US Youth Soccer CEO Skip Gilbert expressed in a recent podcast interview his high hopes for reinvigorating the US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (ODP) through his organization’s new partnership with Major League Soccer.
Before we even start going through what Gilbert said and what he intends to do, let us say that NOTHING will change. Why? Because in the past 45 years nothing has changed, even though every summer they come out with big words ending up in NO FACTS!
However, let’s go through what was said, in the hopes that someone at USYS actually wants to make changes in a program that every year loses more and more credibility!
Following the failure of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy in April, Majore League Soccer went on to announce the launch of a new “Boys Only” competition platform, forming an alliance with US Youth Soccer. That alliance is to help MLS scouting, and in turn, U.S. Soccer, cast a wider net when it comes to identifying young talent across the United States.
Gilbert discussed the need for a simplified talent identification system in the US. He stated that USYS is seeking to set up best practices from the European player development model.
OK, so by stating that, the ODP will now be free of charge for most young talented soccer players?.. NO!
Gilbert went on: “I’ve already sat in meetings where we’ve talked about the models in several European nations, and how they’ve got such great player development pipelines, and that’s why they’re able to generate the success on the field that they have. When you look at the Netherlands, Italy, Spain or Germany, they’re kind of the size of New Jersey, Delaware or Virginia,” Gilbert continued. “We’re big, and the reality is that we need a pipeline that will be able to identify players from Hawaii to Maine, from Washington to Florida, and everywhere else in between. The discussions with Major League Soccer were, how we can take that franchise [ODP] and make it better? To be more inclusive.”
Gilbert also added that ODP’s structure of State and National levels paired with the new connection to Major League Soccer will once again become a key lane for young soccer players to climb through the ranks of the national player development system.
“There are some amazing players in the US Soccer system now, whether they’re playing for us, US Club or AYSO, there’s some top quality talent out there,” Gilbert said. “The question is not only do we need to be able to tap into them, but there’s also probably millions of kids who aren’t in that pipeline, but who still go out and play. As we develop our pipeline, how are we truly going to make it so that at the state level, all the kids who really should have their hand up can get their hand up, and then how are they going to be recognized from a regional perspective and at the national level?”
In line with the goal of US Youth Soccer’s player development partnership with MLS, the organizations are EXPLORING the potential for a grant program which would allow more kids the opportunity to play without having to pay.
That “exploring” has been going on since 2002.
The quicker we have a program that matches every other country around the world, only then will we find the missed talent.
The ODP like other money orientated organizations need weeding out. Pay or no play does not and will not work! But yet US Youth Soccer talks about the UEFA model but insists in cashing in.
On a positive note: ODP is a playing opportunity. In many states, it is a good way for young soccer players that live in rural areas out of the range of a MLS academy to be exposed to a better level of coaching and quality games.