Ranting Soccer Dad

Frank but fair conversations and occasional silliness about youth soccer.

July 19th, 2018    


I've changed podcast hosts. For the latest podcasts, blog posts and everything else, go to the main Ranting Soccer Dad site.

June 8th, 2018    

RSD36: Player pathways, college and elite leagues, with Lesle Gallimore

Lesle Gallimore has been head women's soccer coach at the University of Washington since 1994, and she's the current president of United Soccer Coaches. 

In this conversation, we talk about how college coaches adapt their recruiting to the new "elite league turf war" environment. And we talk about how players adapt and whether they *can* adapt. 

For example: Could Gallimore's most famous player, Hope Solo, work her way through the system today and be discovered? 

Coincidentally, Solo made a lot of news this week, and I discuss that before the interview (which was recorded before all that news happened). The Gallimore interview starts around the 10-minute mark.

May 18th, 2018    

RSD35: Dennis Crowley on putting together a soccer pyramid

Dennis Crowley didn't just start a soccer team. He created a laboratory for "open-source soccer." 

He shares business and financial info on his NPSL club, the Kingston Stockade, on Medium. And though Kingston might not be the likeliest market to have a club that would climb an open pyramid to Division I, he has become one of the most thoughtful (or reasonable, if you like) advocates of promotion/relegation.

In this conversation, we talk about the challenges of putting together a pyramid in the lower divisions. Yes, there's more than "U.S. Soccer stinks," though he argues the federation could be doing more to facilitate change and stability. And at the end, he shares his experience of seeing the Stockade make their Open Cup debut.

May 14th, 2018    

RSD34: The USL/youth hybrid Richmond Kickers, with Daryl Grove

The guest is Daryl Grove of the popular Total Soccer Show podcast. The topic is his hometown club, the Richmond Kickers, which has a couple of decades of history as a youth soccer club with a professional team on top of and integrated into its internal pyramid. 

Yes, really. It's not just a pro team that started up some half-assed youth programs. It's not an MLS team that has Development Academy teams and little else. See its tryout page to see how many levels of travel soccer it offers, and then look at its "Little Kicks" page to see former pro player Luke Vercollone's programs for preschoolers. The Kickers also join forces with the rival Richmond Strikers for the Richmond United Development Academy program.

We talk about the USL, the impact of MLS reserve teams in the USL, facilities, etc. Yes, we do talk about promotion and relegation around the 33:30 mark. Most importantly, we have a suggestion for the Virginia Department of Transportation to institute HOTS lanes that would help soccer people get from D.C. to Richmond and vice versa.

And for a great example of what Daryl does with the Total Soccer Show, check out his conversation on soccer and international black culture with Aaron Dolores of Black Arrow FC.

If you want some background on the NASL stuff mentioned in the intro, check out the Twitter thread from Steven Bank and a post from fellow lawyer Miki Turner. My quick take: I still see no case whatsoever to maintain the NASL. If the discovery process kicks up things in U.S. Soccer that need to be revised or excised, so be it. 

The 1995 U.S. Open Cup final is available on YouTube. Note Richmond captain Richie Williams. Yes, that Richie Williams, later of D.C. United and various U.S. Soccer coaching gigs.

May 4th, 2018    

RSD33: Soccer played in Germany, with Ian Plenderleith

Today's guest is an English/American/German soccer writer/referee/parent/coach/player. He's Ian Plenderleith, and we had a good conversation about the differences in the USA and Germany -- at least, as many of them as we could fit in a one-hour chat.

Read more of Ian's work at ...

- The Quiet Fan, a blog related to his upcoming book

- Referee Tales, dispatches from the fields in Germany

- Rock n Roll Soccer, his book on the NASL (the old one)

- Twitter

April 25th, 2018    

RSD32: Christian Lavers on ECNL/DA, U.S. Club/U.S. Youth competition

Maybe they're not turf wars. Maybe it's just healthy competition.

