The issue with American soccer

image taken from: Ymele:500px-US Soccer logo.png – Wikipǣdia, sēo frēo wīsdōmbōc

It all starts with the kids.

After the United States failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, many turned to the Division I system, in college, and the player development clubs and academies, to find something/one to blame.

The indisputable fact is that soccer is the most popular sport in every country, in Central and South America. Even with nowhere near the population that the U.S. has, Trinidad and Tobago ousted the U.S., with a score of 2-1, in the United States’ final qualifying game.

The reason these countries can win against such a big country like the U.S., is because every kid is playing every day since the ages of 4-5 and it is every kids’ number one sport.

In the U.S., kids have the opportunity to play basketball, football, baseball, tennis, and many other sports. While a good number of kids still play soccer, it does not become their sole focus, usually, until about the age of 10 or 11. When kids choose a sport to focus on, it is usually basketball or football, but soccer is becoming increasingly popular in U.S.

I believe the U.S. will never make the semis of the World Cup unless soccer becomes the most popular sport in the country.

The fact that in almost every other country in the world, soccer is the most popular sport, outweighs the number of people those nations have. Because these foreign countries have been playing soccer (football) for such a long time, they have greatly improved their academies and national teams; often attracting the top young players from the U.S., to play abroad to play against better competition.

Trinidad and Tobago is a prime example of a smaller country having more skilled and polished players, even with 322 million fewer people in their country. Fundamentals are the most important skills of any sport, including soccer. Maintaining a solid base in soccer is key for the most important skills in the game: first touch, passing, and vision.

Outstanding dribbling is a given for countries out of South America, but first touch is also, at times, overlooked. Since focusing on one sport, from a young age, is so important for becoming a master of the skills involved, this is why countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, with a population of 1.6 million, has realistic chances against the U.S. Because of this, some have started to blame our college system after the devastating loss on October 10, 2017.

Since Division I programs only want to win their conference, and make it to the NCAA Tournament, they are not focusing on developing the skills of their players, but rather playing the tactics that the coaching staff wants. Yes, this is a problem, but all of the problems, that can be pulled out of our academies and college programs, are the way they are because of the shortage of players we have committed to the game of soccer in the first place.

The simple fact of the matter is: we need more youngsters getting into the game that most other countries cherish with massive amounts of love and attention.

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