Can The Next USSF President Undo Trump Damage?

Make American Soccer Great!

The election of a new USSF President is almost upon us.  Although the holder of this post may not be as recognized as the President of the United States, the impact of soccer on the world is not a thing to be discounted.  It has both started and ended violence.  So with this decision looming in the near future, what impact will the new POTUSSF have on the sport and the country at large?

To the general public, the answer would most definitely be “none”.  It is an absurd thought to give this decision anything more than a passing glance on their newsfeed.  This is an organization that specializes in a sport that garners almost complete indifference from most of its populace.  It’s national power would, to the average citizen, rank somewhere around that of the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts of America.  Mostly kids and adults running around to get medals and club patches.  While that characterization might be accurate on certain levels, it completely discounts several factors that could have a tsunami type affect based on this relative flap of a butterfly’s wing.

Perception Is Reality

It’s often not pretty but the perception of truth often has greater staying power than the actual truth.  At the moment, the United States has an international perception problem.  Regardless of your personal feelings about Donald Trump, his policies or his impact on the United States; he is projecting many of the characteristics most disliked about Americans.  His overall agenda to “Make America Great Again” seems to come with the postscript, “non-Americans watch out.”  Despite being only one man, the President has the dubious responsibility of being a partial personification of what the United States is.  Mr. Trump’s actions, statements and Tweets may be his own but they also belong to all Americans when viewed from afar.

The Butterfly’s Wing

Eight candidates are being considered with varying degrees of experience, personal motive and leadership potential.  While I’ll keep my personal preference on candidates completely out of this, the worst thing that the voters could do in these circumstances would be to elect on celebrity rather than ability.  The reason being that the perception of the USSF and its new President has very real implications in a short period of time.  The selection of the host for the 2026 World Cup will be made on June 13th.  While the North American Triad of the USA, Mexico and Canada may seem like a sure thing when pitted against Morocco, small nations have dealt us unlikely defeat recently (and I won’t bring up Qatar either).

Winning the bid to host the 2026 World Cup is one of the crucial components to a successful Presidency for any of these candidates.  Failure to secure this bid is not just bad for soccer, it is bad for this country.

In the mind of the general citizen of the United State in 2018, the World Cup is nothing more than a soccer tournament.  It’s a fun diversion at best and non-factor for most.  However in an even more interconnected world of 2026, it is a spotlight shining directly onto the United States.  This event gives us the opportunity to be gracious hosts to the world.  While seemingly trivial from the inside, this role could be crucial to change an international perception of a nation that exports entertainment and soldiers under a leader of singular self-interest.  As news becomes more dependent on the “man on the street”, it is conceivable (if not) probable that brand America’s reputation in the remote corners of the world will depend on the personal experiences of a group of soccer fans supporting their team in egocentric America.

Stirring the Melting Pot

In addition to the World Cup bid, the new President will at the very least have an influence over the involvement of Hispanic communities in US soccer.  The recent loss of Jonathan Gonzalez to the Mexican National Team system is not so much a loss of talent but a loss of contact.  The roots of many Hispanic Americans in this country run deep.  US history is so inextricably intertwined with that of Hispanic heritage that a number of our states and cities have Spanish names (regardless of how we pronounce them).  The involvement of Hispanic players, coaches and fans (or lack thereof) in US soccer will be another key to US soccer counteracting the more pervasive American perceived ethos.

While soccer does not possess the ability to cure all that ails this country, it can be a catalyst for positive change.  The leadership that is selected must realize the importance of this game, not only as a sport but a form of quasi religion that can galvanize the people under its spell.  With this power comes great responsibility, here’s to hoping that the lesser of the two presidents is able to learn from the missteps of the commander in chief.  “Let’s Make American Soccer Great!”

Thanks for reading!


PS – Historically speaking, host nations seem to have a greater likelihood of winning the World Cup.  With young players like Pulisic and Adams being in their mid twenties in 2026, there’s a fighter’s chance.

5 Ways to Win at the United Soccer Coaches Convention

IMG_3094It’s that time of year again where I make my trip to whatever city is hosting the United Soccer Coaches (former NSCAA) Convention.  It is great to spend 4-5 days talking, thinking and learning about soccer.  If this is your first time or you’ve never gone, here are some ideas on how to get the most out of the Convention.

