Some Can’t Pay to Play

U.S.  Men’s National soccer team has made incredible strides when it comes to matching the competition with other countries, but had arguably its biggest failure on Oct. 10, when the men’s national team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup that is taking place in Russia. This hasn’t happened since 1986.

Now, some of the brightest young talent in U.S. soccer history will be missing out on a chance to play some of the greatest players in the world. This is because of the pay to play rule.

“U.S. soccer needs to get the heck out of the academy business… and make USL have professional academies to where these kids are not paying,” Steve Hoffman technical director for Cal-South said.

Large clubs around the country encourage kids to come and try out, but if they are unable to pay the expensive club fees they are unable to play.

“It remains an extraordinary event if a poor child with talent ends up making it in the USA – and not necessarily because he can’t be seen, but because he can’t pay to get in front of the right people,” said Peter Staunton in his article, “How Many Howards and Dempseus are the US Losing Due to Pay to Play?” on

There is so much talent in the United States, but so much of it goes unnoticed because people are financially unable to play for these teams.

“When I took over that program [Olympic development team] for Steve Samson 12 years ago. My goal was to make that free,” Hoffman said.

If you travel around the inner cities in search of pickup soccer games, you will see some of the best talent you may have ever seen, yet they don’t play for a team. This could be because the club fees were too high.

Victor Matheson, a professor of economics at College of the Holy Cross, as well as a former MLS referee said in an article on, “we’ve developed a lot of highly trained, but mediocre rich kids while missing out on training lots of potentially fantastic poor kids.”

As a nation, if we want to progress in the game of soccer, and one day win a World Cup, we must give kids a chance. It should not be based on how they stand financially, but how they are as a player. The first step to not spending another summer asking, “what if”, is by removing the pay to play system.

Gabe Naudin