Ranting Soccer Dad


There will be some ranting.

There will be some talk of soccer.

There will be at least one dad. Often more. Or perhaps a dad and a mom.

Ranting Soccer Dad is a podcast/blog that goes beyond the “nice” talk about youth soccer. If you go into youth soccer expecting a steady stream of pleasant character-building experiences, you’re going to be disappointed. A lot of things are frustrating. And they don’t all need to be that way.

So we’re going to offer up some reporting. Some constructive criticism. Some discussion about what to do if you’re a youth soccer parent, coach, administrator or executive overlord.

Sure, you may not have to go far to hear a ranting soccer dad. Just go to any youth game. The difference here is that the host and the guests are bringing years of research and experience to back up the skepticism. (Or optimism, depending on the guest.)


and tune in

  • RSD19: U.S. Soccer presidential candidate Kyle Martino November 15, 2017 12:29 pm
    A vote for Kyle Martino is actually a vote for a network of people that he believes can solve the problems in U.S. Soccer. He’s going to bring them together in early December to flesh out a “progress plan” that he outlines on his site. He’s already hard at work building this consensus, and this interview has a few glitches because he was on the run as we chatted. He had to run at one point to do a live interview, and the phone connection dropped as he hopped from train to train. The former MLS player and current (though on leave) NBC analyst grasps the complexities of the U.S. Soccer presidency for which he’s running. Like a couple of other candidates, he’s out talking with youth and adult constituencies to find out what they need. He has mixed feelings about the incumbent, Sunil Gulati, whom Martino firmly believes has run his course as president but still has a lot to offer U.S. Soccer. He’s shocked to h [...]
  • RSD18: U.S. Soccer presidential candidate Mike Winograd November 8, 2017 12:10 pm
    He doesn’t have the name recognition of Eric Wynalda, he hasn’t been in the U.S. Soccer inner circle like Carlos Cordeiro, and he hasn’t been campaigning as long as Steve Gans. But Mike Winograd is an interesting candidate for the USSF presidency. He’s a former player, he helped launch a pro club, and he’s a lawyer who works on very big deals. In our conversation (starting around the 10-minute mark after I ranted a bit about the NASL lawsuit and gave an overview of the presidential election), we talk about Winograd’s background and his plans, which he outlined in a prior interview at GotSoccer. His basic mode of operation: He wants to get everyone on the same page — or, as he puts it, rowing in the same direction. Key quote: “U.S. Soccer should not be in the business of trying to ram things down people’s throats.”
  • RSD17: Adding tiers to the U.S. soccer cake, with NPSL’s Jef Thiffault November 1, 2017 1:00 pm
    Jef Thiffault is the managing director for the NPSL, an elite amateur league that’s been sometimes pulled into promotion/relegation discussions. But he used to work for MLS and SUM. Mind blown yet? It’s actually an encouraging discussion that gives the impression that we have some smart people in U.S. soccer, toiling far away from the courtrooms and big-league boardrooms. And we might see a sea change in elite amateur competition that just might spill upward to the pros. Interview begins around the 10:30 mark after I give a long introduction and rant a bit about the NASL and so forth.
  • RSD16: Kevin Payne (U.S. Club Soccer) shatters simplistic suggestions October 25, 2017 9:17 pm
    Fix the pay-to-play system! Make U.S. clubs pay and receive solidarity payments and training compensation! Get Sunil Gulati out of U.S. Soccer! Not so fast. Today’s guest is Kevin Payne, currently the U.S. Club Soccer CEO and previously an executive with D.C. United, AEG, and Toronto FC. He also has plenty of experience within U.S. Soccer in a variety of roles, including membership on the Board of Directors. He’s here to tell you the pet solutions we toss around on Twitter are either (A) not so simple or (B) totally missing the boat. The interview starts at the 7:20 mark, after a brief rant on the state of MLS, the NASL, USL, NWSL and maybe even QSL. (Yes, I miss shortwave radio.)
