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April 20, 2014
Tony Meola: Young players are more sophisticated than ever

Interview by Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the USA hosting the 1994 World Cup – a good time to check in with Tony Meola, who started every game in goal for the USA as it reached the second round of a World Cup for the first time since 1930. Meola, who also helped the USA end its 40-year World Cup drought by qualifying for the Italia ‘90, is heavily involved in youth soccer.

Read more...



December 31, 2013
Tab Ramos: 'We're in a great place with room to grow' (Part 1)

Tab Ramos talks about his expanded role with U.S. Soccer.

Interview by Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

Read more...



September 21, 2013
Aiming to Bridge Gap Between the Haves and Have-Nots

NorCal President Benjamin Ziemer has launched a Club Outreach Project to aid clubs -- most of which serve Latino youth -- that struggle to meet the demands of the modern American youth soccer structure.

Interview by Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

Read more...



April 15, 2013
Tab Ramos: 'We want to play in the opponent's half'

Interview by Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

Under Coach Tab Ramos, the U.S. U-20s delivered one of the greatest tournament performances in U.S. national team history at the Concacaf U-20 Championship in Puebla, Mexico, earlier this year. The USA won four straight games, qualified for this summer's U-20 World Cup, and in the final against Mexico -- winner of the U-17 World Cup and third-place finisher at the U-20 World Cup two years ago -- took the host to overtime before falling, 3-1. We spoke to Ramos about his team's experience in Mexico and his transtion from star player to coach.

Read more...



November 23, 2012
College recruiting starts too young (Steve Swanson Q&A, Part 1)

Steve Swanson, who guided the USA to the 2012 U-20 Women's World Cup title in September, has coached women's college ball since 1990. After stints at Dartmouth and Stanford, he has coached the
University of Virginia since 2000. He spoke with us about the perils of a recruiting system that has girls commit to colleges when they're still sophomores or 9th-graders.

Interview by Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

Read more...



November 01, 2012
Tom Sermanni: 'Technical takes priority over physical'

New U.S. women's national team coach Tom Sermanni touches on what role he may play with the USA youth national teams and fields questions about youth coaching and
youth development.

Interview by Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

Read more...



September 02, 2012
Hope Solo: 'Free and unburdened on the soccer field'

By Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

Hope Solo's memoir, released days after she helped the USA win gold at the 2012 London Games, debuted at No. 3 on the New York Times bestseller list. The goalkeeper's propensity for controversy and the promise of revealing details from her battles with coaches, teammates (and even a dance partner) undoubtedly boosted sales. The book also provides a glimpse into the youth soccer days of the world's best female goalkeeper.

Read more...



September 01, 2012
U.S. Academy goes younger; futsal in the plans

By Mike Woitalla (From Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

The U.S. Soccer Federation continues increasing its influence on boys soccer.

Read more...



August 30, 2012
NSCAA opposed, but couldn't stop, high school ban (Joe Cummings Q&A)

Interview by Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

The impact of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy's banning its players from high school ball is being felt across the nation as the fall scholastic season begins.

Read more...



February 10, 2012
Another curriculum! (US Youth Soccer's is worth a read)

On U.S. Youth Soccer's 117-page Player Development Model coaching guide ...

By Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

Read more...



January 15, 2012
Why Wilmer Cabrera's U-17 tenure ended (Q&A)

Wilmer Cabrera, who guided the USA to the second round in the 2009 and 2011 U-17 World Cups and headed the Bradenton Residency Program for more than four years, explains why he's left U.S. Soccer and looks back on his tenure.

Interview by Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

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January 11, 2012
Remembering Thomas Fleck; FA changes 'travel' rules; Bliss, Rongen in new roles ...

By Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

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November 01, 2011
Richie Williams: Remember when you were a kid

After playing 14 years of pro ball and serving half-a-decade as an MLS assistant coach, Richie Williams now focuses full-time on the youth game.

Interview by Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

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October 20, 2011
Cruyff: 'Everyone grows'; Coaches' sons; U.S. Foundation grant cycle opens

Johan Cruyff, speaking with Rob Draper of the UK's Daily Mail, recounted seeing Pep Guardiola for the first time - shortly after Cruyff had been named Barcelona coach and Guardiola was a "scrawny teenager" in Barcelona's youth team.

By Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

Read more...



