23 February 2007

Divergence: USA != MLS

There are numerous commentators writing up their thoughts on the Olimpia-DC United first leg. Some of these soccergentsia are quietly whispering that the game, if combined with a Houston victory on their soil, could portend a watershed moment for MLS, and perhaps by extension, the USA. You heard it in the call of the game from Paul Caligiuri who talked about DCU's victory as a (paraphrasing here) measuring stick for the US game, and Marc Connolly says it outright in his column at US National Soccer Players: "It was not only a resounding moment for a very proud franchise, but also for Major League Soccer as a whole." Jeff Carlisle at ESPN also thinks that we're on the verge of a watershed moment: "...if the Dynamo can pull it off and if United advance as expected, then they will indeed be writing a new script for MLS clubs in the CCC."

Before we wrap ourselves in the American flag, I should praise Kinney for his sharp riposte to Caligiuri. After Caliguiri has spoken of the "advances for the USA," Kinney shot back at the screen, "Sure it is, with three goals from Argentinians and one from a Brazilian." It was a telling comment.

If one was inclined to overread things, and I certainly am, then one could say that DC is making a statement about the nature of MLS: "We have no desire to be a developmental league for the US National Team, we want to win." Winning is first and foremost. I've written before that I think that Freddy Adu learned a lot at DC United, but probably not as much as he wanted or could have. DC dealt with the uneasy balance of developing a young player and maintaining a winning team with an awkward compromise. When that situation became untenable, DC made the correct choice and chose to make the deal that gave them a chance to win. (Yes, I know, Freddy demanded a trade. But if DC had played Freddy in the middle more that demand might never have happened. Instead, DC always gave preference to putting team quality first. Which they should.)

On another angle... Ian Penderleith, who I have tons of respect for as a writer, rejects the idea that MLS has made progress, but instead says that the real value of the results from two days ago are that they remove the ready-made MLS Excuses for international failure on foreign soil. He even goes so far as to say "You wonder, though, if the power of auto-suggestion gives our teams a negative mindset before they even take the field." That's a hell of an argument, and I'm not sure I buy it, but I like the sound of it. I hope it is true one day.

The major point I'm trying to make here is that the results of the past week tell me that one of tensions at the heart of MLS is close to being resolved. Given a choice between developing players for the US Nats or putting out winning teams, more MLS decision makers are choosing the latter. This is the right move.

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At 23 February, 2007 12:25, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OT but look what I just copied from Soccernet:

Real Salt Lake star Brian Carroll joined ESPNsoccernet to discuss the upcoming MLS season. Read what he had to say

Picture of BC, then a jump to an interview with Kreis.


At 23 February, 2007 12:26, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correction, pic is of Kreis, not BC

At 23 February, 2007 12:28, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On Topic-- A comparison to Basketball and Baseball is apt here. Neither sport gives much consideration to preparing the national team. Quality is the first focus, regardless of nationality. As MLS develops, I imagine this will become more and more true for it as well.

At 23 February, 2007 14:11, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I for one am very excited, I'm almost jumping out of my skin. If DC can replicate the performance they gave in Honduras, then we might be looking at MLS's first potential berth into the World Club Championships.... that is HUGE.

At 23 February, 2007 15:24, Anonymous Nick said...

You're on the money. And it must be said that as great as it was to see our team destroy Olimpia and play with such composure, from a US Soccer prospective, the game was dissapointing. I watched it live and later a reply on fox sports, and I can tell you that not NONE of the Americans played well on DCU. This isn't to say that they all played poorly, bc Perkins and Boswell had solid games for sure. However, none of them produced any real class, the way that Gomez, Moreno, and Emilio produced. This is not a condemnation, just a somewhat frustrating observation from a US soccer fan point of view. As a DC fan, it was incredible...

At 23 February, 2007 17:36, Anonymous Matt said...

Brian from Sun Devil land dissing DC's efforts as "the opponent sucks", Kinney pointing out that all DC goals were scored by foreingers...nick snidely pointing out that the "Americans" on DC played like crap..well he says...except perkins and boswell...by the way Erpen played terrible and Moreno didn't add much...and news flash..they aren't "American" players.

Why are US soccer fans so negative towards their own players. Some even wear it as a badge of honor as if it's cool to slam the "American" player.

Case in point this summer at the DC-Real M match I started chatting with a guy in a Celtic jersey who was talking crap about the MLS quality of play....I quickly pointed out that DC had wacked Celtic 4-0 he didn't believe me.

My take is that those who find it cool to bash the "American" player...have their head really far up England/Europe's you know what...and can't develop their own attitude/opinion's on US Soccer. Most are to Euroarrogant to watch the MLS (which makes Brian, Kinney and Nick's comments even more frustrating cause they do support the MLS...or at least claim to)

English fans are proud of their league...a league that has TONS of foreign talent...and one could argue a league whose most recognizable stars are foreign.

Kinney...be happy....do you think that Chelsea fans care that their goals are scored by a Russian and a stud from Ivory Coast?

US Soccer will grow and get better as the MLS gets stronger...I'm sure that playing and against players like Moreno and Gomez only serve to make the "American" player better.

At 23 February, 2007 23:56, Anonymous Anonymous said...

u know, it's not like that Americans didn't play a role in the victory --- Perkins was solid in goal for the most part, Olsen did a pretty good job...it was a good team effort, and a good result for MLS...

At 24 February, 2007 00:21, Anonymous Nick said...

For the record, my comment was that none of the americans played well, I didn't say any of them played poorly. I also didn't say that Erpen played well, which he did not, except he stepped up and absolutely buried that header in the end. This isn't negativity towards my own, this is just a rational observation of the events that occured. I would have loved to see Olsen (a US world cup vet) really step up his game and show his class..but he didn't. That doesn't mean i'm anti- US soccer because Olsen or Gros or Carroll didn't step up and have a vintage performance on the road in a tough environment. All it means is that they didn't. I personally believe that if Freddy were still playing on this team, he would have had a HUGE game wednesday night, and he is American. I also think Dempsey, Donovan, and McBride would have had monster games on wednesday night as well, if they had gotten the opportunity. But they didn't. It's not a condemnation of American players, its just an observation. As a DC fan, I could care less who scores the goals, foreigners or americans, so long as win, so there is no argument there. And yes there are lots of foreigners in the EPL, yes English fans love their teams. We have a couple of foreigners on our team, and I would love United even if the whole team was foreigners (like arsenal). I think MLS is a great league and I prefer it to La liga and the EPL any day. I also think we have a great national team, that is a couple playmakers short from being consistently as good as the best. Talking crap about MLS? Eurosnobbery? You'll never get that from me...Honest observations about our team and our players? That you will get...

At 24 February, 2007 14:54, Anonymous Matt said...

The eurosnobbery point was more in general and mostly directed at at a general audience of people that exist out there.

I also enjoy Spanish and English leagues more...but honestly...I watched the Houston game live and taped Barca-Liverpool.

Houston game was ugly, but I watched it because I care more about the MLS than other leagues.

For pure entertainment value though...the quality of football is obviously better.


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