John Motta – President of the United States Adult Soccer Association – On What Needs to Change And Where We Go From Here
President, United States Adult Soccer Association, US Soccer Federation Board Member, Chairman US Soccer’s Referee Committee, and lifelong passionate supporter of the beautiful game, John Motta is a highly successful businessman who devotes enormous time to growing soccer in the USA.
As president of the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA), John Motta sees the ever-shifting American landscape of the world’s greatest sport. With 250,000 adult players and, the Adult Council represents 25.8% of the vote in the U.S. Soccer’s presidential election coming up next month. What are the key issues that need to be addressed? What does the next president of U.S. Soccer need to do? It is clearly a time where people want change.
GoalNation’s Diane Scavuzzo asked John Motta for his thoughts on the future of youth soccer in America, specifically on ideas for player development in the USA. A natural expansion of our editorial series on AMERICAN SOCCER – WHAT’S RIGHT & WHAT’S WRONG, we asked Motta to help us look ahead and provide insight on the important issue of soccer today.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are the most important issues in the upcoming presidential election?
John Motta: There are several issues and questions of importance.
- The first issue is adding the General Manager position within the National Teams and the hiring of the Men’s National Team Coach. One related issue of importance that also needs to be addressed is how do we identify the best coaches for our National Teams.
- I feel how we identify talent in the United States should also be a priority and an evaluation of the entire Academy system is needed. Can we utilize the Professional Clubs to better train our players? It is important that we look at the unification of youth soccer groups for better development.
- Evaluating the Professional League Standards needs to be reviewed.
- I believe it is important that we look at compensation levels for all players putting on a National Team shirt and representing our country.
- Are we doing things right at U.S. Soccer when it comes to our Referee Program?
- How does the Adult Amateur Program fit in the development of players and identification of players?
Diane Scavuzzo: That is a comprehensive list. Just looking at the big picture, what do you want a new president of U.S. Soccer to do?
John Motta: The President needs to a leader that not only works with one or two groups but works with all groups within soccer in this country.
The president needs to be someone who unifies, not divides.
Everyone should feel that they are part of the family. It is important to treat every constituency fairly.
The president is the Chairman of the Board and is not the CEO of U.S. Soccer.
The President does not need to micro-manage everyday issues at U.S. Soccer, we have a General Secretary that does that. The president must be able to represent U.S. Soccer on the world stage well — and gain respect from other world soccer leaders. And, the president should not have any conflict of interest issues following him or her around.
Diane Scavuzzo: Today’s modern game of soccer — Where have we fallen short and how can that be improved?
John Motta: Without question, not qualifying for the World Cup is where we fell short. Hiring the right coach that can take us to the level to win a World Cup is what we need.
We had not qualified for the Olympics, nor the previous under 20’s — and, this brings to question, are our Development Academy programs working?
Again, we need to evaluate the Academy program to see if it is working, where can we improve on, or should there be another alternative.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you believe needs to change to help our country prepare to successfully compete on the world stage — and/or continue to do so on the women’s side?
John Motta: Having a very good coach and team is key. The Head Coach needs to be someone that will have the respect of the players and has a proven record. It needs to be a coach that players will perform for.
I understand that MLS is improving, but we need more Pulisics playing in Europe in the short term.
Playing at that level week in and week out, better prepares players for international play. Player development is key.
Diane Scavuzzo: The USA is the reigning champions …What about women’s soccer?
John Motta: In my opinion, it is disappointing that the rest of the world has caught up with our women, especially as quickly as they have.
We need to keep our women as the best in the world.
If they feel we are not treating them right, their performance will suffer. We have to keep the lines of communication open with the team to meet their needs.
We should look at things we were doing in the past to see if they had value. We have won World Cups with women coming through the ODP programs. Today the ODP Program has taken a back seat and is taken over by the Academy program. If it wasn’t broken, why fix it?
Diane Scavuzzo: How do we grow the game? What do you recommend?
John Motta: In my opinion, it is growing on its own.
Soccer is the choice sport for millennials — so the future is bright!
The American Outlaws on their own have brought soccer into the limelight. They need to be congratulated for what they do. U.S. Soccer needs to partner with US Adult Soccer to grow the game at the Adult level.
There are millions of players playing unaffiliated soccer.
We need to partner to come up with programs to get them into the family.
There is power in the U.S. Soccer shield and there is power in the FIFA logo. Hispanics and other foreigners recognize these logos, so we need to use the power of them to entice teams to join.
Once we have them as members, we need to make every U.S. Soccer member feel like they are part of something. One idea would be to offer tickets at a good discount.
Diane Scavuzzo: To increase participation and engagement in adult soccer in the USA, what needs to change?
John Motta: We need more respect from U.S. Soccer!
Players playing in the Adult Leagues get very little respect from the Federation. The feeling I get is that if a player is not identified by 16 years old, he or she has missed the boat.
U.S. Soccer needs to treat the adult players like they do the youth. We have some great tournaments that U.S. Soccer can send scouts to, but they don’t.
The NPSL just held a combine in Orlando, was there anyone from U.S. Soccer there? Were there any coaches from MLS or USL?
There need to be some incentives to gain interest. Prize money is always a great incentive for the adult player.
For the recreational players — the ones that love the game but cannot commit too much time – we need to find how we can get them to affiliate. There are hundreds of thousands of players who join social clubs and just play. How do we entice them to join USASA and U.S. Soccer?
We can use the help from the MLS to provide opportunities for players to participate in day game activities and make these activities part of USASA. Small sided tournaments could be one idea.
Another opportunity is to organize the American Outlaws to begin playing soccer. If they can show the passion on a field that they show in the stands, we can hit a home run. Have them play games before US National Team games as part of a USASA/US Soccer joint venture.
Diane Scavuzzo: If we want to make soccer the preeminent sport in America, how can we have the game become more ingrained in our sports’ culture?
John Motta: I believe we are there. If the sport of choice for millennials is soccer and the sport’s world is concerned with injuries from football, we are in the best position to gain popularity and interest in soccer.
It is ours to lose.
I want to see more opportunities to watch our teams at a reasonable price. We can bring our teams to more remote locations for friendlies and bring our soccer stars to soccer events held by our other organizations.
Photo Credit: Adult soccer action shots courtesy of USASA Facebook