RAE really does nothing to solve the "what ifs" in your first paragraph. RAE would really just prolong the inevitable. I'm also not saying just always take the small kid if he is more skilled, but there needs to be better balance.That's a tough decision for a coach to make, choosing between an athletic kid capable of handling the current level or choose a skilled kid currently being knocked off the ball all the time. How will he know what the future holds? What if the big athletic kid puts in the work to learn the game and become skillful? What if the small one never grows and always has beautiful touches but can't keep up with speed and strength?
Playing down or on the second team is a great solution for smaller players but parents are too prideful to put our small skilled player in the B team until they're fully developed and can handle the physicality of the A team.
100% in favor of playing on the 2nd team which makes way more sense than RAE. Unfortunately, an issue with playing on the 2nd team is it can "stigmatize" (in the eyes of other coaches) that player as a second team player. How many times have you heard "Oh yeah he plays for (insert uber club name here)" with the response "Oh but he plays on the second team". That's a mentality that needs to change. Unfortunately, there are many SoCal coaches that do a poor job of talent identification.