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Dan Roudebush: MLS should do more to develop players.

(Friday, March 27, 1998) -- Development of pro players should be the business of the pros.

This includes identification and recruitment (I&R), as well as training. Unfortunately the I&R part is even weaker than the Major League Soccerís Project 40 development band-aid. The weakness of the Olympic Development Program (ODP) is the ID part and United Systems of Independent Soccer League commissioner Ferdinand Marcosí aversion to young talent is readily revealed by our survey data of over-the-hill minor leaguers.

But this summer offers the MLS and USSF an opportunity to recruit young ones (ages 16-19) still in their development stage . . . How?

Use some of the TV time for "Uncle Sam's Army Wants You" promotional spots. Or MLS needs U.S. players to develop for the Tokyo / Seoul World Cup in 2002. Something catchy. A tie in with "Learn to Dance?" With an 800 number where a kid can call and get a recruiting package mailed to him, get tryout information, info for Mom & Dad, etc.

The advantage here is your still promoting the MLS, but your also doing some I&R.

Those World Cup matches being shown on big screens preceding MLS games? Something down on the field either before or between games involving local prospects and a handout to attendees to get a player to some local club facility. (Don't forget to solicit local sponsors for players also.)

It's about time MLS went after some of the versatile world class potential athletes who have playing multiple high school sports. A 10.4-second sprinter might not be a bad soccer player at 17. Get them over from the dark side to the footsie white knight corps.

And go after Hispanics with similar ads on Univision.

Target high school juniors through those in the first year of junior college. This should help in identification since you will get a bunch that think ODP is crap or those not interested in college, etc. Could this be about 40 percent of high school grads that play soccer, or around 35,000 a year?

Are you listening Alan Rothenberg?

Dan Roudebush has 25 years experience as a coach and trainer of coaches. He is currently boys coach at Konawaena High School in Hawaii and can be e-mailed at easybi@aloha.net.

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