POWERED BY

Under-17 World Cup

Richie Williams seeing shift in youth soccer in U.S. ahead of U-17 World Cup

RichieWilliamsUSU17MNTNikeInternationalFriendlies-2014 (Getty)

 

By RYAN TOLMICH

In recent seasons, there has been quite the shift in youth soccer in the U.S., and U.S. Under-17 National Team head coach Richie Williams is now seeing the benefits, and drawbacks, of it.

Recently, Williams and the U-17s competed in the 2015 Václav Ježek Tournament, finishing with a 1-1-2 record in a tournament Williams said featured some “interesting” refereeing. Giving up four penalty kicks while receiving none, Williams was overall pleased with his side’s performance, citing compact defending and chance creation as positives.

For the tournament, Williams brought in a strong roster, featuring many of the team’s regulars, including forward Haji Wright, midfielder Christian Pulisic and defender Danny Barbir. Still, Williams says that he has reiterated to his players that spots on the roster for this October’s World Cup are most certainly up for grabs as the next two months will prove crucial for each and every player in the pool.

“We spoke to the group and said that there’s no spot guaranteed,” Williams told SBI. “We’re still two months away and just because you were on the qualifying roster a few months ago, it doesn’t guarantee you a spot in the World Cup. You need to be training well, playing well in games.

“Just like any team, you have to make sure you bring them together and you have to pick the best 21. It’s not always the best 21, but the group of 21 that is going to come together and play as a team and get results as a team.”

Getting that 21 together and in tune has been something that has become all the more challenging in this current cycle.

In recent years, Williams has seen a shift in how young American soccers pursue their careers. Previously, players at the U-17 level were generally part of a residency program, allowing the team to train and play together virtually full time.

Now, Williams says, players are joining clubs at an earlier age, like the aforementioned Wright, Pulisic and Barbir, who are currently with the New York Cosmos, Borussia Dortmund and West Brom, respectively.

In total, Williams says there are six or seven players abroad that are up for World Cup consideration, including a few that couldn’t take part in the most recent tournaments. In addition, Williams says he anticipates that his full group will not be together until October 1, missing out on a pair of September friendlies against France and Mexico.

Williams says the shift in club culture has resulted in the U-17 team functioning much more like a traditional national team, one that has its challenges in coming together.

“We’re in a situation now, which is very unique compared to teams of the past, where we don’t have our players with us,” Williams said. “When they come in, they still need to perform and mesh with the group that we have here full time.

“It’s great experiences for them to be able to play in those games and be able to play in the places they’re playing, getting first team minutes. It’s very encouraging and it’s a great experience that is only going to help them develop. Now it’s a little bit of a balancing act because you don’t have them all the time. Now, you have to bring them back in and get them playing well as a group while integrating them as a team.”

Williams went on to say that, for players at that age level, it’s not just about being with a club; it’s about earning minutes. Wright has recently featured for the Cosmos senior squad after previously playing for the club’s reserve side, while midfielder Tyler Adams has played a prominent role for New York Red Bulls II, going so far as to score against Chelsea in a friendly.

“I think if you look at the example that we’ve had in this cycle with the U-17s, you definitely see it,” Williams said, “and I believe that that is the future. I believe, though, that if it is the future, that it’s not just signing with a team to train. They have to have some type of program where it comes to games. It’s fine to train during the week with the pros, but if they can’t play for the first team, there needs to be a second team.

“Obviously, you see it in MLS with the USL affiliates or having their own USL team or the Cosmos with Cosmos B. It’s important that they still get a game that they can compete in week in, week out. It’s not good enough to just be training with these clubs or training with pros. They need that program in terms of games.”

Ultimately, Williams knows what his purpose is: preparing his players to someday become full internationals.

Williams cited the most recent U.S. U-20 World Cup team, pointing to how many players had come through the U-20 ranks. Next, Williams hopes to see those players progress to the Olympic team before someday, just maybe, earning a senior call-up.

For Williams, no matter what club a player does or doesn’t play for, it’s about the progress, something he hopes to make with this current group ahead of October’s World Cup.

“That’s what it’s all about is getting players experiences, getting players international games,” Williams said. “We are developing. Our players are developing earlier. Players are getting more techinical and understanding the game better tactically.

“Nothing is going to be easy, nothing is handed to you,” Williams added, “but we’re looking forward to it. We’ve shown over the last two years that we can compete against the best teams in the world and we’ve gotten positive results, so we’re going to go out there prepared. We’re going to go out there and play our game and do the best we can to get positive results.”

38 comments
  • CO

    So does this mean we will eventually get a good youth coach at the U17 level? Hope Richie is gone after this cycle. He has shown he doesn’t deserve to lead these teams.

    Like

      • Darwin Pinzon

        LOL, you want a poster to ground their opinion in truth – and evidence it??

        Like

      • Captain Obvious

        Pretty much. I’m not really familiar with the U17 team and I’m curious, also if he’s not suited who would be the better choice to lead them?

        Like

      • Lost in Space

        Don’t you know that all the coaches within the USSF are crap and need to be replaced. Richie, Remos, Herzog, & Klinsmann are all crap and need to be replaced with the flavor of the month or coaches from the past because they’ll do better than what we’ve got now.

        Like

      • Eurosnob

        Brian Kleiban could be a good choice. His track record with youth players is excellent (good MIC cup results against the likes of Ajax and Barca, etc) and he is a big proponent of attacking, possession-oriented game. Our National U14 team is loaded with players that he developed. However, he is not part of the USSF establishment and is not afraid to speak his mind. So it is unlikely that they would consider him at this time.

        Like

      • Darwin Pinzon

        Kleiban’s mouth precludes his involvement with US Soccer.

        Like

      • CO

        Failing to qualify last cycle. Parking the bus early in the game against Honduras this cycle which almost cost the U17s qualification. Losing to Jamaica and almost losing again in the playoff game. (You know the games that matter not these little tournaments they go to).

        Like

      • Captain Obvious

        I can see why you would think he needs to be replaced. Personally I see the U17’s as a platform to develop players to the senior teams, so winning for me isn’t as high of a priority. Not to mention other countries are also making great strides in developing their youth. CO if you had a choice of any coach to replace Williams with who would you put in place?

        Like

      • CO

        It’s not just results but that would be the most obvious evidence to see. I’d also have you look up a player named Kai Koreniuk, who Williams doesn’t rate. If we want to find and develop players, Richie isn’t that man for that either.
        Hugo Perez would be ideal or Javier Perez. Add to that Wilmer Cabrera (yes he has an attitude but better results), and Brian Kleiban.

        Like

    • silversurfer

      I echo Captain Obvious. Please explain the shortcomings (that’s sort of funny) of Richie Williams. I grew up playing against him and without a doubt he was one of the most intelligent players I saw throughout youth soccer, high school, and college. He was even keeled and mentally strong, two traits that are ideal in a youth coach. I don’t think Williams was blessed with tremendous athletic ability but was incredibly savy and hard working. Now again, where does he fail as a coach?

      Like

      • CO

        Good for you. That doesn’t translate into being a good youth coach.

        Like

      • Otto

        All we need to know about you is telling us that Javier Perez would be an ideal replacement. This qualifies you in the category of soccer moron.

        Like

      • Otto

        And you can’t even write a sentence that makes sense.
        Spray that stuff on the soccer moms but don’t insult us by bringing in a guy who faked his way into US Soccer

        Like

      • CO

        You don’t follow the U20s at all so it doesn’t matter what Otto or whatever Name you are going by thinks.

        Like

  • Jamie Z.

    Favorite Sentence: “In recent years, Williams has seen a shift in how young American soccers pursue their careers.”

    I, for one, am looking forward to seeing the next generation of American soccers in action at the U-17 World Cup.

