day when it finally runs itself off the cliff.

  5. el Pachyderm says:

    Klinsman is culpable but assuredly not to blame. Those who blame JK are surface level thinkers about this issue. Plain and simple.
    .
    Well done Scott.

    • Jim Presti says:

      +1. The issue is systemic. Laying it at the feet of JK is the simple response. The player pool for the Copa was pretty damn weak. JK got them to the semi’s on the backs of Brooks, Cameron, and Dempsey. Looking to 2018, who are the major contributors? Brooks, Wood, Pulisic, Yedlin maybe. Cameron, Johnson, Bedoya will be in their late 20s, early 30s. Bradley, Jones, Dempsey are gone. Maybe Hyndman if he does well in EPL. Systemic problem that starts with the youth pay to play system and ends with Garber and MLS.

      Edit: I enjoy MLS for what it is. But it is not a catalyst for building a stronger USMNT. USSF needs players competing at the highest levels.

      Edit 2: MLS and US talent identification and development is absolute garbage.

      • MLS is building youth academies, give legit professional LOCAL teams to America. That will increase interest which is the only catalyst we really need at this point. Just getting kids playing soccer more and talking about soccer is the only way.

    • Surface level thinker that I ‘must be’ wonders why if Klinsman who is RESPONSIBLE for our entire USMNT, youth player development included, can’t get our younger teams to even qualify for the Olympics ‘REPEATEDLY’??? How can every USMNT player perform & keep their jobs on their respective teams through out the world leagues if they are SO bad? Way, way too much talent for this team to continue to not improve and start elevating their game too another level. KLINSMAN HAS NOT BROUGHT ANY HIGHER LEVEL OF PLAY TO OUR TEAM… INDISPUTABLE EVIDENCE GLARES IN OUR FACES !!! HE HAS TO GO ASAP, I would love to wake up tomorrow and find out he was replaced, even with a tired old bag of balls… it would be an improvement !!! Players have good and bad games… it’s the nature of sports… EVERY GAME!? Look to coaching, or the lack of… USA USA USA USA USA !!!

      • The guy, has the best record of any USMNT coach.
        .
        If you reread my comment, you will see I said Jurgen Klinsmann is culpable, but not to blame.
        .
        If you choose to argue down the northbound lane of the expressway, this is fine… make no mistake— the road is a 6 lane highway.

      • This is a policy issue within the Federation the National team coach is a part of.
        .
        THAT is the issue.

    • Klinsmann is to blame for certain things, but not for this.

      It doesn’t mean that he should still be USMNT head coach. I would still fire him from that role.

      However, it may well be that he is exactly the right guy to be leading the overall program. Hard to say.

  6. As far as I am concerned it is Klinsmann. He is in charge of the Academies where it all goes wrong. We have plenty of really good kids at U16. Here is what I wrote as one of the comments under the game review:

    “I was watching the game with my son who plays in College. He was so frustrated by Bradley and his poor passes and the team’s inability to put 3 passes together consistently. Made me think where it all goes wrong and why the team is probably worse than Bradley’s team was 5 years ago.
    .
    There are plenty of good kids being developed up to age 15. Thereafter all seems to go wrong. Just look how Pfeffer was miss-managed. I saw Pfeffer play when he played for FC-Delco as a U16 player; he was brilliant. Soon after the Union gave him the contract and he became a bench warmer. He was lucky to play in Germany for a year but seemed to play a year up and sat on the bench again most of the time. Wish he had stayed in Germany longer and worked himself up (like Pulisic did). We need more players who get developed abroad. The development of the Academies here is just hopeless or let’s say hit-and-miss. They still mostly recruit big kids and do not spend enough time developing the technical smaller kids. They just do not get it that you may be better off developing a smaller kid than one who is 6’3″ or taller. I have some hope with the U17 National team that recently won a big competition but I am holding my breath and can see that most of these kids will get miss-managed (remember Pfeffer once played on that team and had a lot of success there….).”

    • Yes, I agree we have some youngsters who look very good, but they are playing against other youngsters (often other Americans), so there is much more time and space. You don’t see the “natural touch/comfort” disparity until players are truly put under adult speed/pressure (cough, Freddy Adu, cough).

      • Aspiring professionals (which we haven’t even truly accepted as a paradigm… as evidenced buy 12 of 13 Union High School players signing letters of intent)…
        .
        need to be playing against men by 16 or 17 years of age. This is the second or third place in a child’ soccer development where we lose radio frequency in the Bermuda Triangle, CONCACAF pun intended.

