American Anton Peterlin has signed with Everton. Who you ask? Peterlin, is a former midfielder for Cal Poly, and UC Santa Cruz as well as having played in the PDL as many collegiate footballers do with the Ventura County Fusion.
Peterlin grew up in San Francisco around the game with Danish parents and developed a love for the beautiful game. Like many good young American players he used the college system and the PDL to improve his skills and become a more mature and comfortable player.
Graham Smith manages Ventura County and he recommended Peterlin to David Moyes.
Peterlin trained with the first team for eight days and at the end of this period has been signed by the Liverpool based club which is a regular in European competition. Peterlin will continue his PDL career this summer before moving to England in the fall.
Manager David Moyes stated to Sky Sports, “Anton really impressed myself and the coaching staff with his attitude and undoubted ability.” This is the same player who spent four years playing college soccer and in the PDL and did not get an MLS offer despite being given a few trials.
Most logically the San Jose Earthquakes should have discovered and signed this player. But perhaps Frank Yallop could not burn a roster spot on him thanks to the restrictive squad rules in MLS. Also the player would have had to go through a dispersal process or some sort of other convoluted system to sign.
However had Peterlin been a foreign player who had featured in a few Argentine second division matches he would have had a long line of MLS suitors. What is wrong with this picture? The top domestic professional league in the country cannot even mine its own areas for talent that may interest top European clubs, yet continue to spend boatloads of cash on unproven foreign players who end up spending half a season in the league and going home handsomely compensated after providing little positive impact. (see Francisco Carracio, Mathias Cordoba, Gonzalo Martinez and Denislon for examples from the last two seasons)
Don Garber, the commissioner of Major League Soccer has gone on the record as of two weeks ago declaring that MLS needs more foreign players. Sure MLS needs more foreign players if they continue to ignore large portions of the domestic game, missing on players and even refusing to pay a transfer fee to teams in leagues below MLS in the USSF pyramid.
Sorry Don, you are wrong. As we will discuss in a more detailed piece later this week, what MLS needs to do is focus on keeping its American and Canadian player base at home. It was the American player who made several MLS clubs profitable, and the American player who earned MLS its first TV rights fee in 2006. It is the American player who will give all for this league, not some arrogant foreign player who may have suited up for Liverpool or Real Madrid’s youth team that is seeking a pay day that will carry MLS forward.
Peterlin is just the latest example of an American player who has been missed by MLS and has signed in Europe. Not only does this make a point about the restrictive rules of the league and the league’s growing addiction to foreign players but also reminds us how poorly scouted many parts of the US are by MLS.
MLS clubs are so sweaty about getting quality players from South America or the Caribbean who play for professional clubs that they miss the large number of quality youngsters playing their trade in the PDL. Three impact three players from USL-2 made immediately in MLS late last season (Khulmalo, Janicki, Mbuta) should have been a wake up call to MLS GMs and the league that if you mine the talent playing in USL-1, USL-2 and the PDL you don’t need expensive scouting trips to deep reaches of the globe.
MLS could easily leave USL as a legitimate second/third division with complete second/third division talent with less arrogance and better scouting. But that still is not happening.
Sadly, the Peterlin signing with Everton further proves MLS has yet to learn the lessons so obvious to many of us.