Originally Posted by improbus
To me though, the difference isn't who is playing, but how we play. Soccer for American kids is an exclusively team/club sport. It is not a "street" or "pick-up" game for them. Teams tend to be regimented and drum out the creative genius that soccer needs to overcome the structure of the game.
I think there's probably a lot of truth to this -- if you look at basketball, a lot of the current game has been influenced by what people have learned/done on the playgrounds or in pickup games.
You look at someone like Allen Iverson, who was one of the best and most creative dribble-drive penetrators over the last 20 years, and his game was straight out of the Rucker Park style. That kind of creativity isn't taught in an institutional setting -- it's something you pick up by playing in lots and lots of informal games where there aren't officials and the people around you are trying to impress are peers.
I think soccer is a little like that.