Written by Will Parchman

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Manny Schellscheidt was never a man given over to delirious spasms of hyperbole when it came to young prospects. He’d been doing this too long, had seen too many young players fall victim to a development process that can be hard to understand at best and viciously duplicitous at worst. Freddy Adu had once passed through his U.S. U14 ID camps, after all.

So when Schellscheidt first saw the young, diminutive kid embarrassing defenders one afternoon on a small field in Pennsylvania in 2011, there was little broader fanfare about it. Nobody knew who the kid was yet on any substantive level, and Schellscheidt had his reservations, although he knew the kid was special. The old coach stuck around a few days, noted the kid’s name in his notepad, talked to the club coaches on hand and then left assured of at least one thing in the absence of all else.

He would see Christian Pulisic play again. And this time he’d be running the camp.

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Written by Will Parchman

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The Cruyff Court’s soul is reverse engineered urbanization. Urbanity, or at least American urbanity, seeks to eliminate dead space in highly prized city environments and fill it with steel and glass. The U.S. has so much space that it becomes a sort of throw-away item to be used with all the nuance of an elephant painting a landscape. Strip mall culture did not rise in a vacuum.

And so the American city, quite unlike its more ancient or less developed counterparts abroad, is a continual frantic crush to fill space with commercial items of uniquely business interest: malls, high-rises, apartment complexes, luxury stores. The idea of greenspace in these places is unique and mostly grandfathered in. Parks and recreation areas exist because they were there before, not because they were formed from nothingness and meticulously planned. As any city-goer knows, newly planned parks – however big – carved out of land previously owned by businesses is a rare thing indeed.

The futsal-based Cruyff Court, at his heart, is a sort of urbanized role reversal. The Cruyff Foundation, started in 1997, began pushing these small futsal courts into densely-packed urban environments in the Netherlands to, as they put it, “bring the old playing field back into the neighborhood.” It was a stand, however small, against urban creep; land that existed for no purpose other than free play.

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Written by Will Parchman

Hall of Fame induction ceremony

The news itself was almost casual, as if a friend was mulling over what to do with the cash he allows himself to spend once a week at lunch on the food truck row outside the office building. U.S. Soccer, suddenly flush with money after the Copa America Centenario cash grab last summer, might spend a hefty chunk of its surplus on a dedicated national training center.

From Grant Wahl’s report.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Last week, the U.S. U17 MNT made the sort of history worth stepping back and pondering over. They beat Mexico, of course, for the first time in their competitive history, a span of five matches stretching back to 1983. It was not the biggest win in U17 MNT history by half – you’d need to delve into Landon Donovan’s 1999 team to go quite that far – but it provided one of the most important rallying points in the team’s modern history.

Turns out, the men’s U17s weren’t the only USYNT putting in work last week.

READ: Sargent, Carleton headline huge 2018 boys class | Girls U17 class bristling with talent

The week of April 24-30 was a unique confluence of success in YNT terms, to the point that it’s fair to label it one of the more extravagantly successful seven-day periods in the cross-program USYNT history. There was of course the U17 success at World Cup qualifying, which led the way, but three other YNT programs were in action at the same time at different international tournaments, and none lost a game. The U15 BNT opened play at the internationally significant Torneo Delle Nazione, and the U18 MNT swung into action at the Slovakia Cup with a slew of relatively fresh faces looking to impress in the go-between cycle between the U17 and U20 World Cups. On the women’s side, the U17 WNT started its own experience at the Torneo Femminile Delle Nazione in Slovenia and took two wins from its first three.

In nine matches between all three age groups, the U.S. went 7-0-2. It was, by any measure, a wildly successful week the likes we’ve rarely seen before. And to head you off at the pass, winning does matter in the framework of development. It isn’t of primary importance, but it does point back to the actual work of development you’ve done, and take note of Germany in this instance. Back in the 00’s, as its machinery ground into gear, the German FA prioritized winning on the YNT level in international tournaments. Years later, they won the World Cup with those players.

Here’s the timeline of how it went down.

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Written by Will Parchman

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2016 was a dark year for the U.S. men’s program. For all its strides under Klinsmann, whatever those ultimately were, the senior team seemed to regress into a shell of reactivity and pessimism toward the end of the year. Klinsmann teased his critics with a genuine spell of sensical lineup management in the Copa America, leaning on the same XI until circumstance – card accumulation and injury – robbed him of that luxury. This was, in some ways, the catalyst for Klinsmann to dip back into his managerial malaise as The Mad King of bizarre tinkering. He never recovered.

