Former Dynamo defender Eddie Robinson was on air with his Dynamo broadcast partner Glenn Davis on the Dynamo All-Access show last night. Robinson had some insightful comments on the current state of player development in the United States that, at least in my opinion, have been long overdue by someone in his position to put pressure on the decision makers in U.S. player development. The link attached includes the first hour of DAA in case you missed it and here are some quotes from the audio:
G.D. Are we resigned to just being a country that always going to have a team that just fights and outworks everyone? (referring to the USMNT) E.R.: "'Until youth coaching gets better, absolutely. Youth coaching in this country is not even close to where it should be and I don't believe that the MLS teams or MLS in general understand that or put enough resources towards it. Kids in this age are coddled, and I think when you look at the European kids on the U.S. national team, they're all too soft. And until the coaching, the actual soccer teaching, gets better in this country at young ages, that's what were going to have to do, what we're going to have to deal with. We're going to have to go back to when Bruce Arena was there, and everybody in the world was talking about how fit the U.S. was and how hard they worked. That's how we got results... we are not good enough because our coaching is not good enough."
"We're in this society that everybody get's to win, and everybody gets a trophy, and when you really talk about player development you can go to youth soccer clubs in every big city in this country and [it is money oriented] if you don't win, I shouldn't be playing for you. Whereas I would love to be a coach in an organization where I have 20 kids, and 20 sets of parents that didn't care wether their children won or lost. That cared wether every single game they got a little bit better...if you want to be realistic about getting this country into that top tier of world soccer powers, that's the way it's gonna have to be.
"It's extremely disappointing because MLS wants to tout about how much money they put into the youth development program and they're like 'oh $30 million a year' I believe the LA Galaxy's budget alone on that is 2.5. You look at Dallas, you can probably pick out a couple of the Canadian teams, Vancouver, Toronto, Philadelphia. They're doing it right but most of that money that MLS is saying '$30 million' is going to big clubs. I can say, after being in it, that the Houston Dynamo academy...not even close to $1 million, not even close, barely had enough to pay their coaching staff and people wonder why the youth players aren't developing at the same rate as anybody else.
Robinson does go on to talk about the positives strides that Major League Soccer management had to make to keep the league alive during his playing years and expressed his gratitude for it, so it wasn't like he was dogging MLS left and right. Robinson mentions that MLS is on the cusp of "removing the businessman" and letting the soccer man, who's still about making money for the league but is willing to put soccer first, take over.
On the current play of the Houston Dynamo: "I think that when you look at the players, there's no way the Dynamo should only have 9 shots on goal in 4 games. Brad Davis, Boniek Garcia, Giles Barnes...Will Bruin, Ricardo Clark, Luis Garrido, with the option of Lovejoy, Miranda. This is a group of attacking players that should be feared league-wide. I'm really excited to see where this team's at in another 12, 14 games.
"When was the last time we saw Brad Davis try to dribble a player instead of one-two around him? Or try to use his movement to get in behind the back four? I think that's been lost over the last couple of years with the Dynamo. When you had the Brian Mullan's on the wing, when you had the Brad Davis, in his prime when he was younger, taking guys on.
"It's a situation were Owen Coyle has to start being mean about it [and start telling guys] 'stop being so weak and get on with it'. You look at times when Kofi Sarkodie starts taking players on, how many good things happen. When Boniek Garcia and Lionel Miranda...when those guys take players on, good things happen. They get players in the box, they get numbers forward, and even if they don't get something on goal they sustain players for 2, 3, 4 minutes and it's the old Dynamo team that everybody in Houston was used to watching. I like that that's what Owen Coyle is pegged and focused on trying to get this team back to but, at the end of the day, he can only give them so much and tell them so much. The players have to do it."
Listen to the clip yourself, it's a good, insightful interview. Also in the clip is an interview that aired Tuesday on Soccer Matters with Shep Messing speaking about the current state of the men's national team, the MLS, and the NASL.