  • RSD15: The clogged youth-to-pro pipeline, with Brian Dunseth and Chris Keem October 18, 2017 12:05 pm
    Was Nik Besagno a warning sign? The top pick in the 2005 MLS Draft — ahead of Brad Guzan, Michael Parkhurst, Will John, Chris Rolfe, Bobby Boswell, Chris Wondolowski and Jeff Larentowicz — had a very short MLS career. Perhaps not coincidentally, that’s when people started to wonder if the U17 residency in Bradenton was producing soft, coddled players. Yes, the youth-to-pro pipeline is at the core of our national wailing and gnashing of teeth after the U.S. men failed to qualify for the World Cup. It’s a topic so big, we need two guests. First up, player-turned-commentator Brian Dunseth talks about what happened in Trinidad (3:30), Olympic soccer and how much it hurt the men to miss out (5:00), losing players from youth soccer (9:40), the parental perspective when clubs start demanding your money (11:20 [...]
  • RSD14: U.S. Soccer presidential candidate Steven Gans October 11, 2017 1:59 am
    Steven Gans is running for U.S. Soccer president, and he has some bold statements. “Under my administration, nobody’s going to be ignored” (11:15). “The laissez-faire attitude (toward youth soccer) is troubling and would change under my administration” (29:00). The idea of having two State Cups in one state is “utterly ridiculous,” and those who are not working for the good of the game for the kids are going to be “marginalized” (31:30).   If you’re also running for U.S. Soccer president and would like to be interviewed on this podcast, please get in touch. The podcast starts with a funny or cautionary tale from this weekend’s youth tournaments. (NOTE: This interview obviously took place BEFORE the USA was eliminated from the men’s World Cup on Tuesday night.)
  • RSD13: Washington Spirit recap and why Vegas shouldn’t make us cynical October 4, 2017 2:11 pm
    In the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, the podcast opens with a few thoughts on why we shouldn’t give up on changing people and society as a whole, either on something relatively trivial like youth soccer or something horrifying like one man’s ability to assemble the weapons to wound 500 people. Maybe we need a little less competition and a little more cooperation to make the changes we need? Also, a quick recap of the Washington Spirit’s season, in which the team fell from being 30 seconds away from a league championship to last place. Includes postgame comments from Spirit coach Jim Gabarra and the team’s star attacking player, Mallory Pugh. (Apologies for the drop in volume during the Pugh interview. Also, if you can’t hear Gabarra’s last two words, they’re “No comment.”)
  • RSD12: Is youth soccer doomed to suck? September 27, 2017 12:00 pm
    Host Beau Dure flies solo for this edition, asking whether it’s possible to turn youth soccer into an activity that produces good soccer players and good human beings.  Crowd noise sound effect is from FreeSound user paulw2k under a Creative Commons 3.0 license. I hope Brentford won the game.
  • RSD11: Alexi Lalas on developing soft, tattooed millionaires September 20, 2017 12:00 pm
    Alexi Lalas is a Soccer Hall of Famer. He’s also an entertainer, with interests in music as well as riling people up from a soccer broadcast studio. So when he rips the U.S. men’s national team as “soft, tattooed millionaires,” he’s drawing on both backgrounds. In our conversation, Lalas explains that “tattooed millionaires” came from a solo release by Iron Maiden lead singer Bruce Dickinson (no, not the “More Cowbell” guy on SNL), and then we talk about whether everything from the now-defunct Bradenton residency program to the Development Academy is giving us a generation of coddled, entitled men’s soccer players.< [...]
  • Ranting Soccer Dad, Ep. 10: Ronnie Woodard on youth soccer, women in coaching September 13, 2017 12:00 pm