  1. Decide – There’s more than enough going on at the Convention for just about any soccer coach/fan.  Deciding what it is that you want to get out of the Convention will get you much closer to achieving that goal.  It’s fine to spend some time wandering around the exhibit hall but it shouldn’t be your only activity.  Decide on some presenter that you want to see, Bill Beswick is one of my favorites.  Decide on the concepts that would really help your team, club or players.
  2. Don’t be afraid to be a paratrooper – This is my term for showing up to a session and deciding quickly that that topic, presenter or material is not what you were looking for.  Don’t be afraid to move on to another session.  There’s more than enough going on that you can have two or even three worthy sessions in each time slot.  So plan ahead.
  3. Engage – There are thousands of people here with the same passion as you.  The possibility for common ground is immense.  Although it may be more comfortable to only talk to the people that you came with, you’ll probably find that engaging with new people creates new possibilities.  This does not mean stalk Thierry Henry to pick his brain about how to fix your U9 girls team’s finishing problem.  There are more than enough people here who would be eager to talk to you about it though.  So step out of your shell.
  4. Get out of your lane – There are so many facets to this sport on display over the next few days.  Sticking to your own area is a great way to leave with the exact knowledge that you had upon your arrival.  Make a concerted effort to learn about something outside of your personal “wheel house”.  I once attended a panel discussion on club finances.  It gave me an insight into the work that my club’s treasurer was doing and helped us to prepare for some future financial concerns.
  5. Show up – Over the years, I’ve convinced several friends and colleagues to go to their first Convention.  Almost all of them are now yearly attendees.  There are many people in the soccer community that are disappointed in the qualification failure of the USMNT.  That problem will not be solved at this Convention.  However the solutions to American soccer problems will come from many of the people and ideas that are here.  As I hope that we’re beginning to see in many areas of life, a better tomorrow is not dependent upon the chosen few at the top.  It is incumbent on all of us who care to show up early and often to help get things right.

Enjoy the Convention if you’re already going.  If you’re not, get a one day pass and check it out.  Philadelphia is one of my favorite venues for the Convention.  The Market next door, the “Rocky Steps” and the city in general make it a fun time.



Everything But…

IMG_3064In this extremely fast paced world, it’s easy to get distracted from that which is important in favor of that which seems important.  It is the reason why we make shopping lists and set reminders for ourselves.  Getting caught up in the moment is not only normal, it seems to be a way of life.  Despite all of the technological and societal distractions, it would seem as though we might have accidentally thrown out all of our babies in order to make room for more bathwater.  Perhaps it is time to decide what is truly important and focus on it.

There are plenty of people who will get married this year.  They will painstaking search for a great venue, a photographer, delicious food, the right guest-list and register for the perfect gifts.  But before they did all of that hard work, they forgot to find someone worth spending their life with.

We have access to amazing communication devices in our pockets and at our fingertips.  There is the capability to reach the other side of the world, translate to almost any language and do it instantaneously.  But we rarely say things that mean much of anything.  There is so much coming at us that it all becomes devalued.  We tend to only listen in order to respond, not to understand or empathize.

Students and teachers are no longer bound by the bricks in the walls of their buildings.  All facts are available at a moment’s notice and the greatest minds are within reach.  Yet our young people are worried about grades that will soon not matter and facts that have little value.  The word educate comes from the root educe which means to bring out or develop.  The cramming information in might not be the best way to draw out our young people’s genius.

These are just three examples where we seem to be so caught up in the process that we have forgotten why the process was invented.  When broken down to the core, the world is a relatively simple place.  We are here to survive first.  Once that is taken care of we look to progress and we do both more effectively together.  So get back to the core of what you do and why it is done at all.    If you are in school, then learn, regardless of the grades.  If you’re in a relationship, then relate, give of yourself and be willing to be changed.  The superficialities of life can only sustain us for so long.  Our true progress depends on depth of experience and it needs to be found again.  Right now are you focused on ANYTHING BUT THE THINGS THAT MATTER?



We’re All Pretenders

IMG_3059Kids pretend all the time.  They turn sticks into swords, a backyard into a jungle and anything has the potential to be magical.  Then as we grow, it seems to be trained out of us.  We tend to see ourselves in finite terms.  Our limits are not those of our imagination but rather of our circumstances.  We don’t consider the impossible or even the improbable because it has been trained out of us.  Pretending is child’s play and most of us consider ourselves too mature to do that.  The truth is that we’re all pretenders, we’ve just bought into a more sophisticated game.

