U-17 USMNT take home Aegean Cup title

U.S. U17 MNT vs Brazil

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

For the second time in two months, the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team have won a tournament title.

Facing host nation Turkey in the final of the Aegean Cup, the U.S. U-17s put in another strong performance to take home the title, defeating Turkey 2-1 behind goals from Joe Gallardo and Haji Wright. Gallardo finished as the tournament’s top scorer with three goals and goalkeeper William Pulisic was awarded the Golden Glove as the best goalkeeper in the tournament.

As they’ve proved throughout the last two months, the U-17s are most dangerous on the counter attack. Though the first half finished scoreless, midfielder Luca de la Torre threaded the needle on a beautiful through ball to Gallardo, though the Monterrey product put his effort high over the bar.

In the 53rd minute, Gallardo was fed a cross in the box and took a touch to evade one defender, another touch to pass another defender, before firing a strike in for the one-goal lead. Two minutes later, the U.S. doubled their lead when Christian Pulisic played a terrific pass into space to Wright. The LA Galaxy academy member’s shot was saved by Turkey goalkeeper Mehmet Aşcı, but the rebound fell at Wright’s feet and he finished on the second opportunity.

Turkey bounced back quickly in the 57th minute when Ibrahim Demirbag scored from close range but the U.S., behind the strong gloves of Pulisic in goal, kept Turkey from scoring again.

Here are the match highlights:

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What do you think of this result?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in U.S. Soccer, U.S. Youth National Teams. Bookmark the permalink.

85 Responses to U-17 USMNT take home Aegean Cup title

  1. q says:

    how good are these guys? can they compete for the u-17 FIFA title?

    i was reading recently that the problem with english footballers now is that they are not properly trained or are playing in the right situation from age 17-23 (as they follow their potential) and I was wondering despite millions playing the game and hundreds (maybe thousands of pros) why are our young boys failing to show up well in tournaments or playing overseas?

    surely the americans can’t play FOOTBALL stereotype has withered away. Is it the coaching? Is it college soccer and its impractical usefulness for the players as they play in MLS or europe.

    • dikranovich says:

      its like suggesting that college soccer was both impractical and not useful to guys like Dempsey, or Cameron, and then going on to say they would be far superior to what they are now, if they had foregone college all together.

      • q says:

        perhaps they would have? would Messi and Ronaldo have been the same had they played college soccer?

        • dikranovich says:

          q, you make a point, and ultimately, it must come down to coaching, and just individual drive and commitment. a player can receive it in la masia, but he can also receive it in a place like akron, ohio, or college park, Maryland.

          there are some prohibitive rules in college soccer, that is for sure, but that would really just be an excuse.

          • Leo says:

            Speaking to your point about La Masia, and, by extension, academies such as those run by clubs like Ajax and Arsenal, I think that the opportunities to continue to remain within those programs are highly, highly competitive. Academics are important, fundamentals are important, but at the end of the day, if you aren’t able to hold your place due to whatever reason, you’re going to have to find another academy to try to ply your trade, perhaps without the prestige that will place you in high demand when you become a professional.

            With Lederman at La Masia and Zelalem (though he’s not a citizen, per se) making his first team debut at Arsenal, perhaps foreign scouts will begin looking stateside more seriously. I don’t think we’ll reach a critical mass, however, until MLS clubs have the resources to emulate La Masia.

            Another part of the equation I don’t think we’ve gotten our pulse on is the intelligence quotient of these players. I read an interesting article on bleacher report about the Miami Heat and the intelligence of their players. I know, Lebron got to the NBA after high school, but the same can be said for Kobe, and they’re both highly intelligent individuals. Bosh went to Georgia Tech and has an active interest in engineering. Shane Battier went to Duke. Anyway, I read that La Masia is academically rigorous, and my assumption had been that they just drilled these kids in ball-kicking from sun up to sun down. I think this is important, not just for the development of youth soccer here, but for the development of all kids playing any sport across this country. Frankly, I think sports scholarships at US universities should be abolished altogether. If you want to play sports at college, there should be no shortcuts for you. Nobody doing your homework or giving you breaks on your assignments.

