Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Leaving MD ODP

A couple of people have posted/e-mailed me about MD ODP this year. Here is an e-mail that was supposed to have been sent to all ODP players from this past year. If you did not receive it, then my apologies.
To 2008 MD ODP players and families:

I wanted to let you know that after 4 great years with MD ODP I will be stepping down to put more time into some other ventures that I am involved with. My experience with the ODP has been awesome. This year was such a banner year with over 40 players being selected to call back camp - by far a record and by far the number one goal of the program - to place as many deserving players to the next level as possible. I can honestly say that judging by the quality of players who did not get selected to call back camp, Maryland is in excellent shape talent and depth wise.

I want to thank my staff who has been totally dedicated to the players in our program. The improvement in each team has been noticeable and will benefit the players in many ways outside of ODP with their club and school teams. I want to thank the Team Managers. You have done a wonderful job organizing things and that doesn't go unnoticed. Finally I want to thank Jen Pagliaro who has ultimately run the program from the administrative side of things. You can be sure that the success on the field correlates to the professionalism and organization off the field that Jen directed.

I do not know yet who the next ODP director will be or whom will be on the staff. I do want to say that the benefits of the ODP program are tremendous regardless of who is coaching. For the 91s reading this I thank you for your dedication to ODP. For the other ages, I urge you to try out again this year and continue to represent Maryland as one of the best states in the country. I will remain the Assistant Head coach for Region 1 ODP and will see many of you in the regional events.

Thanks for everything,


Friday, August 8, 2008


Here is an article from US Youth Soccer:

hen U.S. Men's Olympic Team head coach Peter Nowak named the 18 players who will represent the United States at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing the roster features 12 players who have experience at the full national team level, including the three youngest players on the team, Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley, and the most senior member of the team in Brian McBride, as well as a common thread of US Youth Soccer and the US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (US Youth Soccer ODP).

Team USA's roster is comprised of 18 players that played their US Youth Soccer ball in various clubs from across the country. Of these, 17 have the common thread of participation in the US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (US Youth Soccer ODP). The breakdown of players via their respective US Youth Soccer Region is as follows: Region I (4), Region II (3), Region III (3), Region IV (7). Benny Feilhaber, who was born in Brazil, played his US Youth Soccer ball for the Irvine Strikers where he won the 2002 US Youth Soccer National Championship.

The US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program was formed in 1977 to identify a pool of players in each age group from which a National Team will be selected for international competition; to provide high-level training to benefit and enhance the development of players at all levels; and, through the use of carefully selected and licensed coaches, develop a mechanism for the exchange of ideas and curriculum to improve all levels of coaching.

US Youth Soccer ODP is the original Olympic development program. US Youth Soccer ODP is the only elite player development program that can claim members of Major League Soccer and the former Women's United Soccer Association, as well as a majority of current and past national and youth team members, as alumni. US Youth Soccer ODP exists in every US Youth Soccer State Association and offers collegiate and national team staff coaches the opportunity to see the nation's elite players in the most competitive of environments. In addition to training and tactics, US Youth Soccer ODP also offers competitions such as regional and national championships as well as participation in international tournaments. US Youth Soccer ODP continues to lead the way for elite player development in the United States.

Monday, June 30, 2008

answering your questions

Following is an edited response to an earlier blog with several questions that I will answer. Sorry for the delay - was in Europe (yes- the Euros).
Regarding recruiting, my son will be a sophomore in high school beginning in September 2008, and he would like to hopefully play soccer in college. We have a few questions in this regard and we would greatly appreciate your insights.

We see that most schools have recuriting web form for interested students to fill out. When during a student's high school years would you recommend that a high school student/player fill out such a web recuriting form for colleges that he is interested in, e.g., during his sophomore year, after his sophomore year, during the Fall of their junior year, etc.?