    Do women actually face more difficulty breaking into college coaching today than they did 15 years ago? Is youth soccer going off the rails? I don’t know. But Ronnie Woodard would. The former Duke goalkeeper went straight from the college field to the college sideline and had a strong career coaching at College of Charleston and Vanderbilt before moving to youth soccer with Tennessee Soccer Club and taking national honors, including the 2016 NSCAA Coach of the Year Award. That’s not all. She has a master’s degree in counseling and runs a consulting service for female college prospects.   A few conversation highlights: - 10:20: What’s keeping women out of coaching?  
  • Ranting Soccer Dad, Ep. 9: Girls DA with Travis Clark September 6, 2017 12:00 pm
    The podcast starts this week with a bit of a political rant. The news on DACA is hard to ignore, and we’ve had some ongoing overheated arguments in the soccer community. The Travis Clark interview on the Development Academy starts around the 9:25 mark. A few landmarks: - Will the NWSL affiliates dominate? (19:45) - DA vs. high school (25:00) - Can we tame the chaos and still have multiple development pathways? (30:30) - A few clubs to watch in the DA (38:45)
  • Ranting Soccer Dad, Ep. 8: Kris Ward August 30, 2017 12:00 pm
    Kris Ward is young, but he has a lot of coaching experience at every level imaginable, starting with rec teams in his teens, then high schools, youth clubs, a small college and ODP. He worked with the Washington Freedom before they relocated to become magicJack, then coached in D.C. United’s academy program and was one of the first assistant coaches with the NWSL’s Washington Spirit. He managed the rec operations of D.C. Stoddert, a large club in the nation’s capital, before moving to California, where he coaches both in high school and youth club soccer. We covered a few issues in youth soccer at all levels, and then I turned it over to Kris for an extended meditation on the state of women’s soccer … 4:00 Do the U.S. Soccer mandates apply to rec soccer? Should they? 6:00 How to coach that first rec practice. 8:30 How French coaches set up practice differently. Could a Development Academy coach use the French method? 17:20 What a “ [...]
  • Ranting Soccer Dad, Ep. 7: Skye Eddy Bruce August 23, 2017 12:00 pm
    With all due respect to DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (now known as Will Smith), sometimes parents DO understand. Skye Eddy Bruce, an experienced player and coach, is now working to help parents understand youth soccer and then advocate for their kids. Throughout this interview, she and I talk about empowering parents. (And educating them — the idea isn’t to have ignorant parents berating coaches all over the country.) We don’t need to let coaches push winning over development, and we don’t need to sign up for the league that travels all over creation. A few highlights: 2:15 About the Soccer Parenting Association - seeking to elevate the game with a focus on educating, engaging, supporting and advocating for youth soccer parents. And Bruce’s bio — including playing in Italy! 5:15 The stereotype of ignorant parents and how it’s changing. Includes a reference to this video:
  • Ranting Soccer Dad, Ep. 6: Bobby Warshaw August 16, 2017 12:15 pm
    Can you be a good soccer player and a good person?  Bobby Warshaw wrestles with that conflict in his book, When the Dream Became Reality: The journey of a professional soccer player, and the push for meaning, purpose, and contentment. We talk about that (around the 4:30 mark). And he responds to Yael Averbuch responding to his comment about learning to hate losing at an early age (10:05).  Two quotes from the next 20 minutes:  19:30 In the midst of a discussion on whether U.S. academy kids are coddled: “There’s no human being that came out of that Bradenton academy that was a regular person after that.” 24:50 A few thoughts on pro/rel and what it means to know other people may lose jobs if you mess up on the field. “Anybody who thinks they want to sign their team up for a relegation battle is out of their darn mind.” Then, of interest to pare [...]
  • Ranting Soccer Dad, Ep. 5: Promotion/relegation with Peter Wilt August 9, 2017 12:09 pm
