For the longest time I have been a type of Eurosnob, you know those fans who want the MLS to be like Europe. I am not a fan of the single table, nor am I a fan of only the ManUre's of the world. I was only a Eurosnob about youth development. They have been doing it there for 100+ years so they have to know how to do it. I am rethinking that right now after reading an amazing article about Neuroscience and training soccer players at Cnnsi.com VIA The Blizzard.co.uk.The article talks about new training techniques that are starting to pop up all over Europe that focus not only on conditioning but creating synaptic connections with-in the brain to process the game faster and make decisions faster. The training consists of a drill which gets progressively more challenging and requires more and more of thought. Why are they doing this? Because as one coach puts it:
"I think that coaches either forget, or don't even realise, that football is a hugely cognitive sport," said the Uefa-A licence coach Kevin McGreskin. "We've got to develop the players' brains as well as their bodies but it's much easier to see and measure the differences we make to a player's physiology than we can with their cognitive attributes."
Yes you need some intelligence to play other sports and people are always talking about Basketball IQ or Football IQ but Soccer seems, yes I am biased, to require a lot more thinking and analyzing. This is all a side track to what really got me thinking about the US system and how it could work to MLS' advantage. This paragraph really caught my attention:
The attraction of developing more intelligent players would seem obvious for any self-respecting football coach, but the high drop-out rate -- "In England we've judged players by the time they are 17 or 18," said the Southampton scout David Webb -- suggests the world of youth development in Britain could do with a little more blue sky thinking. And why are they being rejected at such an early age when the brain is not fully developed until the age of 25?
What happens to those late bloomers? The ones who don't play a sport until high school and all of sudden find they are a natural? The Hakeem Olajuwons of the world who don't play a sport until 15 and go on to be a Hall of Famer and 2 time Champion? They have to go the route of Jay Demerit and work their tails off and even then people may think they are not worth it because they were scouted at 11 or 12.
The college farm system, if coaches become better equipped to develop a player, could be a great route to develop players who may not be ready to play at 18 or 19. However there are some pitfalls to this as the NCAA seems hell bent on ruining all the non-revenue sports by making the training time shorter and the season even shorter than that. College players need to play more games for it to end up benefiting MLS.
In the end the answer is yes the College system is good for MLS but needs to be improved and coupled with the Academy system to catch all the best players in the US.