rhythm bandits

Posts Tagged ‘canada women’s youth national teams

USA Women’s Youth National Team: Baa Baa Black Sheep

with 3 comments

When people yammer about the United States’ lack of development in women’s soccer, especially at the senior level, they often bring the “the USA U-17s didn’t even qualify!!” meme as part of their argument. Now I won’t argue all of the merits and failures of that, because talking to those people is like talking to a brick wall. However, I will say one thing: it is foolish to blame the USWNT’s crappiness on the failure of the youth system to groom skillful, instead of merely ‘athletic’, players. (This athleticism vs. skill thing has been around forever, I mean, look at gymnastics fans who work themselves in a tizzy over crap that happened in the 1980s!) Rather, the USWNT’s crappiness is due to politics and outright stupidity.

After all, isn’t it true that so many great, ‘skillful’ players fall through the cracks on the way up the US Soccer pyramid — most egregiously demonstrated by people ignoring the better college players in the U-23 pool? Aren’t there WPS players with experience that don’t get what they deserve? The same is happening here to the 2010 U-17s, who, just because they panicked and started screwing up when they couldn’t breach Canada’s 9-person backline, failed to qualify and therefore are doomed to obscurity. Aaron Heifetz was with that team, demonstrating US Soccer’s confidence that they would breeze through those qualifiers, and now I am damn convinced that fat fool, and his bosses, washed their hands of them once they didn’t, pretended that they didn’t exist. Now people are going to believe that players like Olivia Brannon, Alex Doll, Abby Dahlkemper, etc., etc., aren’t really as good as they actually were.

But their problem wasn’t “too-much-athleticism”. The U-17s, in terms of ‘skill’, were superior to the U-20s and the senior team, if not the U-23s as well. If you watched their games, you would know what I mean. They play the pretty soccer that Pia Sundhage only dreamed of having the entrenched, complacent senior team play. Here you can’t trot out the “youth soccer is big business so all they focus on is winning instead of skill! Blah blah” argument here. The U-17s problem was all mental. These were 14-17 year olds, basically kids not groomed in the “let’s sign on to a club and play soccer all the time” player mentality of the Europeans. They were just plucked out of their everyday lives, put through training camps, and then tossed onto the world stage. Of course, Europhiles wish US Soccer, or SOMEBODY, would have implemented some sort of club system like the Germans have for their young players, in order to counteract the mental inexperience factor. Ha ha like that will ever happen.

Look, Canada’s U-20s didn’t qualify for their World Cup either. Morace coached them. And yet I don’t see any Canadians shouting “OMG! The world is ending!” because Morace brought the Canadian senior team through qualifying with a spotless record. No one is yelling that Canada’s development system isn’t working. And in the USA, when the U-17s don’t qualify, and the U-20s don’t get past the quarterfinals, and then the senior team scrapes through on a FIFA playoff thing…well, what? What’s all this “Winning isn’t everything, skill is more important” screed coming from people who also believe that “winning is the way to show that your development system is working”? Wait, only the senior team can win, is it? So why does it matter to the pundits that the U-17s and U-20s are losing, hmm? Oh wait, I forgot — we’re not supposed to care. Silly me! We are only dragging this out because the senior team is playing like crap and Pia isn’t calling up the players from the U-20s who can’t even win their competitions!

The U-20s could have won it all with a different coach, I am pretty well convinced of that. The U-17s deserved to win, if skill was the be-all-end-all. But it isn’t. Canada’s U-17s won because they bunkered and successfully made the Americans second-guess themselves. Nowadays it seems that the USWNT has pretty much distanced themselves from the youth system (thanks so much, Kristine Lilly) so that using the youth teams’ success as a measure of how well or how badly US Soccer develops its players is…contentious, at best.

(And yes I KNOW DiCicco blathered about this in his 2008 U-20 WWC report, I freaking read the thing like twice.)


Written by teamongolia

November 28, 2010 at 5:04 pm

CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship Semifinal: USA loses it

leave a comment »

After thinking about it, I decided that it really wasn’t my place to blame 15-16 year old girls for not upholding the legacy of Mia Hamm or something.


Neither of these needs an inhaler

Written by teamongolia

March 19, 2010 at 5:26 am