With the announcement of the U.S. Soccer Residency Program coming to an end in Spring 2017, U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team head coach and Youth Technical Director Tab Ramos spoke with ussoccer.com about what the change means to current and future player development in the United States.
ussoccer.com: Why is the U.S. Soccer Residency program ending? Why is it the right time?
Tab Ramos: “When the Residency Program started, there was no Development Academy, there were no M.L.S. teams investing in youth development and there was no particular training direction. Most youth players at all levels were training twice per week and playing anywhere from one to five games on the weekends. Now we live in a completely different landscape. The DA has now been around for 10 years and players are taught to play, hold the ball and be creative. There is a clear “training over games” mentality of learning the game properly, and more importantly clubs all over the country are investing millions in youth development led by teams in M.L.S.”
ussoccer.com: What progressions has the Development Academy made that now puts it at the level where Residency is no longer needed?
Tab Ramos: “The ratio of practices to games has changed dramatically, so players are being developed in learning environments where they are improving daily. Also, the requirements to be able to coach a DA club has changed. Most coaches now hold “A” licenses and are more qualified to run proper training sessions and put together both individual and team tactical and physical periodization plans.”
ussoccer.com: What happens to U-17 players currently in Residency?
Tab Ramos: “Players currently in Residency will go back to their clubs, the majority of which will be in excellent club environments and living at home.”
ussoccer.com: What legacy does Residency leave?
Tab Ramos: “Residency helped our Youth National Teams get to a different gear and helped us to not only stay competitive with other countries but also close the gap with the top nations.”
ussoccer.com: What will U-17 programming look like moving forward?
Tab Ramos: “It will look very similar to our U-20 National Team programming. There will be five or six camps per year and the head coach will be keeping track of players at their own clubs.”
ussoccer.com: How will Development Academy clubs handle the return of Residency players?
Tab Ramos: “There should be no issues at all. Players go back to play at their clubs as they have done in the past. Clubs are now much more prepared to develop these elite international players.”
ussoccer.com: How will this change impact Youth National Team performance against international competition?
Tab Ramos: “While it is certainly an advantage to have a team playing together every day all year-round, the fact is that Residency is not a realistic scenario for Youth National Teams and Youth National Team players. With our Youth National Team programs, we are trying to develop players who can manage playing for both club and country and who can, at one point, move up to play for our Senior National Team doing exactly that.”