            Anyway. I think it has to do with more than just coaching, although I think it plays a small role.

            • Crazymike366 says:

              Its no coincident that Americans are often leaders of their teams and the go-to darlings of the media to discuss team events. The modern liberal education implied by the American college system prepares them for professionally discussing a wide array of topics in a way that supremely talented high school dropouts like Wayne Rooney never could.

              • Leo says:

                Pump the brakes for a moment there and step away from the edge, you’re about to go over Hyperbole Falls.

                There have been no shortage of good shifts put in by many a Yank abroad, but to call them “leaders of their teams” and “go-to darlings of the media” might be a step too far, especially considering that our two most prominent Americans have just come back home in order to step into leadership roles.

                An American neoliberal education doesn’t carry the weight you think it does on the Continent. I’m not talking about public speaking classes at Clemson, either. Just because Rooney’s a scouser doesn’t mean every Englishman is equally ignorant. Think macroscopically instead of anecdotally.

          • dikranovich says:

            leo, im not sure if you sound more like neil degrasse, or look like him, but whatever…lol. so you are saying rooney is ignorant? but what about terry? who has worn the armband with some success

            you don’t think it is the American personality to take on a leadership role? in anything??? what??? aiight

            • Leo says:

              Ha, thanks!

              Relatively speaking, I’m unconcerned with the education of UK citizens and don’t really have an opinion on the intelligence of Wayne Rooney or JT. My response was more to say that Americans are definitely not being recruited as leaders on European teams, whether or not they’re qualified is moot.

              Americans will be recruited as leaders once they see that our youth are not only the most skilled, but the brightest as well.

              • Dikranovich says:

                I don’t believe anyone said that Americans were being recruited for leadership roles, only that they were taking those roles once with a team, whether it was Goodson captaining A Danish side, or boca at rangers, or kljestan at anderlect, or cherundolo at Hannover.

                Americans are born leaders!!!

              • Leo says:

                I understand those; however, where is Goodson now? Boca? Cherundolo? Out of all of those, the only Cherundolo remained to fight despite his injuries.

                If we are truly leaders, we need to drop the flag-waving and actually lead.

      • Bobert says:

        Dempsey is an outlier. On aggregate if you send 100 prospects through the college system 5 of them will come out having benefited from it. If you send 100 prospects through a Euro style academy 50 will have come out better.

        I’m just throwing arbitrary numbers out there but its to make the point that just because guys like Dempsey went through the college system and then made it in the EPL it doesn’t mean its a good system. They are just outliers.

        • slowleftarm says:

          I think this is the right answer. It’s not that you can’t become a good player playing college soccer, it just makes it less likely. The less reliant the US pipeline is on college soccer the better.

          • dikranovich says:

            don’t you guys even find it kind of interesting that it is certain schools that are like pipelines for developing pro talent year in and year out? and why is that? is it the sunny weather?

        • dikranovich says:

          bobert, arbitrary numbers means we are having an arbitrary debate. this soccer thing is about commitment, and really not much else.

          cr7 committed fully to soccer at age 14. what does college have to do with years 14 to 18? messi surely committed at an equally early age, and had growth hormone help, and whala.

        • sony says:

          Clint left school after 3 year.This guy is an exception not a rule.

        • go euro or go home says:

          The part of your post that makes the most rational sense is when you say that you are just making stuff up. At least you admit that you really don’t know what you are talking about instead of being demonstrative about it, I guess.

          The thing is that college soccer has been the ONLY avenue for most players for decades. That is rapidly changing, but when people say that Dempsey or so and so would have been better off not going to college, they do not realize that was not an option. It was either go play in college or stop playing the game altogether.

          Yes, that is changing, but it is a process and the college game continues to be a crucial part of the soccer infrastructure as the game develops here. Even when the academy system is fully in place (it’s pretty damn close) and youth teams for pro franchises are a reality (not so close), the college game will most likely have an important place in the landscape.

