Before we get into this blog article, this is going to be the first blog article in a new series: "Why U.S. Soccer Sucks" where I will be going over 6 of the biggest issues in U.S. Soccer. This is the first of a 6 part series. We also have a YouTube series that ties into this if you want to watch the video version of this. I really hope you guys enjoy this, we will be having one of these come out every Thursday. Anyway... into the article!
Yes, I believe that if you are playing a perfect game of football that you should never have to tackle anyone. I see so many coaches, especially in the United States, who praise a strong slide tackle that results in the other team maintaining possession. This is crazy! I can not wrap my head around how a coach can think it is good that a player won possession via a slide tackle, and the gave the ball back to the other team. It’s absurd! For example, I was playing in a match the other week. A Center Midfielder went in for a completely unnecessary slide tackle when he could have easily stayed on his feet and forced the opponent out of bounds. But from this slide tackle he wins the ball, after this he gets nervous he will give it away. So, he clears it out of bounds and the ball returns back to the other team. The coach is going crazy about how this was a great tackle. I am standing there thinking how he just gave the ball back to the other team after this tackle, resulting in the same situation as before.
If you look at the players on Barcelona or Ajax, you hardly ever see them tackling other players. This is because the opposition hardly ever has the ball, so they don’t have to defend. This is also because these teams are very intelligent about cutting off different passing lanes and angles which forces the opposition player to dribble into them or out of bounds! This is intelligent defending! Not going in for a slide tackle at every opportunity you see.
This is a big issue in the United States especially. One of the biggest aspects of the game that is trained here is defense. This seems crazy to me. Instead of working on defending, we should be working on maintaining possession. Think about it this way, our team must defend when we don’t have the ball. So, why not work on keeping the ball so we never have to defend! This is one of the biggest issues holding US Soccer back from developing world class players. We put defending on such a high pedestal that all we are good at is sliding tackles! We are producing NFL Football Players. If you have ever watched the US Men’s National Team play against the likes of Spain or the Netherlands, you can see how much more comfortable those other countries are when they have the ball at their feet. But, whenever we have the ball, we look rattled and end up just kicking it up the field!
What I’m saying is that, this is a cultural development problem. We need to stop caring about winning and stop only training all of our kids to defend. What we need to do is teach them to keep the ball and just let them play. Stop running them through pointless drills for an hour. That is fine for extra individual training. But, when you have 20 kids together, let them play! Don’t waste this opportunity to let the kids develop.
I really hope you enjoyed this post and took something positive out of it. This is just a big problem I have been seeing in US Soccer’s Development. And, if you happen to be a coach… please try this, and just watch what happens. ❤