Thanks very much for all the great information and guidance you are providing on this blog! And congrats again on the MD ODP boys successes.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Training has been going excellent. Last nights was one of the best with the oldest 3 teams training and playing each other. A couple of observations for the players to attend to:
1) Bring and wear shinguards
2) Bring to the field a properly inflated ball
3) BE WARMED UP/STRETCHED ON YOUR OWN BY 6:30. We do not want to spend 15-20 minutes of our valuable time doing warm-up.
4) If you are arriving late then be sure YOU ARE FULLY DRESSED BEFORE YOU GET OUT OF THE CAR. Too many people come late and then are putting socks on at the field - something that can be done on the car!

As far as the play goes:
POSITIONING, POSITIONING, POSITIONING ! This is such an iimportant area. Read the game ahead of time and get into good positions early. It was one of the most common shouts from the coaches last night: "If you had been in position earlier then they wouldn't have played the ball."
In defending - positioning is everything. Get into good, early position and contiually adjust relative to the ball, opponents and your teammates.

Each step up the ladder of play in soccer require one thing above anything else - faster tactical decisions, faster technical executions and faster transition from offensive to defense and defense to offense. Your focus in every training session must be to play faster. This is the number one issue that came out of the international trips as well. The lack of time and space that opponents gave us created difficulties for us. Remember - there is a difference between playing faster and rushing your play. Playing faster can be as simple as taking 2 touches instead of 3 to make the same pass or to play that same pass at a faster speed. It also means getting into supporting positions earlier - this allows your teammates a better chance of playing faster.

Keep up the good work as we enter the final weeks of preparation for the ODP tournament.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Players, parents, coaches - Here is a look into how professional teams train

One and a half years of work is finally complete and available online. The program "Learn From the Pros" has truly come out as a unique study of the ways the pros do things on the training field. The differences between the MLS teams and Brazilian approach is noticeable and something I found extremely interesting. The feedback to date has been outstanding, and regardless of your involvement in soccer I know you will find it both interesting and educational.

This project is a very inexpensive way to see 8 pro teams with all their training sessions, diagrams and outlines of practices as well as video clips to bring to life the sessions for ONLY A $40 - one time fee. With that you can come and go as much as you want. It takes a while to see it all and I am sure it something you will go to a lot.

Go to and look at the sample session. Or go directly to the registration page you can click on the following:

Here is what you get:
3 days of Training with New England!
4 days of Training with Fluminense!
2 days of Training with Columbus!
3 days of Training with Palmeiras!
3 days of Training with Chicago!
4 days of Training with Sao Paolo!
2 days of Training with Colorado!
3 days of Training with Corinthians!


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Probably the last update..3/26...9 am

Tuesday, March 25

We had a minor change in schedule yesterday…the boys decided that they’d rather have some down time to relax or go shopping one last time for their final souvenirs and gifts instead of going on the tour of La Plata. We were able to give them two and a half hours of time to do their thing before loading up the bus and heading to lunch.

Lunch was another amazing meal at Lo Rafael. If anyone ever gets the chance to visit Buenos Aires, please find this restaurant no matter what…you’ll be very glad you did!

After lunch we were off to La Plata. It was about an hour drive, give or take, and the joke among the chaperones is that every trip is about one hour. That’s our tour guides favorite answer any time we ask how far somewhere is. It was a nice drive though and the weather was perfect.

We arrived at Estudiantes de La Plata training facility and were immediately impressed. I’m not sure what to compare it to back home…something like the SoccerPlex I guess, but with the most immaculate Bermuda grass fields (approximately 115 yards by 76 yards). Estudiantes is probably one of the top youth development clubs in the country. Their first team (professional team) is in the top 2 or 3 in the standings for the league, but they are very well known for their youth programs. They have a residency program set up so that kids from all over the country can come in and stay on site while attending school and training in a top class environment. It’s a similar set up to Bradenton back in the States, but this is just for the club!

