Eskandarian's thought process in the article makes sense. Anyone who's grown up playing soccer has to deal with the parent who coaches, either because he thinks he knows what he's doing or to be more involved with his kid.
From the article it seems like he believes the biggest flaw in US youth development is coaching.
To me, it’s so imperative that our kids are learning to play the right way,” Eskandarian continued. “That’s our weakness as a country and as a national team. Compared to other countries, we’re fine on the physical end, and we usually can match them tactically. But it’s some of philosophy of soccer – knowing what to do off the ball, being good in front of net, being creative – that’s what we lack.
He's right, to a point... When faced with the question, "Who's the most important player on a soccer field?" How many youth players would answer with "The one without the ball" first? Unfortunately not the majority.
Young players need better coaches when they are in that molding stage, but talented kids are going to be found and taught by knowledgeable coaches. The biggest problem, in my opinion, is practice. Kids need to be playing the game everyday.
I like what John Hackworth, youth development coordinator for the Philadelphia Union, says in this article.
We need to think of it more as a musician. If you're a parent and your child is trying to play a piano recital in Carnegie Hall, they practice hours and hours and hours and play just once when they've perfected it. It's the opposite for kids in soccer; they play games and play games and play games and only practice every once in a while. We have it backwards. There is too much structure. What's appropriate for kids is not winning games and tournaments. Soccer is a skill game and you need to practice and practice. Most of that for a young kid is a lot of time on the ball in an environment where an adult really shouldn't be doing much more than cultivating creativity. The ball itself is the best coach there could be.
You don't need a prized coach to be in your backyard dribbling and working on your touch or at a park messing around with friends.
And it doesn't end with youth. Even players at the college level are lacking in practice.
Earnie Stewart, technical director for AZ Alkmaar, says,
I see logistical problems in the United States and [NCAA limitations on practice time in college soccer] make it difficult. It all goes back to repetitions, hours and hours and hours. Kids from 18 to 22 are only practicing a few hours a week -- and these are some of the top players in the United States? That's ridiculous. If you see what we in Holland put in for hours and what the United States puts in, it's not even close.
What do you think?