Pitch Points develops coaches and players

Atlanta United coaching soccer MLS academy

That’s what I’m talking about. (In a very literal sense: I’ve been calling for this for a while). Atlanta United is starting a coaching academy, to help not only make better coaches in an absolute sense, but also to get coaches in their area on their program, so that players coming through the various youth clubs will be Atlanta United-trained in a downstream way.

Clubs taking responsibility for developing not only players but also coaches (something that’s gone under-discussed in the current era of transition for US Soccer is that the lack of good coaches has been a contributing factor to lack of development) in their areas is crucial to one of the mission statements of this blog’s philosophy in building a soccer culture.

Meanwhile, US Soccer has changed its coaching licensure pathway, some for better and some for worse, by eliminating F and E licenses and replacing them with grassroots coaching courses. I like some of Beau Dure’s points on the ups and downs of the change. The long and short of it is that there needs to be a way to both try to become an A-license holding coach, and also a guy who wants to help out with his middle- or high-schooler’s team and hold a certification giving him some credibility there.

I would rather USSF have waited until a new president comes in to make sweeping changes, because if the new president wants to put a stamp on coaching education, then… well, there’s value in consistency, and USSF should (but often does not) realize that.

Speaking of Atlanta United’s place in development… Putting together the USL Eastern Conference preview pieces brought this concept to my attention, and Dirty South Soccer vocalizes it pretty well: MLS-affiliated USL teams shouldn’t be focused on results. The same argument is frequently made about youth clubs, in that the priority is development more so than winning (results like TFC2 being as bad as they are tell a different story, because they also indicate a lack of development). That NSC plays ATL UTD 2 three times this year – twice at home – makes their specific example more relatable.

When there are stabler Division-2 and below leagues in US Soccer, the place of MLS reserve sides will probably be solidified as something outside of a potential pro-rel structure, probably outside of a playoff/championship structure in USL or USL D3, and there just to have competition to get game action for the younger guys.

How much that requires further development of academy and youth structures, and fundamental changes in how MLS is able to give young Americans minutes (see above) will probably require a few steps in the interim to take place to even determine what is and is not workable.

Since we’re talking about Atlanta United (albeit their B-team in this particular portion)… Their major signing yesterday was a potential watershed moment for the future of MLS. I’ve seen many such moments over the years though, and while Beckham, Miazga, 70,000 fans or whatever have all moved the league forward, they haven’t been the moment that they seemed at the time, either.

MLS SuperDraft has an international flair. That includes Generation Adidas-signed Michigan Wolverine Francis Atuahene (who went fourth overall to FC Dallas). This is actually a good thing, from my perspective.

I’m a consistent “don’t copy Europe just for the sake of copying Europe” sort of guy (mostly coming into play in the pro/rel discussion, of course). Taking advantage of what makes your country unique, rather than considering it a burden, is the path to a soccer culture that is weaved into the fabric of the national (sporting and non-sporting) culture, rather than just specific to the soccer community. The concept of a draft has always bugged me about US pro sports, though: it’s in the most literal sense a reward for being bad at what you do (in the name of parity, of course). This is why college football is so much more interesting to me than the NFL Draft: recruiting is, in most ways, a meritocracy.

The more we see American prospects turn up as homegrown signings, rather than being eligible draftees, the more indication it is that MLS sides are doing their part to develop talent and take talent development seriously (rather than relying on the insistence on parity to prop up the less ambitious teams out there). There’s probably another day for a wider-ranging discussion of the topic, of course, but getting into a culture where clubs are developing and signing players – even those who do a stint in college or semi-pro leagues – is far healthier than a draft.

The presidential election approaches. Eric Wynalda’s on a bit of a image-rehabilitation tour after realizing “maybe being a dick all the time isn’t the greatest selling point to people other than the pro/rel zealots?” Extensive talk about his financial troubles is humanizing, but also probably not King Sales Pitch, either. That folks are calling this a “hit job” just underscores that we live in an era where idiots with an agenda refuse to believe that any compelling news story that doesn’t fall in line with that agenda is attributable to “media bias” rather than “I am a stupid person, and personally responsible for a very troubling time in American media.”

Naturally, Wynalda goes back into the “be a dick” well pretty quickly in the article, which… I don’t have personal animus with Wynalda (and think he’d be a passable president, though one of the worse candidates), but like, dude, act like an adult if you want to earn an adult position. This isn’t complicated, but seems to be so far beyond the guy’s understanding that it’s a major black mark on the campaign. Unfortunately, the personal attack stuff plays to his rabid base, so he won’t stop doing it. Fortunately, this isn’t a general election where those people actually have a say in the election.

All that said… I’m disappointed in some aspects of the plan presented by Kyle Martino (who has been my preferred candidate). Plenty of parts seem hastily thrown-together or unrelated to the category he places them in… you’d think a little more editing and review would have been used for a plan he’s been teasing for a couple months now, especially given that some of his key plans – though good ones – now come off as stale.

Better than “I will keep my plan a secret until I’m elected also LOL Sunil Gulati sucks” at least.

 

Etc.: Local media article on NSC left back Taylor Washington. … Excerpt from NSC CEO Court Jeske on Sirius XM’s The Football Show (unfortunately, even SXM subscribers don’t have access to a podcast of the whole thing, so if you missed it, you missed it). … In case you hadn’t yet personally experienced pro/rel zealots not reading a damn word of anything they argue vociferously against. … I’m not sure this is the most pressing issue, but it’s at least mildly interesting news at this point. … USMNT players with a lot to gain at the ongoing January Camp.

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