Colorado coach Smith: US youngsters need more soccer culture

Colorado Rapids coach Gary Smith believes the absence of a true soccer culture has a negative effect on American youngsters.

Colorado Rapids coach Gary Smith believes the absence of a true soccer culture has a negative effect on American youngsters.

The former Arsenal coach and Fulham player said that talented young players in the US are good enough technically and athletically but lack the natural soccer upbringing as players in other countries have.

"You look at (Oguchi) Onyewu (AC Milan), (Jozy) Altidore (Hull City) - all of these guys that are competing on the world stage are no different physically than their counterparts in Europe," said Smith.

"The big difference is their upbringing. Their exposure to the game at a young age, their coaching environment at a young age, the competition at a young age, and all of those habits, qualities and actual experiences are all things that stand (players from other countries) in good stead as they mature.

"But athletically, physically, they have no problems. You can see by just the result against Spain (2-0 Confederations Cup win), the U.S. was on the receiving end of a lot of pressure, but there's no problems physically and athletically to shut people down.

"The amount of qualities you need to be successful at the top level are extreme," added Smith.

"That's why the best are paid so much money, because all of those qualities come together in one human being."

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