          The college game has provided a foundation for the game to grow in this country. Without it, there would be nothing. It’s importance has diminished very slightly and it will probably diminish a lot more, but it will always be a part of the infrastructure providing important things such as players, coaches (future and present), fans, facilities, etc.

    • DevinRigg says:

      England’s problem is that their youth academies are overrun with foreign players, and potentially solid English boys are being overlooked.

      • James says:

        Yep. As always, its a very easy problem that can be condensed into one borderline xenophobic sentence. There’s no other potential problems, no facts to back it up, no nuances – just this one simple easy answer.

        • DevinRigg says:

          Oh, there are a lot more problems for sure, but the one I mentioned has been noted by many high profile figures in England.

        • Bobb says:

          It’s like how when England inevitably loses in some tournament, whether it’s the Euros or World Cup, the problem is the “foreign coach” and when hiring a new coach everyone says it should be a Britisher. Because everyone knows Harry Redknapp would solve all of the national team’s problems!

        • Marden08 says:

          Nonsense response.

      • Increase says:

        I imagine its like something I heard on the BBC a while back. That every year less and less African Americans are playing MLB baseball. For some reason, somebody thought it might have something to do with African Americans not being given the same chances as others. How is this like the idea that English lads aren’t being given a chance? Well because they ignore the obvious.

        The MLB is crazy boring(opinion) compared to modern life and has been supplanted by the NFL as the most popular sport(fact). And that Non american players of African decent are plentiful.

        English youths are not playing football like they used to and “”Football is now the fourth most popular participation sport behind swimming, athletics and cycling” to quote a guardian article about the same.

        What I’m trying to say is that yes maybe you are correct that foreigners are crowding up the academies but that seems to be an effect not a cause. Cultures change and football seems to be something to be watched rather than played. Oh, Also blame Football Manager and video games.

        • slowleftarm says:

          Somewhat off topic on a soccer website, but baseball is the other sport I follow closely so I figured I’d comment. I’m in my mid 30s and I’ve been hearing my whole life how baseball is too boring and slow-paced for today’s youth and its demise is imminent.

          Yet MLB has higher attendance than ever, the game is swimming in money, players make more in the NFL (without destroying their minds and bodies). If baseball is so boring, why would this only affect African-American participation?

          As an aside, I would also point out that an American football game is hardly fast-paced, it’s 3-5 seconds of “action” following by standing around for a minute and repeat. 150 times. And don’t forget the timeouts and replay reviews. Don’t get me wrong, people like it but I think that has a lot to do with gambling, fantasy football and the fact it only requires you to pay attention one day a week.

          I also disagree with the main premise of your post, which is that English youths apparently all swim and cycle rather than playing football. Football is king there by a long ways and most top athletes are still going to choose it.

          • Lucas says:

            Baseball is on a downslope per capita. Attendance may be ok in certain markets but overall not so good. TV, merchandise, etc are not where MLB would have hoped. I played for baseball for 15yrs…..no soccer at the time…..and agree that baseball is boring as hell unless you play it. Btw if you’re gonna ask questions re black youth take a sociology class at your local jc

          • Increase says:

            The MLB has the highest total attendance of any sport. I am aware of that.

            MLB – 73,451,522
            Nippon Pro League – 21,679,596
            NHL – 21,470,155
            NFL – 17,124,389
            NBA – 17,100,861

            link to en.wikipedia.org

            But my point was more about culture. Baseball is no longer the fashionable sport. Its the NFL or NBA. If you go by value its 100% the NFL.

            Oh, and the thing about football being less popular. That’s a quote from a newspaper article. That doesn’t mean its true but its not really my opinion as I haven’t been to the UK in like 2 decades.

            That quote was talking about per capita participation not popularity. Swimming, athletics and cycling are done by more people. The UK did rather well in Cycling during the last Olympics.

            Oh, btw check out the brazil league attendance its crazy low.

          • Increase says:

            Oh I forgot to address that american football is super boring live, but I think its the perfect TV product as you don’t have to pay attention very long.