Our games kicked off a bit later than anticipated. The storms from the other day actually tore the roof off of the school building so the kids were allowed to leave the campus to visit with family. So we had to wait about a half hour for the last few players to arrive. Once we kicked off, we were in for a great learning experience.

The ‘93s played first. I think we were a bit overwhelmed at first by the speed of play and the fitness of the Estudiantes players, but after about 15 or 20 minutes we settled into the game and were able to compete at a decent level. From my perspective, this game was by far our best learning experience in terms of seeing what the game is like at the highest levels around the world. The score at the end of the match was 4-0 in favor of our opponents, but we had a couple of chances to score and I think we earned some respect for our competitiveness and our talent level.

The ‘91s played next and it was more of the same for them. Remember, these are kids who are playing not just for the fun of the game…they are playing for the chance to turn professional and make a living for themselves and their families. Estudiantes scored an early goal but the boys kept after it and worked very hard. With about 8 minutes remaining, a poor back pass from an Estudiantes defender allowed Josh Patterson to strip the ball from the goalkeeper and he calmly slotted it into the back of the empty net. It was a great result for the boys, and it was their second draw of the trip.

We showered and changed in their locker room facilities and then it was off for another one hour bus ride…only this time, we were headed to Ricardo’s home for the BBQ. What a house! What a BBQ!!! When we arrived there was some grilled pork and some sort of grilled cheese (similar to a mozzarella stick I guess) for us to eat. The boys were in heaven. After about 30 minutes, we were called into the living room (yes, all 40 of us could fit in the living room) to watch a magician perform. The guy was good, and he was hysterical. When he had finished his show, we were asked to be seated at the tables and the meal began. I probably can’t remember everything that was served, but I know there was salad, potato salad, breads, beef, chicken, ribs, and on and on. The amount of food was almost overwhelming. The meal was followed by some ice cream. After finishing the meal some of the boys were in the back yard playing soccer with Ricardo’s son. Then it was time to load the bus again. I don’t think any of us realized that it was after midnight! They eat dinner late here, but this was definitely a unique evening.

We returned home and it was straight to bed for everyone. We have just returned from another very good breakfast and now have about 30 minutes to pack up before checking out of the hotel. This may be my last time to write before we head to the airport but if I can I will try to get another update posted.

I know we’ve all had a great time, but I think we’re all looking forward to getting home as well.



Monday, March 24, 2008

Argentina. 3/24/11 PM

Monday, March 24

The teams have returned from a full day. The ‘91s played first today against Excursionistas. It was a tough game from the opening whistle…both teams played very physical styles and tried to put their stamp on the game early. Excursionistas had the better of the play throughout much of the first half and took a 2-0 lead into half time. Our boys played hard all the way through, and after a few adjustments by Coach Miranda, the second half was much more evenly contested. Excursionistas scored a third goal against the run of play, but our players never gave up. We battled our way back, scoring a goal by Coleman O’Neill. As we continued to press higher up field and tried to play a more direct style, we were able to catch them again…this time Luis Mendoza scored the goal. We created a couple more quality chances and really could have scored at least one or two more goals if not for some good goalkeeping and some misfortunes. It was definitely a learning experience for the boys.

The ‘93s played second and came out super-motivated having watched how hard the ’91s battled. We decided to play a more high pressure, higher tempo style of game and from the opening whistle were able to put Excursionistas on their back foot. Our possession was much better than in our previous match and we were creating several good scoring opportunities. At halftime the game was 0-0 but we certainly showed we were the better team. The second half brought more of the same, though our opponent made some tactical adjustments which made things a bit more difficult for us at the start. Our guys solved the problem on the field and continued to create a number of good scoring chances. With about seven minutes to play, Cody Albrecht broke free around the left side and was able to play a perfectly weighted cross into the box for Gabe Phillips to head into the back of the net. There were still a few more chances that we created, but we were unable to finish them. After the game the boys were very happy with their performance.