The more well-known facet of U.S. Soccer’s year was the senior team’s cratering in World Cup qualifying late on; the 2-1 loss to Mexico and then of course the 4-0 embarrassment in Costa Rica that cost Klinsmann his job. But underneath, the gear-teeth of development seemed to be cracking, and far more ominous portents lingered.

The year also represented the culmination of a four-year youth rotation in which the U17 MNT missed World Cup qualification for the first time ever and the U23 team missed the Olympics in back-to-back cycles for the first time since the tournament became a U23 affair in 1992. The U20 team had indeed made a historic run to the quarterfinals of the 2015 U20 World Cup, but on balance of the years it inhabited, it seemed like an anomaly.

The Olympic failure in 2016 was the back-breaker. Loaded with a handful of supposedly paradigm-altering talents like Kellyn Acosta, Matt Miazga, Jordan Morris, Emerson Hyndman and Wil Trapp, the U.S. floundered against Colombia and crashed out of the playoff. It meant a critical subsection of developing American talent would not have the Olympics to refine their steel.

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Written by Will Parchman

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There’s something about U.S. Soccer and ground-quaking Friday afternoon news dumps. And this one was felt from coast to coast.

On Friday, U.S. Soccer officially announced its plans to bring the 18-year run of its U17 residency program in Bradenton, Fla. to a screeching halt at the end of its spring 2017 semester. The news itself had been widely rumored for years, that U.S. Soccer was beginning to grow weary of a residency program that became redundant the second it became obvious the Development Academy was here to stay. But whether it planned to actually bin the program? Nobody knew specifics.

And here they are. This from a Q&A with U20 coach Tab Ramos, who also acts as the U.S. Soccer youth technical director:

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Written by Will Parchman

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U.S. Soccer has a new chief scout.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Bruce Arena is a stopgap measure. Search popular opinion and the way the American soccer populace views Arena’s second tour of duty is largely how the Romans viewed dictators in the era of the Republic.

The formula is relatively simple to grasp. Peace –> Turmoil –> Breakdown –> Dictatorship –> Peace –> Status Quo. The peace was 2013-14, the turmoil was 2015 and 2016 and the breakdown was the Mexico-Costa Rica run in which the U.S. was out-scored 5-1 in ever-important World Cup qualifiers. Much in the same way the Roman Senate – when it was relevant – appointed one-off dictators to quell the uprising and then return to their farms afterward, Arena rode stridently onto the field of battle this year only to (hopefully) ride back off it when the job is done.

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Written by Will Parchman

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We’ve been hearing rumblings and rumors and half-confirmed truths and confirmed rumors and half-rumored truths about the new Training Death Star about to open in Kansas City. We know more than that now.

On Sunday, U.S. Soccer and Sporting KC (alongside Children’s Mercy, a hospital group that sponsors SKC’s stadium) jointly announced the groundbreaking of a palatial seven-field complex featuring an 80,000-square foot building to ultimately become ground zero for U.S. Soccer’s sporting operations in this country. It’ll open in 2017 and immediately become the training touchstone of American national team soccer.

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Written by Will Parchman

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The second U.S. Soccer officially announced a girls Development Academy earlier this year, you could almost see the soft battle lines forming.

When the boys version was started in 2007, it was dropped into a soccer landscape desperately pleading for a single, unified national league. The men’s game needed a quality underpinning it patently did not have, and the DA was an answer to a market that actively asked for its help.

The girls DA has basically gone about establishing itself in the same way, which is problematic for some clubs. The ECNL, the national league of record and the girls DA’s immediate competition, can claim it’s doing the hard work of producing quality national teamers already. Around 90 percent of almost every YNT camp over the last few years has been made up of ECNL players, including Mallory Pugh, who moonlighted for the full USWNT while still being a part of Real Colorado’s U18 side.

There’s an argument to be made that the girls DA will be better than the ECNL, but will the margin be large enough to justify an all-out split among the nation’s best clubs? And will all of them even join?

On June 30, U.S. Soccer unveiled the first 25 clubs who came forward to join the new league. Among the entrants, PDA and So Cal Blues led an impressive contingent fringed with the surprise inclusion of 60 percent of the NWSL. It was an impressive haul and confirmed that U.S. Soccer’s resources will simply not allow the league to fail or even falter. Whatever it looks like, it’ll succeed in some measure.

A day later, Cincinnati-based club Ohio Elite offered its response. It is not joining the new girls DA.

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