        • Eric B says:

          Less black kids are playing baseball not because “it’s boring” but because there’s a lot more money trickling down to football and basketball, what with AAU clubs and the cash/attention generated by those two sports in high school. Add that youth baseball is as Pay-For-Play as soccer ever was in this country and very promising young inner-city athletes are going where the road to a paycheck is at least free…

      • Bobert says:

        I think Roberto Martinez hit the nail on the head concerning England’s problem. They develop players fine all the way to age 18 and then from 18 to 20 so many of their players are stuck in the under-21 league instead of getting loaned out to smaller division clubs where they learn how to play the game under a much more real environment with the threat of relegation.

        • Increase says:

          That is also a problem. Very few are willing to give their youth players a chance. It is just too risky for anyone not in the Championship.

        • Edmondo says:

          I think the problem with England (developmentally) is driven by how much money is generated in the premier league as well as junior player development.
          - Too many managers and Directors are afraid of loosing out that they buy finished products (or near finished products) from other leagues instead of playing their youth and developing them. Meanwhile German, French etc will play their younger players. It rest on impatient owners, directors and FANS (who refuse to allow a few rebuilding years). Perfect example: Chelsea — what youth players do they bring through. Arsenal, Liverpool bring youth through. Southampton and West Ham are great as well but end up selling their players to bigger quads (West Ham: Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard Southampton: Gareth Bale, Walcott).

          - English has to refine the skill sets that they are teaching their players. Focus on my ball handling, creation and build up play as a philosophy much in the same way France, Netherlands, and Spain did earlier and then Germany and Belgium later on.

  2. Howie says:

    Two comments:

    1) Great runs off the ball, send this clip to Altadore. These guys do it right and he could learn from it

    2) That Turkey goal appeared VERY offsides from the camera angle. Not even close Id say

  3. David M says:

    Excellent poise and skill by Gallardo.

    • QuakerOtis says:

      Right? These guys are young, as are the defenders, but Gallardo has impressed with his poise in this tournament.

  4. Goalscorer24 says:

    Good to see!

  5. AMPhibian says:

    congrats to the kids!

  6. BKBOOGER says:

    This Gallardo kid has quite the touch.

  7. Josh says:

    I think Williams needs Tab’s job. They are on opposite sides of the spectrum as far as results.

    • Benjamin C. says:

      The U-17s failed to qualify for the 2013 World Cup. So, both have had their failures as coaches, though Williams seems to have a ton of talent to work with this cycle.

    • Beto says:

      Development over results. I’d say they are both doing pretty well this cycle!

      Really looking forward to the 2016 Olympic cycle

      • jos says:

        Yeah im going to say tabs teams have gotten worse over time so I dont understand how you think that is development.

        • 2tone says:

          How have Tabs teams gotten worse? When he has had all but one U-20 cycle? This current cycle has played zero meaningful games.

          • Josh says:

            Zero meaningful games? What was more meaningful than the u20 world cup games that they bombed in. I don’t get how people keep making excuses for those games by saying they were close. Must have been watching something else because they looked lost out there.

    • Todd Marsch says:

      I don’t know. I watched several U-20 games over the summer and thought they looked pretty good. The final of CONCACAF qualifying vs. Mexico in Mexico was a great performance (US ended up losing in OT, I believe). The US did not bunker, matched Mexico’s skill, kept possession well, and created some good chances. They just wore down in OT. It was one of the better performances I’ve seen from a USMNT in Mexico.

      At the U-20 WC, they got a really difficult group, but played well against Spain and France (the wheels kind of came off against Ghana, as they tend to do). I remember at one point late in the 1st half in the Spain game, the US had a 60-40 edge in possession. Spain killed them on the counter, but they were out-possessing the best possession team in the world. Then they played a very good France team at least even and might have been a little unlucky to settle for a draw.

      I would say the results at the U-20 level might not look great (although I would argue they aren’t terrible), but the level of technical ability and style of play are changing for the better.

    • Edmondo says:

      The key for any youth program is the number of quality players that are developed for the next level not so much the number of tournaments won. That has been one of the key issues with the US system. I am more interested in seeing the way the kids play.