Following the games, the boys showered in the locker rooms at the Excursionistas stadium and we then headed down to the Tigre River area where we embarked on a 45 minute boat ride. The ride dropped us off on a little island where we were to have lunch at the Gato Blanco (White Cat) restaurant. The meal consisted of salad, baked chicken, and French fries. Desert was a great little fruit salad. After the meal, the boys were able to spend a little time stretching their legs outside the restaurant in a little park area. We then boarded the ship again and began our 45 minute return journey to where the bus was parked. It was a fun and relaxing way to spend the afternoon. Many of the boys fell asleep while on the boat.

We have now returned to the hotel where we are getting showered up and will be having dinner around 8pm. Tonight’s dinner is expected to be a beef dinner, something the boys have been looking forward to. I think they’re a little tired of pasta meals, but the quality of the food continues to impress me.

Tomorrow we head to the City of La Plata after breakfast for a tour of the city and lunch. After lunch we will be playing against Estudiantes de La Plata at 4 and 5:30pm. After our return to Buenos Aires, we have been invited to attend a barbeque at the home of our main tour guide, Ricardo. He promises us a great meal so we are all looking forward to it! Tomorrow may be a long day, but I will do my best to keep you up to date when we finally return to the hotel.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter from Argentina and SCOTLAND..updated 3/24 at 2 PM

Scotland: 3/24/08
We are in outstanding facilities at the Stirling Management Centre. The boys are having big fun while, on the other hand, it has been difficult adjusting to the level of play of our first two opponents. We lost both games but had many sustained successful periods and were at our best so far during the second half of the second game. Also, our coaches have been working hard to solve the problems during the training sessions, and I think we will be very prepared to face the Celtic squad on Monday.

Weather: The temperature would be quite tolerable if it weren't for the insistent winds.

Sunday, March 23
10 PM:
Sunday, March 23

River Plate 2 – Velez Sarsfield 0. What an experience! The atmosphere was incredible. The visiting River Plate supporters (maybe 1,000 give or take) sang the entire match and most of the time were louder than the Velez fans. The eruption on the first goal was near deafening, and the second goal caused just as much euphoria for the away fans. However, we were seated in the VIP section of the home stands so our surroundings were pretty quiet most of the game. Still it was an incredible experience for the kids to see and hear the passion that our sport brings out around the rest of the world. Hopefully they bring home an understanding of the pride of playing for your club and the supporters.

Upon arriving back at the hotel, we had a 2 hour study period where the boys were asked to stay in their hotel rooms and work on whatever they brought with them. Of course some claimed they didn’t bring homework with them, but still we insisted that they find something productive to do

Tango night was a blast!!! I think a lot of the boys were skeptical to say the least as we were heading out, but once we arrived they immediately jumped right into the fun. First they learned some “rock and roll” dance moves, while listening to some songs from the 1950’s. After learning some basic steps it was time to partner up…some of the guys were brave enough to pair up with some local girls, while others were brave enough to pair up with teammates. Either way they went, there were a lot of smiles and laughter. Then came dinner…a nice meal that began with some fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, followed up a pasta meal. Then it was back to the dance floor as the tango lessons began. I think some of our guys should stick to soccer, but there were quite a few future Fred Astaires out there! After some more dancing, it was back to the dinner table as the waitresses brought out some ice cream for the teams. Upon finishing their ice cream, some headed back to the dance floor to polish up their moves. A short ride back to the hotel came around midnight and the boys were all still talking about the experience.

This morning we are off from soccer to allow those who want to go to church the opportunity. We will be having a brunch around 11:30 and then at 12:45 heading out of the hotel to see River Plate play Velez Sarsfield. Velez is currently atop the league, while River Plate (traditionally one of the top teams in Argentina) is in second. It should be an awesome game.

We are scheduled to have dinner around 8pm this evening at a local restaurant called “Lo Rafael.” Our tour guides have told us that the Kansas City Wizards absolutely loved this restaurant when they were here last week. I know I am looking forward to it!