Christian Lavers is fully immersed in the complicated landscape of U.S. youth soccer. He's a technical director with FC Wisconsin and an executive with the ECNL and U.S. Club Soccer. And miraculously, he still sounds optimistic. Even "nice." If you're looking for mud-slinging, you're not going to find it here. Instead, you're going to hear a candid but polite take on why we have multiple national championships and other stuff that those of us who cover youth soccer complain about. 

He's aware of the travel requirements these days -- "not every game should require a hotel stay or flight," he says. But he sees different organizations filling different legitimate needs.  

Leading into the interview, I have an announcement about the Ranting Soccer Dad Guide to Youth Soccer and the Patreon page.


April 11th, 2018    

RSD31: Grassroots and futsal, with Leslie Hamer and Jason Longshore

It’s a futsal/grassroots doubleheader! After a brief intro (no full rant this week), you’ll hear from Leslie Hamer, who works with futsal at every level from the grassroots to the pros. She has been getting futsal into New York City public schools and now into colleges.

Next up: Jason Longshore, whom you may know as a commentator on Atlanta United games but has spent much of the last 12 years working with Soccer in the Streets, an organization that brings soccer (or futsal -- whichever makes sense for the available facilities) to underserved communities and schools. You may know them from their effort to put a small soccer field at a MARTA (local transit) station.

You’ll find a few differences and a few similarities in their stories. They work with other organizations from municipal governments to soccer clubs to the U.S. Soccer Foundation. (Reminder: The Foundation is not the Federation, though the Fed does nominate some board members.) Both programs are fundamentally geared toward providing healthy and productive activities for underserved areas, but you’ll sometimes see players move into elite levels, including pro academies.

The bell sound is from SoundBible.com. Every other musical note and sound effect was scratched out by me in GarageBand or through GarageBand.

March 28th, 2018    

RSD30: Announcement time

This week: The Ranting Soccer Dad Guide to Youth Soccer is officially underway. Check out the first couple of entries and support it on Patreon.

In the podcast, I spend about five minutes explaining all that. Then I go on a rant about the generation gap in understanding soccer and why we don't have a glorious promotion/relegation pyramid just yet. (Plus a few ideas on how to get there. Or how not to.)

March 14th, 2018    

RSD29: A random but interesting coach/parent, Mike Davitt

Do you know Mike Davitt? Until a few weeks ago, I didn’t, either. He’s a longtime soccer coach who, like many longtime soccer coaches do, also became a soccer parent. He’s originally from Kearny, N.J., hallowed ground for U.S. soccer.

After listening to a few of my rants, he emailed me and said he didn’t think youth soccer was doomed. It might even be a good thing.

I’ve been hoping to find people like that for the podcast, and so we chatted. Our conversation (starting around the 15:00 mark) ends up with an interesting idea on educating coaches, which is an issue that popped up in the big election. We talk about the positives of having an alphabet soup of leagues and organizations, how to help parents make educated decisions (23:00, including a suggestion that we should stop using the word “academy” unless you’re in the DA), how to watch out for players’ self-esteem (32:40), and how to keep score.

But first, I ranted. A little. I talked a bit about the big Chattanooga summit (4:25 mark) that may be the first big step toward a new pro league.

March 7th, 2018    

RSD28: SAY Soccer’s Doug Wood

After today’s explanation of the upcoming Guide to Youth Soccer (3:00) and a rant about promotion/relegation (4:15), my guest (12:30) is Doug Wood, executive director of SAY (Soccer Association for Youth). He starts by explaining what SAY does -- mostly recreational soccer through several different entry points, including schools.

SAY isn’t the most top-down organization out there. Its leagues and clubs sometimes have diverse approaches. Sounds a little different than the U.S. Soccer mandates, doesn’t it?

Along with U.S. Youth Soccer, U.S. Club Soccer, AYSO and USSSA, SAY is part of the Youth Council Technical Working Group, which sprung up in response to those mandates. We talk about whether that’s making a difference (26:00). And yes, we talk about the ill-fated birth-year age mandate (28:50).

What happens when SAY discovers a potential elite player? See 39:30.

How do SAY players play with other organizations as well? See 44:45.

Then get an impassioned plea on behalf of recreational sports at 53:15.

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