      BTW, how do you think Tab has done worse than Richie Williams with one cycle. You must be DELUSIONAL to think that. Tab identified several good players, encourages them to play with a style that is focused on ball control and attacking. Keep in mind William’s U17 didn’t even make the U17 World Cup, while Tab’s made the U20 World Cup and played in the toughest group. The other members of our group: France (WON the tournament), Ghana (came in 3rd) and Spain (lost in extra time in the quarter finals to the eventual 2nd place team – Uruguay). Keep in mind, that our group had arguably the best young player in the world (Francce’s Paul Pogba), the leading scorer in the tournament (some kid from Ghana) and that’s including the Spanish U20 squad (who were runners-up in the UEFA U17, 3 years prior).

      No offense, but I cannot stand it when people make uninformed proclamations.

      • Josh says:

        I watched the games and just because those other teams finished well doesn’t mean squat for the team we put on the field. Our guys looked terrible and they were lucky not to lose by more in two of the games. Uninformed? How did I dispute any of the facts? Tabs team looked lost towards the end while Williams team has improved and not just by their records. Im glad you don’t coach our competitive teams.

        • Anthony says:

          He stated facts supporting his assertion. You simply stated an opinion. Quite frankly, his argument is more sound.

  8. Ives Galarcop says:

    Shouldn’t these guys be called the USBNT?

  9. unbeknownst says:

    I just hope the Galaxy find a way to sign Haji Wright to a HG contract, soon.

    • Beto says:

      Was he in crutches at the end or was that someone else?

      As a 16 year old maybe it’s a year away but I would hope he is soon to be a pro

    • Josh D says:

      He tweeted today about Dortmund. Twitter’s assumption is he’s going there.

      • Todd Marsch says:

        Saw that too…bummer for the Galaxy and MLS, but good for him. MLS needs to find a way to get compensation for these prospects so that bigger leagues don’t keep scooping them up just before they sign pro-contracts.

        • Oliver Klosoff says:

          They cant get compensated because they are not signed by contract

          • Todd Marsch says:

            I understand that, but it seems wrong somehow for the Galaxy to put in several years developing him (and Arriola), only for a bigger club to swoop in and sign him without the Galaxy getting any compensation.

            How does this work in Europe? Could Dortmund see a 15-year-old they like in, for example, Freiburg’s academy and just invite them into the Dortmund youth system?

      • unbeknownst says:

        I know he’s only 15yrs old. Which means that FIFA disallows minors from moving out of the country (maybe it’s Continent) without a parent.

        Which means if he does sign with Dortmund, they would have to find him a place to train and develop until he turns 18.

  10. Leo says:

    Really happy to see these kids lift another cup. I hope they stick together during their professional development and may that be the World Cup trophy some day!

  11. AC says:

    Great job! Let’s just hope they don’t wither away on the bench of teams as it’s tough for young USA players to secure work permits to other countries.

  12. SD says:

    So…anyone speak turkish?

    • Alex C says:

      That would be nice. It looked like maybe the US team together was saying something in another language (around 5:10 in the above video). Some sort of chant.They were jumping up and down and repeating something like a slogan. It would be nice to know what they were saying. Maybe something they learned in Turkish to complement the hosts.

      • SD says:

        Actually I was referring to the interview of the coach of Turkey…quite a long interview…

      • RNG says:

        That was English they were chanting: I believe that we just won.

        Maybe we can get a translator for the Turkish and the English….

  13. Trolltossin says:

    I think there will be a great benefit to each MLS team having a USL Pro team and the ability to put their academy players onto that team as a minor league team of sorts. That was maybe you can get these kids on a contract and maybe pay for college (they wouldnt play for the college team though) so they can advance themselves if footballing fails while putting in a minor league coach that is preparing them for your MLS teams style. That way you can also have the academies around the world scout potential teenagers and maybe profit from them while letting the advance for the betterment of the soccer in America.

  14. Nihal says:

    Why was wright on crutches?

  15. jloome says:

    I think what we have in North America is a different style of soccer based on a different approach, one that favors competitiveness and individual athleticism from an early age, instead of technique and athleticism.