Happy Easter from Buenos Aires!!!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Trip updates as they come.updated 3/22 at 1:30 PM

I will attempt to keep updates from Argentina (Scotland if I hear from them)...

Argentina - March 22nd:
Saturday, March 22

Change of plans…due to a set of severe thunderstorms that blew through sections of the country last night, the team we were scheduled to play this morning had to cancel. Evidently a small tornado hit the area so getting their team together for the match would have been nearly impossible. The match has been rescheduled for Wednesday.

So we used our morning to let the boys sleep in a little…breakfast at 9am, followed by a 10:30 departure for a training session. We actually used the session for a 4-a-side tournament where we mixed the teams (‘91s and ‘93s) to make things a bit more interesting and to let the boys continue to get to know each other better. It turned out to be a spirited tournament and everyone had a great time.

The boys are showering up and getting ready to head down town to the Recoleta area, a street fair type of setting. We’ll have some free time downtown, followed by a return to the hotel for some study time (yes, we’re keeping on the boys about using their down time wisely), and then it will be off to dinner and tango lessons. I think we’re all looking forward to seeing the tango lessons!
Argentina - First games
Friday, March 21


We just returned from touring Buenos Aires, including a tour of La Boca and the stadium of Boca Juniors. It was a great trip…the boys seemed to really enjoy walking around the stadium, including the chance to see the locker room of the home team. Tons of pictures were taken and lots of smiling faces after the boys had a few minutes to walk around the fan shop inside the stadium. I’m sure they’ll all be wearing their new Boca Juniors gear tomorrow.

Tomorrow is a match with Tristan Suarez at 9:30 for the ‘93s and 11am for the ‘91s. Following the conclusion of those matches, we’ll be touring the Recoleta Area and experiencing the street fair.
Friday, March 21

Breakfast was followed by departure for our first set of matches. After a good warm up, the ‘93s took the field against Defensores de Belgrano It took about 10 minutes to get some of the nerves out and then we settled into what turned out to be a fantastic match. The Argentine team created the earlier chances in the first half, but we certainly created a fair number of chances for ourselves, especially toward the latter part of the half. The second half saw us continue to do a good job of defending. We were winning the ball back earlier and doing some nice things on the ball, moving around the opponent and creating spaces to attack. Somewhat against the run of play, Defensores scored their first goal of the afternoon off a deflection that resulted in a fortuitous bounce for them. Almost immediately after the kickoff, we created a couple of great scoring chances but were unlucky not to finish. As we pressed higher up field and pushed more numbers forward trying to pull back an equalizer, we gave up a second goal on a counter attack. The final score ended in a 2-0 defeat, but the coaches feel that a tremendous effort was put forth by the boys, and we learned a great deal about the soccer in Argentina. This is definitely going to be great preparation for the ODP season!

Following the ‘93s, the ‘91s kicked off against the older Defensores de Belgrano team. The opponents had the better of the play in the first half but our boys fought hard, defended well, and gave a great effort. We gave up a goal off of a free kick which rebounded off the post, allowing Defensores to follow the shot and put away the second chance. At halftime Coach Miranda made some slight adjustments to the team and the results paid off with about 10 minutes to play. They did a much better job of keeping possession and not allowing so much time and space for the opponent to play. A Maryland goal came from a tremendous individual effort by one of their players to maintain possession for his team and beat 3 defenders. His cross was met inside the penalty area, chested down, and the resulting shot brought the Maryland bench and our few spectators to their feet! It was clinical finishing. The remaining few minutes of the game saw some hard challenges by both teams as both felt they wanted to press for the win. In the end, the ‘91s were able to finish the game with a well earned draw.

Both teams put on a great display of soccer…sticking to their game plans and playing some very attractive soccer. Several Defensores fans commented about the quality of our play for both teams. We are definitely earning respect! The boys are exhausted but I think proud of their efforts.

