"We need to make changes," Reyna said. "We need to improve as a nation and we need everyone to be developing in the same way."
That sentiment came from Reyna before the U.S. U-23's failure to qualify for the London Olympics. In light of what happened to Caleb Porter's squad against Canada and El Salvador, it rings even more true today. Simply put, if the U.S. wants to ensure that future embarrassments are prevented, a technical overhaul is needed and Reyna is the man leading that charge.
"I think the winning aspect is what has caused some really ugly youth soccer," Reyna said. "Now we're trying to play more out of the back and through the midfield. When I grew up, you played a lot of games but there was less training. The training has to be better and there has to be more of it."
There are plenty of cautionary tales that speak to Reyna's point. For example, Jamie Watson did plenty of winning as a young player. Growing up in the Dallas area, he was usually the best player on the field and earned himself a spot on the U.S. team that reached the quarterfinals of the 2003 U-17 World Cup. Interest in Watson soon cropped up from PSV Eindhoven, but ultimately his lack of technique crippled his chances of joining the Dutch side.
"It wasn't until I was playing with the U-17s that I learned how to keep possession," said Watson, who currently plays for Orlando City SC in USL Pro. "I didn't know anything about working the ball. Kids should be learning that at age 10, not at 16. Claudio is fixing a problem that's been overlooked for the longest time. It will be great for these kids because it will become the new normal."
Anybody have any experience with the youth set-up back in the day on whether Reyna's and Watson's statements are accurate?
I kinda like that Reyna is pushing Futsal into equation as well. Played it a few times in a rec league, and thought it was a lot more enjoyable than the normal 11v11 games outdoors. And I think he's correct that kids would find it more pleasurable doing that while trying to learn new skills instead of regular training or 11v11 games (where in some youth levels...I'm thinking 9-11 year olds...you hardly ever see the ball sometimes).