Why U.S. Soccer stinks from top to bottom

Okay so that may be a bold statement but I am fed up with the way we play and the problem runs so deep that I don’t see a way out for years…perhaps decades.


We watched the finals for the Gold Cup last night. I felt horrible for Landon  Donovan as I watched the US team completely fall apart when the pressure was on.

The defense was weakened with the loss of Steve Cherundolo for sure. It is certainly tough to lose a leader and to break up your defense in a massively big game such as the Gold Cup finals. The noise was intense and the confusion high.


Mexico did a good job of capitalizing on those things.


However, I cannot submit to the idea that the loss of one man changed the game that much. Yes…the defense did break down. Yes…the start of the attack would also therefore break down (at least that would be a logical conclusion to make).


The problem as I see it though runs so much deeper than just losing a player and having the flow of the game changed. There is a much greater issue going on here.


Our style of play over a consistent period of time stinks.


Cherundolo went out after about 11-12 minutes. The US was winning 1-0. What happened after that? The US went on and scored another goal 11-12 minutes later to go up 2-0.


If the nature of the game changed that much because of Cherundolo’s absence why did we play some of the best soccer of the game after he was out?


I like Steve and the way he plays. As I said…I do think it was a blow to the team…but the team actually rallied and went forward to even step up their game another notch.


The best passing of the match for the US side happened in that 11-12 minutes after Cherundolo went off.


My question is…why could they not keep up that style of game for more than just a handful of minutes?


My answer is…Mexico adjusted and was able to put pressure on the newly weakened areas of the US. After the added pressure…the US fell apart.


In fact, not only did the US fall apart but they defaulted into a game that reminded me of a U-12 rec. team. I have come to truly believe that most of the players in the US have been taught how to play the game in an entirely wrong manner when they are young.


By the time our youth may have a decent coach or two the wrong habits are so deeply ingrained that whenever pressure increases, these players default back to how they were taught in their youth.


I see it at every level and I have for years been hoping that it could be changed. After seeing the Gold Cup Finals I am becoming more of a pessimist as I realize that my friend Erik is probably correct.


He has told me for years that he believes we have until about the age of 11 or 12 before it is getting too late to learn the appropriate skills to play the game at a higher level.


I think he is correct. I have been able to teach young men how to play very good soccer but the one thing I have not figured out how to overcome is how to teach them to “default” differently. Everyone I know and everyone I have coached has a certain default under pressure.


It seems to be that the default for most people is somewhere about 12-14 years old. What skills and abilities to play, know and understand the game were learned by about those ages seems to be what becomes the default game under pressure.


If the young man or young lady has been coached properly in the early years then that default is a positive thing. People who have been coached properly in the early years tend to default into a very solid simple game of being confident and able to control the ball and tempo very well.


Those who have not been coached properly tend to default into a sort of game that can be categorized as kick ball or something similar. It is a game played from the basis of fear rather than confidence. It always turns out badly.


Even if a team wins with this kind of game it simply cements even further into the DNA that type of soccer. It works against teams that play poorly and even occasionally against teams that play well. But “kick ball” will never win at high levels of the game on a consistent basis.


We are on a mission to change the US game. We are teaching the youth in the Sacramento area how to play a simple, controlled and fast paced passing game as a default. Sure there are effective methods of playing above and beyond a strictly ground passing game…but when the pressure rises…we want our players to “default” into this simple and solid game.


When the ball moves around on the ground at a very high pace it does not take long for the pressure to relax just a bit and for the game to open up to gain the momentum back.


We are wanting to change the “default” game from one of being fear based to one of being confidence based no matter what the pressure from the opponent is.


I appreciate you reading and I would love to hear your comments on the subject…


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