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dolcem
Post #1
Friday July 5, 2013 6:16pm

Joined Nov 2012
Total Posts: 1,045
Sorry if this isn't USMNT related but there isn't a forum for just general American soccer. I thought this would be a nice little 5th of July topic.

I think the lack of futsal in the US is a perfect example of the shortcomings of our soccer culture.

(I've definitely ranted and raved about what I think is wrong with American soccer on here plenty of times, so I might sound like a broken record. If you're not interested skip the next three to four paragraphs.)

Despite the fact that we have more registered youth soccer players than any other country in the world (and first world conditions-good nutrition, facilities, etc.), we really haven't produced any truly quality players yet. While the number of soccer players increased exponentially (it went from being a weird hobby to the most commonly played sport among American youths) and our institutions, despite all of their problems, have improved drastically as well (we've had a youth academy system for a few years now), we haven't produced any players significantly better than the ones who came from the stone age of American soccer. These were guys who played high school soccer from 14-18 and NCAA ball from 18-22 back before even the soccer coaches and players didn't watch the sport on TV, much less have a lot of other players competing for their spots. They missed out on the most vital years of their development and didn't get the personalized instruction from youth academies that the best players always got (and what our best young players get now). They never reached great heights in the sport but what they did was pretty remarkable.

Have our new guys surpassed that? How many defenders have we had that could've played in Serie A back in the 90's? How many players have we had with Reyna's technique and passing? With Ramos' creativity? O'Brien's skill? McBride's teamwork? Since the "golden generation" of '02 who have we produced? Dempsey, Bradley, and Altidore are all good players but over the course of an entire decade, three good players is not exactly great output. Considering the increase in the amount of players and the improvements in our youth system I was expected way better players by now and more playing in the top European leagues. Many nations with less illustrious soccer histories have produced players much better than we ever did (Finland and Litmanen for example, or even within CONCACAF, Dwight Yorke, and of course it could be decades before we ever see an American as good as Hugo Sanchez). Does this mean that the institutional improvements were meaningless? Of course not. The youth academy system is far superior to the traditional high school/NCAA setup and I think once we get the hang of it (which takes years) we'll see a better end product.

The culture is of course what is holding us back. Our kids aren't even ready for youth academies when they're old enough. They all learned by starting really late and joining a team (usually coached by clueless parents) and they don't watch the sport on TV or talk about it with their dads and uncles, who've never seen any games. Since they never really learned the game before playing on these teams, they don't have the skill to really carry a game on their own and they're taught not to "be a ball hog" (allowing kids to play that way never works out anyway because none of them are good enough and the style of play, which is based on what American players are usually capable of, doesn't suit it). Kids from other countries have been kicking a ball around since they first could walk and then played tons of pick-up games with their friends, learning all the fundamentals of the game and developing a great first touch and dribbling ability and even a sense of creativity. They've acquired a basic tactical understanding of the game by watching it on TV and discussing it with their fathers, uncles, and friends. After they learn the basics they are trained by coaches who used to be great players back in the day and lived and breathed the sport the way their coaches did, passing down soccer wisdom that has been cultivated for generations.

Our horrible touch is one of the most obvious aspects of our deficiencies. Since it's the most basic form of the most fundamental skill of soccer-kicking a ball-it's no surprise that we struggle with everything involving kicking a ball. Sure we've had big, imposing CB's like Onyewu and lightning fast players like Eddie Johnson, but have we ever really had a player whose technique was anywhere near elite caliber? Have we ever had a great passer? A great dribbler who can take on defenders and move an attack (a #10 perhaps)? Someone who can score from outside the box? We thought Freddy Adu would be that guy but he didn't get to go to an academy (and got his sense of reality twisted forever by a massive Nike deal at the age of 14) and never realized his potential, like so many other young prodigies from around the world.

One of the ways players from other countries develop their control and skill on the ball is by playing futsal. It gives players a great opportunity to play because it's easy to provide a venue: you can play it any time of year (very important for elite players from areas with bad climates) and you can fit a lot of games in a small area. But more importantly, it's the best way to teach players control of the ball and a good first touch. Smaller balls are harder to control and, of course, kids from other countries always start playing soccer by using them (they were too small for the full-sized ones when they started anyway). When you play futsal you are given plenty of opportunity to try and create with the ball (a slow-paced game in a small area) but have to do so with complete mastery of the ball. To be play futsal well the player has to acquire a level of skill that is hardly ever spotted among American players. And did I mention that it's incredibly fun and would get kids hooked on the sport? It shouldn't come as a surprise that Brazilians, the best pure soccer players, play a lot of futsal.

We actually play a lot of soccer in the winter. But rather than learning the basics of the game by playing futsal like everyone else does, we insist on playing with a full-sized ball on astroturf with seven players instead of five: indoor soccer, the ping pong game of fitness that's more of a workout than an opportunity to practice soccer. This bizarre custom is perfectly indicative of our shortcomings in really understanding the way the game is learned and played and quite possibly one of the reasons we have yet to produce a skilled, quality footballer who is more than just a soccer player. In the future I could see us producing bigger, stronger, faster, grittier players who play on better and better teams, maybe even trophy-winning teams. But until we start playing the game (especially at the youngest ages) in a way that understands the most basic truth of association football-that a player's ability is measured by what he can do with the ball at his feet-we'll never produce players that captivate a generation the way that players like Figo, Zidane, the Ronaldos, Riquelme, Xavi, and Messi did, much less produce elite domestic and national teams.
NO ONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT WHAT LINEUP YOU USE IN FIFA
MSantoine
Post #2
Friday July 5, 2013 7:49pm

Joined Nov 2012
Total Posts: 2,190
I'll premise this by saying I didn't read the whole post but saw the subject header and thought I'd chime in. Agbout a year ago I was curious about the official FIFA rules for futsal so started looking at previous Futsal world cups. I noticed US almost never qualified. Then I looked at the teams that did well (brazil Argentina etc) and was curious if they did good because they grabbed guys that were former national teamers. Nope. I couldn't find one guy who played in the futsal finals that played for a big time club or national team. I don't think there is any relation to futsal and soccer. A separate sport that just happens to resemble soccer

dolcem
Post #3
Sunday July 7, 2013 6:52am

Joined Nov 2012
Total Posts: 1,045
Original post from MSantoine

I'll premise this by saying I didn't read the whole post but saw the subject header and thought I'd chime in. Agbout a year ago I was curious about the official FIFA rules for futsal so started looking at previous Futsal world cups. I noticed US almost never qualified. Then I looked at the teams that did well (brazil Argentina etc) and was curious if they did good because they grabbed guys that were former national teamers. Nope. I couldn't find one guy who played in the futsal finals that played for a big time club or national team. I don't think there is any relation to futsal and soccer. A separate sport that just happens to resemble soccer


That's not my point at all (not your fault though, my post was too long).

It doesn't matter who played on the national futsal team.

The best futsal teams happen to be the best soccer countries. And a lot of the great soccer players (Ronaldinho, for example) played futsal as kids. Do you think this is a coincidence?

Playing futsal is a great way to develop your technique, which is what American players are the most lacking in and why we don't produce really good players despite our numbers. We have a lot of areas in the country that don't have ideal weather for soccer all year round, which does put those players at a bit of a disadvantage (it's one reason why the British and the Scandinavian teams are not as good at soccer as countries with better climates) since they can't train all year round.

There is a form of soccer though that is played indoors and would actually help American players work on what they need to learn the most (skill on the ball): futsal. But rather than play futsal during the winter Americans and Canadians insist on doing their own thing: indoor soccer. Indoor soccer is more of a fitness workout than a way to practice soccer and emphasizes what we value too much (athleticism and fitness) while taking out of the game what we need to work on the most (our technique and creativity). Indoor soccer is basically American soccer at its worst: kick and run without creativity or attacking quality.

I definitely think if futsal became popular in the US we would see an improvement in the quality of American players (especially if futsal courts were put in poor urban areas and the kids spent hours a day developing their skill). But my main point is that our decision to play indoor soccer instead of futsal perfectly illustrates the American soccer mentality and how much we need to learn about the sport of association football.
NO ONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT WHAT LINEUP YOU USE IN FIFA
tylercocinas
Post #4
Sunday July 7, 2013 12:01pm

Joined Aug 2012
Total Posts: 760
Dolcem, I think you'd enjoy this article you aren't already familiar with Lucas Stauffer.

http://www.futsalonline.com/lucasstauffer0615...

bbakerxyz
Post #5
Sunday July 7, 2013 2:35pm

Joined Oct 2012
Total Posts: 237
Yeah, NFW I read that first post either, but I'll assume I agree w/ your point. Futsal is like playing soccer with a grapefruit in a phone booth. I'm terrible at it but it's fun. It's a short man's dribbling game. But, yes, I think it would be very beneficial to build out the futsal infrastructure here. Great training for dribbling, balance, short bursts of movement. You can't get that same kinda training on a regular field.

skangles
DC
Post #6
Sunday July 7, 2013 7:34pm

Joined Jan 2013
Total Posts: 1,977
Jeff Agoos came from the US Futsal team. I don't know what you can take away from that other than being a nice piece of US soccer trivia..

dolcem
Post #7
Friday July 12, 2013 4:22pm

Joined Nov 2012
Total Posts: 1,045
Original post from tylercocinas

Dolcem, I think you'd enjoy this article you aren't already familiar with Lucas Stauffer.

http://www.futsalonline.com/lucasstauffer0615...


