Play Your Kids

Hiding Behind Possession: FC Dallas' Youth Experiment by Cheuk Hei Ho & Jason Poon

For years, FC Dallas has been lauded for having one of -- if not the best, Academy programs in the United States. Dallas has signed the most Homegrown players in the league history (25), with no slowing down in sight. Despite having such a prolific Academy, it wasn’t until recent years that the club started taking full advantage of this system. And when former Academy Director Luchi Gonzalez took over as the head coach,  it was finally the go-time for the entire “Play Your Kids” movement. Part of that was by design; who else would know the former Academy players better than Luchi? Part of it was also timing; most of the Academy graduates had spent a significant amount of their formative soccer development years in the Dallas Academy and were ready to make the jump. With Gonzalez at the reign, it only made sense to usher in a youth movement.

Read More

Where Will We Find the American Messi? by Chris Marciniak

“Maybe we can find someone kicking a ball around the streets. Maybe there’s a Messi hiding somewhere here in the States. Who knows?" 

In this quote given to in 2014, U.S. Men’s national team coach and technical director Jurgen Klinsmann revealed three things about U.S. Soccer. The ambition to be the best and produce elite talent, the sense in which we are overlooking top players in our midst, and lastly we have no idea if these players exist or not. He explained his intention to “look under every rock, in every dusty corner.” He added that there is “definitely talent in the U.S. that’s not being tapped” and that the federation is trying to get their “heads and hands around that.”

Read More

Does Playing The Kids Actually Help Teams Win in MLS? by Noah Sobel-Pressman

A major criticism of MLS teams is that they don’t play their you players enough. More specifically, MLS teams struggle with playing youth national-team players, and many young players have noticed this trend and signed in Europe. These players in most cases have their spots blocked by replacement-level veterans. In every league coaches typically rely on veterans because that is the safer, less risky option. Veteran players are generally more proven and so coaches know what type of performance they will get if they play them. This can be frustrating to fans, like me as an NYCFC fan, who, for example, see players like Rodney Wallace get playing time over Jonathan Lewis (who has now been sent out on loan). To fans, Lewis is clearly the better option, even including his struggles tracking back, but clearly NYCFC coach Domenec Torrent disagrees. I want to examine if this theory that the coaches believe is true. How does the amount of playing time given to young players correlate with a team’s number of points?

Read More