03/26/2019 Podcast: Scott's Shot - U.S. Soccer

This week, Scott takes a shot at US Soccer -- what he has seen on TV at the top of the system and what he has experienced in person at the bottom of the system at the local youth levels.

If you prefer to read a written transcript of this monologue, scroll below the Soundcloud link below.

Hello. My name is Scott, and today, I'm going to take a shot at US Soccer. On that dreaded night, well over a year ago, Taylor Twellman went viral. You remember the night -- the night that the United States was knocked out of the 2018 World Cup after losing to Trinidad & Tobago. Twellman lost it over all the issues facing US Soccer, and now that the U.S. Men's National Team had been eliminated from the most important tournament in the world, all those issues were spilling out.

One of his main issues was over the "pay to play" system. In the U.S., kids (or rather, their parents/guardians) have to pay a fee in order to be allowed on a soccer team. It has the effect of reserving soccer as a sport for elitist kids only, recreational rather than developmental.

The night of the Twellman rant was less than two years ago, and it received mostly rave reviews. Fans of US Soccer wanted change -- saw the need for change -- and Twellman was the voice they could rally behind. One of those fans was me.

Not enough time has passed since that night to see any kind of real change, but fans continue to be discouraged. Yes, there's a new head of US Soccer, Carlos Cordeiro, and yes, there's a new General Manager in Earnie Stewart. No one really knows what the General Manager's job is; after all, we've never had one before. So far, all he's really done is hire -- finally -- a new manager in Gregg Berhalter to lead the Men's National Team. The lack of progress is frustrating.

But that's at the top of the system. Everyone with common sense knows that real change is going to have to happen from the ground up as well. Sadly, I've now seen firsthand what that looks like, and let me just say that our future is dim.

During the winter, my wife and I offered a list of possible activities to our four kids. Our instructions were simple. Pick one thing that you want to do as your spring activity. I was a proud dad when three of the four picked soccer. Our area in Central Virginia has a youth soccer league that is tied into the US Soccer system.

The entrance fee is $90. Twellman's viral rant and the phrase "pay to play" was in my head as we paid the fee for three kids. I don't necessarily want to pay into a broken system, but I wanted my kids to enjoy an activity that they themselves had chosen to play.

Little did I know how broken this system is.

The website is horrible. The communication -- non-existent. Even worse, with the first practices less than a week away, I started to get emails that all three of my kids' teams needed volunteer coaches. Wait a minute, I thought. I'm paying for my kids to play in a developmental soccer league, and now I'm also being asked to coach them? Me? Someone who didn't play organized soccer beyond the age of 7?

I mean, sure, if preparing to coach includes watching lots of Premier League and Champions League football and hosting a weekly FPL podcast as a hobby, then yes, I've been preparing to coach football for about 12 years. Sadly, I don't think it does.

As I record this, each of my three kids has a coach, and none of them is me. However, each coach -- like I would have been -- seems to be a reluctant parent volunteer.

In closing, I want to be fair. My experience is with one small unorganized part of the whole system. I don't want to assume that all parts of the system are this bad. Plus, none of my kids are going to be the next Landon Donovan or Alex Morgan. I get that, too.

I just can't escape this awful feeling, though. I can see the top of the system on TV, and it's ugly right now. I can see the bottom of the system in my everyday life, and it's no better.

I have no expectations that the system will improve at all during my lifetime -- not even during 2026 when he host the World Cup. Instead, I just keep thinking that when it comes to soccer in the United States, this is why we can't have nice things.