Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Don't mess with my toot-toot

Happy belated Independence Day (aka "The day all the white trash jerks in my neighborhood ignore the fireworks ban and go ahead and blow crap up late at night which scares my dog and thus makes it difficult for me to sleep meaning that I will be tired at work the next day"... but that is too many words to use in sofa commercials). I could go into why the 4th is a pretty stupid holiday (although, nowhere near as stupid as Columbus Day), but I don't feel like griping about it this year.
Not when I can complain about SOCCER! First off, let me just say... I HATE ITALY!!!! And I'm glad France beat Portugal, although I'm a little ticked that England couldn't knock the Portugese off themselves. Rooney... I luv ya boy, but you gotta keep your mouth shut!!!!!
Anyway, Bruce Arena, the still-head coach of Team LoseSA, has yet to really take any responsibility for the debacle of this years team. Granted, it ain't ALL his fault, but it still be nice to hear him say something like, "Yeah, I just wasn't properly prepared." He did, however, blame the MLS for some of the US's shortcomings on the world's soccer stage. He claims that the MLS does not prepare our homegrown talent to play at the world class level of the teams that CAN get out of the group stages. This was the same excuse that was used when the US came in last in WC '98. Sad thing is, he's right.
Europe is where the premier players go. Of the final 8 teams in the World Cup this year, 6 of them were European countries. And the other two, Argentina & Brazil, are made up mostly of players who play for European clubs. The US has a few players around Europe, but much of the team is made up of MLS players. I don't know if US Soccer tries to keep it's best players in the states (presumably to help keep the MLS afloat), but they aren't doing anybody any favors. It should tell you something when the best players in Europe only consider coming to the MLS when they're careers are basically over. It's a big payday for them and they don't have to do much. Can't play Serie A anymore? Come play for the Red Bulls!
There are two real options here. One is to really push US players to go to Europe. Get them in the Bundesliga, the English Premier League, Serie A, Primera Liga, etc. Make them play the Beckhams, the Ronaldos, the Henrys, the Lehmanns, etc. You don't get better if you aren't challenged. Look at Freddy Adu... he's really been kind of a disappointment thus far. All he's getting is lame MLS action. His formative pro learning years, and he isn't even playing against the world's top talent!
The second option is to actually pony up the cash and start trying to lure better players to the MLS. Problem is, Europe is second only to the World Cup in terms of where players want to win. The EPL, Spanish, and Italian leagues are all highly coveted and the Champions League trophy is a career goal for any top flight player. The MLS has.... absolutely nothing to offer that is even comparable. The MLS might as well be that co-ed rec league all of us never-were's play in on Sundays. So really, this isn't an option. Meanwhile, option one would pretty much kill the MLS. So, I guess what I'm saying is, the MLS is holding us back.
Here's a solution... since the average American don't know jack about soccer anyway, why not just turn the MLS into kind of a developmental league, perhaps they could even convince FIFA or some of the leagues to develop a partnership. We develop some of our talent and then the Euro leagues can pick up some of our better players and take them over there and in the meantime, perhaps they could send some of their youth players over here to play against some of our above average but not world class players. The Euro youths could play against well-experienced players and the MLS could have an influx of potential superstars play here. Real soccer fans could see some quality football, have the chance to actually see some future stars (imagine seeing a young Beckham or Zidane playing over here for a year or two and then making it big) and our best players could actually get the experience they need. American soccer will never be viewed as top level, especially at a club level, but at least this way, it would give the country's soccer program a chance to maybe be respected (which it currently isn't). And, it would show we have an interest in wanting to be accepted into the world soccer scene by way of the world's terms instead of just being ugly Americans who demand that the world fear and respect us, even when we don't deserve it.

No comments: