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MMCB: On the college game, and why it’s still so important

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No, there were no goals scored in regulation of Sunday's NCAA College Cup Final (won by Virginia over Akron in penalty kicks), and yes, there were only a combined three goals scored in the three College Cup games this past weekend, but this weekend's NCAA matches were still a success. Why? The matches helped provide a glimpse of a college game that is still producing good professional prospects and still serving as a useful stand-in for a proper pro player development system in the United States.

In an ideal world, the task of developing pro prospects would fall to Major League Soccer, but the league has only recently begun making any real progress in establishing the infrastructure for such a role. In the interim, and for decades now, college soccer has helped fill that role by giving young soccer players in this country an avenue to pursue the game and grow as players.

There are some who still don't realize just how invaluable the college game is to player development in this country, which is disappointing because without college soccer the current pool of American talent would be much more shallow and the pro game in this country wouldn't have made as many strides as it has enjoyed over the course of the past decade.

Even as MLS continues to grow, and the academy programs slowly but surely being put in place start to increase their role in developing talent, the college game will still be important in developing players. Why? Because the United States is just too large a country for 15 teams to cover with academies and even as some colleges cut their men's soccer programs, there are still plenty that are flourishing a doing an excellent job of helping young talents hone their game.

This was clear this past weekend as we caught a glimpse of the considerable amount of talent on display this past weekend. From Virginia's Tony Tchani to Akron's Teal Bunbury, to Wake Forest's Ike Opara and Corben, down to younger prospects such as Akron's Kofi Sarkodie, Virginia's Will Bates and Florida's Billy Schuler, the four teams competing in the College Cup showed us that a healthy number of quality pro prospects are continuing to be produced by the pro game.

We probably should have already figured that out considering what we saw from the 2009 MLS Rookie Class, which was one of the strongest in league history. When you also consider that European-based pros Marcus Tracy, Alejandro Bedoya and Mike Grella were also produced last year by the college game, you realize that, if anything, colleges are producing even more pro-ready talent than ever before.

The 2010 MLS Draft class will be hard-pressed to match last year's success, but the pool of talent is a strong one for a second straight year, especially if standout underclassmen Opara, Bone, Tchani and Bunbury leave school early.

Yes, the weekend's matches could have been better, and more attractive, but championship games can often be struggles between strong teams. What we still were able to see were good tactics, sharp passing, impressive defending and some individual talent that surely had MLS scouts excited about the prospects for another deep draft.

There may come a day when the college game is officially relegated to second-fiddle status in the professional player production business, but until that day comes, and until MLS teams have things in place to really produce players, American soccer fans should probably realize just how important college soccer is to the continued growth of the sport in this country.


  1. I agree; Akron is the way that college teams should be run. People don’t understand how amazing Akron’s season was. This is a team that lost their 2 leading scorers, keeper and center defenders from the year before. They started 3 freshman with 3 others getting major playing time. They only started 1 senior and played the end of the season without one their main playmakers; Nanchoff. Their only problem is that they try to score too perfectly at times and won’t pull the trigger. For me they can be compared to Arsenal on a college level. They have a flowing style with talented players that can hold possession all day but just can’t find the end product sometimes. But when they are on they are the best college team in the country to watch.

  2. But exactly what did people expect to see. The majority of the players on the pitch were guys who will not play soccer for a living. If you always go to plays on Broadway you can’t expect the same quality when you go watch a play by students at Hofstra university.

  3. In the age of quality online universities (I am a fan of the University of Maryland University College), I think a player who graduates from high school and is ready to play professional soccer should not be forced to college. An education is important, but a professional playing career is short.

    (How are they being “forced to college”? If a player is good enough, he can and will sign straight out of high school (Altidore, Bradley, Spector all did just that), but the question is how many prospects are really so good that they’ll gain more from sitting on a bench for a pro team as a teenager than by playing with peers their age and getting experience? That college experience didn’t seem to harm the likes of Omar Gonzalez, Darrius Barnes, Kevin Alston, Chris Pontius, Stefan Frei or Rodney Wallace to name a few.)

  4. I watched both semi-final matches, but not the final. I was impressed by many levels of the play. The defense, passing in the middle third, ball control, off ball movement, were all very good and very typical of American soccer. However, I didn’t see one hot, hungry striker. American college soccer is very disiplined and controlled. I couldn’t help but think that if there were a couple of 20 year old Central Americans, or Italians up front, there would be 3 or 4 goals per game. As someone said, even the penalty kicks were boring. Whether inside colleges or out, the USA needs to produce more players that can score goals, even with good defenders.

  5. Excellent point! The vast majority of these players are there for an EDUCATION (which no “academy” can pretend to match, the soccer is a means to an end. It is not the NCAA’s job to develop players. Scholarship money or relaxed admissions standards allow these players get an education they might not otherwise qualify for. The same is true of all NCAA sports, barely 5% go on to a professional career in their sport. 100% are afforded the opportunity (don’t worry, I’m not naive enough to think that everyone goes to class-OPPORTUITY)to further their education and learn a career.

  6. Go back and read what I said. It wasn’t the smoothest sentence ever, but what I meant was that youth soccer in Europe isn’t a for-profit business. It’s an developmental expense. Here, in the US, it’s a hugely profitable and expensive enterprise, and we’re shooting ourselves in the foot because of it. You see it from the standpoint of “Tough. If you can’t afford it, don’t play.” I see it from the standpoint of “We’re continually retarding our growth potential as a national program because we focus on the wrong things.”

    What we need are more people willing to go out and start their own programs. Something I’m actually working on now, believe it or not. That’s how great my frustration is with this.

    Also, I would argue that frequently in these soccer programs you do NOT get what you pay for. From my experience (and I’ve been involved for a number of years), the utterly useless to just mediocre coaches far outnumber the good to great.

  7. “far and away the best team in college soccer’ Far and away the most riduculous statement on this board. The couldn’t score a single goal.

  8. Yes and no…re: different game and rules.

    The management of the game is different…but that is IMHO small when compared to differences like skill to break down a guy, one-touch/close control game of receiving and playing when harried…the equivalent in b-ball is movement off the ball, make your own shot, etc.

    Skills are independent of the game mgmt issues with the college game, IMHO.

    And, given that there is only ONE clear Best League in b-ball world, the NBA, the fact that any global players are here is a testament to them personally and the system they came thru’…Manu Ginobli, etc. have a hi quality game, period; if not, they play as lifers in Euro b-ball, which is the equivalent as Scandinavian countries. When we get a US player as league 11 for EPL or Liga, etc., then we can see some parity w/ global b-ball b/c they have had guys make all-NBA.

  9. The problem with the college game is not that these kids aren’t professionals at 16. We don’t have an academy structure in basketball either, yet college game-prepared American basketball players are still better than their European academy-prepared counterparts. The problem with the college soccer game is that it is a different game, subject to different rules, which develops players who lack in some areas that the professional game demands.

  10. My thoughts are that the college game is vital but only for now. Inorder for MLS to flourish and reach levels of maybe Portugal league or Dutch league, it will have to take over the torch. Having said that, we all have to thank and acknowledge college soccer for its benefits. Without it we probably wouldnt even be in the world cup as so many of our good players have developed intially through college.

  11. The comparison to basketball is 100% on target. Not only when looking at the differences here in the US, but also when looking at the rest of the world, esp. where hoops is well established, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Brazil, etc.

    I wonder how they run their youth squad, no matter the “owner” so to speak, i.e., w/ or w/out a pro club at the top, youth as the academy. Skills development v. winning will be the basic measure of whether the global b-ball guys “get it” when it comes to running a youth team. throw in “the street” angle and you wonder whether the globe will produce a clear “among the world’s best” for b-ball/NBA (the equivalent of EPL or La Liga, yes?) or whether we’ll do it w/ soccer? Ginobli, Sabonis, Petrovic (the Net,not the King) are/were all pretty well respected as among the NBA’s best for their period…Not so sure about US soccer players.

  12. From my experience tracking college soccer over the last few years, the goals per game figure drops significantly in the conference and NCAA tournaments — I think there are a lot of teams that find success in the college game playing bunker ball, especially in suicide tournament scenarios. It sucks, but it’s how the game is being played right now.

    Not every coach does this, though; not every team does this, especially during the regular season. To base your opinion of college soccer off a set of three games (or six, if you watched the disgusting St. John’s/ridiculously tired College Cup last year) is totally absurd. To those of you fortunate enough to live in ACC country, go watch a regular season game between two of the powers of the conference, UNC, UVA, Wake, or Maryland, and you’ll see a very different game.

  13. Ives, I don’t know if you’re still looking at this thread, but I’m curious, college soccer games don’t look so great when compared to the Premier League, La Liga, etc, (surprising, I know) but how do they look when compared to the oldest youth team and reserve team matches for clubs from the smaller leagues in Europe? If we’re considering college to be a feeder system, aren’t those the types of games we should be comparing them to?

    Also, would it be wrong to say that of all the players who join the youth set-ups for top division teams, very very few actually make it through to be consistent players in top leagues? I would tend to think the answer is yes, but what do I know?

  14. while i agree that MLS needs to change certain aspects, i will note that even youth coaches abroad get paid to do what they do. The difference is, again, culture and sponsorship $$$.

    Youth development isnt a for-profit system, but an investment for the future?? i agree if we are talking about MLS/NASL/USL clubs. However, i dont see what investment clubs have outside of MLS/USL/NASL.

    i agree the system has to change, but there are cheaper alternatives. there are clubs all over Indy where you pay for only the club costs and league (~$250) however, again, you are getting for what you are paying. We dont have enough soccer knowledgeable parents coach rec. We dont have enough who are willing to volunteer their time until U14’s. We dont have the culture, plain and simple.

  15. The funny thing is the Euro-lovers, with their academies, are calling for developement leagues etc, while saying all along…

    The MLS is unwatchable

    The college game a joke

    Does anyone with half a brain think they are going to support an MLS development league ?

    Is the college game that great probably not, but it is a FAR superior way to find talent.

    Instead of picking who is worth it at age 8-16, let them all play and some of them might be late bloomers, or pick up some skills along the way.

    Watch an NFL game to see how many don’t come from the big schools, but were discovered by getting great in college.

  16. Remember that the game is still very young in this country. We are not going to be a world power over night.

    We are not just developing players, we are also developing coaches and more importantly a soccer culture.

    Whether you want it to or not, the college system is and will continue to contribute to the growth of the game here.

  17. Don’t forget the two freshman mids. It was great seeing 5′-8″ Ben Speas and little Scottie Caldwell going toe to toe with a physical beast of a player like 6′-4″ Tchani.
    I think they held their own against a physical Virginia team.

  18. Too bad more college teams aren’t coached like Akron and WF 🙁

    You have to start somewhere though 🙂 GO ZIPS

    Here is to the future! And a World Cup trophy in our backyard one day!

    BTW I predict a finals appearance by 2038. Call me crazy if u will but don’t tell me it isn’t possible.

  19. A couple of other comments:

    1. We shouldn’t forget that the primary objective of Collegiate Teams (soccer or otherwise) is to WIN GAMES… they are NOT, in and of themselves, “developmental programs” (that is only a secondary objective or even a bi-product if you will)… the coaches and managers get paid to WIN GAMES and WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS (with the thought that said wins will ultimately bring more money to the university)… they do not get paid to develop players… there is little incentive for a coach making $100K a year to risk his job by playing an 18-year-old stud with major technical ability but little physique and next to no experience in place of a more physically mature but more technically limited 22-year-old who’s been there before… this does little to develop the 18-year-old and “showcases” a 22-year-old who will never play at the next level… this holds true in all collegiate sports…

    2. This is even more reason why a team like Akron should be commended… not only did they PLAY the game the right way, but they went after it with the best SOCCER PLAYERS regardless of age… two freshmen patrolling the center of the defense and a freshman goalkeeper??? Caleb Porter should be commended for putting together this team which not only won, but also helped develop these kids in a soccer environment that we should all be proud of as American soccer fans…

    Thank you.

  20. the biggest problem with college soccer is too many teams play negative soccer, put many numbers deep behind the ball, foul to disrupt other teams rythm and attack, try to score exclusively through long ball counters, long throws and restarts. College soccer would be much better for development and for fans if more teams play the way wake and akron plays. People should be critisizing the coaches of teams that play negative soccer

  21. I don’t coach (and believe me, it’s a good thing) period. However, I have a friend who is a top notch skills development coach (the best I’ve ever encountered), and he does, in fact, coach for free. The model needs to start, like it does in Europe, with the club teams. Youth development isn’t a for-profit business, but an investment in the future of the team. In order to do that, MLS needs to change the way players are signed and retained. MLS can lead the way if they so choose.

    The way the system is now is flawed. The US isn’t ending up with the best players, they are ending up with the best players who can afford to pay for it. And, quite frankly, the quality of the coaching even at the PDL (youth PDL, not USL PDL) level is complete crap. Coaches at that level coach for results, not development. It sucks and, as a parent, I hate it.

  22. Again, are you joking? I really can’t imagine anyone is going to agree with you at all. No offense, but do you really think college soccer is close to the skill level of MLS, because that is basically what you’re saying. Seriously, think about it…

  23. dude, come down off the soapbox. That’s cool that you had a great time playing in college, that doesn’t mean it’s not the most backward way to develop kids 18-22 possible.

    “Most tallent that the top colleges get are players that have been playing club soccer, so they are coming out of the system you want them to come out of.”

    Not really. Club soccer in the US is nearly as screwed up as college soccer. The vast majority of club coaches place as much of an emphasis on results as do their college counterparts. Unless your team plays in the Development Academy, you’re inevitably gonna pick up bad habits that cripple the development of young players.

    “Yes alot know this could be there final stop, and may never play pro, so they are going to play even harder then those that are being looked at by the MLS or Europe.”

    What an awfully-large generalization to make. A kid who’s not good is gonna play harder than someone looking to make this his full-time job? You’ve gotta be kidding me. Yeah, it’s so great they care so much and fight for the team. you know what isn’t so great? that when they feel a little bit of pressure they don’t have the ability to make a simple decision, and boot the ball 50 yards upfield for a throw in.

    you can back college soccer all you want, but to call it “top notch” is completely misguided.

  24. John,

    the scouts are out there. The problem is still with the culture of youth soccer development in this country. We’re still not getting our best young players due to the same ol B.S. politics. We need to have someone come in and restructure the entire program from top to bottom and actually implement it. Furthermore the soccer hot beds are a part of the problem I just mentioned.

  25. I watched yesterday’s final and overall thought it was horrid (penalty kicks were a joke)when it’s supposed to highlight some of the best young talent we have in our country. The college game doesn’t do a good job of developing younger players for a number of reasons a few include:

    1. Difficult to develop a player when you have to play nearly 20 games in the span of a couple of 3 months- your pro leagues play that match in half a full season. Hell, I’m surprised the number of injuries isn’t much higher. The season is too short.

    2. Importance of winning trumps tactics that encourage the beautiful game. Very few players at the college level or for that matter at any level in U.S. youth soccer encourage creativity. I’m always shocked whenever I see a college player actually trying a move in a match.

    The difference between college soccer and the major college sports is in youth development. A number of your football, basketball and baseball players have actually played some form of street ball on a regular basis as a kid. Young soccer players in this country don’t do it nearly enough, if at all and that’s a HUGE problem in my opinion. Give the kids the ball and leave them the hell alone. As a good friend said to me, kids playing Soccer in America is the exact opposite of kids playing Basketball in America. Example, those of you living in a northern town, when was the last time you saw a few kids shovel snow to go out and play soccer versus a group of kids shovling snow to play Basketball?

    Hell, this should be a separate conversation topic.

  26. Difference in skills between US and other soccer playing countries’ young players shows up very early, by U-17 it is clear. The US fails to develop strikers especially in numbers. It also does just average for defenders.

    All of these problems, to a large extent, are due to lack of adequate organization and coaching. Here is where more emphasis must be placed by, if necessary, importing foreign expertise. Not just one person but as many as necessary (20-25?).

    A team of scouts should be based in soccer playing hotbeds, N. Virginia-DC-Maryland, NJ, NY, Dallas etc.,. The US Soccer Federation and MLS (others) should jointly finance the early identification and training of young talent. Without some similar training program we are going to remain also-rans for the next several hundred years.

  27. you come up with a structure for the system where money is still going into the youth clubs from another source and not from the parents’ pockets and i assure you the USSF (or whatever organization) will listen

    but until then, can we stop complaining about the $$ aspect??

    are you coaching for free?? we simply do not have the culture and sponsor interest to really fix what you are complaining about. Do i agree with you?? yes, i completely agree. It will take more people who know the sport whom are willing to go out and volunteer their time to start the change. Fact is if you want to play for a good team, the coach demands money for his services..

  28. dont get me wrong, i know the current system is jacked and needs improving. Hence why i said i cant wait until college ball is (if ever) obsolete.

    i know MLS has very very very little incentive at the moment to draw youth players due to the cap and current rules.

    i dont foresee college ball becoming obsolete anytime soon. Simply cant wait for the day where it does

  29. The games were brutal to watch, but a lot of those kids will play different positions professionally, which will automatically improve their stock.

    Tony Tchani is a great example. He’s a box-to-box holding midfielder in MLS (like Joseph or Beckerman), not a creative midfielder.

    Austin da Luz did the most for his stock. With his skill on the ball and pace, he’s a starting left winger in MLS as a rookie.

    Ike Opara will get the most hype. He’s good, not great. The kid has great potential, but is far from a polished player. I’d frankly be surprised if he came close to the rookie seasons Omar Gonzalez and Darius Barnes had in 2009.

  30. Wake – Akron would have been a proper showcase for what college soccer at its best is… instead we get Virginia bunker-ball…

  31. Baseball already has this (well no academies) a strong highly structured scouting system down to a very young age, pro-style development programs for young players, a structured minor league reserve system and buckets of money to sign 17 year olds. And still 16 of the first 32 picks in the amateur draft were college kids. Since we will never have enough pro soccer teams in the country to match the pro baseball team coverage, and they miss 17-18 year olds, why do we think the soccer infrastructure will develop deep enough to catch them all? If you aren’t a professional player in much of Europe by 18 you never will be. In the US, you have another developmental route, the college game. And you get a fallback plan when you don’t make it (which most won’t)

    Look at it from this perspective: a four year college degree costs out of state at any of the College Cup final schools around a hundred thousand dollars. Until professional soccer in this country can make itself ab attractive enough financial proposition for enough players, you’re not going to get many who will give that up, or even a half ride up, for a pro deal (this is why GenAd’s greatest bribe is paying tuition for those that wash out) in other countries (England, Netherlands, Spain, Germany etc, there are either more opportunities for non-degreed people and/or much cheaper universities. A 16 year old in London who signs a deal with Arsenal reserves isn’t giving up his chance to become a teacher if he blows his knee out. The American basically is, unless he comes from money. You’re 17. The RedBulls offer you a $25k developmental contract (well in line with developmental deals in Europe for a marginal prospect) Duke offers you a ride. Which do you think you should take? Heck, there are baseball players drafted every year in high rounds and offered tens of thousands who turn it down fr college.

  32. yes college soccer is necessary right now but academies must be focused on being built and to improve talent. There r some players that are not playing in the ncaa and are better than most in the ncaa but r never discovered.

    p.s. the game were boring and i hcanged the channel afer 5 minutes

  33. I’m surprised no one has mentioned the conditions they were playing in. It was cold and disgusting and rainy and not all prime for a beautiful soccer game.

  34. Agreed wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, watching the semifinal on Friday (especially after NC was down to 10 men), you saw the tactics so frequently used in American soccer in general: bunker down, put all 10 men behind the ball and hope for penalty kicks. Virginia did the same on Sunday outside of the first 10 minutes when they actually came out attacking.

    I was impressed with both Akron and Wake Forest’s play on the weekend. What a treat that would have been had those two teams met up in the final. Instead, we got a double-dose of bunker ball. For the casual fan flipping on that game on Sunday, seeing Virginia’s play would make them change the channel in a heartbeat.

  35. Count me as one of those guys who concluded a decade ago that the college game would never be a major contributor to professional talent except for a sporadic player here or there. And I was completely wrong.

    Bash the game (collectively) all you want. Complain about the quality or tactical level of the College Cup games until Ives kills the thread. But there’s the real tests of the college game (in terms of talent):
    –increasingly, more and more college players (including attackers) come right into MLS and contribute.
    –increasingly, more and more college players get offers to go straight to Europe.

    You can criticize the quality of play, the technical sophistication (or lack thereof), the coaching, lack of games, whatever. But here is what I’ve discovered–college soccer as presently constituted is capable of producing players who can make it professionally.

    And no, not just guys not born in the US. There are a host of college players who have gotten offers to go overseas (some did, some didn’t).

    Now I still don’t believe you can produce a nation full of world class talent by relying on colleges for a soccer NT. And it still makes sense to me that if people get more games and better coaching using FIFA rules, you’ll produce better players.

    But what I’ve also come to realize is this: not everyone develops the same in the same model and same progress. Some folks mature later in life (physically or mentally). Some guys who are just not good enough at 16 or 17 or 18 suddenly get the right situation, get a life-lesson, get a growth spurt, acquire some confidence and suddenly at 20 or even 22, they’re a force to be reckoned with. Yes, I want the MLS academies to expand. Yes, I want us to get more talent via youth programs and reserves. But I’ve come to realize the hard way: that colleges are an incredibly useful tool for growing players.

