A ten-year-old kid, obsessively kicking a football against an inner-city wall. His face is covered in dirt and sweat, but he couldn’t care less. Neither does he care that it’s nearly dark or that all of his friends went home hours ago. Who needs those guys? This kid has trash cans. Pedestrians. Street signs. What else does he need? What happened to the good old fashion mix of a football and little bit of imagination?
The image of this boy is both powerful and universal. We’ve seen him in the banlieue of Paris and the streets of São Paulo. I used to be this kid myself, growing up in England, never without my ball. But for one reason or another, we haven’t seen his kind here in the U.S. Is America’s soccer it too organised? Toothless? Are there too many academies? Too many oranges and mini- vans? (There’s definitely too many mini-vans, by the way). Who even cares why? The important thing is to recognise that it’s time to change all that. Time to strip back the game to its purest essence and give it back to the kids who love it the most. Time to take football to the streets, where only the quickest and most creative survive. And time to inspire the next generation of U.S. soccer players. Because legends are made when the cameras aren’t watching.