U.S. Needs to Look Further to Enhance Game

James RiggioContributor IJune 28, 2010

The United States has learned a lot as a national team and as a nation in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

For one, the U.S. now knows it is has shown it is no longer a pushover for anyone. That is huge step in the right direction.

A victory in Group C also showed that the U.S. need not look at itself any more as second to England.

American soccer fans need to realize that in order for the level of play in this country to continue to progress, they must look at other methods of play that go beyond what is seen weekly in the English Premiership.

The top clubs in English Premiership have enjoyed the most success of Europe’s top leagues in recent years, yet so little about the league is English. Most of its players, managers and owners are not English.

So much of what the American soccer public is fed in terms of news and game coverage comes from England and naturally is often depicted to show superiority in the English game and inferiority amongst the others. This has left a handicap as many are unaware of looking at other teaching methods in countries like Germany, Italy, Spain, and France.

While France and Italy may have performed poorly in the World Cup, both have generally done well enough in the past to provide a blueprint of some ideas that might be useful for the U.S. as it looks to make the next step to elite status among the top soccer nations in the world.

Following Germany’s 4-1 second round victory over England, it is apparent that German football teaching methods can no longer by ignored and must be adapted by American soccer coaches from a grassroots level.

For a country that lacks beautiful weather like in California or Florida, Germany has still continued to produce quality teams every four years. Germany has appeared in the playoff rounds of every World Cup since 1954, a mark that is certainly astonishing.

While many make look at South American countries Brazil and Argentina as being those that produce the most individual talent, it is Germany that understands the team concept better than any other.

German teams are generally better organized than the opposition. They are generally well organized in defense, something that Brazil and Argentina sometimes lack.

Watching Germany against England on Sunday, one could also see the focus and determination of the team. Unlike many teams that feel pressured to score within a certain amount of time, Germany generally is patient and does not take crazy and wild shots on goal.

While Italy’s World Cup play this summer is one to forget, the Italians are generally among the few that have actually enjoyed success against the Germans.

With key victories in the 1970, 1982, and 2006 World Cups between the two, one can’t ignore that Italy generally produces outstanding defenses. As many know, behind every championship team in every sport, there generally lies an excellent defense.

Italian coaching methods have become very popular in recent years, which are evidenced by England hiring an Italian in Fabio Capello as its national team manager. Several other top Italian coaches like Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Mancini have taken jobs with top English clubs.

Spain is currently the most talented side in Europe and it too has provided lots that Americans can look at in help of bettering itself. While the U.S. beat Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup, the Spaniards are ranked No. 2 in the FIFA World Rankings for a reason.

The Spanish game has some aspects that are similar to that of the Germans and Italians, except that they are superior in creativity and skill. The 2008 European Champions perhaps now have gained the confidence in being able to win a major tournament like the Germans and Italians.

The French have also made their mark in becoming one of the world’s top soccer nations. Arsene Wenger of English side Arsenal is clearly one of the top coaches in the world. France generally has top coaches that are requested in many parts of the world and are particularly popular in Africa, where they have played in key role in the development of the game in many nations on the world’s poorest continent.

A look at the roster of almost any major club in the world and chances are there are at least some French players.

One of the reasons France’s exit from the World Cup was such a surprise was because the team boasted players from the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and other top clubs.

New French National Team manager Laurent Blanc is considered a top young coach, as is former 1998 World Cup teammate Didier Deschamps.

The opportunity for American children to attend camps in Europe has never been higher. And with English becoming so widely spoken across the continent, parents no longer have to fear sending their children to a place where English isn’t the official language. They might learn something new, and it could be more than just a chance at becoming bilingual.