    Will promotion/relegation actually happen in U.S. pro soccer? The odds look better now than they ever have.  This week’s guest, Peter Wilt, is trying to make it happen. The former Chicago Fire/Chicago Red Stars/Indy Eleven/etc. executive is working on a third-division league — National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) — that would bridge the gap between the (currently unofficial) fourth division and the second tier. After that, who knows? A few things you should check out:  - The NISA site and Twitter feed - Peter’s pro/rel manifesto at Howler - My survey on pro/rel — if you coach or run a non-MLS club, please
  • Ranting Soccer Dad, Episode 4: Are women’s soccer players role models? With guest Jen Cooper August 2, 2017 12:10 pm
    Charles Barkley said he isn’t a role model. Women’s soccer players, though, have typically embraced that role. But does being on a pedestal come with inevitable pitfalls? Jen Cooper, keeper of Keeper Notes and the Mixxed Zone podcast, joins the show to talk about it. Here’s the rundown:  2:33 The Washington Spirit’s old pregame announcement on how these players are role models 4:40 Ballgirl: “They use a lot of dirty words” 6:15 A young fan reacts to a player’s arrest. Jen’s advice: People are multidimensional. 8:40 But fans still put players on pedestal — how dare you say anything critical about Ali Krieger?! 10:42 Christie Pearce opens up about divorce and therapy. 12:52 The misstatements of collective bargaining — ve [...]
  • Ranting Soccer Dad, Episode 3: Gwendolyn Oxenham July 27, 2017 12:15 pm
    Gwendolyn Oxenham and I both went to Duke, but we went a few years apart. And while I’m kind of a slacker, she’s a more typical Dukie overachiever – left high school a year early to go to Duke, started grad school when she was 20, then traveled the world for the film Pelada (listen to Ray Hudson heap praise upon it) and the book Finding the Game: Three Years, Twenty-five Countries and the Search for Pickup Soccer. Her new book, Under the Lights and In the Dark: Untold Stories of Women’s Soccer, collects interesting stories from all over, showing us what women’s soccer players do to compete and get better in a sport that is providing more oppor [...]
  • Ranting Soccer Dad, Episode 2: Yael Averbuch July 20, 2017 12:00 pm
    Is the USA falling behind the rest of the world in soccer development? Can YouTube videos and apps get kids interested in practicing soccer when they’re not at soccer practice?  How did FC Kansas City wind up with two players association leaders in central defense? Why do so many skillful players emerge from a North Carolina program known for stressing the athletic side of the game? What’s Bobby Warshaw talking about?   Few people can answer these questions better than this week’s guest, FCKC’s Yael Averbuch. (Well, Warshaw can answer the last one, and he’ll be on the podcast sometime in August.) She’s the guest this week on the Ranting Soccer Dad podcast. Sponsored by: Single Digit Soccer, my youth soccer book. Thanks to: - Audacity, the best in open-source audio software. - Freesound.org, particularly the user justkiddink for th [...]
  • Ranting Soccer Dad, Episode 1: Mike Woitalla July 13, 2017 12:30 pm
    Soccer America’s Mike Woitalla joins the show to talk about the true cost of travel, the absurdity of multiple national championships, and whether parents who used to play Mozart to their unborn children in the womb will soon start playing Ray Hudson to get them on the scholarship train early. Check out Mike’s work, or at least the last few days of a career spanning a couple of decades. Sponsored by: Single Digit Soccer, my youth soccer book full of anecdotes about Pulp Fiction and the Muppets, plus insight from the leaders in U.S. youth soccer. Thanks to: - Audacity, the best in open-source audio software. - Freesound.org, particularly the user justkiddink for the sound of growling dogs, and the Creative Commons 
  • Ranting Soccer Dad, Episode 0 July 6, 2017 9:46 pm
    The debut episode! Basically, a quick preview to show what I’ll be doing here. Sponsored by: Single Digit Soccer, my youth soccer book full of anecdotes about Pulp Fiction and the Muppets, plus insight from the leaders in U.S. youth soccer. Thanks to: - Audacity, the best in open-source audio software. - Freesound.org, particularly the user justkiddink for the sound of growling dogs, and the Creative Commons attribution license. - Garage Band - My 30-year-old Ibanez guitar and Peavey amp - Listeners like you