when U S boys of all ages start playing pickup soccer, often, for fun, like the rest of the world, then the U S will compete soccer players are not just great athletes but like with any sport they put the time in because doing skills with your feet is very difficult it takes maybe even more time than other sports certainly as much work
if AI played as much soccer as he did basketball he would have been excellent but the skill takes work time commitment and opportunity which AI had in basketball
No Brasil, Spain, nor Argentina in the Semis - small ball football doesn't work anymore?
While I would agree with you to an extent, I think that it is starting to become the thing of the past. IMO, the final 6 teams (all European) in the 2018 WC are perhaps the 6 strongest teams physically.
Sure, we can't compare Modrić (out best yet smallest player) and LeBron, Basketball players are just monsters compared to almost anyone. But looking at the best squads in WC you will see a lot of explosive, nimble and tireless athletes.
Regarding the initial thread question; to get that great football footwork (Hakeem), that 2nd nature feet quickness and agility, I believe you need to hone those skills while at 6-9 years of age. Window is gone after that.