GR.

Original post from bbakerxyz

Yeah, NFW I read that first post either, but I'll assume I agree w/ your point. Futsal is like playing soccer with a grapefruit in a phone booth. I'm terrible at it but it's fun. It's a short man's dribbling game. But, yes, I think it would be very beneficial to build out the futsal infrastructure here. Great training for dribbling, balance, short bursts of movement. You can't get that same kinda training on a regular field.


Especially not on astro turf. I wish US soccer had stronger and more centralized technical development (with the right person in charge, and I'd love for JK be that, he's better in that role than as a manager), one that could do something drastic like convince people to take out the astroturf at all their indoor places and play futsal on the floor. It's just such a good way to train and hone the skills we're most lacking in, while indoor does the exact opposite.

Original post from skangles

Jeff Agoos came from the US Futsal team. I don't know what you can take away from that other than being a nice piece of US soccer trivia..


I bet it played a role in him developing his game.
NO ONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT WHAT LINEUP YOU USE IN FIFA
Hunt Daddy
VA
Post #8
Friday July 12, 2013 4:50pm

Joined Jul 2012
Total Posts: 48
Original post from MSantoine

I'll premise this by saying I didn't read the whole post but saw the subject header and thought I'd chime in. Agbout a year ago I was curious about the official FIFA rules for futsal so started looking at previous Futsal world cups. I noticed US almost never qualified. Then I looked at the teams that did well (brazil Argentina etc) and was curious if they did good because they grabbed guys that were former national teamers. Nope. I couldn't find one guy who played in the futsal finals that played for a big time club or national team. I don't think there is any relation to futsal and soccer. A separate sport that just happens to resemble soccer


There's a huge relation to soccer, you're just looking at it backwards. Those countries are good at soccer because they're good at futsal, not the other way around. Futsal was invented due to lack of proper fields to play on. Lots of professional footballers start out playing futsal as kids, esp in South America. It's well documented that Ronaldinho and Robinho began learning the game on futsal courts in Brazil. The only example I know of a player who has played both professionally is the futsal legend Falcao (you should check him on youtube if you don't know), but I'm sure there are others.

dolcem
Post #9
Friday July 12, 2013 5:48pm

Joined Nov 2012
Total Posts: 1,045
Original post from Hunt Daddy

There's a huge relation to soccer, you're just looking at it backwards. Those countries are good at soccer because they're good at futsal, not the other way around. Futsal was invented due to lack of proper fields to play on. Lots of professional footballers start out playing futsal as kids, esp in South America. It's well documented that Ronaldinho and Robinho began learning the game on futsal courts in Brazil. The only example I know of a player who has played both professionally is the futsal legend Falcao (you should check him on youtube if you don't know), but I'm sure there are others.


Couldn't have said it better myself. It doesn't matter who the very best futsal players are, it's simply a great way to develop your technique (our biggest weakness). Indoor soccer is the opposite and during the winter it's all we play. I don't think it's a coincidence that we struggle.

I see the same problem in Korea. Their game has some of the same flaws ours does (too much emphasis on fitness and not enough on technique as well as a lack of creative freedom) and they also play a lot of 5 a side games on turf, which inevitably turn into fitness contests. I've played with 17 year olds who played for Spanish youth teams and did not do all that well. They tell me that they struggle playing in Korea (even the pick-up games I play) because there's not enough time on the ball and it's all running. At least they play a lot of 5 aside. I think our insistence on playing 11 on 11 is yet another custom that holds back our youth development (the best youth academies don't do that until later), but that's another story.
NO ONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT WHAT LINEUP YOU USE IN FIFA
SoccerGod
Clouds, Heaven
Post #10
Friday July 12, 2013 6:48pm

Joined Apr 2013
Total Posts: 84
Here in Dallas there is a Futsal place were they have open play on Monday and Tuesday nights and its a great place to go and play. I've played with Lee Nguyen an Brek Shea there before and the last 2-3 weeks Danny Garcia from the U20's and FC Dallas has been coming and playing. When I played in Sweden during the winter we would play futsal every day and so did all the little kids. Since its so cold there for much of the year that's all the whole country plays for at least 4 months at a time, and if you think about how small Sweden is and how technical some of their players are it makes sense. I'd have to imagine that happens in a lot of countries for various reasons. I think it's immensely benificial for futsal to be played by youth players.
For I am creator of all things soccer. Seek repentance or just beat Mexico, either will get you in up here.

Conor O'Brien could finally make his Austrian debut for Wiener Neustadt on Saturday.
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