      • Pulisic played against other youngsters (including my kid) and made it; only because his father knew what was best for the kid and took things in his hand instead of letting US Soccer develop him.

      • Yes, Christian had the well thought out foresight to say in the US until the last possible moment playing 2 years up almost the whole time to supplement the lack of skill and IQ at age group— then bolted just as the system was about to begin failing him.
        .
        Which not incidentally — that 2 years is generally how far behind our youth players are… if you have an exceptional player in the US by nine or ten years of age he needs to be playing (2)! years up to meet the similar quality as a 10 year old abroad.

      • Correct. Another example is Rossi. Not sure whether he played 2 years up but he was here until 15 and then left for Italy. Just reinforces my argument that US Soccer has no clue how to develop players age 15 and older.

      • Jim Presti says:

        +1

  7. Ban ‘pay to play’ teams/leagues. That alone would change the soccer landscape in the US.

    • Jim Presti says:

      More than most people will ever realize. Plenty of talented kids whose parents can’t afford the “travel soccer” etc system

  8. Wrote this on another thread put pulling over here as this is likely where the eyes are now…
    .
    This is NOT about catching up to Argentina.
    .
    This is about catching up to America.
    .
    There is the America that should be and the America that is… we are chasing the highest expression of ourselves- which we short circuit.
    .
    Repeat…this is NOT about catching up to Argentina ……. Chile Germany Spain.
    .
    They become secondary rewards to catching up to ourselves. This is the essence of what i’ve argued for years here.

  9. Scott, you raise some interesting points, particularly the “hero” concept, but I think your attacks on the current US youth soccer system are painted with too broad a brush.
    .
    If, as you say, organized youth soccer “sucks all the fun out” of the game for kids in the US, then why do millions of them keep signing up to play each year? For the glory? For the full-ride college scholarships? For the big-money pro contracts? That’s not the case for soccer in this country, so I’m guessing that many of these kids are actually having a good time.
    .
    You also note that youngsters in the US need to play more on their own to raise their level of play. That’s absolutely true, but there’s nothing stopping them from doing that now. Certainly, playing club or rec soccer doesn’t prevent a player from practicing in the backyard or getting a 4v4 game started in a local park. In fact, in my experience, it’s usually the travel-team players who are most likely to be engaging in such activities.
    .
    I’m not saying that improvements can’t be made in the current US approach to youth soccer. But a balanced analysis of the pros and cons of the status quo, rather than a blanket condemnation, would be a better way to get the conversation started.

    • Con: it costs a lot of money to play travel
      .
      Con: the goal is success, not growth and development
      .
      Con: players play too many games
      .
      Con: players don’t play outside of practice/training
      .
      Con: parents priorities interfere with growth and development of players (usually their own kids)
      .

      Pro: soccer is a good healthy activity when engaged in for healthy purposes

      • I would say that it depends on where you do travel and who you do it with. There are several clubs nationwide that are focused on technical development, playing kids where they will develop best, moving them up and down based on their skills, scholarships for those who can’t afford it, and have little to no interest in the outcome of particular games but in what that game means for a particular players development. The problem is we need to be honest with our players/youth about what it takes to be successful. honest about what the goal is. fight the urge to let the bigger kids bomb down the field with superior athletics but encourage appropriate skills. My guess is that if you took Lionel messi and let the bigger kids beat him to a pulp, kick him, and ignore him, his development may have gone far different.
        I feel that just like blaming klinsmann is too simple of a solution blaming travel soccer is also too simple. Its that right now/at this moment the American mentality is not in line with what it currently takes to develop superior players at the rate needed for such a large country. The problem is that our coaches train and value what they learned so it will take a schism (incidentally that I believe is occurring in some areas) from traditional American training to change the product that arrives at 16 or 17.

      • Worldview sir. 100%.

    • Fair points. I didn’t intend to condemn the entire system. My kids are both involved and I continue to sign them up because they do enjoy it and there are more positives than negatives.
      .
      That said, I stand by the notion that the hyper-focus on winning that the majority of clubs suffer from does negatively impact kids enjoyment. The attrition rate from youth sports (soccer in particular) is alarming.
      .
      There are barriers to kids playing pickup soccer. First, the majority of suburban kids who play soccer, live far distances between other kids who play soccer and places to congregate and play in mixed age environments. Organizing a playdate, driving to/from, for 4 kids to play soccer for 30 minutes before turning on the XBox is a far cry from the creative crucible we see in urban basketball courts.

