Why are European youth soccer players considered better developed than their counterparts in the USA?
Eddie Loewen on the qualitative difference in player development.
Loewen has a UEFA A license and USSF B and passionately connects American youth soccer players with his homeland’s top youth soccer academies and top scouts.
In the highly competitive youth soccer world in which many soccer scouting trips are more glossy marketing than real opportunities, Eddie Lowen is the real deal — a man who knows the top scouts and coaches — known as managers — of Germany’s top professional soccer clubs in the Bundesliga.
Eddie Loewen grew up playing soccer in German’s Youth Bundesliga and played professional soccer in 3.Bundesliga before coming to the USA. Constantly crossing the Atlantic. Loewen is in Germany now on a scouting trip.
Here is Diane Scavuzzo’s interview with Eddie Loewen on the qualitative difference in player development in Europe and the USA.
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Diane Scavuzzo: First of all, what makes a good player great?
Eddie Loewen: Coachability and the desire to always improve – being self-critical and not afraid to fail!
Diane Scavuzzo: What are the keys to successful player development? How does immersion into a real soccer culture — like in Germany — benefit a player?
Eddie Loewen: America has a plague of short-sighted coaching methods that are based on the immediate results which might work for a short period of time, but never work in the long run.
Being patient and seeing the big picture — that is what is critical — and that is what happens in Europe.
Some coaches play certain players of their youth teams — especially between the ages of U9-U14 — only in certain positions because the coach is result oriented.
For example, the coach has a physically strong and fast player and only plays him as a striker because he can get the ball behind the defending team and score easily … but that doesn’t help the player a bit because the player will not really learn how to solve problems in tight areas technically. Therefore, when the player gets older his or her performance will plateau and so will development.
That player never really develops technically and is not versatile.
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Diane Scavuzzo: Is America becoming a soccer nation?
Eddie Loewen: Yes, and we already have a real soccer culture here in the USA. Although young, it is growing and improving. We have great coaches in place at youth soccer clubs, a growing professional league and a strong fan base. This means people are beginning to identify themselves with their soccer club.
National homegrown soccer stars, such as Pulisic, are emerging giving our youth players icons they can look up to and admire.
Developing a true soccer culture takes time. In Europe, the soccer culture was established because soccer has been the #1 sport for generations. For generations, families have passed on their passion for the game of soccer.
Diane Scavuzzo: How does traveling to Germany and training abroad help elite players improve their skills?
Eddie Loewen: Being immersed in the German soccer culture allows American youth soccer players to breathe, eat and sleep within the heart of the professional player realm. It enables a player to have a “first-hand” experience of the demands, dedication, persistence and work ethic required to reach the top. No other scenario can effectively provide a soccer player a real-time, factual and authentic experience. It allows the player to have actual experiences to measure themselves against the top, elite players in Europe.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you do for the players on a GLF trip?
Eddie Loewen: We put the player in the German environment which in turn challenges them. The American players are handled just like German players. The players are learning from the absolute best and are coached by top UEFA – A & B licensed or USSF A licensed coaches.
Players also have the ability to measure themselves against other U.S. Elite players in competitive games against their German counterparts.
There is a saying in Germany, “iron sharpens iron” and the majority of players that participate in a GFL soccer trip will experience failure at some point.
This is due to being pushed outside of their comfort zone by playing against the elite of the elite.
Failure is a foundation for true growth that brings success.
Failure is what breeds success in the long run for dedicated individual players. It is part of a real soccer culture where success is earned by effort and determination.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the difference between youth soccer in Germany and the USA? How can we make soccer the preeminent sport in America — the way it is in Germany?
Eddie Loewen: Number one, Germany does not have the Amerian Pay-to-play system. Youth soccer in Germany is almost free.
Diane Scavuzzo: I know, parents pay less than $100 for their kid to play at FC Bayern Munich.
Eddie Loewen: Correct. Secondly, the German Football Association, known as the DFB (Deutscher Fußball-Bund) has developed a great system that allows players to play on a super high level and to be trained by the highest and most elite level coaches.
These DFB coaches need to have specific coaching licenses to even work with these players. DFB also has a strong infrastructure of youth academies and each professional club is mandated to have a fully-funded youth academy.
Lastly, the DFL, the German Professional Soccer League, has requirements for the professional clubs where a certain amount of youth players have to be on the roster of that pro club and on the game day roster.
The DFL mandates the pro clubs play their homegrown players.
In Germany, we are constantly pushing the net generation of German youth players into the pro game to give them experience.
In America, we need to continue to build our soccer culture in America.
We need to pass on the enthusiasm and passion to players both on and off the field.
And, we need to be successful with our national team.
America needs to participate in the next World Cup and future Cups. We need to start having success in international youth competition, the under 23 Olympics and of course at the World Cup.
Diane Scavuzzo: Who is your favorite German team?
Eddie Loewen: My favorite sports team is FC Bayern Munich.
Eddie Loewen has several youth soccer trips planned for this summer as well as the inaugural GFL Cup, a new youth soccer tournament in Germany. To find out more, click SCOUTING TRIPS TO GERMANY FOR ELITE SOCCER PLAYERS