If You Want To Grow A U.S. Soccer Star, Have A Girl Or A Goalie
but can only field a team of scrappy, undersized Rudys for the World Cup. This condemnation of our youth system is axiomatic at this point, but it’s only partially true.
First of all, the U.S. has developed a reputation for fortress-like goalies. Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller, Brad Guzan and current U.S. team keeper Tim Howard have combined for more than 1,000 starts in England’s Premier League since 1997. Howard, in particular, is considered top 5 in the sport’s top league. Secondly, U.S. women’s soccer dominance has been downright Brazilian since the advent of their World Cup in 1991. They’ve won 2, finished second once, and placed third in the remaining three tournaments, all while earning 4 Olympic gold medals and making the world safe for topless female goal scoring celebrations.
Last year, there were 3.5 million U.S. kids playing youth soccer in a system that is a mess by international standards, in large part because it was modeled after Little League but lacks a key element: volunteer coaches who have the slightest clue what they’re doing. Still, there are more kids playing soccer before high school than play football, baseball, or basketball. Pundits see a generational shift coming that might someday produce more than one Clint Dempsey at a time, but if you want your kid to be an international soccer star by 2032, the fix is simple: Have a girl or a goalie.