The games were followed by a nice lunch at the hotel and the boys are currently showering up as we’re about to head out for a city tour of Buenos Aires, including La Boca area at 4pm. Dinner is scheduled for the hotel at 8pm

3/21 - Short e-mail from Scotland:
Keith: Good morning. We made it safely to Scotland. Accomodations are excellent. Food is great. Fields are outstanding. We have had two training sessions and have our first game this evening. All players are fine and ready to play. Internet access is limited and expensive. Will try to write again soon. All the best, Steve Pfeil

3/20 - Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Leg one of our journey began with our departure from Reagan International…the flight was a few minutes delayed but once airborne, it was smooth sailing. We landed in Miami on time to a beautiful sunny afternoon. We have a three hour lay over so the boys have been going in groups to the Pizza Hut or Nathan’s for dinner. The next leg of our journey begins at 8:30pm when we depart Miami for Buenos Aires.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The journey from Miami to Buenos Aires was very smooth. The flight left on time and touched down on time. Most of the boys slept for most of the long flight. Getting through customs was a breeze…in fact one of the hosts who met us at the airport commented that we set a record for getting through customs faster than any group he’s ever worked with. Also important to note, several flight attendants commented to us about how well behaved our group was on the flight! Upon arrival at the hotel, we gave the boys a chance to get to their rooms and take advantage of some of the down time to rest up. A few decided to venture out into the downtown areas with the coaches and chaperones…we needed to stretch out legs a bit.

Lunch is scheduled for 12:30pm in the hotel. It will be our first meal in the hotel, where we will actually eat a majority of our meals for the week.

Just returned from lunch. It was a delicious meal that consisted of salad, soup, chicken, and french fries. The boys ate like it was the first time they’d ever seen food so we know they thought it was good too!

Next up is a training session at 4pm. We departed the hotel at 3:30pm and traveled about 30 minutes across the city to a modern field turf training facility, very much like what we’ve trained on at the SoccerPlex. Both teams spent time working on getting the kinks out of their legs and on keeping possession of the ball. Later both teams worked on free kicks, both attacking and defending. It was a hot, sunny afternoon so both teams ended the session a bit early….approximately 5:30pm. Then it was back aboard the bus to battle the traffic back to the hotel.

Dinner is planned for 8pm in the hotel, to be followed by team meetings with the respective coaches. The plan is to have the players get to bed early tonight in preparation for a full day tomorrow. Both teams play against Defensores de Belgrano…the ‘91s kicking off at 10am and the ‘93s kicking off at 11:30am. Following the conclusion of the matches, we will return to our hotel to shower, change, eat, and then head out for a tour of the city.

More on the games to come tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Final Argentina Items