      • I have a Point of Parliamentary Procedure actually in the Acts of Congress Department of Redundancy when it comes to finding (4) kids to play a pick up game in the playground because God forbid, in today’s world, kids just aren’t tooling around outside on a regular basis in suburbia or rural america… then of course there are the standards….
        .
        oh dinner is that time. haircuts for… johnny. johnny. johnny. busy busy busy.
        .
        Culture. Meanwhile… South Americans and Latin Americans are getting on airplanes to FLY to cities during this tournament THEN spending the costs associated with travel and buying 82,000 tickets.
        .
        .
        But the tickets were too expensive for a damn tournament in our backyard. INSANE.

      • Well done, sir!

      • Con: feral children are excluded.
        .
        … and I am guessing that the Portuguese and Hungarian players I am watching right now were allowed out of the house to play soccer, even if they lived in suburban like settings. the results are way more entertaining.

  10. America has pushed Futball aside for many years…if kids weren’t involved in the big four,they just kind of got left behind. The rest of the world is 50+ years ahead of theUS. The infrastructure for soccer is way behind, maybe more than50 years.cant remember the last time I saw kids together playing soccer with out a coach. Thanks Scott. Nice read!

  11. It’s Klinsmann’s fault,
    he broke the team
    I tried to stop him
    He said he had to demonstrate
    his superior tactics
    The superior tatics worked just great but not
    for his own team but Argentina sake
    It’s Klinsmann’s fault, he broke the team, it’s true.
    And that’s the tale I have to tell to you!

  12. What it is in the simplest form, is that American culture is all about winning.

  13. Futsal, small sided games for youth players is the way to go. Plain and simple.

    • Plenty of Futsal is being played by our travel players. Did you ever go and see the Futsal tournament in Wildwood that takes place every February?

    • Though I agree this is important its being challenged by players better than you and being forced to play disciplined technical soccer. futsal and small sided games are simply one way of forcing discipline and technique.
      my son recently said to me when he decided he wanted to change clubs. I won’t improve unless I play against better kids. when asked about leaving his friends he stated I can make new friends but I can’t make my friends better soccer players. This was an eye opener and my guess is if asked, if given freedom and choice, many kids who truly cherish the game would have a similar sentiment.

  14. Klinsmann should be replaced by this guy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heimir_Hallgr%C3%ADmsson
    He could get a team from NYC to play better than the current national team!

    • Iceland has complete and total Federation policy buy in: a vision and philosophy and plan to play the game well that starts at the wee ages.
      .
      Unless a coach the level of Conte or Beilsa comes here… nothing changes. Maybe this guy is that good. Maybe he is reaping the benefits of a federation truly supporting him… more likely the second IMO.
      .
      Last night was a National failure coupled with coaching inadequacy…
      .

  15. Roger Allaway says:

    Agree with what you say about kids not having the hours to get comfortable with the ball being the root cause of our problems. They need to play more in causal situations where they can make mistakes without it being the end of the world and learn from those mistakes.

    Agree that starting Nagbe and Pulisic would not have resulted in a win. However, it might have resulted in an aggressive mentality that would have enabled us to hold our heads higher after a heavy loss than we were able to last night.

    Agree that getting rid of Klinsman would not be the cause of improvement in our youth development. However, he promised five years ago that he could bring about such improvement, and I believed him, so I am somewhat aggrieved in that area. But maybe I should be upset at myself.

    The overall thing that bothers me is that 20 years ago, I thought that we would be in a much better place by 2016 than we are. Maybe on the MLS side we have made the advances that I expected but on the national team side, we’re still at about the same level that we were back then.

    Klinsmann said in his press conference that we need to play teams like Argentina more frequently to wear down our over-respect for them. In the 1990s, we played Brazil, Germany, Argentina and Italy a combined total of 18 times. Where has that gotten us?

  16. sam philly says:

    You’re right, Klinsmann is only part of the problem, and probably only a small part at that. The problem really is systemic and cultural.
    .
    But that realization doesn’t change the fact that the only part of the problem that we have a chance at fixing by 2018 is Klinsmann.
    .
    So at the risk of sounding like a shallow-thinking soccer fan, I’m still going to stick with ‘Fire Klinsmann.’