If you have a dollar in your pocket, take it out and look at it, try to come up with another use for it other than to purchase something.  Possibly a book mark or it could be folded to straighten a wobbly table.  Thousands of years ago, someone came up with the idea of money and got enough people to believe in it, that now it largely runs the world.  At home I have some Ecuadorian Sucre coins and bills.  They’re worthless to just about everyone in the world because Ecuador stopped using the Sucre years ago.  New pieces are used in the game that they’re playing.

There are systems that have been put into place for decades, centuries or millennia.  Learning to negotiate within those systems is extremely important.  However you must always remember that we’re all pretending on some level.  I’m pretending to be a writer.  If I do a good enough job, more people will buy into that role that I’ve imagined for myself.  If I do a poor job, I won’t get to play that game anymore.

So since we’re all pretending on some level, why not go out into the world with all of your guns blazing?  Pretend so hard on the things that matter to you that no one will doubt that you are exactly who you’re pretending to be.  The other option is to take the role that you’ve been dealt by your circumstances because your not willing to pretend anymore.  Acceptance of the boundaries of your life seems a lot like a cage.  The origin of the word pretend is Latin.  It means “before the stretch”.  It is the precursor to growth.  So keep pretending until you stretch to your actual limits, not the ones that were thrust upon you.

Have a great day!



Soccer in American Football Terms: Offside

It has come to that time of year where many American football* fans are without a team to root for until the Super Bowl when they hope for good commercials.  If you are a soccer fan and have a football fan in your life who is interested in learning about soccer, then I have some tips below.  (NOTE: Do not try to convert the unwilling football fan.  Save your energy for the father-in-law who has grand-kids that play.  Trying to convert the uninterested usually backfires.)

The most incomprehensible thing about soccer to most football fans that I’ve spoken to is the offside rule.  Luckily there is a pretty easy way to convey the concept using football terms.  The key is to take the rule that they already understand and tweak it to help them understand the soccer equivalent.  If you’re not a football person, you might first need to brush up your understanding of the carrying game first.

Offside in football is a foul in which a player is on the wrong side of the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. This foul occurs simultaneously with the snap. Unlike offensive players, defensive players are not compelled to come to a set position before the snap.


In soccer there is no line of scrimmage nor a “snap” of the ball.  Since the ball is almost continuously in play, the rule is a bit harder to police but understanding is all that we’re aiming for now.  First of all, only offensive players can be called offside and only in their offensive half of the field (nearest the goal they intend to score on).  The line for offside is not a fixed yard line but rather it moves with the last defender** equivalent to the defensive position of safety. (See Below)


So since the ball is almost always in play, offensive players are moving around and can even cross the offside line.  A call of offside is made when an offensive player is in an offside position and the ball is played toward him or her.  In football terms, the wide receiver cannot run past the invisible yard line of the safety until the ball is thrown by the quarterback.  So the timing of streak (go), post and corner routes need to be timed very well.  If the ball is not passed before the intended receiver gets by the “safety”, he’ll be offside.  Curl and comeback routes can be effective in keeping a player onside.  But if he is offside at the time of the pass, receiving the ball in an offside position doesn’t matter (like a defensive lineman who tries to jump back as the ball is snapped).

The Receiver on the 15 yard line is onside at the time of the pass.
The player in the end-zone is offside because he’s beyond the last defender at the time of the pass.

The player possessing the ball cannot be offside.  So a player can dribble through the offside line.  Therefore if the quarterback or running back carry the ball forward, they are not offside.


That pretty much sums it up.  If I’ve missed anything, please leave it in the comments below and I’ll adjust it.  Pass this information along to a football fan that cares to learn.

* I don’t like using the term American football but I do it to avoid confusion.  I also dislike using one sport to explain another but have done this

**This statement is partially false.  The last defender needs to have the goalkeeper behind them.  This is something that soccer fans and even referees get wrong from time to time.  Two defenders (one usually being the goalkeeper) need to be between the offender and the goal line.  If the goalkeeper goes out of the goal a far distance, one defender is not enough to keep an offensive player onside.

G.O.Y.A! And Do It!

