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), the importance of failure (17:00), whether players are too soft or coddled (20:15), MLS (27:15 and 33:10), coaching education (28:15), relegation from a player’s perspective (35:45), the Development Academy (39:45), and an easy solution to all of this (40:10). Then concussions (44:30).
Then it’s Chris Keem, a veteran youth soccer coach and administrator with experience in college and the NPSL as well, joins us around the 50-minute mark. We start out talking about turf wars and how they drive up prices in youth soccer, then move into dealing with the Development Academy when you’re running another youth club (53:45), addressing “pay to play” and how it works in other countries (58:00), getting a club’s coaches on the same page and poaching vs. development (1:04:30), what the NPSL was and what it wants to be (1:06:00), and why youth players may opt for other sports (1:17:30).