    I spent my formative years in England in the 1970s; my first soccer coach, at age eight, was Spanish. And generally, a lot more attention was paid to reading the flow of the game, tactical movement and core technique (trapping, heading, dribbling etc). We rarely had complete games in practice or scrimmage and we had very short competitive schedules, if at all.

    A lot of soccer mad countries, including Brazil, still use this model and have taken it further by banning competitive matches for kids under 12. In England, we played “mini-soccer” until 8-10, to build skill and movement in smaller spaces.

    When I was a teen I moved here, and I’m 43 now. So much of what I’ve seen of youth soccer in North America is spent on competition — from daily scrimmages at the end of practice to one- and two-game-per-week inter league schedules and playoffs — and as a result kids lose out on technique, big time.

    If you also have a grounding in how people learn — neurology and cognitive science — you’ll also see the obvious pattern in it becoming harder for kids to “learn” the older they get. Couple the way in which the brain develops with the time spent competing and on cardio, and you have the reason kids here start to fall behind in their later teen years.

    A young North American kid who is super-dedicated can keep up, because he practices and improvises in his spare time. But during practice, the only way he gets more out of it is by being a physically better performer, because we also tend to treat all team members as cogs over here in amateur training. So when he gets to the age where improvisation is no longer enough, and he needs help with small technique and movement details that make all the difference at the pro level, that help is not there for most.

    So to me, we need a fundamental change in our approach to youth training. It’s not that the kids aren’t good enough athletes or smart enough; they simply don’t get the one-on-one time needed to take it beyond what they can achieve on their own. It’s not that they don’t learn anything from coaches by training in the team; but good soccer coaching involves recognizing the individual technique needs of young players, especially when they’re hitting the years where they’re progression rate slows. It involves being willing to treat kids on a team differently based on their potential and needs, and then having parents accept the necessity of that. It’s a sea change culturally from the “no I in team” method of training and learning.

    • SD says:

      well that’s the premise of the development academy system…emphasizing practice time over game time….this is what claudio reyna began instituting when he was TD of the youth system…..so the change has been underway for a few years now….

      • Chris Becker says:

        It has, but the acadamies are the exception not the rule.

        General state of youth soccer in the US is games & tournaments. My little town in CT — we import coaches from Challenger Sports in England for K & 1st grade. That’s pretty good — focus on skills development. Short window (1 hr a week) is short but appropriate. In second grade — you’re in a practice a week, and a game (7-8 year olds). In Third grade, you can be recruited onto the travel team. In that case, at least 3 2 Hr practices a week with 1-3 games each weekend. Unless you’re doing a tournament, which can easilly be 6+ games in a weekend. Needless to say, all the parents are screaming for little Johnny or Sally to pull a Neymar-like run and score a goal because (in general) that’s what they understand. I have *NEVER* heard a parent compliment a kid by saying “Great job locking down the left” or simply maintaining team possession.

        All for the academy system — you have to start somewhere. But the acadamies see, what, 0.01% of the youth soccer in the US. It’s that culture that needs to change.

    • Edmondo says:

      I completely agree. Its the same way in Brazil as you stated. I also have friends from Netherlands, Spain and Germany (he played in the Nuremberg youth system) and they all focused on fundamentals and skill development. No one cared what tournament U14′s won. When I moved here, however, as a kid. We had U14 national and regional tournaments. I’ve told people playing to win tournaments does not always coincide to training to improve skill sets necessary for the next level.

    • RAMONE says:

      Here is the dirty little secret – most youth (the really little ones) coaches are moms and dads. While many have played, they frequently don’t have any teaching skills and often just go out and run drills with no real cohesion AND the kids get bored and beg to scrimmage. They are out there for fun after all, so the coach obliges. Add to this that for many parents, this is an hour reprieve where someone else can try to take on their behaviorally challenged child to the detriment of all of the other kids who want to play and improve.

