The future success of US Soccer must start at the bottom. American players are missing the intangibles: creativity, desire, and confidence. All of these are set in motion at an early age and not instilled via coaching at the top level.
The Brazilian National team is always considered one of the top teams in international soccer competitions and have been for quite some time. The Brazilians have won 5 World Cup competitions in 19 appearances (the only team to play in every World Cup). The Brazilian team has produced numerous international stars including the best to ever play futbol, Pele. From current national team members Robinho and Kaka to up and coming superstar Neymar, there is never a lack of talent being produced by Brazil.
In Brazil the focus is not on coaching but rather playing the “beautiful game”. Style, skill, and passion are encouraged and expressed by the national players from Brazil with much less emphasis on structure and power. In comparison the US Soccer program has continued to fail in its goal to produce a competitive international soccer squad due to its dependence on the model American athlete. Most sports that youth in America participate in require size, strength, and power the desired attributes of an “athlete”. However, as Brazil continues to demonstrate, this may not be the correct area of focus when it comes to building a winning soccer team and successful coaching philosophy.
In their youth Brazilian children can be seen with a ball at their feet no matter what the field conditions are, constantly playing the ‘beautiful game’. This open play is the key to developing creativity and skill without any coaching whatsoever. Compare this scenario to that of a suburban soccer complex in America: turf fields, top of the line equipment, and multiple coaches (and unfortunately parents) dissecting and interjecting at the first sight of a players’ “mistake”. We focus our coaching on technical, tactical, psychological and of course physical skills. Not mentioned is creativity, passion, or individuality.
If US Soccer where to study successful international teams from around the globe and attempt to blend their winning formulas for developing talented players and competitive teams they may have a better chance at success.
The true measure of success for a national soccer team is measured in wins and not corporate sponsorship money or T.V. coverage/revenue. For the game of soccer to finally take hold of the American audience the team must first WIN. Face it, Americans love WINNERS. Remember back not long ago to the 2010 World Cup and the attention our country paid to the results of the US Soccer team and captain Landon Donovan when they were playing well and advancing in the tournament.
Then remember how quickly that attention faded once the team was eliminated.
In Brazil where the love of futbol is introduced along with a bottle at birth the success of the national team unites an entire country. In the US the sport of soccer is an afterthought to many. With an open mind and willingness to change philosophy, the US Soccer program would have the opportunity to embrace the youth of America with a sport that is not only the most popular sport in the world but is also accessible to any race, religion, color, gender, and class.
Americans are innately independent soles. This is why democracy and capitalism are encouraged and defended in our country. Start with our youth and encourage them to develop their independent spirit through the beautiful game and we may soon see the results on display during the most widely viewed sporting event in the world. And who knows, with a little help from FIFA that might even be on US soil as soon as 2018 or 2022.