Ranting Soccer Dad

Frank but fair conversations and occasional silliness about youth soccer.

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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September 20th, 2017    

RSD11: Alexi Lalas on developing soft, tattooed millionaires

Alexi Lalas is a Soccer Hall of Famer. He’s also an entertainer, with interests in music as well as riling people up from a soccer broadcast studio. So when he rips the U.S. men’s national team as “soft, tattooed millionaires,” he’s drawing on both backgrounds.

In our conversation, Lalas explains that “tattooed millionaires” came from a solo release by Iron Maiden lead singer Bruce Dickinson (no, not the “More Cowbell” guy on SNL), and then we talk about whether everything from the now-defunct Bradenton residency program to the Development Academy is giving us a generation of coddled, entitled men’s soccer players.

We also talk about specialization, playing in multiple soccer environments (i.e., not just in the Development Academy), high school/college soccer, the Apollo Theater, diversity of playing styles, Michael Bradley’s understanding of livestock, and Brad Friedel playing basketball.

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September 13th, 2017    

Ranting Soccer Dad, Ep. 10: Ronnie Woodard on youth soccer, women in coaching

Do women actually face more difficulty breaking into college coaching today than they did 15 years ago? Is youth soccer going off the rails?

I don't know. But Ronnie Woodard would. The former Duke goalkeeper went straight from the college field to the college sideline and had a strong career coaching at College of Charleston and Vanderbilt before moving to youth soccer with Tennessee Soccer Club and taking national honors, including the 2016 NSCAA Coach of the Year Award.

That's not all. She has a master's degree in counseling and runs a consulting service for female college prospects.

 

A few conversation highlights:

- 10:20: What’s keeping women out of coaching?

 

- 19:30: Balancing high school soccer and club soccer

- 21:00 Defraying travel costs

 

- 25:00 What’s worse in youth soccer today? (cough … parents … cough …)

- 27:00 What’s the case for pursuing college soccer when the cost of travel soccer will usually be greater than any available scholarship?

- 29:30 What’s better in youth soccer today?

And then I go on a rant about the first weekend of Northern Virginia soccer, including a coach's ejection. (No, it wasn't me.)

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September 6th, 2017    

Ranting Soccer Dad, Ep. 9: Girls DA with Travis Clark

The podcast starts this week with a bit of a political rant. The news on DACA is hard to ignore, and we’ve had some ongoing overheated arguments in the soccer community.

The Travis Clark interview on the Development Academy starts around the 9:25 mark. A few landmarks:

- Will the NWSL affiliates dominate? (19:45)

- DA vs. high school (25:00)

- Can we tame the chaos and still have multiple development pathways? (30:30)

- A few clubs to watch in the DA (38:45)

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August 30th, 2017    

Ranting Soccer Dad, Ep. 8: Kris Ward

Kris Ward is young, but he has a lot of coaching experience at every level imaginable, starting with rec teams in his teens, then high schools, youth clubs, a small college and ODP. He worked with the Washington Freedom before they relocated to become magicJack, then coached in D.C. United’s academy program and was one of the first assistant coaches with the NWSL’s Washington Spirit. He managed the rec operations of D.C. Stoddert, a large club in the nation’s capital, before moving to California, where he coaches both in high school and youth club soccer.

We covered a few issues in youth soccer at all levels, and then I turned it over to Kris for an extended meditation on the state of women’s soccer ...

4:00 Do the U.S. Soccer mandates apply to rec soccer? Should they?

6:00 How to coach that first rec practice.

8:30 How French coaches set up practice differently. Could a Development Academy coach use the French method?

17:20 What a “curriculum” really means. Is it dictating what you do from week to week?

20:45 The high school-vs.-Development Academy schism (Ward’s resources at his high school compares very favorably with any academy program).

33:05 How do you do “periodization” when you can’t even control what “your” kids are doing in PE class, let alone another sport?

39:15 “Pep Guardiola doesn’t believe in weightlifting.”

40:30 The state of U.S. women’s soccer

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