    Like

    • otto

      Hey CO, I follow the u20s and know the team well. First off, Perez was a Real Madrid RECREATION level coach who conned Claudio Reyna into brining him over.
      He was a fitness/office clerical guy at Real, brought over by Reyna to do office work, fitness and write up practice plans, etc.
      He then fell into a full time job at US and is a Klinsmann puppett. AND he is not a real coach. Can barely communicate to the players and carries little respect from coaches, scouts and players.
      Want more?

      Check your info before you start making stupid statements like that.

      Richie Williams may not be another Pep but at least he earned his way into the job

      Like

      • CO

        Don’t care that you have a vendetta against him. And now I know you don’t watch the U20s thanks for confirming that.

        Richie earned it as much of a way as Javier did but sure.

        Like

      • Otto

        Don’t have a vendetta I have real information, directly from people at Real Madrid and US soccer about him
        You have no information on anything, just a stupid opinion about a guy who should never be wearing a US crest

        Like

      • Otto

        Asking me to come up with sources is the biggest girly, wussy move that you can come up with, Ask anyone at Real Madrid or in the know at US Soccer.
        But, of course, how would I expect you to know anyone in the know

        Want to know what a fraud Perez is? Read the “curriculum” he wrote for US Soccer
        Now,if you thnk that is quality then I crown you King of Soccer Morons

        Like

  • Otto

    You would be better off letting it go because you are going to keep embarrassing yourself
    Stick to something you know
    You don’t know about Perez

    Like

  • Otto

    No Otto knows soccer and he knows what he is talking about
    You do not know what you are talking about, have no facts but insist on making girly like statements to get the last word in.

    Like

    • CO

      I am pretty sure women would take offense to you calling something a girly statement. Whatever that is anyways.

      But glad you like Perez so much and have so many ‘sources.’

      Like

  • Otto

    I actually have great respect for women which is more than I can say for you.
    Keep trying to get the last word in

    Like

    • CO

      You don’t if you’re using them as an insult.

      Yes, keep the hate flowing through you. And keep making up these imaginary sources.

      Like

  • Otto

    Tell me what credentials Perez had at Real? Cmon know it all, tell me what team he coached at Real Madrid that made him qualified to coach out u18s?
    You don’t know do you?

    Did you read the curriculum he wrote for youth soccer?

    Yes or no

    Give me an answer for both questions

    Like

    • CO

      A UEFA Pro license would be one of them as well as a PhD but I am sure those don’t matter to you.

      Yes, I read the curriculum he AND Claudio wrote. You don’t agree with that that’s fine. No one agrees with everything.

      We obviously know you are just making stuff up as you go so keep at it.

      Like

  • Otto

    Yes everyone knows a PhD is essential to be a successful coach, so is a coaching license. This is why Sir Alex was such a failure, no PhD.

    You are just supporting my case that he is an academic and not a coach. EVERYONE knows this except you
    Tell me what level he coached at Real Madrid.

    He was a RECREATION level coach

    Going to bed but I am not done with you

    Talk to someone who is in the know and you will find out how embarrassing your statements are
    AND that curriculum sucked. EVERYONE says that. If you thnk it is good, further confirmation as being King of soccer morons

    Like

    • CO

      Wow you are just the worst at cherry picking things. Apples and Oranges comparing Sir Alex and him. You just showed how little you know about the game yet you continue to spam this site.

      I have talked to several people inside USSF and no finds it laughable but you. Good to know you have no credentials and no leg to stand on.

      Like

  • Otto

    I was going to use your line….who are your sources but I won’t lower myself to your standards
    Perez is an academic, graphics expert, stat analysis,fitness trainer and REC coach. He never coached a real team before coming to the US. Should never have been put in that position, just like Reyna
    Perez is a fraud….takes one to know one

    Like

  • bad speller

    wow, you guys have a lot of of interesting things to say.

    can you guys help me? my spell check isn’t working. how do you spell “discretion”?

    Like

  • wichin

    This team needs a real number 10. Johan Ramirez, El Paso Socorro High School is that person. He has been courted by Mexico and the US Soccer program needs to see him. He does not have the $ to be in club ball but is better than Zendejas.

    Like

Add your comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More from SBI Soccer