October 08, 2011
Minors take on Major League Soccer challenge

Not very long ago, Zach Pfeffer was still fine-tuning his skills in the basement of his Pennsylvania home with his twin brother, Jared.

By Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

Read more...



October 01, 2011
Top U.S boys clubs get Report Cards

U.S. Soccer has been evaluating the clubs that comprise its Development Academy league since its launch in 2007, but it has now made those evaluations, in which clubs get rated on a 5-star system, public.

By Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

Read more...



Club vs. High School conflict heats up (A view from the NSCAA)

We spoke with NSCAA CEO Joe Cummings about the tug-of-war for players between high schools and elite clubs, who often urge their players to skip scholastic ball.

Interview by Mike Woitalla

Read more...



September 28, 2011
U.S. Academy 'closing the gap'; MLS teen debut; Why no keepers at U-8 level

As the U.S. Soccer Development Academy entered its fifth season this month, nearly a third of its 78 clubs moved to a 10-month season, no longer taking a three-month break during which players would commonly play high-school ball, or in the case of Southern California, in the Coast Soccer League.

By Mike Woitalla
(from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

Read more...



August 15, 2011
Precocious pros; Lack-of-height advantage(?); Reyna on 'players first'

By Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

A player who still needs a ride to practice from his parents scored his first Major League Soccer goal earlier this month. ...

Read more...



July 30, 2011
Voices from Ajax Amsterdam: 'Everyone here wants the ball'

Ajax Amsterdam, having produced players from Johan Cruyff to Wesley Sneijder, is considered by legions of American youth coaches as a model for youth development.

By Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

Read more...



July 07, 2011
Wilmer Cabrera: U.S. boys are immature

For the 13th time in 14 appearances, the USA returned from the U-17 World Cup in Mexico without a win in the knockout stage, losing 4-0 to Germany in the round of 16 after going 1-1-1 group play. We spoke to Coach Wilmer Cabrera about his team's performance, the future of the U-17s residency program in Bradenton, and player development in the USA.

Interview by Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

Read more...



June 28, 2011
Bayern's approach; England's birthdate issue; U-17s super Koroma

Bayern Munich's youth program has produced current German national team stars Philipp Lahm, Thomas Mueller and Bastian Schweinsteiger. The 40 top players that came out of its academy in the last 12 years have a total market value of $320 million.

By Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

Read more...



June 15, 2011
Game-fixing; Turf wars; Silly ref gesture; case for school ball

The coach of an Omaha FC U-13 girls team resigned after it was revealed he instructed his team to allow the opponents, a team from the same club, to score the game-winning goal that would send them to the state final.

By Mike Woitalla
(from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

Read more...



June 11, 2011
USA's top teens in world spotlight

Only the USA has qualified for each of the 14 U-17 World Cups ...

By Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

Read more...



June 04, 2011
AYSO answered the call 40 years ago

The 40th anniversary of AYSO launching girls soccer coincides nicely with this summer's Women's World Cup, at which, as usual, the USA will field players who got their introduction to soccer in AYSO.

By Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

Read more...



June 03, 2011
The high-school dilemma; Fair play or not?

One of the most unfortunate aspects of American youth soccer is forcing kids to choose between club soccer and high school ball.


By Mike Woitalla
(from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)

Read more...



April 21, 2011
Reyna unveils new USSF coaching curriculum

The U.S. Soccer Federation has unveiled its new coaching curriculum for coaches of players ages 5-12.

By Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America)

Read more...



April 05, 2010
The Professionalization of Youth Soccer ...

By Mike Woitalla (from PLAYSOCCER Magazine)

I thought it must have been some kind of mistake. E-mails were being sent out to the wrong address list or something. There's just no way that 7-year-olds were being invited to soccer tryouts, I figured.
But it was true.

Read more...



June 15, 2009
Reality TV Uncovers Missed Talent

The story of this year's winner of "Sueno MLS," soccer's answer to "American Idol," underscores how high the odds are stacked against low-income children in American youth soccer.

By Mike Woitalla (from the June issue of Soccer America)

Read more...



January 13, 2009
Former Pros Flock To Youth Game

The American youth coaching ranks now include more former pro stars than ever thanks to the influx of retired MLS players, opening a new chapter in youth development.

By Mike Woitalla (from the January issue of Soccer America)

Read more...



December 29, 2008
U.S. Soccer: Kids In The National Teams

The first national teams most people hear about are the U-17s, who compete in biennial World Cups for boys and girls. But the U.S. Soccer Federation runs U-15 national teams for both genders.

