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Thread: USMNT - Russia 2018 WC

  1. #16
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    Re: USMNT - Russia 2018 WC

    Quote Originally Posted by improbus View Post
    I love the USMNT, but I think we have punched above our weight in the World Cup for years. It worries me that we simply aren't producing players that can make it in the biggest leagues in the world. Most every guy we send to Europe's bigger clubs ends up not playing/underperforming. I'm just not seeing the talent coming through, and I don't necessarily blame the coach. We blamed Arena, and Bradley, and Klinsmann, etc... for not developing players. Maybe the coach is misusing the talent, but it is limited talent.

    And of course, as I type this, the US scores again. Maybe I should keep moaning.
    Can't agree enough on the bolded part. Maybe qualifying for the World Cup is a realistic expectation given our regional competition, but advancing beyond group play is gravy as far as I'm concerned. We're not one of the 16 most talented countries. Not close, really. Yes, there is maybe more depth of "good" than there used to be, and some intriguing prospects. But with Tim Howard in the decline phase of his career, we don't have anyone who immediately springs to mind as a world-class player. If the World Cup started today:

    1) Who is the best player on the U.S. World Cup roster?

    2) Could he even make the squad of the European and South American powerhouses?

    Heck, with the current lack of star power, I'm wondering if we have anyone who'd be a lock to make Spain's "best 23 left out" squad.

    Now, having said all that, only eleven can play at a time and having a cohesive eleven goes a long way toward neutralizing a more talented eleven. I don't have a strong opinion on what the most cohesive U.S. squad looks like, but Klinsmann needs to find it. He may have been guilty of some "surely we'll qualify" hubris and didn't transition from the talent-identification/experimenting phase to the find-your-best-team phase quickly enough in this cycle.
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  3. #17
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    Re: USMNT - Russia 2018 WC

    Quote Originally Posted by BuckeyeRed27 View Post
    MLS isn't hurting the USMNT. Bradley hasn't regressed, and Altidore wasn't starting because he's coming off an injury. The US has struggled recently because Jurgen has badly mishandled roster turnover and lineups in this cycle so far. Last night was the first time he put a line up that made any kind of sense since the Belgium game and oh look we scored 4 goals.

    If MLS has hurt the USMNT in any way it is in making the other CONCACAF nations better, by giving them a good league to play in and develop. Sure guys like Gerrard will get a pay day because they help sell tickets, but he isn't even one of the best 7 or 8 players on the LA Galaxy right now. Most teams have solid rotation players that play for Honduras, Jamaica, Costa Rica, etc. that are making the whole league and their national teams better.
    It is better in the short term for our best guys to go to Europe, but MLS is very important to devoloping long term improvement. I wish MLS would work harder to promote skill and ability in the way they officiate the game. MLS has a hard time devloping real ball handlers and skilled players because any time you have the ball for longer than a second or two, some worse version of Kyle Beckerman is chopping you down. Or Kyle Beckerman himself is chopping you down. If they started booting guys from games the way they do in European leagues, they might begin to promote a more skilled version of the game here.

    The Premier League did this. It (and the old First Division) used to be the Wild West of leagues where guys would massacre one another. That doesn't mean that the defending is bad, it had just removed the needless fouling that kept the skilled players from flourishing. MLS must do the same.
    Last edited by improbus; 03-30-2016 at 04:40 PM.
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    Re: USMNT - Russia 2018 WC

    We do well in the WC for the following reasons:
    1) Because we are in CONCACAF, we always qualify. You can't win in the WC if you don't make it.
    2) We drag most games into the mud and prevent the other team from doing what they want to do.
    3) We are unusually good on set pieces.
    4) Strong goaltending.

    I would be really curious to know what our goal differential would be historically if you removed set pieces.
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    Re: USMNT - Russia 2018 WC

    Quote Originally Posted by improbus View Post
    We do well in the WC for the following reasons:
    1) Because we are in CONCACAF, we always qualify. You can't win in the WC if you don't make it.
    2) We drag most games into the mud and prevent the other team from doing what they want to do.
    3) We are unusually good on set pieces.
    4) Strong goaltending.

    I would be really curious to know what our goal differential would be historically if you removed set pieces.
    I would take issue with #2. Having watched the USMNT since 1994, I'd say more often than not, it's the other teams dragging the game into the mud. The USMNT doesn't really have a reputation for being dirty. Traditionally the USMNT has been considered to be extremely athletic, able to run and jump with the best of them, if not technically gifted. They've also been seen as a team less likely to resort to cynical fouls and diving. There have been countless instances where Americans have been on the receiving end of brutal fouls and the other team doesn't even get carded because the US player didn't spend 5 minutes playing like he was shot. A bigger issue right now is that I think a lot of other countries have adopted American-style strength and conditioning programs, so it's more difficult to outrun and outjump them.

