I don’t want this to be an indictment against the show as a whole, which you may or may not enjoy. However, a host can still be respectful while asking insightful and probing questions that make the guest think. This doesn’t happen during the course of the interview below.
Tim Holt, the President of the United Soccer Leagues since 2009, was a guest on Soccer is a Kick in the Grass last week for about 11 minutes. I took the liberty to cut that section out for y’all to listen to.
Tim Holt is generally good at what he does, I have no reason to dislike the guy. He’s a former soccer player and has been involved with the organization since 1999. Holt offers a different demeanor and public face for the league than did his predecessor. However, he would be serving his organization better to provide a realistic assessment of the league’s position in American soccer rather than living in a parallel universe in which USL-Pro has been wildly successful over the last two years.
Soccer is a Kick in the Grass’s host stressed the performance of three USL-Pro clubs in the 2012 U.S. Open Cup, singling out the Charlotte Eagles defeating NASL’s San Antonio Scorpions. Somehow the host made the claim that USL-Pro “came out on top” against their rival league. One game against an expansion team playing in the competition for the first time is tantamount to a smothering by USL-Pro.
The Phoenix expansion plans are not a horrible idea at face value, but officials need to take many steps very quickly to get a stadium, some players and a marketing campaign underway for the 2013 season. Head coach David Robertson did well to sign fellow Scotsman Darren Mackie on September 27, though. Phoenix FC plans to announce their home venue for 2013 in October with a number of signed players on hand. Continue reading →
2012 marks the 99th edition of the U.S. Open Cup and thanks to a formatting change, it also marks the first time every professional soccer team in the country will participate. The 2012 format includes 32 professional teams: the 16 U.S.-based Major League Soccer clubs, 6 U.S.-based North American Soccer League clubs, the 10 U.S.-based United Soccer Leagues-Pro clubs; and 32 amateur teams: 16 from the Premier Development League, 6.5 from the National Premier Soccer League, 9 teams from United States Adult Soccer Association, and .5 teams from US Club Soccer (one team from NPSL will face off against the USCS representative in a one game play-in match).
The 2011 U.S. Open Cup only included only 40 teams; 8 from MLS, 11 from USL-Pro, 9 from PDL, 4 from NPSL, and 8 from USASA. This means that more teams are entering the tournament from every division this year. NASL teams were disallowed from the 2011 cup partially because of late sanctioning and partially for political reasons. Fortunately, for the sake of competition and integrity, all domestic-based professional teams are participating this season. Continue reading →
A couple weeks back, the US Soccer Development Academy announced that it would officially switch to the 10-month schedule practiced and recognized by most of the FIFA world for the 2012-2013 season. This would effectively make the DA a replacement for high school soccer as the switch blocks players from competing in scholastic leagues. American youth soccer fanatics with internet access have long been haranguing the detriments of the high school system: limited practice each day, multiple games in a week, three month schedule in large swaths of the country, the physicality of play, the lack of proper officiating, uneven application across leagues and states, and the lack of concentrated possession based development in the face of huge gaps in quality between teams. These bloggers and (let’s call them) “soccer activists” have been making noise telling youth players to skip the high school route for a while now, but until very recently there was no viable alternative.
For the current season the US Soccer Development Academy League (formed in 2009) has 78 participating clubs spread geographically through 10 divisions. You can see the map and national clustering on the East Coast, California and Texas here. From US Soccer’s page on the DA program, “The Academy’s programming philosophy of increased training, less total games and more competitive games is based on U.S. Soccer’s Best Practices utilized by the U-17 U.S. National Team Residency program.” This directly addresses several of the most pressing concerns observers had about high school soccer.
Today the internet is ablaze with people similarly lambasting the college soccer system, myself included. But what the general public might not fully understand is that there is not currently an adequate system to accommodate the thousands of NCAA players. The Development Academy league has grown tremendously since its founding, but only provides access for players up to age 18. After a player reaches the traditional high school graduation age, what are his options? Continue reading →