With the recent proliferation of foreign players in Major League Soccer and the dumming down of the quality of the league thanks to expansion and fixture congestion, it’s easy to be sour on MLS. I’ve been particularly disturbed by MLS clubs continued reliance on signing foreign players to plug holes in their side, when plenty of good American options exist. Given the kind of support a club like CD Guadalajara has south of the border and the talk that other traditional Mexican clubs feeling the blowback of South American influence on their league may mimick Chivas in the future, I believe the time has come for an MLS or USL-1/2 side to take the chance and field a team made up entirely of American nationals.
I disagree strongly with those people who believe importing foreign talent will continue to sell the beautiful game to the masses here in the United States. American fans eventually want to cheer for and take pride in home grown players. Foreign imports save David Beckham and in year one of the league Carlos Valderrama, Roberto Donadoni and Hugo Sanchez have done little to stimulate attendance for the league. Instead they have been used by coaches and managment too lazy to scout American players or simply who buy into the inferiority complex many have about American players. The time has come for some bold club to step forth and make this change.
With so many people being attratced to the game outside of MLS or USL markets the club that takes my suggeston would suddenly find itself with a national constituency and national fan base. This isn’t 1983 when American players for the most part were truly inferior, and Team America an entirely American squad finished bottom of the table in the NASL. With five consecutive World Cup appearences and countless deep runs in Youth World Championships behind us, it is time for some bold club to step out of the clutter and put its faith in the American player.
As for candidates for this I have a couple of suggestions: The Kansas City Wizards, The Richmond Kickers and the Carolina Railhawks. All three clubs have had decent succeess with foreign players at their respective levels in their leagues, but all three represent a consituency more middle America, than lets say DC United or Chivas USA. Each club could build up its fan base through merchandise sales and marketing outside its home market.
I’m anxious to hear the thoughts of others on my idea, and what clubs do you think could pull it off?