American youth soccer is dominated by a culture of “win at all cost”, often at the sacrifice of comprehensive player development. Coaches build teams for the sake of entering tournaments or “winning State Cup”. Players begin playing games before they have the necessary foundation of technical skill or a basic tactical understanding (i.e. the importance of space). This creates very bad soccer habits and a style of play that is more akin to track and field or American football than the beautiful game of soccer.
When coaches of young teams coach solely to win games, players are encouraged to “kick the ball up the field” and “chase it down”. Players that are big, strong and fast are placed up front and the remaining players are coached to “kick it forward”. The more physically mature players are stand-outs on their teams and their teams are generally successful. However, at around 12-13 years old, size and speed even out. Without a proper technical or tactical base, many of these “stand-out” players and their team mates get discouraged as they are no longer the best or winning games. In many cases, these players quit soccer.