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May 01, 2013
MLS Stars: When They Were Children

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

One of the more enjoyable parts of interviewing pros is hearing anecdotes from their youth soccer days. Here are some from this season's MLS stars in the Youth Soccer Insider's latest edition of "When They Were Children."

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March 30, 2013
Michael Bradley: From 'runt of the litter' to U.S. star

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

U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley, who on Tuesday lines up against Mexico in his 22nd World Cup qualifier and 75th game for the USA, is the subject of the Youth Soccer Insider's latest edition of "When They Were Children."

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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.

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August 14, 2012
Relive the U.S. women's golden Olympics

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

The Olympics provided a rare chance for America's soccer-playing girls to see plenty of action from the world's best women players. Fortunately, those who tuned in for the USA's march to their gold medals were treated to high drama, exciting soccer and lots of goals.

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July 12, 2012
Kristine Lilly: Have fun and go after it (Q&A Part 2)

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

Kristine Lilly, the world record holder for national team appearances with 352, debuted for the USA at age 16 in 1987 and retired in 2010 at age 39. In Part 2 of our interview with the veteran of five World Cups and three Olympic Games, Lilly offers advice for young players and reflects on her youth sports and national team experience.

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June 29, 2012
Tim Howard's advice for keepers, parents and coaches

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

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June 28, 2012
When they were children (Mario Balotelli & Philipp Lahm)

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

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June 23, 2012
When they were children (Nani & David Silva)

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

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June 20, 2012
When they were children (Cristiano Ronaldo & Welbeck)

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

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June 12, 2012
When they were children (Bastian, Iniesta & Sheva)

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

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April 27, 2012
Proud parents of great players offer insight

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

"The worst thing for a kid is to be on the field and hear his father screaming from the sidelines, and the kid has to look over and see that."

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April 20, 2012
Mia Hamm's advice for girls, parents and coaches

American sports icon Mia Hamm debuted for the U.S. national team at age 15 in 1987. She helped the USA to two World Cup and two Olympic titles. The 158 national team goals she scored before retiring in 2004 remain a world record. We asked Hamm to reflect on her early years and offer advice for coaches, parents and young players.

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

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August 04, 2011
Klinsmann's Early Years - Running free with the ball

Juergen Klinsmann, the new USA coach, played in his first organized soccer game shortly before his 9th birthday, in Gingen, a German village with a population of 400.

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

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July 01, 2011
When They Were Children: World Cup Women

The curb in front her house was an important part of Carli Lloyd's skill development.

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

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April 18, 2011
When They Were Children: Stories from the Stars

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

One of the more enjoyable parts of interviewing stars is hearing anecdotes from their youth soccer days. Here are some from this season's MLS players:

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February 22, 2011
Reinventing the Soccer Ball

It seems to me that playing soccer with different kinds of balls is good for children's skill development. I don't have scientific evidence for this, but a lot of anecdotes from great players. Pele played with a grapefruit and a sock stuffed with paper when a proper ball wasn't available. Diego Maradona walked to school kicking an orange or crumpled-up paper. Claudio Reyna played one-on-one with his brother in the basement using a Nerf-type ball and kicked against the ball with one of those plastic bouncy balls you find in drug-store bins.

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

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February 20, 2009
Field Play Makes Better Keepers

Is the USA's ability to produce great goalkeepers threatened by early specialization?

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

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November 13, 2008
The Saga of Subotic

With war on the horizon, Neven Subotic's Serbian family fled Bosnia in 1990 when he was 18 months old and settled in Schoemberg, a small town in Germany's Black Forest. As refugees with few options, the family moved into the clubhouse attic of a local soccer team that his father joined.

By Mike Woitalla (from the November 2008 issue of Soccer America Magazine)

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September 03, 2007
Beckham's First U.S. Experience

David Beckham's first visit to the USA came two decades before he joined the Los Angeles Galaxy. He talked about his trip to the Dallas Cup as a 13-year-old in a recent Observer Sport Monthly article:

"The Dallas Cup was one of my first trips abroad, maybe my first trip away with a team, which is probably why I remember it so well. As a team, we were close, a bunch of good mates, really. We each boarded with a family. The rest of the lads seemed to be staying with wealthier people: staying in big, big houses and getting ferried around in flash cars. They were all happy enough.

"But I stayed with a Mexican family. Their house definitely wasn't a mansion! They had a couple of boys, one older than me and one younger, who were in the tournament as well. The whole family collected me from the airport in a pick-up truck and, right from the off, they were so friendly. Every morning we'd be off down McDonald's for coffee and pancakes and syrup. I had the best time.

"Back then, there wasn't a professional league, obviously, but the standard at kids' level was very high, just like it is now. It was one of the toughest junior tournaments I played in. The chance for a kid my age to just go to America was amazing. To actually play in a tournament there was a great experience. When I was young, I used to get quite homesick, even just being away for a weekend in Manchester. Maybe all kids feel like that. But that week in Dallas was different. I loved it: the football, of course, but the people and the country as well. I just loved being in America."

Read the entire article HERE.




May 24, 2007
WHEN THEY WERE CHILDREN: Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho, whom Pele has called "a true artist with the ball," grew up playing soccer daily on the dirt roads of his Porto Alegre neighborhood and in fields near his house. When his friends got tired of playing, he would play soccer with his dog, Bombom.

Bombom was a mutt, a dark mixed-breed dog whose name means "chocolate candy" in Portuguese.

"Bombom loved to play with me," Ronaldinho says. "When all my friends got bored, I would play with him. We would stay battling for the ball all day. I had to work hard on my moves to keep him from getting the ball. We were inseparable. He was my great companion."

Nothing kept the young Ronaldinho from playing soccer.

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