It's too easy to blame Klinsmann.
The soccer culture is broken
If you think JK is holding US Soccer back, you really need to look harder into the US soccer structure and look beyond the surface. It is easy to blame the Head Coach. When things go wrong it must be JK’s fault. How can USA be so bad? We are not saying that JK is completely free of criticism. He is the Technical Director and should take some of the blame but to say USA will improve when JK goes is silly. Firing and replacing JK does not fix the issue we have. P90 has identified one of the problems. And for me, it’s the biggest.
Youth soccer in USA – Pay to play
We have organizations formed by people who get upset with other organizations, US Youth Soccer, US Club Soccer, AYSO, ECNL, DA Academy for boys and girls. Putting a title like Development Academy is not going to solve the problem if the DA is full of the same coaching staff. Coaching staff that are not monitored or held accountable. We have so many governing bodies that it is impossible to have a clear plan for youth development. If clubs or parents are upset with one organization then they can say OK, we are moving to the other organization.
We lack a clear vision for youth development. It is lacking because many youth clubs and organizations focus more on profit. For a lot of clubs it’s about numbers. Why not have 6 teams per age group? How can that be monitored on a development level?
Too many players are falling through the cracks. Too many players are leaving the game at an early age. By the time a player is 12 years old, he or she may have already played for 4 soccer clubs. Soccer in the USA is a business model instead of an actual development model. I believe if development is done right, then that will bring in the profits. Unfortunately we have too many parents that look at winning before development therefore this philosophy is very hard to implement. To entice the parents and players clubs have sometimes merged with a Premier league or MLS club. If your club has Bayern Munich incorporated in the name or is named after a MLS team then this marketing tactic works in the USA. This would never be implemented in the rest of the world because parents and players know that the pathway to being a professional soccer player takes a lot more than this. Unfortunately clubs sell the idea of playing for them could possibly be a pathway to the Pro’s. I once held a conference call the Tottenham Hotspur FC. They wanted to have their name added to our club. There would be a % of the players registration fee given to Tottenham. I said that being called THFC would attract the wrong kind of family. We would attract players that think they have a chance of playing for Tottenham. The representative for THFC said, “That’s not going to happen!” We did not pursue this deal any further because this model does not work. It is designed to make money and stroke peoples ego’s.
As a coach, I believe that if I teach development that I will win but I would not sacrifice a win by cutting corners, cheating or selling a false hope to families. These organizations charge $1000’s to play. How many of the clubs in USA have a real development plan? Clubs will say they have a plan. A development plan is not some statement on the clubs website. When a Technical Director is going to be hired by a board, does that board tell the potential Technical Director what the club development plan is? Does the Technical Director come in and implement a development plan for coaching staff and players? The answer to the two questions is a convincing NO! I have been a part of 6 soccer clubs and I have never seen any development plan. At 3 of those clubs I never even saw the Technical Director. The parents were the point of contact. Coaches that are hired are not quizzed on their beliefs or told what the expectations of the club are. Majority of coaches are a parent of one of the players. Coaches are rarely held accountable for their actions. Yes, this is tough to do. I have seen and been through these same struggles. I was amazed at the number of coaches I met who would openly say, they would not follow a plan. I would meet with a potential coach and take the development blueprint for the club to the interview. There were more coaches’ that were not open to my expectations. They did not feel they needed to be held accountable. Obviously, when this happened I did not hire these people. I would leave those meetings feeling confused. Why are potential coaches not open to being educated? Is it the way of the world or have we created a culture of “I’m coaching soccer in the USA for the extra money”? I do think a high percentage of coaches in the game do it for the money.
How can USA supporters be surprised when the USMNT fail when our youth system is laughed at all over the world? We have a broken system. To blame JK is wrong. US Soccer needs to get a back bone and implement changes at grass roots level. US Soccer needs to bring in staff that fully understands youth development and enjoy teaching. How many US Soccer technical staff have visited your club? When your development plan is a business model and it’s prime focus is profit, do not complain about the outcome.
Our mission for the last 5 years has been to create a model of development which will give all young players the chance to reach their full potential in the game of soccer, whatever that may be. We have created a model that will not only give each child a chance to develop optimally, but one that is also fair to everyone so that no talent goes to waste and everyone involved in the game has a positive contribution to make. Every player, whether it's Ronaldo or Messi has at one point been involved in grass roots soccer. We do not want to discount this part of development and just jump to elite level. We have to build from the foundation up.
The P90 blueprint and the U. S. Soccer development plan helps coaches understand what is needed when it comes to developing a soccer player. The challenge for U.S. Soccer is to get coaches out of their old habits and become a 'Modern Coach'. If U.S. Soccer implements a plan and rewards the soccer clubs that follow their plan then this will benefit soccer in the USA. Each club that follows the plan will have the U.S. Soccer logo on the sleeve of their game / practice shirt stating they are a U.S. Soccer ' Foundation club'. U.S. Soccer needs to be in touch more with grass roots soccer as well as 'Elite' soccer. This is an easy fix. The hard part is to get the staff who have the enthusiasm and knowledge to teach the development plan to the clubs technical directors and then monitor all those clubs that have agreed to the plan. P90 believes it can be done. Do not expect the USMNT to get anywhere near a World Cup final with the current plan. It's time for more actions instead of words.