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.)
- How hard is it to make your local high school team? Take the surveyYour soccer club’s site is so upbeat, talking up the programs it offers to help kids play in college. Maybe even beyond! So you spend a couple thousand a year for your child to play […]
- RSD32: Christian Lavers on ECNL/DA, U.S. Club/U.S. Youth competitionMaybe they’re not turf wars. Maybe it’s just healthy competition. Christian Lavers is fully immersed in the complicated landscape of U.S. youth soccer. He’s a technical director with FC Wisconsin and an executive with the ECNL […]
- Why are soccer clubs obsessed with going nationwide?Well I was rolling down the road in a minivan I had a keeper in the back and a guest player at the wheel We going cross-country and we’re skipping school We tired and I’m […]
- Turf war! Huuuh! What is it good for?Absolutely nothing … say it again!* So I’m making a good bit of progress on the next Area Guide — Southern California this time. Should be ready in a day or two. Hey, what’s this […]
- Things about U.S. pro soccer that are still trueA quick interlude in my youth soccer work to reiterate some things that, based on discussions I’m seeing, need reiterating: 1. Before MLS, the USA had two substantial pro men’s leagues. The ASL of the […]
- Rec soccer and “development”: At what point can we just stop?Preseason coaches’ meeting. It’s always more of a lecture than a “meeting.” There’s absolutely no reason an email wouldn’t suffice. The in-person “meeting” would be much better reserved for a training session with a lot […]
- Can you learn anything about youth soccer from message boards?In 1999, I was hired at USA TODAY. Not as a soccer writer, though they agreed to let me write a weekly column online. That’s how the site went in those days — a lot […]
- New area guide: GeorgiaThe state of my youth! It’s changed quite a bit. For one thing, Atlanta seems to have gone supernova and swallowed up most of the state’s soccer community. This was originally a password-protected page for […]
- RSD31: Grassroots and futsal, with Leslie Hamer and Jason LongshoreIt’s a futsal/grassroots doubleheader! After a brief intro (no full rant this week), you’ll hear from Leslie Hamer, who works with futsal at every level from the grassroots to the pros. She has been getting […]
- Can the promotion/relegation debate be saved?The theme music of the promotion/relegation debate should probably be Carmina Burana. The part we all know from hundreds of pop culture references (“OOOOOOO FORTUNA” — if you ever want to be creeped out, check out […]
and tune in …
- RSD32: Christian Lavers on ECNL/DA, U.S. Club/U.S. Youth competition April 25, 2018 7:47 pmMaybe they’re not turf wars. Maybe it’s just healthy competition. Christian Lavers is fully immersed in the complicated landscape of U.S. youth soccer. He’s a technical director with FC Wisconsin and an executive with the ECNL and U.S. Club Soccer. And miraculously, he still sounds optimistic. Even “nice.” If you’re looking for mud-slinging, you’re not going to find it here. Instead, you’re going to hear a candid but polite take on why we have multiple national championships and other stuff that those of us who cover youth soccer complain about. He’s aware of the travel requirements these days — “not every game should require a hotel stay or flight,” he says. But he sees different organizati [...]
- RSD31: Grassroots and futsal, with Leslie Hamer and Jason Longshore April 11, 2018 3:13 pmIt’s a futsal/grassroots doubleheader! After a brief intro (no full rant this week), you’ll hear from Leslie Hamer, who works with futsal at every level from the grassroots to the pros. She has been getting futsal into New York City public schools and now into colleges. Next up: Jason Longshore, whom you may know as a commentator on Atlanta United games but has spent much of the last 12 years working with Soccer in the Streets, an organization that brings soccer (or futsal — whichever makes sense for the available facilities) to underserved communities and schools. You may know them from their effort to put a small soccer field at a MARTA (local transit) station.
- RSD30: Announcement time March 28, 2018 11:32 pmThis week: The Ranting Soccer Dad Guide to Youth Soccer is officially underway. Check out the first couple of entries and support it on Patreon. In the podcast, I spend about five minutes explaining all that. Then I go on a rant about the generation gap in understanding soccer and why we don’t have a glorious promotion/relegation pyramid just yet. (Plus a few ideas on how to get there. Or how not to.)
