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Bradenton Academy Impact on USMNT: You Decide


Yesterday on the Major League Soccer Talk Podcast, one of our guests Jamie Trecker of FOX Sports articulated an opinion which I happen to believe is well founded regarding the lack of player development by the USSF despite having a well funded and staffed National Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

Here are the lists of players that attended the Academy between the Spring of 2002 and Spring of 2005.

Freddy Adu Corey Ashe Michael Bradley Adrian Chevannes Steve Curfman Joey Diaramando Eddie Gaven Chris Germani Jose Gomez’ Brian Grazier Guillermo Gonzalez, Michael Harrington, Drew Hanson, Kyle Helton, Phil Marfuggi, Brian Mascharenhas, Brandon Oot, Brandon Owens, Jacob Peterson, Marcus Rein, Stephan Sandbo, Jonathan Spector, Danny Szetela, Julian Valentin, Eric Vogl, Tim Ward, Jamie Watson, Chase Wileman, Kevin Alston, Eric Avila, Michael Balogun, Fernando Ayala, Michael Del Pra, Richard Edgar, Gabriel Farfan, Michael Farfan, Greg Folk, Jordan Graye, Jeremy Hall, Jesse Henderson, Rodrigo Hidalgo, Cameron Jordan, Quavas Kirk, Eric Lichaj,Dax McCarty, Kyle Nakazawa, Evan Newton, Marcus Rein, Bryant Rueckner, Estuardo Sanchez, Ofori Sarkodie, Jeff Scannela, Jay Singh, Adam Sloustcher, Ryan Sokora, Nate Sturgis, Blake Wagner, Jonathan Villenueva, Kenneth Walker, Taylor Waspi, Mark Wilste, Nic Besango, Carlos Borja, Alundus Brooks, Richard Edgar, Amaechi Igwe, Cameron Jordan, Brett King, Cesar Nunez, Michael Stephens, Jozy Altidore, Eddie Ababio, Brian Arguez, David Arvizu, Joe Bendik, Johnathan Collier, Victor Cortez, Greg Eckhardt, Omar Gonzalez, Jeremy Hall, Hector Jimenez, Christin Jimenez, Per Marosevic, Danny Ortega, Brian Perk, Ryan Peterman, Joe Sorrentino, Michael Stevens, Nevan Subotic,Anthony Wallace, Preston Zimmerman

Again this is listed for the readers to make up their own minds. To the USSF’s credit they’ve expanded the development academy program and had a summer showcase event in Sarasota, FL two weekends ago. Clearly a few names on this list have been good national team players, even if not for the US like Nevan Subotic. Some others have been credible professionals at the MLS and USL levels. Some have even made it over to Europe. But I’m curious to know if our readers share my view and that of our guest the other day, Jamie Trecker that far too many names on the above list did not develop to their potential in the US Development system.

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  1. Alejandro RUiz

    June 7, 2009 at 2:40 am

    Ummm……Torres and Jozy learned their game in the US. They just did it in immigrant communities, not in some white-bread upper-middle class dominated suburban league. Actually, that goes for Dempsey and Donovan.

  2. Ray

    June 6, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    England doesn’t have a national academy and yet they are so much better than the USA. I’ve never heard of 90% of these guys. What a joke. Every English player that comes out of top clubs academy are a serious professional while these guys are mostly jokes. Even the guys I have heard of suck other than Altidore and Adu. And those two don’t do well because American coaches have no idea how to play them.

  3. Earl

    June 6, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    After seeing this list is it any mystery why we’re in the pickle we find ourselves in??????

  4. George H

    June 6, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Good post. After reading this, I couldn’t help, but think back to why negotiations between Klinsmann & USSF broke down a few years ago. It came down to him wanting to have full control of this organization which included youth development. Gulatti was not willing to give this up and I’m sure that this comes down to politics. Specifically, USSF wants to retain the ability to make appointments throughout its organization based upon the wishes of its board members as well as its major sponsors. It comes down to pure political partonage. The USSF makes a ton of dough and they want to ensure that this continues even if decisions made are not the best for the overall development of the game in this country.

    I think for the most part, most countries who have tried to have this national academy have not succeeded. It’s very difficult to do, primarily for the things that have prevented it from happening here in the US.

    I think that youth development is best handled at the club level where the intentions are definitely clearer. The clubs make investments in players who they think they will get the best return from.

    Now as far as whether we have good enough coaches to develop players in this country, I’m not so sure. I always laugh when I see the adverts for UK Soccer camps on Setanta. Anyone who follows the game in England understands that there is a crisis in that country over being able to develop top players and a lot of that comes down to coaches not knowing how to develop the technical & tactical skills of players.

  5. Jeff D.

    June 6, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Jack’s comment is spot on. The technical ability that many US players posses was either learned on the youth level before Academy or somewhere else. Also LI Matt’s comment on another thread about English influence is very true also. Why for example is Michael Pankhurst not selected. Oh he’s too small. Are Iniesta and Xavi too small?

  6. Larry

    June 6, 2009 at 10:01 am

    US Soccer should be embarrassed. I bet alot of these kids had superb potential but either didn’t get the proper technical training or were forced to run around cones one time too many. Doesn’t Raul Diaz Arce now have something to do with this USSF Academy in Florida?

  7. Jack

    June 6, 2009 at 4:39 am

    I think that the youth side focuses to much on results and not enough on improving the technique and skill. I believe this because most if not all of our players who have some technical skill(Adu, Altidore, Torres) didn’t really learn the game in the US. It is amazing how few players lack the ability to find ways to beat defensive pressure. Is there a single player who you sit back and think you know without the academy in bradenton he would not be as good as he is today? We seem to overemphasize size, speed, strength instead of who knows how to actually play the game. The US has improved as a soccer nation but still has a lot of room left for improvement.

  8. chris

    June 6, 2009 at 3:10 am

    Offensive players need to be more technical and dribble more individualism is a big plus for U.S. Soccer to grow. Landon Donovan only has speed. Young players like adu and altidore need to play freely they are the best technically dribbling the ball.

  9. TTB

    June 5, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    This list tells me precisely why our talent pool hasn’t gotten any deeper in ten years. We don’t develop the guys we hand pick and other talented players never get the right training or attention because they are left outside the system. It all make s sense.

  10. John

    June 5, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Seriously about half these guys should be national team player pool members, because they were the chosen youngsters who were given allegedly the best training and best tactical coaching. Since maybe 10% of this list has been capped and few are professionals even today I think the verdict is easy to come by. No debate needed at all here.

  11. Jason

    June 5, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    I attended the Dallas Cup in 2003 when players like Adu, Spector, Gaven were on the U-17s that competed in that tournament. One of the games was played on a typical youth field, no bleacher, and I stood about 5 feet from the US bench. The US beat some team by 6 goals, and all they did was kick it long and out run the clearly overmatched club team from, I think the Chicago area. The coaches did not encourage any sort of tactical gameplan. It seemed they were just happy to win, no matter the style. Adu did not play that day.

    I understand that this was 6 years ago, and things may have changed, but this is clearly not the type of game that was going to make this group better. And what was worse that even that this game was on the schedule, the US did nothing to make this a glorified training session. This mindset would not have changed the scoreline.

    I agree that this program to this point has made little impact on US Soccer, and is currently nothing more than window dressing. I hope this is changing under Wilmer Cabrerra, but the answer is probably many years away still.

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