Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Lately I've seen a lot of our younger players emigrate to European leagues. Although this may look great on the surface, we should read between the lines to discern what it means for the MLS and USL. First, player development isn't even at 25% of what it should be. Yes, we've seen great players like Adu and Altidore, among others, come out in recent years. And yet as we browse the internet for soccer blogs and news we realize that the majority of these players come from the USSF's own development system. Some of the MLS teams (New York, to name one) have started to pay more attention to our American-born potentials, but a larger community of quality youth development academies are needed. This is especially true as we witness how the beleaguered MLS superdraft in fact doesn't actually ensure that the top high school and college players remain on our shores (as we've seen recently with DCU's top pick and Bryan Arguez's premature exit). I would hate to see MLS become an international-player-dependent league. Losing local competition can have detrimental effects on the national team if club teams continue this trend and we may see further international failures akin to Germany, England and Spain. We should find common ground and keep the MLS a competitive national league while at the same time have the majority of our marquee players in more competitive leagues. Our youngsters are the future of the game in this country and we want to see our future play the games on our own shores.