The United States' youth soccer system is rotting because of "arrogant" parents, according to the coaching director of Eastern New York Youth Soccer.
USMNT youth pipeline imperfect
Kids who stay in U.S. often stall
"Arrogance" a big issue
WHAT HAPPENED? USMNT star Gio Reyna's family scandal - in which an investigation found inappropriate and overbearing actions from his parents towards U.S. Soccer when he was a youth player - was a very public example of the American youth system at its worst. According to Tim Bradbury, the director of coaching for the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association, it's a pervasive problem at every level.
Bradbury advocates for youth coaches to have proper training and licensing but has experienced parents thinking they know better than him, which along with pay-to-play driven inequalities negatively influences youth soccer development.
WHAT THEY SAID: "One of the things that has always baffled me about the United States is the arrogance and absolute belief that many youth sports parents have that they have been ordained experts in a chosen sport as they have watched some games," he wrote in a column for Front Row Soccer.
He added: "A few clubs and communities have, of course, taken the opportunity to call and tell me how wrong we are to suggest that every travel age player deserves a qualified coach."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: While there have been some recent success stories of players remaining in the U.S. as minors and eventually coming up through MLS academies, many other kids quit the sport or stagnate because of poor leadership.
WHAT NEXT? Because the problems in youth soccer reflect broader concerns in the U.S. that extend to other sports such as AAU culture in basketball, it will be difficult to improve the path for young kids to develop as soccer players in a safe, fun and affordable environment.