April Bulletin 2023 | Page 5

» Can you produce a high level of work and sustain it over time ?
» Do you use athletic ability or do you depend upon it ?
» Are you strong in 1v1 situations ? What kind of competitor are you ?
» Can you impose your will on opponents ? » How do you react to intimidation ? » How do you react to dirty play ? » Do you have physical and moral courage ? » How tough-minded are you ? » How do you react to losing ? Winning ? Does this describe the players on the USMNT ? What do you think ? It certainly describes the players on the Dutch National team . And most players on the traditional “ soccer nations ” teams . Watch the USA v Netherlands game again . The Dutch did all the “ little things ” correctly . The U . S . did not . The Dutch did all the “ little things ” we try to teach our teams and players every year . The U . S . did not .
The U . S . team was better and even good in this World Cup . But in its current form we are stuck getting out of the group and going home after one game in the knockout phase . Why ? Please look at the list above . I used bold and underscored what I believe is the most important part of Wade ’ s description :
“ Do you use your athletic ability , or do you rely on it ?”
American players rely on their athletic ability . Americans take pride in their athleticism . The Dutch ( and other traditional soccer nations ) are soccer players who use their athletic ability . As the USMNT goes up the “ World Soccer Pyramid ,” their athletic ability alone is not good enough to be successful . The players must become good soccer players who use their athletic ability !
You can see this phenomenon at every level of U . S . soccer . In youth soccer , coaches want to find the biggest , fastest and strongest players .
This ensures success … winning . There is not a lot of teaching that goes on . Of course , there are some clubs and coaches who teach the game at the youngest level . But how many times have you heard a coach lament , “ we can ’ t compete against those big players !”
It is not only the youth teams . High school and college teams are following suit . Big , strong and fast . Let ’ s play direct soccer . Win the second ball and score ! And win . Teams that try to “ play the game ” can ’ t compete with this . And this does not help the USMNT ’ s cause . We don ’ t teach the “ little things ” that make the difference .
This is not the fault of Gregg Berhalter , the national team players , or U . S . Soccer . Our “ soccer culture ” is to blame .
Let ’ s have a look at an example from the game :
The first Dutch goal : The ball came down the right side . There were three runners in the box . They framed the goal with a player at the near post , mid goal and far post . The players stopped running allowing the U . S . defenders to continue their retreat . This gave the Dutch players space to play . The ball was passed on the ground to the scorer . He shot first time to the far post . Perfect . The other two goals were similar . They did all the little things necessary to score a goal .
Let ’ s contrast that to what we see every weekend on the soccer fields in the U . S . Ball comes down the flank with a winger . There are few runners in the box . Most often these runners are jogging , and in the box too soon . If they are running into the box at least one will run past the near post taking him / her out of the play . The ball is dumped into the box , not passed to a teammate . Often the ball goes completely over the box and out of play . A promising opportunity is lost . Too many mistakes . The little things were not taken care of to allow a good opportunity ! We want to rely on our athletic ability and hope a big player
April Bulletin | 5