Originally Posted by Mightysmurf
OBTW... the reason the US sucks at Association Football itsn't because of lack of interest. Soccer is the most popular youth sport in the country... it's that the US doesn't develop the soccer talent that it has. If we put the time and resources into developing talent that early, we'd be on par with some of the world powerhouses.
Look at Messi and how he developed and also that 9-year old Argentinean kid that Real Madrid just signed.
First touch and ball control are what really separate most players at the higher levels and critical to the game of soccer. It seems these skills are not pushed early. The "good" players are usually good early on because they are more athletically gifted. When they no longer have such a large physical advantage, they have nothing to fall back on and get frustrated. They end up leaving for sports that better show their athletic abilities.
The second part is we just don't have the culture for it just yet. Yea, a lot of youth play, but there is not much national exposure to the higher levels of the game and it has very little exposure in most inner-cities. It's very hard to compete with other countries who have soccer academies scooping up and cultivating really young players. They have much better player development and coaching their entire lives.
Having said that, it is amazing how far we've come in the last 20 years.