July 10, 2018
For the game in America to reach the level of world dominance the head coach must be a revolutionist. He must first select a team not based on athletes but technical comfort under pressure. Players must have a brain. They must be able to solve problems individually as well as collectively.
The US have always had a work ethic, but predominantly, physical players have left the country miles behind even the likes of Costa Rica so this philosophy must change.
America develops players as good as anywhere in the world until high school, but beyond those ages is where they get destroyed. The players play way too many games in a short time span when their bodies have not developed and the coaching is all about winning instead of controlling the ball and enjoying the ball under pressure.
The next head coach must show America there is a better way forward for our youth and that how we play matters. Then the end result will take care of itself.
I would tell him that no matter the failure of Brazil in this World Cup (they are still the only nation that made the quarterfinals seven times in a row and won it five times) everyone still wants their players, the game changers, the playmakers, the defenders with attacking skills from the back, even the goalkeepers.
This is the culture of players America needs to breed for all its national teams and it must demonstrate that from the top so this appointment is critical because it’s not so much about Qatar as it should be about 2026.
In 8 years, the next coach should inspire every American kid to play like Kylian Mbappe (France), Edin Hazard (Belgium), Luca Modric (Croatia), Phillipe Coutinho (Brazil), James Cuadradro (Colombia), Marcelo (Brazil), Paul Pogba (France), and many more great players that we watched this summer in the World Cup.
No matter their size, speed, strength, ethnicity, or background, every kid in America should feel they could play in the World Cup. The next generation of 10-12 year olds should become dribbling phenoms so that no bunker style defense, packed midfield, man to man, or high press can stop them. We can nurture such players today for 2026…EASY. I’ll say it again, EASY!
It takes patience and a program of individual player centric development, not team centric coaching which is the national status quo. But then these technical players must be selected at the National team levels for all ages and the senior team, that means we need the right coaches in the pipeline selecting and coaching our most creative youth and sending and pushing them up the ladder.
For decades that pipeline has been plugged by hypocrisy, politics, selfishness, ego racism, ignorance, and stupidity. The control freaks who destroy talent.
There are too many of them in the game and the new coach must understand that and not judge what he sees today but change everything from top down to get the players that he wants over the next few years, and make those below him accountable for not bringing them through. Get rid of all those in the pipeline who point to winning records at youth levels on their CV but produce no players of flair or intelligence, never mind their inability to play under pressure.
Every coach should be teaching kids to dribble in every position so they get comfortable with the ball and pressure no matter the situation. Currently, fear prevents that from happening as ignorance and pandering to parents and clubs stops the skill from blooming so all we see is physical soccer at the top competitions of youth soccer, High school, college, and pro. That has the knock on effect of wasting millions on retiree players who come here for a paid vacation when we should be grooming our next generation of superstar ballers through the pro league system.
We need to change this culture of only winning matters to an environment of loving skill on the ball. Stop admiring Ronaldo, Mbappe, Hazard, Modric, and Marcelo and start developing your players to be like them.
Let them play, let them lose the ball, let them fail, so that they learn from their mistakes and work harder to improve and become smarter with the ball. That’s how Maradona, Pele, Cruyff, Zidane, Ronaldinho, Messi, and Neymar became the ballers the world admire.
Not by playing one touch, two touch, possession, or playing in a national league but by playing with the ball all thru puberty and in their teens. Rather, playing with the ball at their feet, under pressure, experimenting, adapting, and thinking in tight situations. It’s not difficult to produce such players, it’s just difficult for the idiots at the top to select them over the big booters, high jumpers, strongest bodies, or fastest runners. We all know Messi, Neymar, and Modric would never have become who they if they had grown up in the American youth soccer system.
So what does that tell you about the culture here? We all know the issues but we don’t have the courage to fight for change and lead by example. All of this can be achieved if we have a leader at the top end of the game to show that there is a better way forward for soccer in America and that it can lead to world domination starting in 2026.
Then when people globally see that America is producing some of the top players in the world, then they will all want to play here in the biggest stadiums, with the biggest crowds, with the biggest salaries. More people will follow the game here than anything you can imagine if we have the right coach, style of play, and player selections to entertain and inspire the people.
Beating Trinidad and Tobago or Guatemala 1-0, no disrespect to them, won’t achieve anything until we play the game in a creative dynamic and skillful way that inspires our next generation. We need a Jurgen Klopp but I would take a Frank Rijkaard, Guus Hiddink, or Arsene Wenger but if you pick a Greg Berhalter type with Richie Williams and Dave Sarachan still in the staff, then we are done and it will become clear that those in charge are either clueless or just in it to control the game and take everyone’s money because they can.
Let’s hope this is not the case so that our youth will have a glorious future in the game and America can become the football world leader. It can be done with the right vision and culture and its up to the top man in charge to set the standards.