Open Mic: Would Better Athletes Help American Soccer?

Braden MooreAnalyst IJune 18, 2008

Recently, the US National Soccer team has taken part of friendly matches against three of the elite teams in the world.  In each of these games, the Americans have been held scoreless.

While in many other sports, Americans have been able to thoroughly dominate, this has not been the case for soccer.  While the team in recent years has been much better than iterations past, the Americans have yet to truly breakthrough and become a dominant team.

One guess to why this is the case is that the top young athletes in this country tend to play Basketball, Football, and Baseball.  Which begs the question: Will better athletes allow the national Soccer team to join the ranks of the elite?

My short answer to this is no, at least not now.  The play style of the US National Team is a very plodding, deliberate style.  They play tough, tough defense, rarely yielding a goal.  However, at the same time, they are rarely in position to score a goal.

No matter how athletic of a team we put on a field, the play style needs to be conducive to goal scoring to start winning some more games.  With the current philosophy employed by the coaches, better athletes may simply improve the team's defense, which will not make much of a difference.

Most importantly, to say how much better athletes will benefit the team, we must define exactly what makes a good athlete.  I've said it in a previous article, but Americans tend to value different attributes in our sports and athletes than the rest of the world.

Somebody who can do a tomahawk dunk from the free throw line, or throw a 95 mph fastball may not translate over to soccer well.  In a society that values hand-eye co-ordination so much there is no guarantee that our "superior" athletes' skill sets will translate over to soccer well.

In my opinion, if the US National Soccer team is to improve their standing amongst other national teams, they need not to look at the basketball courts of America, but instead they must simply look in the mirror.