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Thread: USMNT: The March to Brazil - World Cup 2014

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    Re: USMNT: The March to Brazil - World Cup 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by RedTeamGo! View Post
    Spain/England/Germany/Brazil/Argentina/Holland/France all have their best athletes playing soccer.

    The best athletes from the United States are playing football, basketball and baseball.
    Maybe, but when I look at the world's best soccer players, they usually don't have NFL or NBA bodies. As with every other sport, being big and fast helps but soccer has its own skill set. It's not athleticism we lack relative to the top countries, it's skill. Maybe a few of the NFL types would have developed it, who knows.

    Quote Originally Posted by BuckeyeRed27 View Post
    I think most American athletes do grow up playing soccer when they are young. Not all, but soccer is the most popular sport for kids under 12 in America. Now obviously at some point they stop, but I think the US issues with development have more to do with youth coaching than quantity of the number of kids playing soccer.
    The coaching issue is a fair one, but I suspect the real issue is training, or lack thereof. A kid isn't going to be elite if he goes to practice and then doesn't touch a ball until the next practice. There aren't a lot of gym-rat kids in suburbia, which is where most youth soccer occurs.
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  3. #437
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    Re: USMNT: The March to Brazil - World Cup 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by RedTeamGo! View Post
    Spain/England/Germany/Brazil/Argentina/Holland/France all have their best athletes playing soccer.

    ...

    I just find it difficult to believe Reggie Bush would not be one of the greatest soccer players in the world if he played soccer his whole life.

    How about Lebron James in the middle of the box on corner kicks? I don't think any player in the world could stop him in that scenario.
    That's a bit of a misconception. For instance, if you're tall and athletic in Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Germany, there's a very good chance you're playing basketball. There's no shortage of rugby players in England and France. The Dutch are insane for speed skating. Rafa Nadal plays tennis even though one of his uncles played for Barcelona.

    That's not even touching on track athletes. Also, Brazil has got great athletes in all kinds of sports. Like the U.S., it's capable of producing talent in a massive array of sports.

    Also, soccer is deceptively hard to play. It is not kind to tall kids, who struggle with their foot skills. If you hit an awkward, lanky phase, you're pretty much out of the game of soccer. Leo Messi is 5'6" with his cleats on. Diego Maradona was roughly the same size. Neither one ever was close to being Argentina's best athlete, but they are two of the greatest soccer players ever.

    I've seen gifted athletes flame out in soccer. Big, fast, strong, great springs, but they couldn't master technique. Players like that dominate at young ages, but as the game becomes more complex and technical, they become liabilities. Running and staying in control of a ball at your feet is vastly different than regular running. Reggie Bush might be great at throwing a stutter step, shoulder fake and then changing direction at speed, but he might never have been able to master it while making a ball travel with him.

    And first touch, passing, and movement off the ball are all more important than dribbling.

    Also, soccer's cruel to fast-twitch athletes. In football they give you almost a minutes to recover between plays. In soccer if you get into your red zone, the game keeps going. In a full soccer game, players are running a minimum of 10k.

    I'm sure that there's a healthy number of potential great soccer players in the U.S. who are playing other sports, but I suspect that NFL, NBA and MLB stars aren't them. The bulk required to succeed in football, the height required to succeed in basketball, the eye-hand coordination required to succeed in baseball, none of that translates well to soccer. Rather, it's the football player who wasn't quite big enough, the basketball player who wasn't quite tall enough, the baseball player who never quite mastered the art of hitting - those are the athletes who more likely slipped through the cracks. They were good at other sports thanks to their high level of athleticism (maybe played in college or in the minors), but maybe they could have been great at soccer.
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    Re: USMNT: The March to Brazil - World Cup 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by bucksfan2 View Post
    A couple of things I noticed in watching the game. The US played well enough to beat a beaten down Mexico team. Its impressive when you consider that they were without their two best players in Bradley and Altidore. The yellow card by Donavan late in the game was stupid, how far does that count against him?

    There were times that the US looked sloppy, had poor spacing, and poor first touches. Granted the US pretty much were sitting back all game and making Mexico press. It worked, it isn't the best soccer to watch, but wins are much better than draws or losses.

    Just in the 10 or so minutes Diskerud was in, he showed that he needs to play and play often. Could he be the next in the line of American players who have an impressive European career?
    Donovan is the best US player still, and by a large margin.
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    Re: USMNT: The March to Brazil - World Cup 2014

    I haven't missed a single USMNT match at Crew Stadium since 2001 and Tuesday was the best atmosphere yet.

    Sam's Army sounded amazing; the best I've heard, in fact, outside Seattle.

