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.)
- Is soccer declining in the United States?“Oh, soccer is doing fine!” you may argue. “It’s the Federation that stinks.” It’s entirely possible that the second statement is true while the first statement is false. A couple of metrics look very bad: World Cup ratings are […]
- What youth soccer can learn from karateFollowing up on my School of Rock post, here’s another one about a youth program that offers a few good lessons for soccer to follow … 1. Run afterschool programs. Elementary-school parents balk, with good […]
- Bruce Arena vs. the world (book review)It’s easy to be petty. It’s more difficult to make a larger point that overrides the pettiness. Bruce Arena (with Steve Kettmann)’s book What’s Wrong With Us?: A Really Long Subtitle Follows is certainly petty at […]
- Creating opportunities for all U.S. youthIn a vast country, how do you make sure everyone has an opportunity to go as far as he or she can go in soccer? Not an easy question. Today, a lot of the focus […]
- Why coaching youth soccer is impossibleThere’s something funny about listening to a chat between the great soccer coaching gurus John O’Sullivan and Sam Snow while dodging baseballs lobbed over a bunch of Little League All-Stars and the right field fence […]
- Why School of Rock is better than youth soccerWe’ve made a decision in our household. Less soccer. More music. Don’t adjust Project Play’s dreary stats on quitting sports. We still have soccer players under our roof. (I’ll actually be the only non-player in […]
- SafeSport, SUM and other U.S. Soccer issuesFunny thing about engaging with Soccer Twitter: You can find yourself assigned a lot of volunteer work. A bunch of people who will never donate to your Patreon page or buy a book from your […]
- The old “secret society” of soccer fandom and what we’ve lostRemember when the U.S. soccer community was all united and welcoming? No? Then you’ll have to trust me. It did indeed happen. If you don’t trust me, trust Michael J. Agovino, author of The Soccer Diaries: […]
- American exceptionalism and other things that aren’t great but areAm I understanding “American exceptionalism” incorrectly? Yesterday, I tweeted the following: Reminder: “American exceptionalism” is not the belief that the USA is *better* than everyone else. It’s the theory that we’re *different*. — Beau Dure […]
- A U.S. youth soccer reform update (FourFourTwo piece and beyond)My FourFourTwo piece from yesterday gave a multi-part plan for rescuing youth soccer from the pit of despair or some other dreary place of your choosing, and it features input from Kyle Martino, Kevin Payne […]
and tune in …
- RSD36: Player pathways, college and elite leagues, with Lesle Gallimore June 8, 2018 4:48 pmLesle Gallimore has been head women's soccer coach at the University of Washington since 1994, and she's the current president of United Soccer Coaches. In this conversation, we talk about how college coaches adapt their recruiting to the new "elite league turf war" environment. And we talk about how players adapt and whether they *can* adapt. For example: Could Gallimore's most famous player, Hope Solo, work her way through the system today and be discovered? Coincidentally, Solo made a lot of news this week, and I discuss that before the interview (which was recorded before all that news happened). The Gallimore interview starts around the 10-minute mark.
- RSD35: Dennis Crowley on putting together a soccer pyramid May 18, 2018 12:00 pmDennis Crowley didn't just start a soccer team. He created a laboratory for "open-source soccer." He shares business and financial info on his NPSL club, the Kingston Stockade, on Medium. And though Kingston might not be the likeliest market to have a club that would climb an open pyramid to Division I, he has become one of the most thoughtful (or reasonable, if you like) advocates of promotion/relegation. In this conversation, we talk about the challenges of putting together a pyramid in the lower divisions. Yes, there's more than "U.S. Soccer stinks," though he argues the federation could be doing more to facilitate change and stability. And at the end, he shares his experience of seeing the Stockade make their Open Cup debut.
- RSD34: The USL/youth hybrid Richmond Kickers, with Daryl Grove May 14, 2018 7:31 pmThe guest is Daryl Grove of the popular Total Soccer Show podcast. The topic is his hometown club, the Richmond Kickers, which has a couple of decades of history as a youth soccer club with a professional team on top of and integrated into its internal pyramid. Yes, really. It's not just a pro team that started up some half-assed youth programs. It's not an MLS team that has Development Academy teams and little else. See its tryout page to see how many levels of travel soccer it offers, and then look at its "Little Kicks" page to see former pro player Luke Vercollone's programs for preschoolers. The Kickers also join forces with the rival Richmond Strikers for the Richmond United Development Academy pro
- RSD33: Soccer played in Germany, with Ian Plenderleith May 4, 2018 12:45 pmToday's guest is an English/American/German soccer writer/referee/parent/coach/player. He's Ian Plenderleith, and we had a good conversation about the differences in the USA and Germany -- at least, as many of them as we could fit in a one-hour chat. Read more of Ian's work at ... - The Quiet Fan, a blog related to his upcoming book - Referee Tales, dispatches from the fields in Germany - Rock n Roll Soccer, his book on the NASL (the old one) - Twitter
- 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 organizations filling different legitimate needs. Leading
- 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 players
- 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 my sk
- 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: Socc
- 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.
- 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 divisional sanct
- 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 hear
- 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." Particular p
- 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.