If you’re anywhere near being an enthusiast of Major League Soccer, or soccer in general, the tides of potential change in College Soccer should be a welcomed sight.
And this latest article from MLSSoccer.com should be mandatory reading to get a feel for how things are progressing.
For me, that progress comes as no surprise. And in case you missed it here’s what my thoughts were earlier in 2015: Major League Soccer – Can it truly reach the heights of top European Leagues by 2025 .
So with those two articles, plus two interviews Stephen Brandt and I have had on the Yellowcardedpod with Jamie Clark (Head Coach University of Washington) Interview with Jamie
& Jeremy Fishbein (Head Coach University of New Mexico) Interview with Jeremy Fishbein
it should help us carve out some questions as we spend time with Sasho Cerovski (Head Coach of University of Maryland) later this month.
My intent, through questions and discussion, is to touch base, in one way or another, with how College Soccer might better envision topics like these (below) as part of a successful end state (perhaps before 2025)?
And yes, the NCAA is a tough nut to crack, but if colleges are really set up to help those, who attend, to better prepare for their lives in a professional environment then it only makes sense to seek out better ways to prepare students for the real rigors of professional soccer.
I don’t claim to have all the answers or even all the questions but if there is intent, true intent, to make the United States a leader in soccer then it’s worthy to consider that changes need to be made at the college level. It is… after all… the most beautiful, individualized, team sport in the world and it’d be rude for the NCAA not to consider how it can better serve their students who wish to play professional soccer.
- A college soccer season that mirrors the length and rough number of games played at the professional level.
- A college soccer ‘rules of law’ that mirrors that of FIFA and US Soccer.
- A soccer competition (that US Soccer supports) where College teams can potentially play against Professional teams for the US Open Cup – and yes amateur leagues across THE REST OF THE WORLD compete in national cups.
- A training environment where players can experience the same type of physical training and game tactics they’ll face in the professional leagues. In other words get rid of count-down clocks and multiple player substitutions as well as the silly rules about what constitutes soccer training versus workouts in the gym.
- A coaching environment where coaches can experience the same types of tactical nuance that professional coaches face. In other words, again, ditch the multiple substitution rules. Thereby forcing head coaches to have their players experience tired legs, which in turn, can change the tenor/tactics of a game. Meaning it isn’t simply about playing – with fresh legs for all players – a full 90 minutes. This then translates to better understanding possession with purpose – possession for the sake of possession – versus possession for the sake of penetration – or – (put differently) non-possession where you lure your opponent into untenable defending positions if/when they lose the ball in attack.
- A refereeing environment where referees gain valuable experience in governing a game relative to the rules of FIFA and US Soccer… I think most would agree, the greater the pool of eligible referees to manage professional soccer, the greater the likelihood that refereeing in this country will get better.
If you did read my article, or previous articles I’ve written on these topics, you should know there are roughly 1900 college soccer teams in the United States; that equates to roughly 41,800 players playing outside the governing rules of FIFA and US Soccer.
That also equates (if each college team has 1 Head Coach and 3 Assistant Coaches) to 7,600 coaches not coaching and managing tactics (successes and failures of those tactics) they are likely to experience as a professional head coach. This isn’t to say coaches are not aware of those different types of tactics – it’s only to offer that having the regular experience of managing, relative to those tactics, may be different in the professional ranks as opposed to college ranks.
Finally, every game needs a referee and two assistant referees, plus a fourth official on the sideline. So that equates to 7,600 referees managing games outside the governing rules of FIFA and US Soccer.
Bottom line, that means the single greatest level of amateur soccer in this country is failing to properly prepare players (in their prime), coaches, and referees for professional soccer.
So… Jurgen Klinsmann and Sunil Gulati – if you’re really going to espouse to a greater success of soccer, across this nation, then I’d expect you need to focus on supporting college coaches, as much, if not more, than MLS. Others may disagree…
What are your thoughts?