We have received some very consturctive and valid feedback over the past week about my piece from last week, MLS Failing in its Mission. Once again I feel the difference of opinion is genuine. Many of you rightfully want to see top club football in the United States. I however, am much more concerned about the development of our national team programs and believe that in a nation lacking the football culture of England, Holland, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, etc that these two are for the time being mutually exclusive. MLS has now gone public with it’s advocacy of the model I am so concerned about.
Even in a great footballing nation like England a club game dominated by foreign players and a development system run by the clubs can ruin a once great national team. In the 1986 and 1990 World Cups it can be argued England had the best teams in the world and were unlucky not to win the World Cup on both occasion. Now the English national team is so standardized and its number of player options so limited that it cannot even qualify for its own continental championship and regardless of what the jingoistic and world football knowledge bereft British media claims, England has not had the talent nor the tactical setup to truly compete in for a World Cup title since the Premier League began buying foreign players in mass.
MLS has made its choice and we will have to live with it. However, it is terribly unfortunate that a league that showed such restraint in spending and in expansion throughout its history is now spending like wild and is not so coincidently producing less quality young players for the national team program than ever before. The display in Tampa this past week during Olympic Qualifying is evidence enough of the de-emphasis this league has placed on young American players. Those playing in MLS don’t develop quickly enough anymore and those playing abroad because MLS offered them an insultingly low salary while buying journeymen foreign players aren’t given the time to develop in Europe nor the skill set as a youth player in the United States to compete for a first team spot in Europe when they sign their first professional contract. It’s no small irony that besides Freddy Adu, a wonderkid who MLS couldn’t screw up (even though Peter Nowak did try), Michael Orozco, developed in Mexico’s Primera Division was the most seasoned and cultured looking player. Mexico’s league continues to be better than MLS, and their player development system continues to be better. Sure Mexico isn’t going to the Olympics, but that can be blame can be laid on having too many good players at top European clubs at a young age, a problem we seem to never have.