    As far as MLS goes, the quality has grown by leaps and bounds in the last decade and there are a number of teams playing attractive soccer. There are also quite a few players playing in Europe. I think the difference now is that a many players are choosing to play in an improving MLS rather that ride the pines in the EPL or ply their trade in Scandinavia or Scotland.

    The issue we have is that we still haven't fleshed out the professional academy system so that players gain the technical skills at an earlier age. We still have a lot of players who develop through traditional channels like club, high school, and college soccer, which means many US players aren't getting professional experience until they are 20-21 years old. Sending players to Europe isn't going to change that. What will is continuing to grow the sport in the US by supporting MLS, NASL, and USL, which will result in more TV money, which in turn results in more money invested in bringing in quality talent and more money for scouting and development.
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    Re: USMNT - Russia 2018 WC

    I guess by, "drag the game into the mud", I meant that we try to play a game that more fits our lesser skill level. Your assessment of our playing style is largely correct.
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    Re: USMNT - Russia 2018 WC

    Had great 2nd row seats last night


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  10. #22
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    Re: USMNT - Russia 2018 WC

    MLS quality has grown by leaps and bounds, but if you're a kid with elite-level options athletically, you're still going to be pushed towards the payday that potentially comes with playing in the NFL, NBA or MLB.

    Like it or not, those athletes signing gaudy contracts and endorsement deals impact what sports kids get involved with.
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    Re: USMNT - Russia 2018 WC

    Quote Originally Posted by Caveat Emperor View Post
    MLS quality has grown by leaps and bounds, but if you're a kid with elite-level options athletically, you're still going to be pushed towards the payday that potentially comes with playing in the NFL, NBA or MLB.

    Like it or not, those athletes signing gaudy contracts and endorsement deals impact what sports kids get involved with.
    Sorry, but I think that is a fallacy for three reasons: 1.) The United States easily produces the most World Class athletes in the World, bar none. Not only do we have the best professional leagues in baseball, American football, and Basketball, but we also supply a significant number of NHL players and are one of the dominant countries in both the Summer and Winter Olympics. We produce World Class athletes in sports that don't bring in revenue outside of the Olympics. 2.) The USMNT is already known for being athletically strong. Our players tend to be bigger and faster than a lot of their opponents as it is. 3.) Most of the players choosing to play in the NFL, NBA, and MLB are not physically ideal for playing soccer. Those sports favor the tall and muscular. In soccer, those players would likely be pushed toward playing keeper, a position for which the US already has a history of producing top talent. Otherwise, they would likely be central defenders or strikers strong in the air. Guess what, we're already good at producing those types of players too.

    I've had this argument countless times with friends who seem to think we'd win a World Cup if LeBron James played soccer. Well, sorry to break it to anyone who believes that, but if LeBron James were born in Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy, etc., he'd probably still be a basketball player and he'd still be in the NBA. Guys who are 6'8" and above typically play basketball, no matter which country grew up in. Probably the tallest soccer player I can think of that has played regularly in top flight soccer is Peter Crouch at 6'7". He towers above everyone and no one would mistake him for the LeBron James of soccer. The average height of international pro soccer players is around 5'9". Lionel Messi, one of the World's greatest, is 5'7". Sebastian Giovinco, reigning MLS MVP, is all of 5'5". When Spain won the World Cup, I don't think any of their players aside from goalkeeper Iker Casillas broke 6'. Soccer is not a sport that necessarily favors the biggest, strongest, or the fastest. It favors players who are good with a ball at their feet and players who have the spacial awareness of where to be on a field with 21 other players.

    If you look at the USMNT today, you can see we already have great athletes. For a soccer player, Jozy Altidore is already considered a physical specimen. When I was in England this past summer, everyone I talked to about soccer would tell me they thought DeAndre Yedlin could possibly be the fastest player they've ever seen in the Premier League. The USMNT doesn't need more super athletes. They need soccer players with professional soccer intelligence.

    So where does soccer intelligence come from? Well, part of it is generational. You learn it from your parents and your older siblings, and you learn it from watching on TV. Right now we're still in an era where most people who grew up playing soccer learned it from coaches who grew up playing baseball, basketball and football and came to soccer later in life. So what they can teach their kids is still limited by their own experience. The other place players learn is from playing the game itself. Issue there is that our youth development system is focused on a combination of pay-to-play travel soccer and high school and college programs. In those environments, the focus is often on winning over player development, so you often get teams where the strategy centers on playing your biggest, strongest, and/or fastest player up top and having the rest of the team focus on getting the ball to that main guy and letting him just power through the defense. It's great if you've got an early bloomer who can run roughshod over the other kids in his age group, but it doesn't really help the other kids improve their soccer skills. We could have a potential Lionel Messi or a Sebastian Giovinco playing in the US youth ranks today, but because he's on the small side, coaches may well be overlooking him in favor of the big kid who is faster and stronger than everyone else. I suspect many of the players who could end up being excellent soccer players probably get overlooked, don't get the attention they need, are left to fend for themselves, have friends whose interests lie somewhere other than soccer, and they either drift away from the sport, or get just good enough to get to college and end up giving up the sport in favor of getting a degree in some non-sporting field, simply because they aren't physical specimens at a young age.

