“I still think that with all the players that we have in this country, we could play great football. Not good – great football.” - Hugo Perez
Start your morning with a read of Charles Boehm’s great feature on Hugo Perez at FourFourTwo. I can’t recommend it enough.
There are not enough people in influential positions in U.S. Soccer who think like Hugo Perez. I have heard coaches and club leaders far too often say that their players are not good enough to play good soccer. Instead, they play “not to lose”, they play defensively, they kick the ball as far in the other direction as humanly possible, and they basically look to get lucky.
This is garbage.
As a fan, I am much more interested in a team that plays with some bravery, fearlessness, and swagger. Teams that know they risk giving up some goals in order to score even more.
I am also not unrealistic. There are times that call for a team to be more conservative, more defensive, and to protect what they already have. This is not a bad thing at all. I am just not excited about a team that chooses to play that way for 90 minutes in every game.
The American player pool is better than it has been at any point in the sport’s history in this country. As Hugo Perez said, there is nothing stopping the U.S. players from playing good soccer. We need more coaches and clubs who choose to play an entertaining style of soccer. We need more people in the game to believe in the American player and what he or she is capable of doing.
When discussing the concept of teams in Atlanta, I have always felt that fans will have more long term support for a team that tries to entertain than a team that tries to claw out 1-0 defensive battles. Results do matter, but fans will be more willing to give coaches and staff the benefit of the doubt after an entertaining loss than a dreadful one.
The inferiority complex that stifles American soccer sometimes prevents us from believing that our players are capable of playing good soccer. Is the American player pool on a par with the top countries in the world? No. That does not mean that we are forced to play a park the bus, kick and run, negative style of soccer. We need more coaches and administrators like Hugo Perez in the game saying, “No, we can do more.”
I’d love to hear your thoughts on Boehm’s article in the comments below.
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