    Dempsey absolutely didn't miss the pk on purpose. He's a notoriously poor PK taker, and hopefully this drives the point home to him that LD or Jozy should be taking all PKs moving forward. That missed 3rd goal could actually loom large between Mexico and Panama fighting for 3rd or 4th place in regards to goal differential.
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrap Irony View Post
    Calipari is not, nor has he ever been accused or "caught", cheating. He himself turned in one of his players (Camby) for dealing with an agent to get one Final Four overturned. The other is all on the NCAA and Rose. (IF Rose cheated.)
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    Re: USMNT: The March to Brazil - World Cup 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by M2 View Post
    That's a bit of a misconception. For instance, if you're tall and athletic in Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Germany, there's a very good chance you're playing basketball. There's no shortage of rugby players in England and France. The Dutch are insane for speed skating. Rafa Nadal plays tennis even though one of his uncles played for Barcelona.

    That's not even touching on track athletes. Also, Brazil has got great athletes in all kinds of sports. Like the U.S., it's capable of producing talent in a massive array of sports.

    Also, soccer is deceptively hard to play. It is not kind to tall kids, who struggle with their foot skills. If you hit an awkward, lanky phase, you're pretty much out of the game of soccer. Leo Messi is 5'6" with his cleats on. Diego Maradona was roughly the same size. Neither one ever was close to being Argentina's best athlete, but they are two of the greatest soccer players ever.

    I've seen gifted athletes flame out in soccer. Big, fast, strong, great springs, but they couldn't master technique. Players like that dominate at young ages, but as the game becomes more complex and technical, they become liabilities. Running and staying in control of a ball at your feet is vastly different than regular running. Reggie Bush might be great at throwing a stutter step, shoulder fake and then changing direction at speed, but he might never have been able to master it while making a ball travel with him.

    And first touch, passing, and movement off the ball are all more important than dribbling.

    Also, soccer's cruel to fast-twitch athletes. In football they give you almost a minutes to recover between plays. In soccer if you get into your red zone, the game keeps going. In a full soccer game, players are running a minimum of 10k.

    I'm sure that there's a healthy number of potential great soccer players in the U.S. who are playing other sports, but I suspect that NFL, NBA and MLB stars aren't them. The bulk required to succeed in football, the height required to succeed in basketball, the eye-hand coordination required to succeed in baseball, none of that translates well to soccer. Rather, it's the football player who wasn't quite big enough, the basketball player who wasn't quite tall enough, the baseball player who never quite mastered the art of hitting - those are the athletes who more likely slipped through the cracks. They were good at other sports thanks to their high level of athleticism (maybe played in college or in the minors), but maybe they could have been great at soccer.
    What about Kobe? He has some skills and only played as a hobby. He could've been a great pro if he focused on soccer.

    I agree with you somewhat but I also think you're underselling how good of soccer players our top athletes could be by quite a large margin.
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrap Irony View Post
    Calipari is not, nor has he ever been accused or "caught", cheating. He himself turned in one of his players (Camby) for dealing with an agent to get one Final Four overturned. The other is all on the NCAA and Rose. (IF Rose cheated.)
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    Re: USMNT: The March to Brazil - World Cup 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by WMR View Post
    What about Kobe? He has some skills and only played as a hobby. He could've been a great pro if he focused on soccer.

    I agree with you somewhat but I also think you're underselling how good of soccer players our top athletes could be by quite a large margin.
    I don't think so. Could Kobe have been a good soccer player? Maybe. But chances are he would be a goalkeeper or a central defender/headball specialist. Hardly the type who can take control of a game. If you look at a list of the greatest soccer players, the vast majority are guys 6' and under, with the exception being goalkeepers.

    Kobe is listed at 6'6". How many outfield players are that tall playing top flight soccer? I can only think of Peter Crouch and Per Mertesacker.
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    Re: USMNT: The March to Brazil - World Cup 2014

    Another point against the "best athletes play other sports" is that the US is generally the most athletic team on the field. My guess is the US teams can run fastest, jump highest, run the longest, and out muscle most of the competition. In fact for much of its history, the US strategy has depended on wearing out the opponent and keeping the game from being a matchup of skill.

    Maybe if even better athletes were involved, they could pull that strategy off against even the best soccer teams, but really the whole ball of wax is dependent on being able to be skillful with the thing at your feet.
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    Re: USMNT: The March to Brazil - World Cup 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by Hoosier Red View Post
    Another point against the "best athletes play other sports" is that the US is generally the most athletic team on the field. My guess is the US teams can run fastest, jump highest, run the longest, and out muscle most of the competition. In fact for much of its history, the US strategy has depended on wearing out the opponent and keeping the game from being a matchup of skill.