- RSD29: A random but interesting coach/parent, Mike Davitt March 14, 2018 12:59 pmDo you know Mike Davitt? Until a few weeks ago, I didn’t, either. He’s a longtime soccer coach who, like many longtime soccer coaches do, also became a soccer parent. He’s originally from Kearny, N.J., hallowed ground for U.S. soccer. After listening to a few of my rants, he emailed me and said he didn’t think youth soccer was doomed. It might even be a good thing. I’ve been hoping to find people like that for the podcast, and so we chatted. Our conversation (starting around the 15:00 mark) ends up with an interesting idea on educating coaches, which is an issue that popped up in the big election. We talk about the positives of having an alphabet soup of leagues and organizations, how to help parents make educated decisions (23:00, including a suggestion that we should stop using the word “academy” unless you’re in the DA), how to watch out for pl [...]
- RSD28: SAY Soccer’s Doug Wood March 7, 2018 2:00 pmAfter today’s explanation of the upcoming Guide to Youth Soccer (3:00) and a rant about promotion/relegation (4:15), my guest (12:30) is Doug Wood, executive director of SAY (Soccer Association for Youth). He starts by explaining what SAY does — mostly recreational soccer through several different entry points, including schools. SAY isn’t the most top-down organization out there. Its leagues and clubs sometimes have diverse approaches. Sounds a little different than the U.S. Soccer mandates, doesn’t it? Along with U.S. Youth Soccer, U.S. Club Soccer, AYSO and USSSA, SAY is part of the Youth Council Technical Working Group, which sprung up in response to those mandates. We talk about whether that’s making a difference (26:00 [...]
- RSD27: Julie Foudy finds reasons to be optimistic about youth soccer March 1, 2018 8:49 pmToday’s guest has an impossible task: Make me feel better about youth soccer, and soccer in general, and youth sports in general … maybe just life in general. But she’s faced tougher tasks. She’s Julie Foudy, Hall of Fame soccer player and ESPN journalist. After I make an announcement and then rant about curling commentary, the interview starts around the 13:20 mark with a discussion of what’s good about youth soccer, whether soccer can have the same supportive atmosphere of extreme sports (20:30), the lack of women in coaching (26:20), her experiences as a soccer parent (31:20) and then U.S. Soccer politics, including the role of the Athletes’ Council (40:10). She also talks a bit about the U.S. women’s team heading into the SheBelieves Cup (51:10).
- RSD26: Charles Boehm on the U.S. Soccer election and youth soccer January 24, 2018 9:42 pmThis week’s guest, Charles Boehm, is a player, coach, referee and writer — check out his intro at the 2:45 mark and learned where he played alongside future non-U.S. national teamers. Like me, he was in Philadelphia for the United Soccer Coaches convention and attended many of the U.S. Soccer presidential candidates’ sessions. We talk about what makes a soccer person and what makes an elitist (5:30), whether Eric Wynalda is the front-runner (8:00), the “anyone but (so-and-so)” approach to voting (9:45), what the candidates showed us in Philly (13:05), Kathy Carter and Soccer United Marketing (24:10), what’s changing in U.S. Soccer (30:00-ish), then youth soccer and the surprising focus on ODP (38:15). I didn’t get around to finishing my thought on why I was once the best U12 center back in Athens, Ga. The answer is the same reason why I was once a competent over-30 coed indoor goalkeeper: Reckless disregard for my own safety. It surely had nothing to [...]