      Second, parents expect games. If they sign 8 year old Johnny up for fall soccer they expect a month of practice and then 2 months filled with two 1 hour evening practices and a game on the weekend. They then judge the team, coach and little Johnny on results on the weekend. Games end by mid November and little Johnny is off to do the same with Basketball, then baseball in the spring and won’t probably pick up a soccer ball again until soccer starts up again in the fall (and then ultimately 50+% of little Johnny’s will skip it all together when they are old enough to start playing American Football).

      Personally, I would be all for a model change at the youngest levels. Coaches actually being trained how to coach is a starting point. Yes, I know there are many opportunities, but very few volunteer full time job parents who get pressured into coaching “otherwise there won’t be a team” have the time to blow a whole weekend to go get a coaching license. Our local soccer club attempts to have a coaching clinic, to which about 10% of the coaches show up and typically those are the ones who have literally never seen the game of soccer before — which drives the ones away who have at least some level of a clue because they don’t want to sit through an hour of inane questions when what they really need is that mid-level of how do I really drive home these concepts and which drills work and how do they build on each other.

      I have coached my daughter since she was in kindergarten (so 4 years). Most of the teams we played games against essentially had a coach/dad yelling and screaming instructions (which amounted to “dribble”, “run faster”, “kick the ball”). Some of these teams had some natural athletes, some didn’t. We had a pretty good mix and were therefore “successful” in KG, first and second grade meaning we won more than we lost but more than that every girl on the team had the basic skills they needed to build on the next year. This year we “moved up” to U8 (third graders). I was given 5 new players (3 of them had literally never played before) to play 6v6 (with keepers for the first time) and two of which had huge attention issues / downright behavioral problems. I don’t have a degree in abnormal child psychology so trying to run a practice with constant major distractions and teach skills to neophyte players while not boring the 5 players who had been with me for 3 years was a major challenge. Add to this I was assigned an assistant coach was so results oriented (win games) that he would constantly tell the kids to do things differently than the basic skills that I had just taught. This left the girls bewildered and needless to say we lost every game this year (which honestly didn’t bother me a bit but it certainly bothered parents, the assistant coach and the girls). Nobody really had fun (after 3 years of having a lot of fun) and I suspect several will not be back, which is too bad.

      I’d be all for a change in model to essentially practice only with some very controlled small scrimmages until about U10 or U11. If the parents want to come cheer on little Johnny, feel free, but it may not be very entertaining. That is OK, the parents can still socialize – maybe even better if the parents are using it is social time rather than go scream at and confuse lil’ Johnny time.

    • Josh says:

      Its funny you say that when every trainer and coach I have ever played for or worked with, this country or foreign has said that the game is THE best teacher. The biggest reason Americans have been poor in soccer is way simpler than your novel above. America has always pushed multi sports for kids and soccer supports that. For those that CHOOSE to play only soccer, we get punished by getting limited practices. I played soccer and had practice 2 and then 3 times a week for only an hour and a half. You cant pick up skills by practicing 2 or 3 times a week when these kids in other countries are going to academies and practicing EVERY day. That is the biggest problem. Practices should not be limited after 14. The best baseball players practice every day. The best football players practice every day. The best gymnasts practice every day.

    • the original jb says:

      I enjoyed the post and for the most part completely agree. The biggest problem to me is what you briefly touched on at the end. Parents. I’m just coming off my first year helping to coach as my kids are just starting to play. All the parents want to see their kid play games. And win! I mean I’m talking 5 and 6 yr olds! And when I try to explain that its more important for the kids to learn technique and have fun, many look at me like I’ve sprouted horns.

  16. 2tone says:

    Good to see them playing well. Hopefully they qualify and actually are able to show well at the U-17 WC.

    Hopefully a few of these kids can rise through the gauntlet at youth level and become something at the senior level.

    Wright, Chris Pulisic, Gallardo, and De La Torre all look to have next level potential. Elijah Rice also looks to have something special as well.

  17. Mike R says:

    This will be great to look back on when they are eliminated by El Salvador or Guatamala in U17 Wc qualifying

    • Francois says:

      How clever. You must have been the brightest kid in your remedial classes, huh? Get out of here with that overly pessimistic attitude, why don’t you just have a “wait-and-see” attitude?