A paradigm shift away from conventional youth soccer principles has been needed for a long time because the core fundamental challenge of playing great soccer is not the mastery of skill or physical fitness, but the awareness and adjustment of ones spacing.
Scrimmage is the key. A player cannot learn the art of spacing if they don’t play soccer often enough. Because it’s frequency, which allows them to become “aware” of what’s around them. You can not adjust your spacing if you’re unaware of how much space there is. 4v4 small-sided scrimmages is a mechanism needed to encourage players to apply their own solutions.
Today, young players are only ever exposed to scrimmaging for a limited time at their weekly, formal adult-controlled soccer practices where coaches feel they should focus on just skill and fitness, or pre-designed tactics where thinking is prohibited and following instructions is the new sport ethic. Today, youth coaches specialize in training kids to execute, not to think. And there are consequences.