The contrast is striking. As the United States Women’s National soccer team has long dominated the sport—winners of four World Cups and four Olympic gold medals—the men’s team has floundered. They failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and the last three Olympics, and have long struggled when facing the world’s best teams. How could a country so dominant in other men’s team sports—and such a global powerhouse in women’s soccer—be so far behind the rest of the world in men’s soccer?
In Switching Fields, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist George Dohrmann turns his investigative focus on the system that develops male soccer players in the United States, examining why the country has struggled for decades to produce first-class talent. But rather than just focus on the past, he looks forward, connecting with coaches and players who are changing the way talented prospects are unearthed and developed: an American living in Japan who devised a new way for kids under five to be introduced to the game; a coach in Los Angeles who traveled to Spain and Argentina and returned with coaching methods that he used to school a team of future pros; a startup in San Francisco that has increased access for Latino players; an Arizona real estate developer whose grand experiment changed the way pro teams in the United States nurture talent.
Following these innovators’ inspiring journeys, Dohrmann gives ever-hopeful U.S. soccer fans a reason to believe that a movement is underway to smash the developmental status quo—one that has put the United States on the precipice of greatness.
Switching Fields is an exhaustive and necessary examination of what has stood between the U.S. men’s national team and relevance in international soccer. Dohrmann takes a microscope to the failings of scouting, youth coaching, and often imagination in the American game, all in the desperate hope that something will change—and the U.S. can finally build a winner.
Joshua Robinson and Jonathan Clegg, Co-Authors of The Club