Ranting Soccer Dad

Frank but fair conversations and occasional silliness about youth soccer.

December 1st, 2017    

RSD21: U.S. Soccer presidential candidate Eric Wynalda

Eric Wynalda has played in multiple World Cups, Germany, MLS, etc. He's been a successful coach and commentator. 

Yes, we talk about promotion/relegation. In fact, we did it first just so you single-issue types can listen and then bail out. If you want to hear about EVERY issue facing the next USSF president -- well, we got to maybe half of them. There are lot of issues. In rough order, we talk about: 

1. What's different or similar between the concerns of the Twitterati and the concerns of the typical state or national association. 

2. Whether people are nervous to speak up about the USSF power structure. 

3. Women's soccer: The new collective bargaining agreement and the NWSL. 

4. Youth soccer: Has the federation done too little? Too much? 

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November 29th, 2017    

RSD20: Mediating the NASL/USSF suit with Neil Morris

Neil Morris covers his local teams -- North Carolina FC and the North Carolina Courage -- for WRAL. His work includes a terrific podcast, the Inverted Triangle. In his day job, he's an attorney and mediator. 

So why not combine his areas of expertise and try to mediate the NASL/USSF lawsuit? We gave it a whirl, with Neil playing the role of mediator and your host flipping between the roles of NASL and USSF advocates.

The conversation starts around the 8:45 mark. We quickly explain what's going on in the real world with the lawsuit, and then Neil explains the mediation process. 

I present a hypothetical NASL offer, prompted by Neil's helpful questions and prodding, around the 25-minute mark. (Highlights: Cosmos owner on the USSF Board, drop divisional sanctioning OR give us D2 for a few years.) I give a hypothetical USSF counter at 43:45. We spend the last half-hour assessing our progress -- some promising ideas, but some roadblocks that even the most reasonable people may have difficulty eliminating. Uh oh.

 

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November 15th, 2017    

RSD19: U.S. Soccer presidential candidate Kyle Martino

A vote for Kyle Martino is actually a vote for a network of people that he believes can solve the problems in U.S. Soccer. He’s going to bring them together in early December to flesh out a “progress plan” that he outlines on his site.

He’s already hard at work building this consensus, and this interview has a few glitches because he was on the run as we chatted. He had to run at one point to do a live interview, and the phone connection dropped as he hopped from train to train.

The former MLS player and current (though on leave) NBC analyst grasps the complexities of the U.S. Soccer presidency for which he’s running. Like a couple of other candidates, he’s out talking with youth and adult constituencies to find out what they need. He has mixed feelings about the incumbent, Sunil Gulati, whom Martino firmly believes has run his course as president but still has a lot to offer U.S. Soccer. He’s shocked to hear how other candidates talk about Gulati, pointing out that the next president will have to work “symbiotically” with him as a FIFA Council member and World Cup bid organizer. (That’s all between the 14- and 18-minute marks.)

We talk specifically about women’s soccer -- in addition to our conversations about youth soccer, which is certainly not limited to boys -- at the 13:30 mark and the 28:00 mark and possibly a few other places. I did not get around to asking about the NWSL -- honestly, I haven’t thought of a question along those lines that I wouldn’t rather be asking NWSL owners.

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November 8th, 2017    

RSD18: U.S. Soccer presidential candidate Mike Winograd

He doesn't have the name recognition of Eric Wynalda, he hasn't been in the U.S. Soccer inner circle like Carlos Cordeiro, and he hasn't been campaigning as long as Steve Gans. But Mike Winograd is an interesting candidate for the USSF presidency. He's a former player, he helped launch a pro club, and he's a lawyer who works on very big deals.

In our conversation (starting around the 10-minute mark after I ranted a bit about the NASL lawsuit and gave an overview of the presidential election), we talk about Winograd's background and his plans, which he outlined in a prior interview at GotSoccer. His basic mode of operation: He wants to get everyone on the same page -- or, as he puts it, rowing in the same direction.

Key quote: "U.S. Soccer should not be in the business of trying to ram things down people’s throats."

Particular points of interest: How to get the WNT and MNT equal or equivalent, depending on what each team wants (35:00), and addressing cost barriers in youth soccer (40:00).

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November 1st, 2017    

RSD17: Adding tiers to the U.S. soccer cake, with NPSL’s Jef Thiffault

Jef Thiffault is the managing director for the NPSL, an elite amateur league that's been sometimes pulled into promotion/relegation discussions. But he used to work for MLS and SUM.

Mind blown yet?