IMG_2971There are plenty of commercials from my childhood that stick out.  Growing up at the beginning of the Super Bowl Commercial craze gave us plenty of memorable advertisements.  “Where’s the beef?” from Wendy’s.  Bird vs Jordan shooting contest.  This is your brain on drugs.  These all caught my attention because they were either clever or memorable for positive reasons.

One commercial that stood out for another reason was for GOYA beans.  The catch phrase “GOYA, oh boya!” was so inane that it stuck.  Inevitably when I am food shopping for my family, the big letters G O Y A stick out and remind me of the stupid tag line.  So I have decided to associate something new to that can and the beans that sit inside.  GOYA is now an acronym.  It stands for “Get Off Your ASS!”

It is a call to action and action is all that matters after all.  The commercials that are running in our minds should be moving us forward.  I’m sure that if you’re anything like me, there are commercials running for sleep, junk-food, relaxation, sex and beer… sweet beer.  The commercials for these things are not hard to run because they represent our surface level desires.  At a much deeper level, we want to have health, wealth and good relationships.  These things require a much greater effort than the shallow desires of the moment.  So it is up to us to stick deliberately put in those commercials for beans, ACTION BEANS.  Those less than sexy items that we need in order to get where we really want to go.  You’re running the show and when you stop for a word from the sponsors, make sure they’re the ones taking you in the right direction!

G.O.Y.A!  And do it!


Missing From the Story

MissingStories are an integral part of our society and have been for thousands of years.  Whether the Odyssey, the Bible, Star Wars or Romeo & Juliet, the stories of the present and past have almost all been intended to tell us something.  Not particularly something about the past although many are historical in nature.  More often than not, stories are trying to tell us something about the human condition.  Although a form of entertainment, they can also be instructive.

Characters are not just imaginary people to play make believe for us real humans.  They represent a myriad of possible traits, life courses and mindsets.  Whether Han Solo, Jesus, the Lorax or Hector, each one offers the gift of possibility.  The idea of a life slightly different from our own.  They offer themselves up in front of us on the screen or the page in order for us to judge them and their value.  At that point their power or lack there of is left up to us.

What’s missing from the story is you.  If you only admire the heroism of Han Solo or the kindness of Jesus but never transfer it into your own life, then these characters truly are lifeless.  However, if you’re willing to take up their plight from the page, then they truly do live.  It is not enough for heroism, kindness and love to exist in movies and books because evil and hatred are alive in the real world.  So if you truly love a movie or book, then show it by becoming an actor.  A person who acts in the stead of those imaginary people.  The world is waiting for your story to be told and you’re the only thing that’s missing.

Act today!


Daily Diet of Cake Icing

IcingoncakeIn kindergarten (at least according to my recollection), I was the fastest kid in Mrs. Palma’s class.  The reason that I know this is that we often had races across the blacktop outside of the classroom.  I won everyone that I ran in.  Although my memory is extremely fuzzy about that time period, I can make this statement for a few reasons with little fear of repercussion.  First, it’s possible that it is true.  I definitely wasn’t the slowest in the class.  Second, everyone else’s memory is probably as fuzzy if not fuzzier than mine.  Finally and most important, IT DOESN’T MATTER!  While this may have been extremely relevant over thirty years ago, it’s importance has taken a nose dive down to zero.

Throughout our lives we re-calibrate the things that we build our self-esteem around.  In a young person’s world, the focus is almost exclusively on short term races.  Winning, the game, getting the right answer, having the newest outfit and other activities are momentary wins that give a quick burst of self-esteem.  Most are not meant to be long lasting nor remembered years later.  They are the icing on the cake because most of your life is about other things.

The real substance of life is made up by those things that we do on a regular basis.  The more generalized self-esteem comes from all of the little things.  Those thoughts, words and actions make us either proud or disappointed in who we are as people.  It is not a competition to be better than someone else but rather a verification that we are living up to our own principles.  Through the years the layers of who we are can either become a cake filled with robust flavor or a turd that needs to be covered in icing to hide its true taste.  These are not the only two options but reality’s limits are informed by the extremes.

So the daily choice comes down to you.  Choose who it is that you want to be and take the time to deliberately define the ingredients that you’ll allow into your life.  Or use any icing that you can find in order to cover up the distaste that you have for yourself.  Unfortunately both work but the latter will leave you malnourished and unable to run the long race of life with anything more than fits and spurts.  Everyone needs to feel good about themselves but a life made mainly of fluff will most likely not sustain.

Happy birthday!