“Open Tryouts – A National Crisis” By: Rob Dominguez

**Hey! It’s been, a while. As Jules has said, we (especially me) are a bit late in posting. However, as I sat on the pitch for….twelve hours yesterday, I did have a wee bit of time to jot down my ranting and post this morning before I headed off for my first day off in five months.**

With the World Cup edging closer and closer every day, it’s getting pretty hard to restrain my excitement. However, it’s also getting hard to restrain my general worry for our national team. Through recent musings, the question came up: is this really the best we have?
In my formative years of getting to watch the US play in the ’96 Olypmics against Argentina, every now and again discerning who a player was in FIFA and – predating the ease of google and instant-knowledge of wikipedia – I would research to the best of my abilities to find out who these guys were.
Then, I grew up. With that maturation, came the removal of my kid-lenses and my realization of the fact that we’re in a national crisis when it comes to fielding a truly competitive MNT. The question, though, remains: why?
Is it the fact that we don’t develop players? Possibly. Look at our youth system. We’re a capitalist society that’s focused on being competitive. However, the model that we’ve adopted is focused on wins/loses. With my job, I struggle with non-soccer (read: non athletic) people in positions of power at clubs who constantly ask, “Where are the results?”
Well, Circle-Jerk, why not look at the players themselves? The model that needs to be adopted, and has started growing with the complete advent of these “Super Clubs” in US Youth Soccer, is to focus on developing the players. Thus a developed player, is a better player and better players win games. So, maybe it’s because this focus and shift on development is so young that it’s just starting to spread across the country and reach all clubs in Disconnected-Middle-of-Nowhere-Banjo-Pretty-Mouth-Music, Alabama.
To give you a for instance, when I was 15, I met one of my best friends who I coach with – Mason Cook. Mason was living in Dallas at the time and I in Birmingham. I played for a RIIIPL team out of Mountain Brook and Mason for, what in Dallas, was a team full of third division players. What was the result? An ass-kicking on scale with Eric Cantona’s Jet-Li…ing of a fan talking shit. A third division squad from Dallas, beat Alabama’s finest in Memphis that night. Clearly, Dallas has it right (in most respects).
So, maybe we can’t blame the style of development being used in this country. Maybe, it’s political…
I really prefer not to go down this road as to not step on anyone’s toes that I know in the soccer community, because – as we know – it’s pretty damn small (That’s what she- …you get the idea).
All that can really be said is that there’s a problem. However, the nature and definition of this problem remain to be elusive. Step one: identify. Step two: fix. Step three: continue on with repeat choruses of “Ole, ole, ole…!” and round after round of Guinness (or domestic if we’re sticking American) to celebrate our 2034 WC final win.

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