As a nation, we are still stung by the national embarrassment in which we currently live after having failed to qualify for the World Cup. But since we must live with this result for four years, we must turn our focus to the most important roles in our own communities —the coaches of youth soccer teams. Here are the fantastic candidates to whom we entrust with rebuilding American soccer back to the highest level of mediocrity:
The personification of a TED talk, this bookish individual has recently consumed the top four Amazon best-sellers in the Sports Education genre on soccer and is ready to wax educational on these pupils. They vow to split practices into 50/50 lessons of soccer theory and soccer skill and will lose a night of sleep figuring out how to drag a whiteboard onto the unkempt grass of Dwyer Park. They love correcting people who fail to use the word “pitch” when talking about the field. The newest batch of this character seeks to become a thought-leader in the youth soccer field space and will likely record their lectures for their Youtube channel which will hopefully lead to either an arguably successful MLS podcast, a national speaking tour at inconsequential weekend tournaments, or both.
The Use-ta Play
This mythical creature was supposedly God’s gift to soccer during a vague stretch of years over a decade ago. While their spotty history has little documentation other than their own personal accounts of achievements in tournaments no one has ever heard of, and their incredibly arrogant claims as to how far their career could have gone had they not “messed up” their leg joint never cease to amaze, they are really much more comfortable on the sideline with the parents than making actual in-game decisions. But if they had their chance, they would want you to believe lightning could strike yet again and they would lead this rag-tag group of directionless potential into glory.
The Fit Mom
Her SUV is still muddy from her off-road mountain biking excursion this morning and stickered with every distance of ultra-race one could possibly imagine. Her no-excuses approach to fitness carries over into her alpha-mothering and immaculate diet for her family. In between her squat/lunge routine specially developed for watching her kids’ games, she shouts encouraging words she mimics from her powerlifting coach in the industrial gym she patronizes. Though she wouldn’t want to give up her halftime burpees, she would love to get her Crossfit-calloused hands on this team just to prove how far elite cardiovascular health could take them.
Immaculately dressed in the USA national team’s “kit,” and commonly referring to professional players by their first names as if they were within their circle of friends, this stoic individual never, ever takes their eyes off the play. Always in search of a spark of brilliance that could somehow be translated into a future scholarship to which they have no connections, this person charitably gives other parents highlight reels of their own children’s finest moments on-field. While they may appear to be of a decent soccer build and often invite the players over to watch Premier League games in 4K, this person has no actual experience.
The Free Spirit
While soccer had no formal name, positions, or rules for that matter, at their childhood commune, this gentle butterfly wants the children not to play the field, but to explore it. These are children first and foremost, so let’s let them be children. Let their spirit pick out what they would like to wear each week. Should they need to lie down and cloud-gaze for forty-five minutes, then lie down and cloud-gaze for forty-five minutes. The parents and other players are mildly cautious to accept an invitation to this person’s house after games for fear of strange vegan snacks, an off-putting level of tribal art, and suspicion of a comfortability with nudity that rivals only the Southern French.
Automatically a finalist based on their accent and general assumption that wherever they grew up, soccer was religion, they often find themselves answering questions about the difference between American soccer and “the futbol” back home. They made the mistake of doing the one juggling trick they know in their work clothes while waiting to pick up their kid and now are watched constantly in peripheral vision in case genius shows itself again. They often shout sarcastic jokes and general words of encouragement in their native language to their child during games which other parents interpret as precious wisdom from soccer gods that was passed down through generations.
The Impossibly Cool
Nobody knows where they came from. Nobody knows what they do. But one thing’s for sure, the fact that a person this good-looking and cool is hanging around with the rest of you slobs makes you uncomfortable. All their clothes fit perfectly, even the thing you tried on in an expensive store that looked like garbage on you. Their spouse is equally as stunning and their gorgeous children have all the manners you’ve been trying to instill into the holy terrors you call your kids for years. Are they models? She just had that baby, how is she in such good shape? Their seemingly endless supply of friendliness infuriates everyone in search of a flaw but man, do you feel special having a conversation with them.
The Reluctant Savior
Look, they don’t usually get involved in things this trivial but enough is enough. They’ve held their tongue for too long. They suppose they can get out of work at five on Tuesdays and Thursdays if it means the kids will actually be playing where they are supposed to be playing. And look, they’re sorry, okay — but maybe it’s time we bring the kids down a division. Geez oh man, sure we want to win but this is supposed to be fun for them and getting their asses handed to them — excuse their language, they just get a little fired up about this stuff — isn’t a good way to learn anything.
Always a man. Always in shorts. Always with arms crossed. He knows this shit doesn’t need to be so damn hard. Just put the good kids up front to score goals, put the fat kid in goal, and put the other little bastards in the back. “Sorry, I’m not sorry,” he says (after everything) but if we’re gonna beat those rich assholes the next town over, he thinks we need to stop worrying so much about the kids’ feelings and treat this a little more like a business. You know why? Because if he’s learned anything in business — and oh dear christ he has — it’s that winning is fun and you can’t win with feelings. Oh, and yes, as a matter of fact, that is his Porsche Cayenne parked in a convenient non-parking space.
The Bald Guy
After having taken the razor out of nature’s hands and doing it his own damn self, this dad-bodied individual is always a contender for head coach as he seems to have a decent grasp for discipline, empathy, and execution — traits learned during three to five years in middle management for a company that allows polo shirts on Fridays. His short stint on varsity before the discovery of beer in high school and several recent attempts at deflating the ole’ spare tire has given him a working knowledge of soccer strategy as well as middle-aged fitness tips from introduction classes at different gyms. The dads like him, the moms think he would be a great second husband, and the kids fucking love this guy.