    And for the record, I also don't buy the old argument that other countries are great at soccer because the players grow up playing in poverty on the streets. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo may not have grown up in wealth, but they also didn't learn all of their soccer playing with no shoes in the streets. And when it comes to most European countries, kids aren't playing in the streets at all. The reality is that most kids who have any kind of talent for the game are identified early and brought into the youth system of professional clubs. Messi started playing for the youth side of pro team Newell's Old Boys at the age of 6. Imagine that. Most of our kids are playing rec league soccer with dad-coaches at 6. He was playing for a youth academy team coached by professional coaches at 6.

    So how do we change that? Well, I think part of that change is coming in the way of MLS, NASL, and USL teams, as well as teams from Europe and Mexico, starting up their own academies here in the US. At least now we have some basic structure evolving to help identify youth players at a young age and get them into a system where they get good quality coaching from an organization whose goal is more focused on producing quality soccer players rather than short term win loss records. I think the other thing the USSF should consider is getting on board with the rest of the world with regard to solidarity payments, which are payments a club that developed a player receives from subsequent clubs when that player is sold. I think solidarity payments will permit more travel teams to get away from a pay-to-play model, which will be good for kids who can't afford the $1000s it can cost for travel soccer, and will also give the clubs a monetary incentive to teach good soccer to as many players as possible so as to increase the chances that their players may develop into professional players.
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  13. #24
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    Re: USMNT - Russia 2018 WC

    Quote Originally Posted by Yachtzee View Post
    Otherwise, they would likely be central defenders or strikers strong in the air. Guess what, we're already good at producing those types of players too.
    I agree with a lot of what you have written, but I have to question this statement. It seems to me we have been weak at central defense for going on 10 years.

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    Re: USMNT - Russia 2018 WC

    Quote Originally Posted by RedTeamGo! View Post
    I agree with a lot of what you have written, but I have to question this statement. It seems to me we have been weak at central defense for going on 10 years.
    The Gooch/Bocanegra pairing was a strength for early part of that 10 year period. There hasn't been as much consistency recently but guys look Brooks, Besler, Gonzalez and Cameron are all quality players. We've had a lot more trouble finding a LB than central defenders for sure.

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    Re: USMNT - Russia 2018 WC

    Quote Originally Posted by RedTeamGo! View Post
    I agree with a lot of what you have written, but I have to question this statement. It seems to me we have been weak at central defense for going on 10 years.
    Central defense has been hit and miss, but I put that mainly on a lack of a consistent lineup. Central defense is one of those areas where your two defenders have to have a good rapport and a good understanding of what the other guy is going to do because they have to react to that. It's really a position that needs to be played in tandem. That lack of consistency can also lead to issues on set pieces when attackers go unmarked. The other issue is that Klinsmann hasn't always been good about playing a true central defensive mid to provide cover for the back line. The defense seems to do better when they have a true CDM like Kyle Beckerman providing cover as opposed to having Michael Bradley or Jermaine Jones playing there, as Bradley and Jones aren't really CDMs and like to get foward to be involved in the attacking build up. If the midfield is going forward and your RB and LB are playing as overlapping wings, as guys like Fabian Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin often do, then the two CBs are left to defend on an island. It leaves them very much vulnerable to the counter.
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  16. #27
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    Re: USMNT - Russia 2018 WC

    Quote Originally Posted by Yachtzee View Post
    I've had this argument countless times with friends who seem to think we'd win a World Cup if LeBron James played soccer. Well, sorry to break it to anyone who believes that, but if LeBron James were born in Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy, etc., he'd probably still be a basketball player and he'd still be in the NBA. Guys who are 6'8" and above typically play basketball, no matter which country grew up in. Probably the tallest soccer player I can think of that has played regularly in top flight soccer is Peter Crouch at 6'7". He towers above everyone and no one would mistake him for the LeBron James of soccer. The average height of international pro soccer players is around 5'9". Lionel Messi, one of the World's greatest, is 5'7". Sebastian Giovinco, reigning MLS MVP, is all of 5'5". When Spain won the World Cup, I don't think any of their players aside from goalkeeper Iker Casillas broke 6'. Soccer is not a sport that necessarily favors the biggest, strongest, or the fastest. It favors players who are good with a ball at their feet and players who have the spacial awareness of where to be on a field with 21 other players.
    The issue isn't "our best athletes don't play soccer," it's that our best athletes don't play soccer early enough in their lives as a first-choice sport. If you look around the world, the greatest players grow up with a soccer ball on their feet and sign into professional academies before they're old enough to shave. For the US to close the gap with the rest of the world and/or start to produce generational type talents, we need parents to think "soccer" when they notice their kids starting to display athletic aptitude at any early age. Instead, they think "NBA" or "NFL" and a lot of kids get pushed to those sports. By the time they hit their growth spurts and top out short of what would be required to play in those sports and switch to soccer, it's already too late to go back and make up the training time that their international peers would have had.

