Originally Posted by Caveat Emperor
So maybe the question isn't: Would the United States be a better soccer-playing nation if guys like Allen Iverson, LeBron James and Chad Ochocinco played soccer?
Maybe the question is: Would the United States be a better soccer-playing nation if guys like Bill Belichick, Phil Jackson, and Mike Krzyzewski had grown up soccer players and became soccer coaches?
We were talking about this last year at the World Cup, and I said then the biggest difference between other countries and the United States is the structured training received almost from birth.
There was a great New York Times magazine story about AJAX, a Dutch club which has squads as young as 6-7.
So while some may or may not like Bob Bradley, the real difference is made between the Dutch(or German or whatever nationality you prefer) professional coaches, and Joe the plumber coaching because the neighborhood needs a soccer coach.
This gap really seems to be closing as at the very least elite United States players seem to be noticed earlier and earlier. It's also in this way that the United States being so spread out works against it. Clint Dempsey was basically playing against himself in Nacagdoches Texas until he was in his early teens.
If he lived in England, it would be much easier for him to get noticed, and his parents could have him play with a "semi-pro" team without having to completely uproot their life.