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Home Grown Talent

In 2014, the Canadian Hockey League banned European goalkeepers from playing in any of the CHL’s junior development leagues. Why? The intent was to kickstart homegrown Canadian goalkeeper development – by eliminating outside competition and hopefully, forcing teams to invest in developing local talent.

The ever-insightful Bill Reno of analyzes whether a similar approach might help the USWNT develop a new generation of top-tier goalkeepers. His conclusion is that the USSF ultimately needs to implement a complete system – from top-down leadership, to programming and training sessions at the grassroots level – if they wish to consistently develop positive results. To his point, simply removing tougher competition or relying on individual coaches to figure it out on their own is hardly a recipe for success.

Here’s another action the USSF should take to boost homegrown talent: actively identify and track goalkeeper development across the country with a data-based analytics package like Stopper. Rolling out Stopper to elite player development programs across the country – say U-13 and up – would instantly provide the USSF with an up-to-the-minute performance overview of the nation’s most talented up-and-coming GKs and also offer a window into their long-term development.

Data means nothing if it’s not actionable, so imagine implementing Stopper in combination with hiring a national Director of Goalkeeping. Suddenly, goalkeeper development in America can be held to a measurable standard with oversight at the highest levels, and areas of deficit can be addressed at a national level in real time. Player performance and development can be measured and assessed objectively from the earliest ages all the way to college and beyond. Which in turn would make it easier to support and develop coaches, and hopefully provide a pathway for growing the overall pool of USSF-licensed GK coaches.

As for the CHL foreign goalkeeper ban? It was lifted this summer amid mixed results. Bottom line: as Bill Reno notes, the best solution to a lack of goalkeepers in the development pipeline is not to shut out competition – it’s to build a better pipeline.

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