June 3, 2015
by Charles Cuttone
Akers thinks USWNT program is stagnant in areas
The current U.S. Women's National Team has tried to get out from under the shadow of its predecessors, especially those that won World Cups in 1991 and 1999, but a former great from that earlier generation of players thinks the U.S. program should embrace more of that past in order to achieve greatness in the future.
" I think from when I retired right after the 1999 World Cup, right before the 2000 Olympics, it's come a million miles, but it's also stayed stagnant in areas," FIFA Player of the Century Michelle Akers told Soccer News Net in an exclusive interview ."I am excited about the progress we've made, just the budget for the team, the player development, the personalities that we have out there, the marketing thatís gone on--the interest from the corporate world. The fact that the media jumps all over a Hope Solo issue. That lets you know, oh my gosh, we're up there, there's a big interest in what's going on with our soccer team. All of that is great."
But Akers thinks the development of players at all ages of the women's game is not growing and not going where it should.
"Our player development at the youth level, I think that can be stronger. I think that we can do more for those players, and part of that is bringing in our world champion coaches."
Akers thinks that U.S. Soccer should have both Anson Dorrance and Tony DiCicco involved in developing the younger generations of players, who can hopefully step into the National Team program.
" You could have those two guys--world champions--with lots of credentials making and evolving and growing and preparing our younger players so that when they step onto the National Team there's not this huge Grand Canyon gap, which there is going to be anyway, because playing at that level, you don't know what's it's like until you do it," said Akers from her horse farm in Georgia.
Though she has essentially been away from the game since her retirement, Akers says she still carries the sport in her heart. She will do an all-girls camp this month (June 12-14) at her Powder Springs, Ga. horse farm and adjacent soccer field.
Akers says she has no desire to get into coaching full-time, but thinks that she and other members of her generation of National Team stars is being under-utilized.
" I think involving more of the World Champion players (in the program)," she said. "There's a few, less than five that are involved in our entire program, That to me is a tragedy. That part I think could be a lot better.
" I donít like coaching. I like training players. I would be more like a specialty coach or a small group coach or a consultant type. I donít want to ever want to be a head coach. I would have to think hard to be an assistant coach, I donít think I would want that. I'd want to be someone who came in and out of the team or worked with players on an ongoing basis, in small groups. Because I love my farm, I love my horses, I love doing that, but I definitely have tried to be involved in some capacity, but itís a challenge to be included. I'm not complaining, just stating the obvious facts."