An old coach of mine - who was a very good coach - said to me recently, that American players don't play enough "ally ball" as he put it. Then, they play too many games that "mean nothing." The point being: If the players were playing constructive "ally ball" and honing in on the essential skills - which most American players lack - then they would carry over that skill, practice and experience into the games, making the games much more worth while. After all, if players are not playing "ally ball" and only playing games, then there is nothing to show for it. They've learned practically nothing. The old thought is while a Brazilian kid is playing for hours on the street, he has accumulated a massive amount of time - and muscle memory - to take forth into eventual games. Whereas, if an American player only goes to a club practice twice a week, while playing a single game on a weekend, he hasn't put in enough hours. The Brazilian kid has put in ninety hours, while the American kid has only put in six. Big difference. If you clock in all those hours, you should have the advantage (given, of course, you have the proper direction from some experienced elder). It's likened to the Samurai Warrior code: At one point, after all your training and dedication, you will have to forget it all, and just react. Players that lack the "ally ball" experience will have a hard time reacting, as a Samurai might, when they haven't even put in the necessary hours of training. It's not natural enough. This is a big observation from critics of American soccer, that "it's not natural enough." They say, "We can see the improvement, but we can also see that it's still a little awkward for them. They don't have a 'green' light yet." How can you argue with this? Paul Breitner said between the US team of 1990 and that of today, there's no difference. Ego has to be put aside and realize that he's right. US fans get all up in arms when they're reminded of the truth, that being: The US hasn't won a World Cup and despite subtle improvements they're not anywhere close to holding the Jules Rimet trophy. They're not anywhere close to embracing the Holy Grail, otherwise known as the Quarterfinals. I like the idea of the US winning the World Cup, but not with the approach we currently have. It's close to an impossibility. So many things need to change. I tentatively hasten to believe my book can elucidate a number of those imperative restructuring points, as the team is merely repeating the past, with different players and a similar result.
(NS) refers to "Non-Soccer" related blog entries, stories and essays.
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