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06/30/2014 - 1:44pm This, and his name is also

This, and his name is also spelled Thomas Vermaelen, with the extra 'e'.


Anyway, I'll take our chances with Belgium over any of the other top seeds. If Kompany can't go, that's a huge swing for the US' odds on pulling out a win. 

06/24/2014 - 2:03pm While yes, there are large

While yes, there are large differences in terms of national importance of soccer and the size of the nation, I think the comparison holds more weight than you believe.

Realistically, it's not possible to be a world-class soccer nation while almost always conceiding possession.  So because of that, Belgium needed changed their style of play, and they started developing their youth players differently. Youth games were played on small fields, fewer players on the field, with lots of touches for all the players. Belgian youth players will not see a full-size field until U-13, and even then club teams are forced to play a 4-4-3 and sweepers are banned. They realized that by placing more emphasis on creating technically skilled players as oppose to winning youth games, they would produce more world-class players and the results would eventually trickle up to the highest level (this was called the G-A-G Plan, for those who didn't read the article). 

Now, how does that relate to the United States? Like others have already said, the US is never going to have that soccer-dominant culture that many other countries have where kids of all economic levels will play unorganized soccer from sun up to sun down. Yet, the US is trying to make this move to a creative, attacking style and is going to need creative, highly-skilled players to do so. Realistically, you aren't going to be able to replace the infrastructure of "organized" youth soccer for that of soccer acadamies. So the best way to produce world class players with high techinical abilities is to force these youth teams to do the same thing Belgium did: smaller fields, less players on the field, and (when they reach U-13) forcing clubs to play wide-open games. That will result in more touches for all players, learning how to play in tight spaces, and eventually, very creative, attacking players. 

The problem is going to be getting all the youth coaches on board with the plan. The Belgian G-A-G plan was unpopular among youth clubs in Belgium, it would be extremely unpopular with youth clubs here in the States. Our culture's emphasis on winning plays against us here... I know this far too well.  I grew up playing soccer in that culture, and now coach in it at the high school level. My father coaches at a well-known youth club here in SE Michigan (rhymes with 'Shmardar'), and if another club team thinks they have a shot at beating his team by playing little Johnny 20 yards off the back line, then their coach is going to do it for a variety of reasons (not having to hear from losing parents, doesn't care about developing players, just wants to win...). The only way you're going to fully change that culture is by mandating it from the top down and forcing the officials to make the teams play that 4-3-3 by handing out yellow cards to players that are consistently dropping too far back and not joining the line.

Again, this is never going to happen, but the question was how do you improve American soccer. And without a soccer-dominant culture or blowing up the entire infrastucture of American soccer to date, that change would speed up the USA's eventual rise to the world's soccer elites two or three times over (all in my opinion, of course).


tl;dnr: Smaller fields, fewer players on the field, and lots and lots of touches will create the highly-skilled youth players that the US will eventually need.

06/24/2014 - 7:33am If you want to see how a

If you want to see how a nation takes that next step, look at Belgium... They are (arguably) the latest nation to join the world's elites. Grantland did a great story on them earlier this year and how over the course of the last decade they went from no-names to getting a top 8 seed in this year's World Cup... It's a bit lengthy, but if you're interested in the topic, it's a good read.


10/31/2013 - 4:12pm I agree with your top 4, but

I agree with your top 4, but I'm going to make the case for Calvin over Miggy:

1) The Lions are more popular than the Tigers, despite being historically much worse. If the Lions make a run for the division title this year (which looks completely possible) and Calvin is dominating week in and week out, his popularity in Detroit is going to go sky high.

2) Miggy isn't the most likeable person. He's had his fair share of issues with the drinking and the domestic violence reports. Heck, he barely speaks English. A few years back when his issues were more prevalent, there were some Tigers fans who wanted to run him out of town. Not taking anything away from his dominance at the plate or the smile on his face when he plays the game, but off the field, no one knows much about him because he's not the most open person. I think more Tigers fans relate to Justin Verlander, who is American and does a lot of stuff in the community. Likewise, Calvin appears to be a great human being even though he has a quiet demeanor... Calvin is more marketable and approachable to the fans.

3) Calvin is more valuable to the Lions than Miggy is to the Tigers (which sounds nuts). But if you take Miggy off the Tigers, they can still compete with pitching and they have a few other bats. But you take Calvin off the Lions and they don't have a chance.

10/23/2013 - 11:03pm I can't believe I forgot

I can't believe I forgot about Superbad. Definitely way up there.

10/23/2013 - 4:59pm I really liked This Is The

I really liked This Is The End, but it was basically the same running gag over and over... Hilarious, but it probably falls just outside the top 3. 

10/23/2013 - 3:47pm I can't wait for this

I can't wait for this movie... Personally, I believe the 3 funniest movies since 2000 are:

- Anchorman
- The Other Guys
- 21 Jump Street

07/29/2013 - 1:55pm No offense, but Braxton

No offense, but Braxton Miller has the kind of elusiveness that if you go for the ball and miss, he could escape and create a big play. I have no issues with Frank Clark going for the demolition hit and hoping for a turnover...

Besides, his interception of Logan Thomas in the Sugar Bowl showed plenty of "awareness" coming off of a playaction rollout.

07/16/2013 - 11:35am I was disappointed reading

I was disappointed reading this thread that General Custer did not have a pet wolverine he would unleash in battle like a Stark direwolf.

12/04/2012 - 8:22pm Louisiana is the Pelican

Louisiana is the Pelican State... I don't see how Pelicans is any worse than Hornets or Bobcats.

09/14/2012 - 11:58pm Seriously?

Those are very mild for an Adidas soccer uniform... Have you seen the MLS lately?

I was expecting to see 3 stripes running up the sleeves, down the pants, across the socks, across the butt, and everywhere in between.

Just like the basketball team, I'm sure they have a white, maize, and blue uniform that they rotate through depending upon the opponent and the location of the game.

And for the block M's in the numbers, that's been done by several clubs and almost every league across FIFA...


07/22/2012 - 9:06pm "Dammit Shane! For the last

"Dammit Shane! For the last time, that is not a checkdown!!!"