SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Thursday, February 07, 2013

U.S. Loses First Game in World Cup Qualifier. . . to Honduras

Yikes.

Just goes to show you when a tiny nation focuses on one main thing and a huge nation does not.

You can read about the details here.

Sure, we can't win everything and perhaps we shouldn't.  But a loss like this underscores the point that U.S. soccer still has a long way to go.  Until the top 100 U.S. players populate the rosters of top teams throughout Europe, get meaningful playing time and star, the U.S. will continue to qualify for the World Cup, lurch in at say a #22 ranking in the world, perhaps get through the group stage and then lose in the Round of 16. 

It's hard to say what the root cause is, but here are a few points:

1.  The best athletes in the country do not play soccer.  They play football, basketball and even baseball.  So, imagine if Calvin Johnson your center back.  Imagine if Chris Paul were your central attacking midfielder.  And imagine if they started when they were six.

2.  The kids who do play perhaps do not have the right balance of training to free play.  My guess is that the nifty moves we see from Iniesta, Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar do not come from some older coach teaching them how to improvise in space.  They come from time spent playing pick-up soccer without any adults present or too many rules.

3.  The U.S. has a target on its back in the region because a) it's so big and b) it's trying to beat the smaller countries as their own game.

There are probably more points to consider.  Makes you wonder whether the second string in places like Spain and Brazil could beat our best team.

1 Comments:

Anonymous The Sports Curmudgeon said...

Prof:

Another problem with US youth soccer is that too much time is spent playing games and too little time is spent teaching skills and game tactics. In many countries there are soccer academies where kids go at a young age to learn how to play soccer - not to play soccer games. They get to play organized games as a reward for learning their skills.

4:10 PM  

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