The third part of this chat is probably the most prosaic. The Messi question found its way in (OH NO), in addition to concerns about Hispanic inclusion in U.S. Soccer, playing style, our reliance on English soccer coaches and more.
After beginning our serialized chat with Brad Friedel on Wednesday, we continue with a new raft of topics today. From performance analysis to coaching to grassroots soccer, we’re navigating the waters again today.
Since Friedel spoke at considerable length, I’ve broken this into three parts to give each its due, which we’ll run in three installments over the next three days. What follows is the second part. Here’s the first.
On Monday night, U.S. Soccer unleashed its newest twin initiatives: an eligibility calendar switch and new small-sided standards for U6-U12 players. While the latter is interesting in its own right, the most talking point-rich of the two is most certainly the former.
Here’s the biggest talking point from U.S. Soccer’s release.
The sun poured out its vehemence on Tulsa like a reckless hose and I wandered under it, between sidelines and around team huddles and through encampments of jittery parents. I’d drive my camping chair into the ground just back from the chalk, pull out my notebook and wait. And then I’d move on, to another field, like a minstrel or a merchant. It was solitary in its way, but shared experiences are their own kind of community.
The US Youth Soccer National Championships is not the biggest club event on the calendar, but it isn’t so far off. U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy playoffs has siphoned the prestige role into its own tank, framing the discussion like Jupiter framed the orbits of its planetary neighbors in those primordial days. The biggest planet with the most gravity always determines the trajectories of the bodies around it.
While Tuesday’s result against Belgium wasn’t what the U.S. national team wanted, it did catch the attention of President Obama. The Commander-in-Chief dialed up Tim Howard and U.S. captain Clint Dempsey from the White House to express his pride at the team’s play in Brazil.
Ever heard of Vincenzo Bernardo?
The American-Italian soccer player, and former U.S. Youth international has had his share of clubs over the years.
A Morristown, New Jersey native, he looked to be headed the path of Giuseppe Rossi, moving to Napoli’s youth system in Serie A back in 2008. But that didn’t work out, and after a stint in Austria with FC Hochst, Bernardo returned to the States to give MLS a shot. When he didn’t land a deal there, he played for Harrisburg City Islanders in the USL in 2011.
This year, Bernardo decided to head to Central America, where he’s landed with Deportivo Guastatoya, a team in the second division in Guatemala. That’s where we find him in this ten-minute video, a definite must-watch for all aspiring pros and U.S. Soccer fans alike.
The Minnesota women have gone wardrobe change on us and unveiled these new kits at a Thursday practice. The new look is a departure from their previous solid tops and has instead adopted the hoops style of our U.S. Soccer program.
I’m a fan of these, but then, I’m a huge fan of alternative jerseys in general. If the Golden Gophers decided to strut out wearing chinchilla fur I’d probably support it. So the hoops make our U.S. side resemble Waldo, and will liken Minnesota to the Honey Nut Cheerios Bee – I’m good with that. Change is more exciting … and more stylish too.
By Travis Clark
While the focus of most U.S. Soccer fans is firmly on the women’s team at the London Olympics, the men’s competition is flying a bit under the radar thanks to our U23 team’s earlier failure. Don’t neglect what has been a relatively exciting competition, though.
Despite Spain’s surprising failure to win a game in the group stages, there’s been plenty of entertainment. Mexico and Honduras, the two CONCACAF nations in London, have represented our federation well as both secured a spot in the quarterfinal stage. While it was expected for the former, Honduras advancing was a shock and it’s also been a chance for MLS players like Roger Espinoza and Andy Najar to showcase themselves on the international level.
There’s also been the decent performance of Great Britain, competing for the first time in more than 40 years and winning its group; and Egypt, as they continue to recover from the horrific soccer tragedy of more than a year ago.
But the best reason to watch the knockout rounds – and the team that is the overwhelming gold medal favorite – is Brazil. Not only do the Selacao possess the hottest young star in Neymar, but the team is incredibly motivated having never won the Olympics’ highest honor. And because the nation is the 2014 World Cup host, the pressure is on to deliver and use this as a tuneup.
So, if you’re waiting for the start of college season, or want a little international flavor in your soccer, don’t miss out on the Brazilians as they look to samba their way onto the podium. It’ll be fun – I promise you that.