    And here’s a thought for you folks who think I’m a heretic (b/c I once was one of you–critizicing colleges for holding our talent back): colleges could be our ace in the hole. Remember my point about how not everyone is ready at 15-16-17? We know that intuitively…some kids (not soccer players, just STUDENTS) graduate HS at 18 and flunk out of college–they aren’t ready yet. But at 20-22 they come back and excel. In 20 years, while the entire world (and I hope MLS) is relying on academies and reserves and youth programs, we’ll have something that they can’t grow: an additional source of talent for all those kids who got labeled as “not good enough” at 16 but somehow got better and proved in college that they deserve another look. And for a nation as big as our’s that means that if only 5% of the potential players out there aren’t good enough at 16 but turn a corner at 20, that would be immense.

  36. Here is the real problem: youth soccer is too *&^%$#@! expensive in this country. Hell, youth sports are too *&^%$#@! expensive. However, when you are talking soccer and every other country around the world develops young players for very little cost to the parent (or even free), as well as gives them world class training, how is the US supposed to compete? The entire structure needs to be torn down and I have my doubts it ever will be. College soccer can be great, but those games are few and far between. For the most part it is comprised of long balls over the top and raw athletic talent. I can watch that at the rec level.

  37. Im going to guess that the people that bash the college game never made it at the college soccer level. I played college soccer, and I thought it was great, and the players around me all had outstanding skills and a different style of play. Most tallent that the top colleges get are players that have been playing club soccer, so they are coming out of the system you want them to come out of. When it comes to the coaches in the college game I can tell you that 50% of the coaches in my league came from Europe, so I am pretty sure they know the game. Intsead of bashing the college game maybe you should watch it a little more, these are kids who are going out and playing for the love of the game and arent out there for the contracts. Yes alot know this could be there final stop, and may never play pro, so they are going to play even harder then those that are being looked at by the MLS or Europe. The college game is top notch, and I loved every minute of my time at the college level.

  38. Im going to guess that people like you and Fubar never made it at the college soccer level. I played college soccer, and I thought it was great, and the players around me all had outstanding skills and a different style of play. Most tallent that the top colleges get are players that have been playing club soccer, so they are coming out of the system you want them to come out of. When it comes to the coaches in the college game I can tell you that 50% of the coaches in my league came from Europe, so I am pretty sure they know the game. Intsead of bashing the college game maybe you should watch it a little more, these are kids who are going out and playing for the love of the game and arent out there for the contracts. Yes alot know this could be there final stop, and may never play pro, so they are going to play even harder then those that are being looked at by the MLS or Europe. The college game is top notch, and I loved every minute of my time at the college level.

  39. This needed to be said. The college game is a huge part of our player development and I’m sick of people bashing on it. I think our best players should go pro before college, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for college soccer in America.

  40. I agree with you for agreeing with me! But seriously, you are exactly right. I would have made the points you did, but I didn’t want to sound like I was giving another “All you young whippersnappers don’t understand!” speech. Thanks for taking that hit!

  41. the answer to this is simple. in brazil and spain and even england kids who are 5 years old play pick up soccer all day every day and learn alot of instincts this way. at a young age it is important to A. always have a ball at your feet and B. do a lot of ‘learning’ organically … fostering an innate since of creativity and ‘soccer iq’

    until recently soccer in the us has either been A. a way to entertain 22 kids fairly easily, parents coaching kids running round and playing kick ball B. the ‘talented’ kids at ‘elite’ programmes that focused on winning before development … which means when they need to be learning to learn for themselves they are put into strict tactical programmes (often run by less than knowledgable people) in order to WIN youth tourneys etc. the same applies to college (tho at that age it is pretty clear a player should be learning tactics etc, and probably in a professional setting not with half a team of chumps).

  42. I did not watch a minute of these games, however, the fact that Ives’ column immediately opens with defensive arguments about the college game only shows how putrid these games must have been- not really a shocker for anyone who watches MLS or college games…

    Until our youth system is serious about developing professionals from an early age, please spare the criticism of Bradley, or the next USMNT coach…. Unlike football, baseball and basketball, US is far from a dominant power internationally, therefore we cannot afford the luxury of having our promising 18-22 year olds toil away at college, while their South American and Europan counterparts are logging Chamions League minutes….

  43. I would like to get on board with the college game, but the quality of play is so poor and sloppy, and I don’t see it getting any better. I don’t understand why the coaches at the college level don’t get their teams to play a more attractive game, as many of these coaches come from Europe.

    Here’s what I see at the college level: Very physical play, horrible first touches, poor control of the ball overall, and sloppy passing. I really wish that our college game could serve as a true feeder league for the professional game here, the way it does with practically every other sport, but it seems our college players are always step below the players who have gone to youth academies.


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