It's actually an encouraging discussion that gives the impression that we have some smart people in U.S. soccer, toiling far away from the courtrooms and big-league boardrooms. And we might see a sea change in elite amateur competition that just might spill upward to the pros.

Interview begins around the 10:30 mark after I give a long introduction and rant a bit about the NASL and so forth.

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October 25th, 2017    

RSD16: Kevin Payne (U.S. Club Soccer) shatters simplistic suggestions

Fix the pay-to-play system! Make U.S. clubs pay and receive solidarity payments and training compensation! Get Sunil Gulati out of U.S. Soccer!

Not so fast.

Today’s guest is Kevin Payne, currently the U.S. Club Soccer CEO and previously an executive with D.C. United, AEG, and Toronto FC. He also has plenty of experience within U.S. Soccer in a variety of roles, including membership on the Board of Directors.

He’s here to tell you the pet solutions we toss around on Twitter are either (A) not so simple or (B) totally missing the boat. The interview starts at the 7:20 mark, after a brief rant on the state of MLS, the NASL, USL, NWSL and maybe even QSL. (Yes, I miss shortwave radio.)

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October 18th, 2017    

RSD15: The clogged youth-to-pro pipeline, with Brian Dunseth and Chris Keem

Was Nik Besagno a warning sign?

The top pick in the 2005 MLS Draft -- ahead of Brad Guzan, Michael Parkhurst, Will John, Chris Rolfe, Bobby Boswell, Chris Wondolowski and Jeff Larentowicz -- had a very short MLS career. Perhaps not coincidentally, that’s when people started to wonder if the U17 residency in Bradenton was producing soft, coddled players.

Yes, the youth-to-pro pipeline is at the core of our national wailing and gnashing of teeth after the U.S. men failed to qualify for the World Cup. It’s a topic so big, we need two guests.

First up, player-turned-commentator Brian Dunseth talks about what happened in Trinidad (3:30), Olympic soccer and how much it hurt the men to miss out (5:00), losing players from youth soccer (9:40), the parental perspective when clubs start demanding your money (11:20), the importance of failure (17:00), whether players are too soft or coddled (20:15), MLS (27:15 and 33:10), coaching education (28:15), relegation from a player’s perspective (35:45), the Development Academy (39:45), and an easy solution to all of this (40:10). Then concussions (44:30).

Then it’s Chris Keem, a veteran youth soccer coach and administrator with experience in college and the NPSL as well, joins us around the 50-minute mark. We start out talking about turf wars and how they drive up prices in youth soccer, then move into dealing with the Development Academy when you’re running another youth club (53:45), addressing “pay to play” and how it works in other countries (58:00), getting a club’s coaches on the same page and poaching vs. development (1:04:30), what the NPSL was and what it wants to be (1:06:00), and why youth players may opt for other sports (1:17:30).

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October 10th, 2017    

RSD14: U.S. Soccer presidential candidate Steven Gans

Steven Gans is running for U.S. Soccer president, and he has some bold statements. "Under my administration, nobody’s going to be ignored" (11:15). "The laissez-faire attitude (toward youth soccer) is troubling and would change under my administration" (29:00). The idea of having two State Cups in one state is "utterly ridiculous," and those who are not working for the good of the game for the kids are going to be "marginalized" (31:30).

 

If you're also running for U.S. Soccer president and would like to be interviewed on this podcast, please get in touch.

The podcast starts with a funny or cautionary tale from this weekend's youth tournaments.

(NOTE: This interview obviously took place BEFORE the USA was eliminated from the men's World Cup on Tuesday night.)

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October 4th, 2017    

RSD13: Washington Spirit recap and why Vegas shouldn’t make us cynical

In the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, the podcast opens with a few thoughts on why we shouldn't give up on changing people and society as a whole, either on something relatively trivial like youth soccer or something horrifying like one man's ability to assemble the weapons to wound 500 people. Maybe we need a little less competition and a little more cooperation to make the changes we need?

Also, a quick recap of the Washington Spirit's season, in which the team fell from being 30 seconds away from a league championship to last place. Includes postgame comments from Spirit coach Jim Gabarra and the team's star attacking player, Mallory Pugh.

(Apologies for the drop in volume during the Pugh interview. Also, if you can't hear Gabarra's last two words, they're "No comment.")

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September 27th, 2017    

RSD12: Is youth soccer doomed to suck?

Host Beau Dure flies solo for this edition, asking whether it's possible to turn youth soccer into an activity that produces good soccer players and good human beings. 

Crowd noise sound effect is from FreeSound user paulw2k under a Creative Commons 3.0 license. I hope Brentford won the game.

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