7/31/2012: When Bliss Speaks Youth People Should Listen
By Ryan Kozlowski
The United States Youth Soccer Association should start taking what Crew Technical Director Brian Bliss says and making it happen.
They could do even one better, get Brian Bliss and a group of like-minded peers to chair a committee to make the refinements that can take the United States to the next level.
The guy has won nearly everything with the Crew Youth Soccer Academy, and the higher ups including another McGuire Cup and the Super 20's.
A good interview here where Bliss explains his thoughts about the youth game, on Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider.
I especially liked the points Bliss made on what needs to be done at the youth level to get America to the next level; and would extend on that, that one thing that American soccer needs to do is somehow give soccer player's who live in rural areas the ability to get noticed.
I coach high school soccer myself at Conneaut High School, just across the border from Youngstown, OH and Conneaut, OH in PA; I also played for them and somehow snuck my way into some college ball but that's the best I could do.
That's the best any of the kids on my team are going to be able to do, even if some of them have the skills. These kids, two or three of them, will work and work 24/7 on soccer and will never get their shot because they will never in their life be put in front of someone that a.) understands their talent and b.) has the resources to make something happen for them. Two or three of them, every four years, if they were just born in a New Jersey, California, Texas, Columbus, Ohio; they might of got the chance to get the development to get to the big level.
Regrettably, even if there real talent was soccer, they'll sit in a office raking in $30,000 a year and thinking "damn, if I only had parents that realized what I had."
There just is nothing in place for someone to pick out the good, rural kids and send them somewhere else regionally to get better development, and unless it's the parents dream as well there isn't the drive by the parents to get their kid in front of the right people.
I can tell you why Mexico does it better with less resources, because even in the smaller areas of the country the focus is on soccer and picking out those with the skill and sending them where they can develop. And it doesn't matter how much money you have.
SA: What can be done at the youth level to get American soccer to a higher level?
BRIAN BLISS: You hate to compliment them, but look at what Mexico’s got going on over there. They probably have half the resources that we do on the youth side but they’ve got it going. Whether it’s identifying players who are more technically gifted and then running with that -- as opposed to running with the more physical guys who are more mature in terms of their body at an early age for the sake of winning. We need to get away from that a little bit. I know it’s painful because youth clubs are in existence to win things in order to drive more revenue by kids signing up.
That’s unfortunate. But maybe we’ve got to get to a system where there are no more trophies, there are no more awards at the younger ages. Because that may be pointing us in the wrong direction at times.
Bliss should stay right where he is at. He's in his element at the Columbus Crew and being a manager at a Major League Soccer club would be a waste of his talents, he has the ability and know all to develop the younger talent at the Columbus Crew and to get them to the senior side.
We’re only in the first cycle of it. We’re just starting to get a couple of homegrown guys signed – the goalkeeper Matt Lampson from Ohio State; Aaron Horton, who went to Louisville; and then Ben Speas, who was Soccer America’s College Player of the Year . Those players have all come through our system, so we’re starting to see some benefits.
Once the Wil Trapp group, then the Benny Swanson group comes through, I think will start to see the true impact that Brian Bliss has had not only on the Columbus Crew organization but youth soccer.