By Mike Woitalla (from the December issue of Soccer America)

Read more...



July 26, 2008
What does Chelsea want from U.S. youth soccer?

From Crystal Palace to Liverpool, West Ham to Everton, British clubs have been entering the American youth soccer "market." As part of Chelsea's quest to "build a network of top youth clubs across America to develop Chelsea Soccer Schools," it has launched a relationship with the Capital Area Soccer League (CASL) of North Carolina. Soccer America's Mike Woitalla interviewed Paul Clement, Chelsea's youth team manager in Soccer America, about the club's motives. ...

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July 01, 2008
Will MLS Youth Investment Pay Off?

MLS clubs are buying into the notion that they can produce homegrown stars.

By Mike Woitalla (Soccer America Magazine, July 2008)

In 2007, the same year that MLS bet on David Beckham and Cuauhtemoc Blanco, it also mandated that its clubs field youth teams. Beckham and Blanco were safe bets: A pair of players with legions of fans in the USA and a history of giving 100 percent every time they stepped on the field. As expected, both boosted attendance, sparked replica jersey sales, and attracted sponsors for the league and their clubs.

But signing superstars is less complicated than venturing into youth development. There's no proven formula for turning young players into pros, no guarantee that investing in development programs will yield a return.

Read more...



March 19, 2008
Youth players vs. senior citizens

In North Carolina, youth soccer players clashed with senior citizens over the construction of a senior center that would take away three soccer fields: VIDEO ARTICLE




October 06, 2007
American Exports Make Their Presence Known Overseas

The number of Americans playing for top-tier foreign clubs continues to increase. Click HERE for my column in the New York Sun on players like Giuseppi Rossi, who left New Jersey at age 13 and is now, at age 20, a leading scorer in the Spanish La Liga, and Edgar Castillo, the 20-year-old Mexican First Division starter.




September 21, 2007
The New Landscape

The U.S. Soccer Federation has integrated the country''s top youth clubs into the national team program.

By Mike Woitalla (Soccer America Magazine)

This fall marks the launch of a youth league in which every game will be an audition for the national team program. By creating the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, for U-16 and U-18 boys, the Federation is in effect cutting out the middle man when it comes to identifying talent for its national team program.

Read more...



August 21, 2007
The U.S. Soccer Development Academy's 64 clubs

The U.S. Soccer Federation has integrated the country's top youth clubs into the national team program. It's the Federation's first step in trying to take advantage of the strengths of American youth soccer while tackling its flaws.

Sixty-four clubs are fielding teams in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-16 and U-18 boys leagues, which kick off in October. After an eight-month season, winners of each conference meet in the Academy Finals at The Home Depot Center.

Read more...



July 05, 2007
U.S. Soccer Development Academy clubs

U.S. Soccer coaches will be selecting qualified clubs for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Clubs on a rolling basis until Aug. 1. The first 31 clubs accepted to the academy represent 16 states and the District of Columbia:

U.S. SOCCER DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY CLUBS (by state)

California
De Anza Force Soccer Club
Mustang FC
Nomads Soccer Club
Colorado
Colorado Rush
Real Colorado
Connecticut
Oakwood Soccer Club
District of Columbia
D.C. United
Florida
Clearwater Chargers Soccer Club
IMG Soccer Academy
Kendall Soccer Coalition
Georgia
Atlanta Fire United Soccer Association
Illinois
Chicago Fire Soccer Player Development Academy
Chicago Magic Soccer Club
Chicago Sockers
Maryland
Potomac Soccer
Massachusetts
FC Greater Boston Bolts
Michigan
Michigan Wolves
Vardar
New Hampshire
Seacoast United
New Jersey
Players Development Academy
New York Red Bulls
New York
B/W Gottschee
FC Westchester
North Carolina
CASL - Capitol Area Soccer League
Greensboro Youth Soccer Club
Pennsylvania
FC DELCO
Virginia
Richmond Kickers Soccer Club
Richmond Strikers
VA Rush Soccer Club
Washington
Crossfire Premier Soccer Club
Washington Premier FC




June 27, 2007
USA leads world in registered youth players

The USA leads the world in registered youth soccer players, according to a survey by FIFA, soccer's world governing body. The USA has 3.9 million registered youth players (2.34 million boys and 1.56 million girls). Brazil (2.1 million) and Germany (1.3 million) rank second and third, followed by South Africa (1.3 million), France (1 million) and England (820,000).

