Tryouts for my new teams are coming up soon, but as I'm the pre-academy coach, I've been attending the academy tryouts for the last several weeks. My main reasons for doing this is to gain a better understanding of the player pool for the Earthquakes. While I've watched a few DA games at the U12 age group, it's important I have a more intimate knowledge of the players in and around the Quakes program. In addition to doing my own homework, it's been valuable for me to speak with other coaches in the program, especially the U12 DA coach, to learn their perspective on the players. Which players they believe are a LOCK for the academy team, and why, has been a constant question at each tryout.
One major take away I've had from the tryouts so far is that even at the academy level, a huge player deficiency I saw was their tactical understanding. This was most obvious after seeing kids doing insane tricks in a 1v1 drill, then being completely clueless as to how to move in a 9v9 scrimmage. One players beat his man every time in the 1v1s, including once with a really smooth rainbow. In the scrimmage playing as a winger however, not once did I see him receive the ball and be able to turn. This didn't happen only on the offensive side of the ball though. Very few players were scanning the field on defense to identify the biggest danger either. Being able to identify and train players tactically remains, in my opinion, a valuable commodity in the American soccer environment.