This past weekend I had a chance to watch a few youth teams do battle.
First off I’ll start with the Golden Valley Cardinals. This is a U-10 league in the Twin Cities suburb of Golden Valley, MN. The Cards have a one hell of a spark plug in do everything midfielder Douglas Ashling. Douglas has been the star of the league all season long and this past weekend he didn’t disappoint. Not only did I count roughly thirteen front flips, 16 nutmegs, 2 goals (both of which were set-up from long passes from Douglas), 2 assists (those long passes were awesome) and I think he saved at least five goals from being scored (including blocked shots, and last second tackles/challenges). On a whole the game was directed by Douglas. The other team scored one of their two goals while Douglas was on the bench taking a quick blow. The other goal was let in while Douglas was playing up top. I have to let you know that these teams only play seven a side so that’s six field players and a keep. Due to Douglas’ ability to possess the ball and drive the tempo for the entire match the opposition in Saturday’s match was playing a creative 5-1 system. It was reminded me of watching Italian domestic matches, where everyone is packed into the final third. There were a few brilliant plays in the midfield, all of which were Douglas’. For the most part the entire match was the opposition trying to not give up anything to the Cards. In all honesty if Douglas sticks with soccer and doesn’t get too involved in a million other activities he’s going to be real good.
The other match I watch this past weekend was the England U-2? (it was so unmemorable that I can’t even remember which English Youth Team I was watching) team. It was boring. There were a few displays of brilliance, but for the most part players were trying to showcase themselves for the next level. The entire time I was watching the match I was wishing I was watching the eight year olds run rampant around the field.
What happens to sport. When does it transform from a beautiful free flowing chaotic bliss to a super commercialized bore? Sure those kids on the soccer field in Golden Valley weren’t playing the technical high end soccer that the English team was. Those kids were having fun and at the same time showing respect for the beautiful game. I don’t know I’m sure I’m overly simplifying the whole thing. Don’t get me wrong I love to watch the English National Team and the US National Team and international soccer. This English youth team was really missing something.
This week I hope to watch some Euro Qualifying. Maybe that’s what these youth teams were missing a really important competition. Maybe bringing home the U-21 World Cup isn’t as great as just being on the pitch for the full fledged National Team. I saw plenty of walking in that national team match from England. I never see John Terry walking, unless he is so injured that he can only walk. I hope I can see some good football this week, because the youth season is coming to a close soon.