What’s wrong with soccer in America? Very little in my opinion. But, if you browse through forums, you’ll see all types of complaints.
From the playing style to the playing time to the turf fields, you’ll find parents complaining about everything imaginable.
The only complaint I have about American soccer is the pay-to-play system of our youth leagues. For many families, the cost is too much to take on and can be a huge burden.
In this article, I’m going to combat some of the things I’m hearing and seeing online…
American soccer struggles because we don’t have competetive programs at age 6.
You know what we do have? Options. It may be a drive but kids can join a competitive youth program in their state. There are plenty of them. It isn’t at the professional-level but kids don’t need that at this age.
We also have the option to play other sports. Whereas countries like Europe focus much of their youth programs on soccer. Variety is good at a young age.
We don’t have quality playing fields.
I think you need to drive through different places overseas. You’ll notice that their fields are less than stellar. In fact, many of the most used fields have dirt patches with very faded lines.
Guess what? They don’t complain. They just play futbol/soccer.
Here in the U.S., we have well-kept grass and turf fields in every state. We just tend to look at the bad which isn’t that bad compared to other places in the world.
There’s never any soccer on TV so its not part of our culture.
Major sports networks like ESPN and Fox Sports have dedicated less airtime to soccer than other sports like football, basketball, and baseball.
But, we are lucky that we still get plenty of Premier League games on Saturday and Sunday mornings. We actually get to see more games than TV stations in England!
You do need a subscription to Apple TV to get MLS games so I hope this can change over time to draw more eyeballs.
I think it’s not part of our culture because we have football and basketball to contend with. Sorry, baseball.
We have the college system that gets in the way of our youth and pro pathway.
Do you mean to tell me this is a bad thing? More players get to move on from high school to continue playing at a high level…and get an education.
Do you know how many players end up turning pro anywhere? A small percentage.
I think we are doing it right in America.
For those special one-percenters who can go pro as a youth player, there is an option for them to do so. For example, MLS has offered many homegrown contracts to MLS NEXT players in recent years.
Different pathways are available.
Our national teams aren’t good.
On the men’s side, I think we are slowly catching up to the elite teams. We are improving our roster and playing style each year. In my opinion, we are headed on the right path and we’ll get better. Just wait until the 2026 World Cup.
On the women’s side, the rest of the world has caught up. We had a great run where we dominated but other countries have invested in their national programs. We just need to adjust and put our foot on the pedal.
Pay-to-play makes it unfair and only the rich have the opportunities to play competitvely.
I agree with this (for the most part). I don’t like our pay-to-play system at all but it is what it is. I don’t have a solution unless clubs begin to be funded from outside sources and not the players.
At the same time, I do think that if a player is talented enough, they will be picked up without huge costs to their family if they can’t afford it.
I think clubs can operate a loss for a small percentage of players because other families will make up the difference. Or they can offset it with various camps and tournaments.
There’s no hope for American soccer. We are doomed.
If you feel this way then I feel bad for you.
I think we are in a good spot. We can offer different programs for different types of players.
For example, a player who can’t handle the 10-month grind of club soccer can play fall travel soccer.
Or, an elite player who is talented enough to play for an MLS Academy may opt to play for their local club because of the commitment it takes at that level.
Or, a female player may want to play for their high school in the fall and rejoin their club in the spring.
At the end of the day, we have options. And, we are in the good times if we choose to see it that way!