    Maybe if even better athletes were involved, they could pull that strategy off against even the best soccer teams, but really the whole ball of wax is dependent on being able to be skillful with the thing at your feet.
    What we lack aren't good athletes. We have so many great athletes we dominate in the Olympics, where most athletes aren't exactly competing in high revenue sports. What we lack is institutional knowledge. In Europe and South America, the best kids are scouted and recruited by academies run by professional teams with over 100 years of experience in the sport before they reach the age of 10. In the US, our 10 year olds are, by and large, still playing in leagues with parent coaches. We're getting better, but we've got a ways to go.
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    Re: USMNT: The March to Brazil - World Cup 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by IslandRed View Post
    Maybe, but when I look at the world's best soccer players, they usually don't have NFL or NBA bodies.
    When I watch Germany I think they all look like they could play in the NFL. They don't have lineman bodies, but a lot of the top soccer players have receiver or RB bodies. Ronaldo could play football, Lionel Messi maybe not.

    Someone said that kids play soccer more than any other sport, but this is more suburban white kids. I don't think a lot urban kids are playing soccer.

    If soccer were 2nd or 3rd, then we'd produce enough players to compete with the international powers. The problem is soccer is more like 4th or 5th, and maybe even lower in areas where a high percentage of great american athletes reside.
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    Re: USMNT: The March to Brazil - World Cup 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by MWM View Post
    When I watch Germany I think they all look like they could play in the NFL. They don't have lineman bodies, but a lot of the top soccer players have receiver or RB bodies. Ronaldo could play football, Lionel Messi maybe not.

    Someone said that kids play soccer more than any other sport, but this is more suburban white kids. I don't think a lot urban kids are playing soccer.

    If soccer were 2nd or 3rd, then we'd produce enough players to compete with the international powers. The problem is soccer is more like 4th or 5th, and maybe even lower in areas where a high percentage of great american athletes reside.
    There are particular areas where great American athletes reside? If you're thinking of inner cities, I think that is untrue. A lot of basketball players may come from inner cities because basketball is the number 1 sport in cities, but just about every other sport draws athletes from just about every type of community, city, rural, suburbia, etc. Soccer is the same. The idea that it's only played in white suburbia is a fallacy. My son's soccer club is based in a city most would consider largely blue collar. One of the top travel teams is based in farm country. In fact, I'd say the soccer clubs around here are much more diverse than the baseball leagues. And soccer is quite popular in immigrant communities.

    As far as the Germans go, they have some of the taller players, but none of them have the build of an NFL or even a college football player. These days even WRs and DBs are bulked up with huge upper bodies and bulky quads. They look like sprinters. Just about all pro soccer players I've seen up close tend to be very lean, like distance runners. I just don't see a guy like Christiano Ronaldo playing football and outmuscling a DB on a 50/50 ball. Plus, he tends to hit the deck when he encounters a stiff breeze.
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    Re: USMNT: The March to Brazil - World Cup 2014

    I was watching the Sunderland vs. Arsenal game yesterday and watched Altidore constantly. He played almost exactly like a football player who had switched to soccer in college. His timing on his runs is atrocious. He very rarely runs to the right spot (and you can tell that it bugs his teammates and the announcers). When it comes to the "flow of the offense", he didn't really fit in the way that the other players on both teams did. BUT, he did two things really well. First, he was great at being a target player by coming back to the ball, boxing out his defender, and essentially running a pick and roll. Second, he could muscle through a challenge (and forced a call which Martin Atkinson completely botched, he was probably expecting the offensive player to hit the ground as most soccer players tend to do). He should have gotten the goal.

    As far as the general argument at hand. I do believe that there are many athletes who play the other sports that would have made fine soccer players, maybe even great ones. 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. Here is an example of what I'm talking about. Everything I ever learned about fielding in baseball came from playing sandlot ball everyday, all summer, year after year. I learned to field horrible hops off a grass airport runway, run the bases, and all of the other instinctual aspects of the game. Then, when I joined the structural aspect of baseball, I refined those skills and brought them to the field within the context of a formalized game. It made me an excellent fielder (so that even as a lefty, I was always on the left side of the infield). Our soccer hasn't reached that point and can only progress so far until it does. Actually, if you look carefully around the US, you see these games everywhere, but they are played by our immigrant communities. Perhaps that is where we will see our big soccer jump.
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    Re: USMNT: The March to Brazil - World Cup 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by Yachtzee View Post
    There are particular areas where great American athletes reside? If you're thinking of inner cities, I think that is untrue. A lot of basketball players may come from inner cities because basketball is the number 1 sport in cities, but just about every other sport draws athletes from just about every type of community, city, rural, suburbia, etc. Soccer is the same. The idea that it's only played in white suburbia is a fallacy. My son's soccer club is based in a city most would consider largely blue collar. One of the top travel teams is based in farm country. In fact, I'd say the soccer clubs around here are much more diverse than the baseball leagues. And soccer is quite popular in immigrant communities.
    I didn't mean to imply soccer was only played in affluent areas. I played on a club team when I was young that was very good and it was in a blue collar area full of blue collar kids. But I also played on a traveling basketball team until I was in 8th grade and there was a big difference in who we played against in soccer and in basketball. So I guess the inner cities is more what I meant. I admit, I don't know if this is a fact, so I could be wrong on the matter.

