Tuesday, February 19, 2008
True All-American team
As MLS grows through expansions, international tournaments and designated (Beckham) players, I feel a new kind of team should emerge. From my experience there exist club teams in Mexico and Ecuador, and I expect this to be true in many other leagues, whose roster includes only players of national descent. So why not have an MLS team with the same premise? Chivas Guadalahara (Mexico) and El Nacional (Ecuador) are teams that have enjoyed great success in the past and are regarded as some of the most important teams in their respective leagues as well as the world as a whole. Indeed, these teams wind up exporting some of the most prominent names in both countries. In the case of Ecuador, for example, El Nacional produced Luis Antonio Valencia (Wigan Athletic), Felix Borja (FSV Mainz) and Segundo Castillo (Red Star Belgrade, also linked with a possible move to Juventus of Turin). But beyond fostering stellar players, a team that is based on national players adds a flair of pride in one's own country and style of play. Currently, Houston sits as the team closest to an all-American team. Out of its roster only Tony Craig (England, GK), Stuart Holden (Scotland, but went to High School in the US and is part of the U-23s), and Canadians Dwayne DeRosario and Pat Onstad were not born in the States. And yet this is a team that has gained international experience and respect, not to mention winning the MLS for the past two years. So I say let's have Houston as an all-national team. Maybe DeRo and Onstad can stay since Canada barely counts as a separate entity these days. In the future maybe the Dynamo can add marquee American players to its roster (i.e. Donovan, Mathis, and others that haven't fared well in Europe). Sometimes players just don't do well outside of their home country, so why not keep them here in a team based on American players? Other places where this may work include Columbus, Kansas City and New England. But recently it has become evident that those markets are in dire need of a designated player. Houston has enjoyed a great fan base and prospects for the future include a potential soccer-specific stadium. So let's keep it in the family. Let's keep it American. Let's have Kinnear continue with his current work. This is an idea worth exploring that could bring a whole new level to this ever-changing league.