It seems as though the info packet has done its job as there have been very few questions that have come up. Here are a few other things to keep in mind and some reminders from the packet. Please feel free to e-mail or respond to this blog with other questions
1) Money. It is not possible for us to tell you how much to send with your son. All meals are covered as well as the pro game. While there may be an "add-on" after arrive (if the group decides they want it), that would be very cheap ($20-$30). (Nothing is planned, but an opportunity to do a river boat tour or a tango night may arise.) So, players will need money for snacks and whatever personal spending they need. REMEMBER THAT THEY DO NEED $22 CASH FOR THE BUENOS AIRES AIRPORT FOR THEIR DEPARTURE TAX ON THE FINAL DAY)
If they are going to buy anything significant, they will be able to do so with credit or debit card (credit cards working best). Less need for actual cash.
There are ATMs as well as the ability to change money at the hotel.
The coaching staff/chaperones will be available to hold any large amount of cash anyone may bring. Drew Hoffman will address that at the parent's meeting and with the players.
2) Remember sun block and bug spray. Mosquitoes like Americans (but they are NOT bad mosquitoes (no worries about Yellow Fever or anything - form what I understand they have had 1 case of yellow fever in 1 monkey in Northern jungle part of Argentina.)
3) We are awaiting the warm-ups and travel bag from the state. Hoping to have them for you Monday. If not, then we will let you know what plan B is.
4) Water is safe down there. While we will be using bottle water, we are at a very modern hotel in a very modern city with very drinkable water. No issues using it for brushing teeth, etc. We will tell all not to eat from street vendors and the like (something I would do if we were traveling in the US as well!).
5) Phone calls. I strongly discourage any use of cell phones. They simply lend to situations where calls come in at unwanted times (from parents, friends, girlfriends, etc). If a player simply has to call home, then they can get phone cards easily down there. They will have some access to e-mail and that will be best way to stay in touch.You all have the emergency numbers that should be used - IN AN EMERGENCY ONLY. Thanks.
6) Remember to pack any liquids in check in luggage unless they meet carry on requirements: in a zip lock bag, etc)...
7) Hotel info can be seen on here (I think web link in info packet didn't work- at least for me):
8) Personal Items: I would not go beyond an IPOD for music. Playing cards, etc are all fine. Travel alarm or inexpensive watch could be good too.
9)The company we are using is excellent. They currently have the Kansas City Wizards and Real Salt Lake down here. They are the group that has hosted the Regional teams as well. After they leave - Maryland OODP comes in. I have asked them to send me the final itinerary as soon as it is final. We have had rough ones, but felt it best to wait till we have everything ironed out. We will have representatives/guides with us the entire time including staying at hotel with us.

I hope that now covers things and reiterates other important things. The trip will be great, so please don't worry. If your son forgets something - they will find it in Buenos Aires:) Just don't forget your soccer shoes!!

Any questions... feel free to contact us via this or e-mail.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Great ODP Weekend at Williamsburg

A great job to players, coaches and parents for this past weekend. I was so impressed with how quickly the teams were playing the style we want in Maryland. One of the most impressive games was one we lost by a few goals - but only due to the physical size difference between our 95s and the opponent. Even the opponent's coach said afterwards that we were the most impressive team he had ever seen at that age. That type of play will pay off down the road. We need to keep encouraging the possession style of play that gets the players comfortable with the ball under pressure. The weekend also brought out areas that we need to address in training, and we look at the next few sessions to iron out the main issues we saw.
At any rate, thanks for all the hard work from everyone.
Upcoming practices will be announced soon. (WE STILL NEED FIELDS!!)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Answering your questions...

Anonymous said...
Question 1:
Coach -- thanks for all your guidance and insights on this blog. I have found what you have to say to be very interesting and helpful. Here are a couple of things that have been on my mind ... what is your feeling about high school age and younger kids playing "too much soccer," assuming you think there is such a thing as too much soccer ... ?
US Soccer has been addressing the issue of too much soccer and have come out with guidelines in a handbook entitled: “BEST PRACTICES”. This gives suggested practice amounts (days and minutes per week) as well as games per week. More and more associations are trying to bring their leagues/clubs in line with these suggestions. Unfortunately, high school soccer does not fall under the US Soccer Umbrella so as kids hit HS age they end up playing far more soccer than would be recommended. As HS soccer is a school activity there is a tendency to use every available day as either practice or games. Some HS coaches are realizing this and give appropriate days off (or lighter training sessions). The other unfortunately part of HS soccer has been that they have traditionally played on poor fields (and often football width fields – far narrower than needed). This leads to poor quality games, more of a physical game and hence more injuries. This should gradually change for the better as more and more schools are putting in the new turf (while never as good as a good grass field – much better than what most played on before). The better fields will lead to better soccer and fewer injuries. To download the 70 page PDF of Best Practices you can go to this link:
Question 2:
I've seen a number of kids seemingly get dinged-up from all the soccer practice and games they are playing. Burnout has also seemed to be a factor for a couple of kids that I have seen quit soccer.
Burnout is a major issue for young players, referees and even some coaches. It comes from the factors above (too much soccer sometimes and it comes from the factors below – the unfair emphasis on winning at younger ages. Parents share a lot of the blame for this culture happening in youth soccer (its not just coaches). Parents believe that if their kid is on a team that wins that it will automatically lead to a scholarship. Going into things with that approach will automatically take away the chances for enjoyment (that is why we initially start to play anything – because it is fun). All coaches and parents must keep that in mind. The number one reason kids burnout is due to a lack of having fun – not playing too much or too little – just not having fun when they are playing/practicing.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------Question 3:

