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U.S. Pro Leagues and Player Development

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U.S. Pro Leagues and Player Development

Unread postby buckeyehoppy » Thu Apr 10, 2008 12:42 am

It is great to have a thread here devoted to "the beautiful game" of soccer, as we know it in the states. As soccer fans, we know that our game is something special and it takes unique people to make this game as great as it is.

Saying that, I like how the game has grown in this country. The expansion of MLS and the USLs has raised awareness of the game like never before. The growth of soccer in America has been slow, but the game gets stronger on these shores every year.

The way squads develop talent vary in America. It's been mentioned here that the Columbus Crew has worked with the Cleveland City Stars on developing players for the MLS squad. It's good to know that the Crew has that pipeline.

But the question about how the sport should grow in this country rests firmly with how individual clubs develop players.

To make soccer a truly unique venture in America, the concept of player development should adopt the European academy model. Each club develops its own talent in a community atmosphere and the clubs have several self-contained levels. Clubs spot and recruit talent at early ages (similar to the way hockey talent is spotted in Canadian junior hockey) and develop the whole person in house. Recruits play the game for the club while continuing education. Families host the players and assist the club in building a team, while assisting the recruits with developing life skills away from their real families.

Brad Friedel's Premier Soccer Academies http://premiersocceracademies.com/index2.html is a great first step in instilling this concept in this country. It is a way of spotting and developing talent for the sport in a controlled atmosphere. If the clubs in America were to adopt this concept in house from club to club, I believe you'd see an exponential growth in the quality of play and the level of sustainable professional clubs in America.

I wanted to just lay out the concept here as a beginning of a discussion on the topic. Most true fans of the game of soccer are already familiar with the academy system and how it works outside of North America. The next step in America is implementing the system here in the states.

The discussion begins here.
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Unread postby budfrog532 » Fri Apr 11, 2008 6:10 pm

Definitely agree that this will create the atmosphere necessary to continue the fantastic growth the sport has seen over the last 15 years.

I think it is important to recognize the difference where the sport stands today and when it had a revival in the 70's --- today, the sport is primarily driven by homegrown talent, with multiple layers of developmental leagues. In addition, the US is actually now viewed by many in the rest of the world as prime recruiting territory....sort of like how US baseball teams look at Venezuela, etc.

I find the ongoing growth of relationships between European clubs and USL clubs a VERY encouraging sign that a formal system of academies and development layers is only going to grow and improve. Crystal Palace, Celtic, Liverpool, and a bunch of others are viewing the US as a great (and relatively cheap) way to grow talent for future import.
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Unread postby pitts » Sun Apr 20, 2008 5:32 pm

Well, MLS is really starting to push their own youth team initiative. I'm too lazy to find articles about it now, but I'm sure you can.
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Unread postby buckeyehoppy » Sun Apr 20, 2008 9:09 pm

pitts wrote:Well, MLS is really starting to push their own youth team initiative. I'm too lazy to find articles about it now, but I'm sure you can.


I'll take some time to hunt down relevant articles on that.

Soccer will have to develop a little differently than the "major league" sports to build competition and interest. There is something to be said for a sport that has leagues that you have to graduate into and can be played out of. It inspires a new level of interest.
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Unread postby Spin » Sun Apr 20, 2008 9:55 pm

Soccer will have to develop a little differently than the "major league" sports to build competition and interest. There is something to be said for a sport that has leagues that you have to graduate into and can be played out of. It inspires a new level of interest.


I always wanted to see the Anglo/Euro way of running a league here. That's where the bottom teams in the majors drop to the minors, and the top minor league teams get promoted to the big show.

Imagine the Devil Rays and Orioles playing AAA this year, replaced by Scranton/Wilkes Barre and Nashville. THAT would be interesting...

But it won't happen the way the leagues are set up now.
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Unread postby buckeyehoppy » Sun Apr 20, 2008 10:13 pm

Spin wrote:
Soccer will have to develop a little differently than the "major league" sports to build competition and interest. There is something to be said for a sport that has leagues that you have to graduate into and can be played out of. It inspires a new level of interest.


I always wanted to see the Anglo/Euro way of running a league here. That's where the bottom teams in the majors drop to the minors, and the top minor league teams get promoted to the big show.

Imagine the Devil Rays and Orioles playing AAA this year, replaced by Scranton/Wilkes Barre and Nashville. THAT would be interesting...

But it won't happen the way the leagues are set up now.


If that were the case, Buffalo would have been in the majors a time or two in recent years. That would have been a very nice thing for Buffalo and it would have the Tribe farmhands a full-time taste of the major league flavor. Interesting!

Actually, the best league to try that would be the NFL. It might not have been the most popular way to conduct the league from Cleveland's point of view in recent years. But you knew if you were there that you belonged and had as good a chance as anyone to win.

Under a system of relegation and promotion, A team like the Browns would be ideal for promotion in the coming year (the 10-6 season would have given them the right of promotion).

The NFL would have to expand by at least a dozen teams and I don't ever see that happening. If it did, say, expand to 48 teams, you could have a three tier league with 16 teams at each level and teams could win promotion or be relegated on the strength or weakness of their play that year.

You'd have to fiddle a bit with the logistics of promotion, relegation, scheduling, playoffs, etc. But my guess is that the NFL would have a newfound interest in not only who is on top, but who also is fighting for survival.

It would be an interesting way to run the league.
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