    It isn't about getting LeBron James to play soccer, it's about getting the kid like Tyler Ulis (5'9" slashing PG from Kentucky) to play soccer -- where he has absolutely no future as an NBA player, but has the feet, speed and vision to possibly have been a killer attacking mid if we had a country that considered soccer a top option for kids.
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  18. #28
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    Re: USMNT - Russia 2018 WC

    Quote Originally Posted by Yachtzee View Post

    So where does soccer intelligence come from? Well, part of it is generational. You learn it from your parents and your older siblings, and you learn it from watching on TV. Right now we're still in an era where most people who grew up playing soccer learned it from coaches who grew up playing baseball, basketball and football and came to soccer later in life. So what they can teach their kids is still limited by their own experience. The other place players learn is from playing the game itself. Issue there is that our youth development system is focused on a combination of pay-to-play travel soccer and high school and college programs. In those environments, the focus is often on winning over player development, so you often get teams where the strategy centers on playing your biggest, strongest, and/or fastest player up top and having the rest of the team focus on getting the ball to that main guy and letting him just power through the defense. It's great if you've got an early bloomer who can run roughshod over the other kids in his age group, but it doesn't really help the other kids improve their soccer skills. We could have a potential Lionel Messi or a Sebastian Giovinco playing in the US youth ranks today, but because he's on the small side, coaches may well be overlooking him in favor of the big kid who is faster and stronger than everyone else. I suspect many of the players who could end up being excellent soccer players probably get overlooked, don't get the attention they need, are left to fend for themselves, have friends whose interests lie somewhere other than soccer, and they either drift away from the sport, or get just good enough to get to college and end up giving up the sport in favor of getting a degree in some non-sporting field, simply because they aren't physical specimens at a young age.
    Growing up playing on many youth club teams, there is so much correct in this statement its ridiculous. My club teams weren't so bad, but looking back they were faulty. The focus was on winning tournaments and not on individual growth.

    The high school level was a joke. Myself and 2 other guys played year round. Our offensive strategy was simply to pass the ball up top to myself and one of the other guys who played and hope for the best. Individual development was nonexistent and our "coach" was one of the history teachers who asked the top guys strategy questions. Mind you, I graduated from a 5A school in Georgia (2000+ students) in 2001. The difference in youth soccer from my experience and watching/helping my nephews is night and day. The US is moving in the right direction and the generational gap is closing rapidly. The future is bright for US soccer, but I wouldn't expect to field a starting 11 of world class players for another decade or more.
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    Re: USMNT - Russia 2018 WC

    Quote Originally Posted by BuckeyeRed27 View Post
    The Gooch/Bocanegra pairing was a strength for early part of that 10 year period. There hasn't been as much consistency recently but guys look Brooks, Besler, Gonzalez and Cameron are all quality players. We've had a lot more trouble finding a LB than central defenders for sure.
    Also, Matt Miazga went the full 90 in his Chelsea debut against Villa this morning.
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    Re: USMNT - Russia 2018 WC

    Quote Originally Posted by Caveat Emperor View Post
    The issue isn't "our best athletes don't play soccer," it's that our best athletes don't play soccer early enough in their lives as a first-choice sport. If you look around the world, the greatest players grow up with a soccer ball on their feet and sign into professional academies before they're old enough to shave. For the US to close the gap with the rest of the world and/or start to produce generational type talents, we need parents to think "soccer" when they notice their kids starting to display athletic aptitude at any early age. Instead, they think "NBA" or "NFL" and a lot of kids get pushed to those sports. By the time they hit their growth spurts and top out short of what would be required to play in those sports and switch to soccer, it's already too late to go back and make up the training time that their international peers would have had.

    It isn't about getting LeBron James to play soccer, it's about getting the kid like Tyler Ulis (5'9" slashing PG from Kentucky) to play soccer -- where he has absolutely no future as an NBA player, but has the feet, speed and vision to possibly have been a killer attacking mid if we had a country that considered soccer a top option for kids.
    This article actually illustrates what I've been saying, but with actual research to back it up.
    http://www.howlermagazine.com/dont-b...l-spring-2016/
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