    As far as the Germans go, they have some of the taller players, but none of them have the build of an NFL or even a college football player. These days even WRs and DBs are bulked up with huge upper bodies and bulky quads. They look like sprinters. Just about all pro soccer players I've seen up close tend to be very lean, like distance runners. I just don't see a guy like Christiano Ronaldo playing football and outmuscling a DB on a 50/50 ball. Plus, he tends to hit the deck when he encounters a stiff breeze.
    Football players build their bodies for football. The guys I see playing on the German team could have NFL bodies if they did the same kind of training football players do. I'm talking about natural physique. Look at AJ Green. Is his body that much different than Ronaldo's?

    But I also think the bigger issue is the lack of quality training that has been mentioned by others here as well. When you play basketball here and you're good, you're playing against the best the world has to offer from the time you're a kid. Same for football and even baseball. That's the case with soccer in the parts of the world where soccer is king. It's why certain parts of the country produce a disproportionate amount of athletes in certain sports. There's nothing different about the gene pool in these places, but the better the competition you play against when you're very young, the better you're going to be.
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    Re: USMNT: The March to Brazil - World Cup 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by improbus View Post
    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.
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    Re: USMNT: The March to Brazil - World Cup 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by Caveat Emperor View Post
    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.
    Soccer is gaining steam in a big way. In my high school classes, a large portion of the boys in my classes were pumped for the Mexico game (and a few went). This would not have been the case 20 years ago. They also know good/bad soccer when they see it.

    But, I still have my doubts that we will ever join the elites. When Klinsmann took over the job, he wanted to create a mirror image of his German side that became a ball moving, forward pushing, progressive footballing side. But, after a few years he has realized who we are. We are a hard working, marginally skilled side who are built on counter attacking, set pieces, and toughness. Let's be the best we can be at that and be happy.
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    Re: USMNT: The March to Brazil - World Cup 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by Caveat Emperor View Post
    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.
    This is something I'd like input from our European-based Redszoners, but I don't think a lot of European kids are playing pickup ball to hone their skills. On the contrary, I believe they're scouted into pro academies at a young age with professional coaches. Often they're scouted from lower level pro or amateur clubs. If you want Jogo Bonito like the Brazilians, sure playing street ball in the favelas of Rio and Sao Paolo probably helps. But most national teams don't play like Brazil. They play with precision passing and knowledge of space. Meanwhile, Christiano Ronaldo has insane footskills, but the Portuguese still have to resort to hitting the deck when faced with a superior opponent. Or look at Mexico and certain African teams. They play a lot of street ball and their youth teams win just about every trophy available. Yet when they get to the senior level, nada. Why? Just a theory, but I think its because of the lack of a consistent training philosophy from youth to senior levels. They can produce great players, but not great teams. Spain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, they have club and national training programs that get players in front of professional coaches and trainers at a young age.

    Since I've started helping as an assistant coach for my son's team, I've been trying to research how youth practices are run in other countries. One of the things I've found is that practices are better organised elsewhere. For example, I've read that youth practices in the Netherlands and Germany focus on breaking teams down into smaller groups and running stations to make things more efficient and ensure players get the maximum amount of touches on the ball in a given session, rather than doing large group exercises where only a few players get touches on the ball while everyone else waits their turn. Even scrimmages are often broken down into small groups to increase touches each player gets. And there is little down time between exercises, they keep the players moving. Coaches don't spend time during practice lecturing to the whole team. If they need to break something down for a player or group, they can pull them aside without disrupting the exercise for the whole team. The more I learn, the more I like the ideas I'm getting. It's tough at times, especially when you only have two coaches and a bunch of 6-7 year olds, but we've been working on bringing some of the other parents in to help us run smaller groups and I think it's really helping a lot.
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