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The American way of ‘developing’ youth soccer players.




I’m not so naive to think that professional soccer teams have to ’develop’ youth soccer players as a mission!

Of course, and I totally agree, they do this considering ONLY their financial interest. In the modern era, professional soccer teams in the rest of the world are often publicly-held companies, with annual business transactions of about a few hundred millions dollars!

That’s why, every season they invest a lot of money in developing youth players in their own soccer schools! In fact, why option an 18 to 20 year old player from another team, at a cost of $20-$25 million dollars, when they can create the same kind of player on the inside of their club?

Instead of giving $250 million dollars for a 5 year contract to a player 32 years old (not too bad as a retirement!!!), why don’t the American Soccer clubs develop youth players, who could become as good as him in the same amount of years, at 1/10th of the investment? I say 1/10th because $5 million a year is exactly what the top teams in Europe invest to develop hundreds of real talented kids. And to be absolutely sure, that in doing this, you will develop ‘soccer monsters’ like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Rooney or Walcot!

WHY do we do the opposite? Because this is the American way! That’s why!

Instead of acting like the Europeans soccer clubs, sorry, FOOTBALL CLUBS, that have hundreds kids of all ages in their youths teams (Barcelona has more than 400!!!!), we came out with the MLS ‘Developmental Teams’ concept for players OLDER that 16!

Just a few weeks ago, I received an email from the MLS Earthquakes that, for the 4th time (or is the 5th???) are coming back to San Jose. Here is how the business works:

-They will have tryouts on 8 consecutive Saturdays, in different locations around the Bay Area, for players at least 16 years old.
-At every tryout they will accept 200 players that will pay $150 to participate!
-They will choose 1 player out of every 200 that will have the honor to participate in the REAL tryout in San Jose, to enter the ‘developmental team’… this developmental team has nothing to do with the MLS team!
These are a few words from the Earthquakes’ email: A maximum of 200 participants will be allowed to tryout in each city. Each tryout will last one day, with one individual from each tryout advancing forward to a special invitation-only Earthquakes Combine to compete for a spot on the Earthquakes’ Developmental Team.

Wow…….what a business!!!

Let’s do a little math:

$150 by 200 = $30,000 (thirty thousand dollars!!!)

By 8 times = almost a quarter million of $$$$!

A quarter million in 8 days, with ZERO cost, because the operations are covered by sponsors!

I repeat……………….WOW!

Not too bad for 8 days of work. Compared to this, the $250 million dollars for Beckham seems like nothing!

And this operation is done to give the ‘impression’ that American Teams are developing youth soccer players, and give to some of them a ‘real’ chance to succeed.

In my opinion, if someone would like to DEVELOP soccer players for real, they have to start when they are 10 years old, not when they are 16! At age 16, they have to be almost at the top of their development because, in the rest of the world, at 18 or 19 years old you may enter the first team of top teams like Manchester United, A.C. Milan, Liverpool, Chelsea, Barcelona or Real Madrid; and at 20 -22 years old you may already be too old, because in the meantime, some 17 year old phenom has already taken that spot.

So, American Soccer, what do you want to ‘develop’, starting at 16 years old or older, besides the bank accounts of the MLS teams?????

Don’t be too surprised if American soccer, even with 12 millions kids who play it, is unable to create JUST ONE outstanding player that can be counted in the top 100 soccer players in the world!

Until professional soccer is managed the way of the world’s top clubs, there is no hope for American Soccer.

And what about the ODP (Olympic Development Program)? The one created to give the REAL good youth soccer players a chance to succeed?

Instead of having dozens of talent scouts who are constantly traveling to find the REAL good ones, that are probably playing in the streets, parking lots or under freeway bridges, they keep going to private high schools or colleges, and the parents of these kids will pay thousands of $$$$ a year, in the vain hope to see their kids, someday, play professionally or for the USA National team.

This is not the way to develop youth future soccer players. And it’s a shame that a country like the USA, which has everything to be the best in the world of soccer, continues to be interested in making a few bucks instead of developing for real the superstar players that are out there!

Just let’s go get them and let’s give them a real chance. In a few years, USA could realistically have a chance to win the World Cup. Even if we continue to call it ‘soccer’ and not ‘football’.

Coach Gianni

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Posted on 17 Dec 2007 by coachgianni
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