Click HERE for FIFA's Big Count stats package




MLS launches free summer kids soccer program

Major League Soccer has launched a summer youth program, "Verano MLS," that will provide 8- to 12-year-olds venues for twice-a-week pick-up-style soccer and "an opportunity to meet MLS players and coaches."

Read more...



June 20, 2007
First 11 commit to U.S. Soccer Development Academy

The first 11 clubs that will field U-16 and U-18 in the inaugural season of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy , which kicks off this fall, have been chosen. They: Atlanta Fire United Soccer Association (Georgia), B/W Gottschee (New York), Capitol Area Soccer League (North Carolina), De Anza Force Soccer Club (Northern California), FC DELCO (Pennsylvania), FC Greater Boston Bolts (Massachusetts), Michigan Wolves (Michigan), Nomads Soccer Club (Southern California), Players Development Academy (New Jersey), Seacoast United (New Hampshire) and FC Westchester (New York).

The nationwide Development Academy, which was unveiled on June 4, is in the midst of accepting applications from clubs that will field teams to be divided into regions based on geographic proximity. Each region will be comprised of 15 to 20 teams, with each team playing between 30 to 38 home and away matches during an eight-month season. The winner of each region play in the Academy Finals at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.




June 08, 2007
Youth club president charged with $180,000 ripoff

The Tennessean reports that the former president of the Tennessee Futbol Club has been charged with stealing $180,000 from the club. Read more HERE.




June 06, 2007
Reactions to U.S. Soccer Development Academy launch

Houston Chronicle soccer columnist Glenn Davis writes, "I have long wondered why the youth soccer policy in this country isn't dictated from the top. Layers of politics and organizations litter the landscape of U.S. soccer and makes a simple game confusing to all involved, especially at the youth soccer level."

Click HERE for Davis' article, "Youth soccer takes a step in right direction."

The USL (Super Y-League) announced its "full support" of the program HERE.




June 05, 2007
U.S. Soccer Development Academy: The Impetus

Shortly after being elected U.S. Soccer President in March of 2006, Sunil Gulati launched a complete review of all the Federation's technical areas. The Technical Committee, headed by Kevin Payne, concluded that on the youth player development front, at ages 13 to 17, elite players needed an increase in the quality and quantity of training; an increase in the number of quality games, but a reduction in the overall amount of games. Between the myriad state, regional and national competitions, showcase tournaments and ODP events, a typical young American elite player was "stretched too thin." Said U.S. U-15 boys national team coach Jim Barlow, "It was never more clear to me that things in our youth soccer structure needed to change than at our first U-15 camp last summer when about half of the players, on the very first day of national team camp, told their coaches that they were tired of soccer. Too many games, too many leagues, too many tournaments and camps, too much structured soccer had already taken its toll on this group of talented young players." And thus came the launch of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.

Click HERE to continue this Soccer America article by Mike Woitalla




U.S. Soccer Development Academy

The U.S. Soccer Federation has released several documents pertaining to the new program that will provide opportunities for more than 2,000 players:

Links:

Academy Overview,

On the Field Details

Academy Presentation

Membership Application for clubs




May 31, 2007
New USSF youth plan would decrease reliance on ODP

The U.S. Soccer Federation looks set to dramatically decrease its dependence
on the Olympic Development Program, which is run by the state associations and
U.S. Youth Soccer. According to Washington Post reporter
Steven Goff, the Federation is creating a nationwide academy program and a national youth league for teenage boys that will involve up to 2,400 players at both the U-15 and U-18 age groups. "The federation plans to identify 60 to 80 youth clubs across the country," reports Goff. "Those clubs will then select players from the under-15 and under-18 age groups to participate in the academy."

Academy teams will play in a regionally structured national league in which the U-16 national team will compete. Goff reports that the plan,
reportedly approved by the U.S. Soccer Federation's board of directors, encourages each MLS club to field teams; that national team coaches will scout the games; and that teams will play a 36- to 38-game schedule, plus friendlies.

America's youth soccer landscape already includes national championships run by
U.S. Youth Soccer (cup and league), U.S. Club Soccer, the Super Y-League, and
Red Bull -- plus a myriad showcase tournaments. The USSF's ambitious move
into the grassroots level of player development has long had many advocates, but it will also further heat up what we call American youth soccer's Turf War.




