American soccer needs changes, from players to coaches to its president

Jonathan Tannenwald, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Soccer

A revolution might not be necessary, but a smarter plan certainly is. It starts with spending more on scouting, and on more scouts.

The players who can truly raise American soccer's level are out there, but they are often ignored. The current scouting infrastructure focuses to much on the elite youth teams that are loaded with kids from largely affluent (and largely white) suburbs.

It doesn't help that top-level youth soccer clubs demand exorbitant registration fees and travel expenses from families. That "pay to play" culture is near the top of the list of American soccer's worst flaws. It shuts children in poor African American and Hispanic communities -- including Philadelphia's -- out of pathways to soccer careers.

That's an impolite truth, but now is the time to say what needs to be said.

Here's another impolite truth: With all that has happened, and with all the changes that are needed, a change at the top seems a good place to start. Find a way for Gulati to step aside and focus on his FIFA role, and let someone else run U.S. Soccer.


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