So, should your star high school son take his talents to college or the pros?John Parker looked into that yesterday with, “Toting The Old Ball ‘N’Chain: Player Development in America.”
Here’s some more reaction to keep the discussion going below.
From Travis Clark, Staff Reporter & Editor at Advanced Soccer Media/TopDrawerSoccer.com & expert on youth soccer.
For now, college soccer remains the best option for aspiring pros. While the training sessions and seasons obviously are much different, a player is better off spending at least a year or two in college adjusting to a higher level, and hopefully not picking up too many bad habits along the way. A spot in MLS can then be claimed. However, if we’re talking players with national team desires and hopes, by all means they need to skip that route — or play no more than a season. Is it ideal? No. But in 2012, this moment, it’s better than not playing any games in the league or a scatter shot reserve league.The buck needs to stop with MLS when it comes developing players. Name one country across the globe where their first XI didn’t originate (at least initially) from a domestic club. And no, Middle East countries don’t count. MLS has only been developing players for roughly 4-5 years, and that’s a stretch. If player development continues to progress and improve at the domestic level, there’s no doubt that it benefits the national team long term. Just how that happens exactly is anyone’s guess.
From TSG Contributor, Ryan McCormack, who penned “A Treatise: The State of American Youth Soccer.”
John makes a strong argument for youth contracts in the United States in an effort to improve prospects at the international level. The country will eventually need to decide if the amateur/professional designations are still relevant or outdated. The prospects of youth contracts could yield results not only at the international level, but also in building a stronger domestic league and youth system.
The problem may go even further than he suggests. As we know from the “Pay for Play” model of soccer, many socioeconomic disadvantaged kids who have a strong skill set in soccer have to give up playing the sport at the most competitive levels due to money. They cannot afford club dues, coaching fees, club gear, or travel costs. By creating a youth contract, the talent pool grows, making every level stronger as well.