  17. Lastguyoffthebench says:

    The youth level will be switching to small sided games… U6 – U8s will be 4v4, U9s and U10s will be 7v7, U11s and U12s will be 9v9, and U13 will be 11v11.
    ———————-
    This also requires different sized nets for games. I wonder who benefits from this the most… Ehhh KwikGoal.
    ———————–
    JK can only do so much with what he has… You mean to tell me Bradley and Beckerman are the best CMs we have to offer? At the same time, those tactics were garbage last night. USA Still light years behind other countries and we will never reach that upper tier for reasons mentioned.
    ————————–
    I commented on this point in the USA-Argentina review. It starts with the youth… By the time these kids reach high school they are choosing other sports

  18. it may not be his fault completely , but JK is still a jerk. If you read into his JKs response, he says that after the first goal , he JK, knew we could not compete . This annoyed Bradley and his response showed it. This is not good for team chemistry. He takes nothing onto his own shoulders to take some pressure of his boys. It is never “I could have prepared them better” . Its always the players fault. Iceland was prepared to play a certain way, they bought into into it and look at the results. The USA is good enough to play a certain way to make it competetive and get results. But their preparation was non existent. Watch how Iceland plays a compact 4-4 defense and was told to pick up at midfield if not in posession of the ball. They were taught how not to lose their shape. Meanwhile, the USA is chasing around totally unprepared for the first goal.defense totally disorganized.I hope no one blames the players. They hated to be embarrased because of bad lineups and bad preparation.

    • Lastguyoffthebench says:

      I felt the same. What players’ mentallity goes to the shitter after being down only ONE goal with 86 minutes to go… Regroup and step up.
      —————-
      Tactics and game plan should still be the same…. If you’re actually prepared for it.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      I do not argue that Jurgen Klinsmann is a good coach. Once again, he is culpable. But its not his fault players do not understand how to move, receive a touch under duress, get caught in two minds thereby do nothing.
      .
      His great failure, IMO, is thinking his players are able to “figure it out” themselves. This is short sighted as we have shown over and over that is not the case… as Chile has shown over and over that is not the case.
      .
      Yet you are talking about giving the players a pass which is just as strange as someone blaming the coach.
      .
      That is why this is an issue larger than any one thing… it is a policy issue. ALL of it.

  19. IMO, one of our problems in this country is our devotion to organization. Kids are sponges. When they play with other kids, they learn from the best kids on the field. But if they play U9, they learn from the best U9 players. In other countries, games are pickup and have multiple ages. A U9 may learn from teenager or adult playing with them. That accelerates the learning curve. Think that for the best players we should figure out how to mix the ages up some.

  20. What is “it?” If you mean selecting Wondo for the team, playing Fabian at LB when his creativity on the wing is more essential, not establishing another LB, and bunkering with Beckerman in lieu of Nagbe – then,yes ; those are all JK’s fault. JK picks by player, not position. We don’t have that luxury. And this WC cycle is not developing too well. As far as culture & USSF, it’s not his fault. While the game has been played here and Argentina about the same length of time, we compete with 4 other major professional sports. It will take more time. Fortunately, our few players good enough to sign with European clubs early enough can still play for USMNT. The consolation game looms large for me. Gulati is no longer giving unqualified support. Another poor showing may be the breaking point. So if not JK, who? Not just coach, but Technical Director.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      The great question you pose…
      .
      If not JK who? MLS boy? Sure, that will work. If not Jurgen Klinsmann…. WHO?
      .
      People say fire fire fire. Vermes? Please. Arena again? Bob Bradley…Boy oh Boy.
      .
      I guess Bob Bradley is it again… cause his record was better than Klinsmann’s. Wait…..a minute.
      .
      People want to fire the most successful coach in US Soccer history and replace him with WHO?

      • Ah , a specious argument. You Mr. El like many others are being fooled by randomness. Random success whether on Wall street or by a won loss record signify nothing. You should know better, or are you subjecting yourself to believing that random results signify anything at all. The USA story is self propagating regardless of the coach. Its a matter of who will do the least damage. The names you throw up are beneath your intellect. Please , make a little effort , do better than that.take some risks for a change. The Union coach would probably do no worse.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        I would like you to answer the question.
        .
        Who would do better?
        .
        Won a GoldCup.
        .
        Escaped the vaunted G.O.D World Cup and was a sitter away from beating Belgium… with a bunch of dogs.
        .
        Made a semifinal of Copa.. with a bunch of dogs.
        .
        You challenge my argument which was complimentary to your point yet do not answer the question.. only to make a better effort. I think about this shit everyday if you haven’t noticed.
        .
        Who? — give me two names. Porter? Perez?

