One of the really great things about being at the NSCAA Convention is that it brings together people who represent many different parts of the American soccer landscape.
If you are relatively new to American soccer, then the names Earnie Stewart, Claudio Reyna and April Heinrichs might not mean much to you. But if you've followed the sport for a while, you know that each of them could be the subject of an entire chapter in the history of the game in this country.
As the MLS SuperDraft wound down yesterday, I noticed that Stewart and Reyna were standing at the back of the hall. So I approached them and was able to get exclusive interviews with both legends of the U.S. men's national team. You can listen to those conversations in the audio player at the bottom of this post.
Heinrichs was the coach of the U.S. women's national team at the 2003 World Cup, and last week was appointed as the U.S. Soccer Federation's technical director for youth women's soccer. Yesterday morning, she and newly-appointed USSF women's youth soccer development director Jill Ellis held a question-and-answer session with reporters.
Ellis is not as familiar a name as Heinrichs, but she has plenty of coaching experience. She has managed multiple U.S. women's youth national teams, spent some time as an as sistant to current women's senior national team coach Pia Sundhage, and most recently has been the women's soccer head coach at UCLA.
I recorded the entire Q-and-A session, and have posted it as the last track in the audio player below. Although the track is over 47 minutes long, the discussion was really interesting. Among the topics we covered were:
- The financial state of women's soccer in the United States
- How to convert the millions of girls playing soccer across the country into fans of the sport, and women's soccer in particular
- Whether too much importance is placed on winning in youth soccer, to the detriment of developing technical skills in young players
- And of course, how to keep the United States women's national team as the best in the world.
If you want, you can download the the MP3 file directly by clicking here. I know that our audio players don't work on many mobile devices, so this way you can save the file and listen later if you aren't at a computer.
Remember to join me at 1 p.m. today for live coverage of the Women's Professional Soccer draft. We can also spend some time discussing the Union's SuperDraft picks yesterday. Click here for that post.
Oh, and if you never saw Earnie Stewart and Claudio Reyna play, here's a sampling of what you missed: