More “Pibes” in prep soccer, please!

Perhaps no two players more greatly reflect the contrasting styles of soccer than retired stars Carlos Valderrama and Steve McManaman. Now imagine, if you will, Valderrama and McManaman growing up in the suburban Bay Area rather than their respective native countries of Colombia and England. Those close to soccer can almost hear a high school or club coach praising McManaman to High Heaven for his speed and marvelous “work rate” as he sprints up and down the field. Listen closely again and one can imagine hearing those same coaches blistering Valderrama for his perceived lack of the same “qualities.” Granted, McManaman played on the wing and Valderrama played a central role, but the contrast still is extreme. They contrast in other ways, too. Valderrama got a lot done with an economy of motion, as he stuck mostly to one area of the field and made some big plays. Valderrama arguably was the most efficient player ever to set foot on a soccer field. McManaman, in contrast, ran like a cheetah for 90 minutes, often accomplishing much less than Valderrama. Though some soccer pundits would find this sacrilegious, McManaman was the anti-Valderrama, soccer’s most inefficient player.
High school soccer, for the most part, feeds off club soccer. And when watching high school soccer — especially that of the suburban schools that dominate the North Coast Section competition — it becomes apparent that folks here insist on breeding a future generation of Steve McManamans when it is the Carlos Valderramas that are more sorely needed.


  • Anonymous

    This sounds to me like someone who has lost to an EBAL team. Everyone always says that the club teams are so much better than the HS teams. I agree. How can you not. In club you get a pick of the litter. In HS you have to work with what you have. People always complain about the ” suburban schools that dominate the North Coast Section competition.” They say that they play and ugly physical soccer. Why then does a team like Monte Vista get the NCS finals for the past 3 years with a style that is so “ugly”? Every time I watch them play there is a lot of possession, control and speed. If you watch the Comcast coverage of MVH vs Livermore the announcer talks about how MV will pass the ball around looking for a point of attack. That to me is good soccer. Is it physical? Yes. Take San Ramon Valley – how many touches on the ball do they take? 1-3 and that is it. Pass, Pass, Shoot. Take California – Possession, Possession, Possession. American soccer is different than what many Americans think it should be. That is what is great about soccer. There are many different ways to play. You can have a team full of Carlos Valderramas and they may not be able to win. Why? Because you need to have a good mix of both Carlos Valderramas and Steve McManamans. If you have more of one than the other you struggle. High School soccer has the passion that Club lacks. I wish that the Club teams could find that passion. American soccer should continue to build into it’s own style of play. Don’t put down the ” suburban schools”. Learn from them. Take what is good and build on it. Those “suburban schools” take what they can from the “urban schools” and make it their own. Build players who can play in any situation. Build a team that can flow with the game. If you have a problem with the style of play that is one thing. If you have a problem with a “suburban school” because they are on the SF Chronicle and are made to look bad that is another.

  • Matt Zahner

    First of all, what is a “Pibe”?
    Second of all, if Carlos Valderrama and Steve McManaman are trying out for our soccer team, I would take them both! It takes eleven players to make a complete team, and statistics, in soccer, don’t tell the whole story. McNanam’s inefficiency, as you put it, is a misnomer. How dangerous did he make other players on his squad by his hard work? How many defenders did he occupy by stretching out the oppposing defense? You won’t find those in a stats book. One thing I do agree with you on, is that I can’t for the life of me understand why there aren’t more latin players on the US National Teams. The supply of those players in our country is huge. We need to find a way to get them into the mix. Maybe when we do that we will be a more complete side. Additionally, perhaps when we do that, teams, like Mexico, maybe they will show more class and shake our hands at the end of a tough soccer match.

  • Max Prep

    I cannot agree more. I went to the Boys 3A finals last Saturday in Dublin. What an ugly game that was!! Long balls in the air from one box to the other. Hard, physical play with very little technique and many many fouls. I do not quite understand why California played like this. They were really impressive against De La Salle on Wednesday. They seemed to play into Monte Vista’s game for some reason. Regardless of the result of the game, everybody knows which 3A team was the best this year, and it was not Monte Vista. It was California.