- RSD25: Phillypalooza election preview, the disappointing USSF coaching education overhaul, and being nice January 18, 2018 12:58 amPoint 1: Why this weekend will be huge for the U.S. Soccer presidential election. (2:02) Included in that: Why I’m skeptical of current election projections (including a NewsRadio reference), what the Number 1 issue in this election should be (8:10), a few surprising things on Paralympic soccer (8:30), a question of what we’re really saying about futsal — the next beach volleyball? (9:30), SUM and pro/rel (11:30), and finally back to the Number 1 issue and how it overlaps with other major issues (18:00). Point 2: The new U.S. Soccer coaching curriculum, grassroots level (22:15) Included in that: Welcome to Disney (25:55), introducing tactics at 4v4? (26:20), the painful irony of the chosen video clip (27:15), U6 parent coaches developing their own coaching philosophy? (28:00), the nice tone (32:25). Point 3: Soccer discourse, [...]
- RSD24: An election-related New Year’s resolution January 3, 2018 8:07 pmNo interview lined up, so what’s the rant this week? How the United Soccer Coaches convention in Philadelphia might help us reset the hostility-to-substance ratio in the presidential race. Who I would NOT endorse for U.S. Soccer president, based on what I know now. (The answer is NOT Eric Wynalda, which I know might blow the minds of some folks on Twitter.) Why Riccardo Silva’s tweet about promotion and corruption was irresponsible and inaccurate. (He’s welcome to chat with me or simply tweet again to explain, clarify, etc.) https://twitter.com/_Riccardo_Silva/status/948324499631558658 A bit of U.S. Soccer voting history. Some musing on c [...]
- RSD23: The convoluted U.S. Soccer presidential race and the educational Soccer Parenting Summit December 13, 2017 7:33 pmBeau flies solo for the likely 2017 RSD finale and talks about the magnificent seven or the elite eight to reach this stage of the USSF presidential race. At the 15-minute mark, he tries to sum up 20-some hours of the Soccer Parenting Summit. Happy holidays, and get more details on this pod later this week at RantingSoccerDad.com
- RSD22: U.S. Soccer presidential candidate Paul Lapointe December 6, 2017 12:33 pmIf you want to skip Beau’s rant on the good and bad of US Club Soccer, Sunil Gulati and Twitter, skip to the 15-minute mark. That’s where you’ll find the interview with Paul Lapointe, one of the first candidates to declare his intent to run for the U.S. Soccer presidency. We talk about promotion/relegation, the role of the president, equal pay for the U.S. women’s team, women’s soccer promotion/relegation/Open Cup, the fragmented world of futsal, the fragmented world of indoor “balls and walls” soccer, youth soccer and coaching. All in less than 45 minutes.
- RSD21: U.S. Soccer presidential candidate Eric Wynalda December 1, 2017 6:09 pmEric Wynalda has played in multiple World Cups, Germany, MLS, etc. He’s been a successful coach and commentator. Yes, we talk about promotion/relegation. In fact, we did it first just so you single-issue types can listen and then bail out. If you want to hear about EVERY issue facing the next USSF president — well, we got to maybe half of them. There are lot of issues. In rough order, we talk about: 1. What’s different or similar between the concerns of the Twitterati and the concerns of the typical state or national association. 2. Whether people are nervous to speak up about the USSF power structure. 3. Women’s soccer: The new collective bargaining agreement and the NWSL. 4. Youth soccer: Has the federation done too little? Too much?
- RSD20: Mediating the NASL/USSF suit with Neil Morris November 29, 2017 11:00 amNeil Morris covers his local teams — North Carolina FC and the North Carolina Courage — for WRAL. His work includes a terrific podcast, the Inverted Triangle. In his day job, he’s an attorney and mediator. So why not combine his areas of expertise and try to mediate the NASL/USSF lawsuit? We gave it a whirl, with Neil playing the role of mediator and your host flipping between the roles of NASL and USSF advocates. The conversation starts around the 8:45 mark. We quickly explain what’s going on in the real world with the lawsuit, and then Neil explains the mediation process. I present a hypothetical NASL offer, prompted by Neil’s helpful questions and prodding, around the 25-minute mark. (Highlights: Cosmos owner on the USSF Board, drop di [...]
- RSD19: U.S. Soccer presidential candidate Kyle Martino November 15, 2017 12:29 pmA 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 pmHe 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 pmJef 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 pmFix 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 pmWas 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 amSteven 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 pmIn 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.”)