I've also read some recruiting accounts where some college coaches say that they like to see kids who have participated in more than one sport, as they think such an approach can help development. In this regard, it seems that many of the soccer programs today almost preclude participation in any other sport ...
I have honestly not heard of any coach preferring a player to divide them selves between a few sports (2 sport athletes in college has virtually gone other than in Division 3 – and that may be where you heard that). At some point a player who wants to play at the highest level possible (and has the God given talent and athleticism to do so), must concentrate on that sport above all the rest. I might throw out that starting at the HS age may be the time where a strong dedication to one sport might be important (IF THAT IS WHAT THE PLAYER WANTS).
Also, what do you think about what is seemingly a very strong emphasis on winning at the club level? Is it too much?

Interested in other people’s thoughts..........

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Post ODP Meeting Items

Thanks to all the parents who made it out last night for the meeting. Following are a few items I forgot to mention as well as a response to comment for one of the other blogs.
1) I mentioned this to the 91 parents but meant to do same for the 92s and 93s. The player pool for your age groups is around 24-25 players. For the ODP tournament in June we select minimally 18. We are allowed to take more although can only play 18 in each game. Therefore, just as the last chapter was making the ODP pool, the next challenge for those players is to emerge as one of the 18 at least.
2) For the 94 and 95 age groups we take 2 teams each to the ODP tournament, therefore all players can be rostered.
3) The Jefferson Cup appears to be the one potential conflict with the international trips. As I said in an earlier blog response, one has to believe that experience of going to Buenos Aires and playing those teams will make the individual better and therefore make his club team better when he returns - as opposed to going to Richmond and playing most likely the same teams one sees at most other tournaments.
In the long run it makes more sense on all accounts to go to Argentina or Scotland. You help yourself and you help your club. (Others on your club get to play more at Jefferson Cup as well - also in theory helping the development of your team.
4) Reminder to try and attend the NSCAA convention and MSYSA Workshop at the convention in Baltimore. Info can be found on the following links:

Addressing comments in a response to an earlier blog:
The 91 team had 10 players from last year try out again this year.
Only 3 players from last "voluntarily" decided not to try out. 8 are on clubs that are part of the Academy program and therefore were not allowed to tryout. Kinda misleading to say they voluntarily didn't come out. Several of them thought that they were going to be able to tryout anyway as we almost did get the rules changed. It is certainly possible that those rules could be changed in the future.
Numbers for 92 team are being sorted now and will post when I have an accurate count.

Lowering the cost of participation in the ODP was requested due to some players not being out he team this year due to academy. Didn't really understand that, but will say that we operate on a zero balance budget - meaning that MSYSA makes no money on ODP and, in fact, usually loses money on the program. I wish that we could find a way to lower the costs. MSYSA needs very much to create a fundraising arm to their organization. I am happy that over the last 4 years we have not really had to raise the fees at all. I am certainly open to ideas to try and make fees smaller.

Again - thanks for attendance last night and please get in any forms, etc that you may still need to get to Jen. If you signed up for an international tour, but did not put in a deposit, then we need to get that (or cc #) asap. If you did not sign up last night and have decided you do want to go, then same thing - we need to know asap. Thanks a lot. You will be hearing from your coaches soon regarding training as we sort out fields.