      • Let’s remember the dual US-GER players he recruited, too. Would Brooks have chosen US anyway? JK has value, if he would just take help on strategy & the importance of playing by position – because we’re not as skilled as the top countries. Not yet.

  21. alicat215 says:

    Same argument……different day……blah, blah, blah. This conversation pops up every six months with the same rolled out arguments……..I’m done taking part. Nothing gets done and the status quo continues……….

  22. If the Copa has convinced me of anything, it’s that Klinsmann was/is right about U.S. players needing to go abroad to develop. I used to see both sides of the MLS league debate and didn’t feel that MLS players were inherently lesser players. Now I believe having guys like Bradley play in MLS is good for MLS but not for Bradley. Jordan Morris in Seattle might just make him another Wondo — a gold boot winning MLSer whose best contribution in this Copa was clotheslining Messi. It’s a waste of talent and a waste of an opportunity to train in the much better European systems.
    .
    And I don’t think that necessarily puts MLS down or takes away from it. A good domestic league should aggressively build the youth development system in this country and then be sure to get out of the way when its 18-year-old’s are ready to play in Italy, Germany, France and England. And let’s not keep luring our players abroad back with sweetheart contracts. It does them no good and hurts the USMNT.

  23. guido said the magic word “father “. I don’t recall seeing it anywhere else. every US kid grows up with a dad showing him how to swing a bat, catch a football, or shoot a basketball. few of us were prepared to deal with our kids coming home from school
    with a soccer ball. I tried: went to official and coach clinics
    and joined a senior league but was still unprepared to bring my boys along, one of whom was pretty good; starter and all-stars at every level he reached.finished as h.s. soph. due to car accident. in virtually every other country fathers are able to bring their kids a lot further than we.

    • I think this is an important point, and a good reason why the growth of soccer – in terms of interest and quality of play – hasn’t been as rapid as hoped for in this country.
      .
      Sometimes, change is best measured in generations rather than years. Is soccer in the US far behind what can be found in many European and South American countries with long and rich histories in the game? Sure. Is soccer in the US far ahead of where it was back in the days of my youth (1960s-70s)? Absolutely.
      .
      My dad never played the game. I played through high school. My daughter played through college. Change takes time.

    • Actually, this is a significant point.

      Not every kid grows up that way. Children with single moms don’t. Those children often grow up poorer. They never get introduced to soccer in any serious way. Dad isn’t there to introduce them to sports.

      That was my experience, growing up with a single mom. I learned sports from the neighborhood, with a bit of pitching in from my maternal grandfather. Nobody taught me how to catch a football or swing a hockey stick.

      The kids from good families were able to play travel soccer or even year-round tennis. There was a class difference.

      Growing up, you fall in love with the sports that you actually see. And because soccer wasn’t on TV for me as a kid, I never fell in love with it growing up. I fell in love with EVERY other sport on TV: baseball, basketball, football, even tennis and hockey, and I played organized sports for all of them (save hockey).

      But never soccer. Because that’s what the kids from wealthier, normal suburban families did. It wasn’t for us poor kids.

      Scott’s post is spot on. I didn’t fall in love with soccer till I went to Brazil.

  24. Scott, I have been saying exactly what you have said probably for 20 yrs….”until you see kids playing in alleys and streets in pick up neighborhood games…we won’t win or even compete for a WC win”
    But…and this is a big but..to get there you need some exciting players and a USMNT that brings it…the problem with these guys is that they are not Fighting, Running and basically being bad asses on the pitch…Dempsey does not play defense..he trots..same with Bradley..we need guys who will go in like Jermaine Jones…all over the field…then you will not be embarrassed.
    BTW…I have been refusing to call US Futbol Soccer for at least 20 yrs…it is American Football and then Futbol..using the word soccer is insulting and dismissive from the state of the World’s Game in the USA

  25. I apologize if someone else has already mentioned this (I didn’t read every comment) but does anyone else feel that Bradley’s play has significantly decreased since joining the MLS? I don’t think it’s a question of age. I think he is now so accustomed to playing at such a slower mental pace at the club level, that he can’t compete in the midfield with world-class players anymore.

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