May 27, 2007
Vegas welcomes Youth $occer

Las Vegas expects a $14 million economic impact by hosting US Youth Soccer's west region championships - and that's not including money left in the casinos by the 5,000 visitors (players, coaches, team and tournament officials and family members) for the June 18-24 games. More than 250 boys and girls teams, U-12 through U-19, will be vying to advance to the national championship tournaments. Vegas figures on 35,000 "room nights" being booked at area hotels during the seven-day event.




May 24, 2007
More upheaval in Red Bulls youth program

First the Red Bulls fired someone who had turned their youth program into one of the league's best. Then they hired someone whom their club had already once fired. So they had to fire him:

Despite having established a reputation as the leading youth program in MLS, the New York Red Bulls inexplicably fired its youth development director, Giovanni Savarese, last March. Savarese, the most popular player in New York Red Bull (nee MetroStars) history, had deep roots in the Tri-State area, is a former Venezuelan national team player, and played professionally in Britain and Italy in addition to MLS and USL ball. In early May, the Red Bulls hired Armen Simoniants as youth director to "move the program in a new direction." But two weeks later the Red Bulls were informed by the Herald News that the Simoniants' resume included "false or inaccurate information." Among the discrepancies that the Red Bulls apparently didn't notice: Simoniants was not the head coach of the MetroStars reserve team in 2000-03. Moreover, the Herald News discovered that he had been fired by the MetroStars as the reserve team's assistant coach. Ives Galarcep's article in the Herald News quotes from the team's internal memo regarding his performance during his first tenure with the club. The Red Bulls fired Simoniants on May 22.

Click HERE for the Herald News article.




May 22, 2007
Keeper's curse proves costly for Iowa high school

The Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier didn't report exactly what the word was that Waterloo West's goalkeeper uttered after he misjudged a ball and gave up a corner kick. But the referee deemed it worthy of a red card, which was enough to eliminate the Wahawks from postseason play - because Iowa High School Athletic Association rules dictate that a team loses playoff eligibility if it collects four red cards during the season. Frank's ejection made it a quartet for the Wahawks and meant a forfeit in the regional game against Dubuque Senior while they were leading, 2-1.

"I had to call the association, and they said it's automatically done, right then and there," West athletic director Jeff Frost told the Courier. "It's a bad situation for everybody and a tough way for our seniors to go out, but the rules are the rules. Even if we would have continued playing, the state would have stepped in anyway and made us forfeit the game."




May 20, 2007
Affordable youth ball in Indiana

"How can a family that is working hard but only making $7 an hour afford the $100 it takes just to sign up for some of these leagues?" was the question Jose Alvarez asked when he created an affordable youth league in South Bend, Ind. The South Bend Tribune reports that Alavarez got support from Notre Dame women's soccer coach Randy Waldrum: "I used my connections through the NSCAA to get them set up, and over a period of time we have been able to get them about 60 balls as well."

Click HERE to read more.




May 19, 2007
Million$ for hosting regional championships

The Kennebec Journal reports that hosting the U.S. Youth Soccer Region I Championships (U-12 to U-19) in June will have a $9 million economic impact on the Portland, Maine area. It's estimated that 15,000 people will visit during seven-day event.

Click HERE for the article.




May 06, 2007
The Latino Equation

How far has American soccer come in providing opportunities for young Latino players?

By Mike Woitalla (Soccer America Magazine)

Read more...



April 18, 2007
The African Connection

The increase in immigration from Africa has created a burgeoning source of talent for the U.S. youth national team program.

By Mike Woitalla, Soccer America Magazine

About two million people fled Sierra Leone during the decade-long civil war that resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and destroyed two-thirds of the nation's infrastructure. One of the refugees was an 11-year-old boy named Israel Sesay.

Read more...



March 28, 2007
MLS Aims To Make Its Own Stars

MLS clubs are taking a variety of approaches in response to the league's Youth Development Initiative, which requires them to have youth programs in place this year.

By Mike Woitalla, Soccer America Magazine

It's a system that is figuratively and literally foreign to American sports, but is now being adopted by MLS, whose Youth Development Initiative requires its clubs to field youth teams and gives them rights to the players they nurture.

Get the rest of this Soccer America Magazine article HERE!






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